Microsoft and others look to turn users into developers

Microsoft disclosed some details on a new development tool for hobbyists and non-professionals, part of an industry-wide effort to turn end users into developers.

In a blog posting on Tuesday, Microsoft product manager John Montgomery discussed a prototype for a product coming from the Non-Professional Tools Team (NPT).

The idea of the product, code-named Tuscany, is to "take someone with no knowledge of code through to creating simple Web sites with HTML and Javascript or VBscript, teaching them along the way about things like methods, classes, events, properties, loops, and conditionals," Montgomery wrote.

The notion of empowering end users to build their own applications has been touted for years. But there are several efforts to make this more realistic.

In addition to Microsoft, IBM has developed QEDwiki, a tool aimed at making quick "enterprise mashups" that combine information from different system. Some scripting may be required.

Meanwhile, several so-called Web 2.0 companies are tackling the issue with Web site building tools.

, for example, on Tuesday released a hosted database and spreadsheet meant for quickly building Web applications.

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