How is Visual Studio Lightswitch different from regular Visual Studio? In what sort of situations would you use this IDE over regular Visual Studio?

I'm trying to decide if this is something that would be worthwhile for me to take the time learning since I am currently doing WPF/Silverlight development.


4 Answers 4


LightSwitch is for one kind of app and one kind only - a forms-over-data app. One where the ui is pretty much driven by the schema of the data, and you want to offer essentially CRUD to that data. It lets people without a lot of coding experience wire up forms to serve that purpose. Its big advantage is that when the app starts to grow organically and get a little out of hand, an actual experienced developer can take over in Visual Studio and add more things as required. This in contrast to say an Access app that can go so far and then no further.

It also has some bells and whistles like being a client (Desktop) app or a web app as a configurable choice, supporting a nice range of extensions and custom controls, and being all Silverlighty and beautiful. If you aren't writing forms-over-data, you don't care. If you are, look into it.


From what I can tell, programmers are not the intended audience for the product. It would mostly help you do the things you can already trivially do as a WPF developer anyway, while slowing down the challenging custom work that does not fall within the template. I shudder to think about modifying the auto-generated code that gets cranked out on the backend. It looks pretty awesome for its intended use, but just does not seem to add much value for a WPF developer IMHO.


Clients may not care what you build their apps with as long as it is sound and you use accepted practices (And some don't even take the time to check any of this.). However, if they are under the impression that apps can be built quicker with this type of product, more developers may be pressured to start using it.

You may find yourself with the task of taking over an existing Lightswitch application created by a power user and they need more functionality. Supposedly you can still work with this in Visual Studio to do more.

If there is limited programming expertise in a company, there may be a need to let some of the power users to take over app development. You're more of a teacher/facilitator than purely a programmer except for the heavy lifting. This is common with report writing and may be expanding as rapid application tools improve.

Other than this, I don't see any reason to put too much energy and effort into this if you are already using Visual Studio.

  • So... it's more of an IDE for someone with some basic programmer experience, but who isn't a programmer?
    – Rachel
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 17:51
  • 1
    It is sort of like the "Front Page" version of VS then? Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 17:53
  • @Rachel: It's like Intrexx, some sort of end-user programming with rich design time support, so you can click & play your business app without much technical knowledge. Works well for reporting and data transfers and for standard CRUD, but gets complicated once you have special requirements. The new VBA, just without Access?
    – Falcon
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 18:01
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    It basically sounds like the form designer + VBA of Access rolled up with FrontPage. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 18:59
  • @Wayne M: I'd heard a while ago that it was supposed to eventually take over Access's niche, though I haven't used it so I myself can't say if it's really comparable. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:19

Microsoft's Site below has a link on the right side of the page that links to PDF document titled "White Paper: What is LightSwitch?" - Site:


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