A free app development program that you can use to create Windows 8 apps has been launched by Microsoft.
The software, codenamed Project Siena, is available for free download in the Windows Store. It takes the form of a Windows Store app, and according to Microsoft's Somesegar is intended for use by:
“business experts, business analysts, consultants and other business users with the imagination to conceive an app for today’s mobile devices”.
Somasegar,'s blog post explains that using little more than PowerPoint- and Excel-level skills, business users can create
“a whole new category of powerful apps, often in a matter of minutes. These are apps for the device-first and cloud-connected world, with the potential to transform today’s business processes and customer interactions.”
The way Siena works is that you start by designing the way the app looks, link the elements to your data, then write ‘Excel-like expressions’ to add logic. The result is (allegedly)
“an immediately usable app with all the rich information, differentiated looks and purpose-specific intelligence expected of modern Windows apps”,
according to Somasegar’s blog post.
Siena looks interesting, but software development is littered with lost and abandoned software that claimed to make it possible to develop apps without knowing what you’re doing.
Microsoft itself has two other ‘make-it-easy’ development environments in the shape of App Studio, software that lets non-programmers create apps for Windows Phone, and LightSwitch. Now part of Visual Studio, LightSwitch was originally launched as a rapid-application-development (RAD) tool targeted at fledgling coders interested in building business applications.
Project Siena currently has Beta status and whether it will make it to maturity is probably down to its popularity. Launching it just before the Christmas holiday may not have been the best timing as so far it has attracted little attention. Another shortcoming is that to view its walkthrough video requires Silverlight. It seems Microsoft still hasn't internalized the message that it has killed Silverlight and that it should not be used to showcase its latest technology - it also serves as a reminder that not all Microsoft technology is forever...