Microsoft.Data.dll and LightSwitch

Microsoft has made some announcements over the last week or so. The first was Microsoft.Data.dll. I think that Oren adequately wraps up the feelings that I have towards it.

The second was the announcement of Visual Studio LightSwitch. I have some strong feelings for this as well. Microsoft is positioning this as a tool that allows non-professional developers create line of business (LoB) applications. They suggest that it will allow these non-developers to create applications that can be handed off to IT for maintenance and further enhancement. Since LightSwitch isn’t really Visual Studio, the IT group will have to upgrade the application codebase. Does this sound like anything to you’ve ever heard of before?

While Microsoft won’t come out and say it, LightSwitch is positioned to fill the space that MS Access has for more than a decade. During that decade plus IT departments and programmers world wide have grown to loathe MS Access application created by business. Invariably those MS Access systems start live as small intra-department apps that service one to a few users. Over time their feature set grows along with their user base. At some point these LoB applications hit an invisible wall. Sometimes it’s that the system has devolved into a mess of macros and VBA. Other times they have collapsed under the pressures of concurrent users. Regardless, the developers that take over these applications are met with a brownfield mess. On top of that, the application has likely grown into a brownfield application that is critical to the business. We professional developers end up picking up the pieces and, often, re-writing the application from scratch, under huge timeline pressure, so that it can meet the requirements and specifications that it has grown to need.

So back to LightSwitch. Why is Microsoft pitching what this product is good at to us professional developers? They say it’s not for us, but instead for non-professional developers. Market it to them then. Don’t waste our time with this marketing campaign. Instead Microsoft, sell us on the part we’re going to have to deal with; the migration and fixing once these “LightSwitch” applications when the business inevitably comes running to us to do this.

To the professional developers that read this blog (most of you I’m guessing), prepare to move your hatred and loathing from MS Access to LightSwitch.