Creating applications is starting to become as easy as creating a document in PowerPoint or Excel. Microsoft announced today the availability of the beta release of Project Siena, which is designed to give business experts, business analysts, consultants and other business users the ability to create Windows 8-style applications without having any programming skills.  

“Siena provides a familiar and easy document-editing experience: Put your information on the canvas, compose and style it, and add custom logic and interactivity using the power of Excel expressions. The result is an immediately usable app with all the rich information, differentiated looks and purpose-specific intelligence expected of modern Windows apps,” Microsoft wrote in its blog.

Although there isn’t any programming involved in creating the applications, developers can still play a part. The Siena apps are built using HTML5 and JavaScript, and are deployed and managed like any other Windows 8-style apps, allowing developers to open them up and extend them with their programming tools if needed.

According to Microsoft’s description of Project Siena, it allows developers to:
• “conceptualize, validate and build your app ideas as easily as editing a document”
• “connect to corporate and Web data”
• “compose rich interactive visuals to create custom, unique apps”
• “add business logic and intelligence using the power of Excel-like expressions”
• “use the app yourself, share with colleagues or with the world”

“Siena works well with corporate and Web data: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and REST services,” wrote Microsoft.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has attempted to get non-programmers to build Windows Phone apps; it launched a beta of App Studio earlier in the year, and also has a LightSwitch tool that targets amateur programmers.

More information on Project Siena can be found here.