Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Future of Rapid-Development, No-Code Business Applications

As a follow up to my previous post on Access 2013 Web Apps and the fact that Microsoft will be discontinuing any further development of the InfoPath product, a major question remains on the future of custom forms development and data-driven business applications. I submit to you, in my humble opinion, that Visual Studio LightSwitch will be tabbed as the primary tool for rapid development business applications. LightSwitch has many options for creating, consuming, and exposing data. LightSwitch includes robust validation, easy screen customization, and the ability for coders to take their applications to the next level, but isn't necessary for business users who want to build nice, responsive (mobile device-friendly), data-driven applications.  The data can be external data stored in SharePoint, SQL Azure, and other common data sources, yet LightSwitch can also create its own data entities and relationships that it stores and exposes as OData through web services.  Access 2013 is good for quick prototyping, but as I'm finding out, its UI is not very customizable and has an overall data storage limit of 1 GB.

LightSwitch and its SharePoint-specific tooling known as Cloud Business Applications is available as a free add-on to the Visual Studio Community developer suite.

Other nice to have skills are HTML, JavaScript, and T-SQL. T-SQL is a necessary skillset if you want to host your data in SQL Azure.