Microsoft is making available for download Beta 2 of its Visual Studio LightSwitch tool, starting March 15.
LightSwitch, codenamed "KittyHawk," is a rapid-application-development (RAD) tool targeted at fledgling coders interested in building business applications. Microsoft released the first public beta of LightSwitch in August 2010. Company officials have said the final version of LightSwitch will be released in calendar 2011, but continue to decline to provide a more specific ship target.
MSDN subscribers will be able to download LightSwitch Beta 2 starting today. The general public will be able to download the new beta on March 17 from http://www.microsoft.com/lightswitch.
What's new in Beta 2? As Microsoft officials indicated last week, there are new capabilities for building line-of-business (LOB) applications that target Windows Azure and SQL Azure. Beta 2 now supports German, in addition to English, with Japanese support also coming at some point in the future. The new beta also allows professional developers to use Visual Studio Professional (or higher) to create application extensions, which Microsoft describes as reusable components such as themes, screen templates, shells, data sources, business types and controls.
What's not in Beta 2? When I wrote about Beta 1 last year, Microsoft execs said they were considering adding Access support to the tool in time for Beta 2. That has not happened and there is no further information as to when/if Access support is coming. There's also a plan to add support for Windows Phone to LightSwitch, but that won't be happening with the first release of the LightSwitch tool.
Microsoft is positioning LightSwitch as a way to build business applications for the desktop, the Web and the cloud. It’s a tool that relies on pre-built templates to make building applications easier for non-professional programmers. It’s so easy, it’s like flipping a switch, the Softies have said when explaining the choice of final name for the product
The final version of LightSwitch will be available in the same 10 languages that Visual Studio is available in: English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.