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Jay Schmelzer: Introducing Visual Studio LightSwitch

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Visual Studio LightSwitch is a new tool aimed at building data-driven applications, like an inventory system or a basic customer relationship management system incredibly easy.

LightSwitch automatically generates the user interface in Silverlight for a data source and, with no code, you can create, read, update and delete data.

Watch the demos and see how you can build, customize, and extend LightSwitch applications including changing themes, templates, adding custom validation, providing smart data types, and deploying to Windows Azure.

The free, public beta will be available starting August 23rd.

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  • Bent Rasmussenexoteric stuck in a loop, for a while

    How ironic that the lights are out on the Silverlight video Big Smile

    Watching the WMV instead...

  • Dan FernandezDan

    Should be fixed Smiley

  • CKurtCKurt while( ( !​succeed=try​() ) ) { }

    Awesome !! Really cool!!

     

    I maintain a website for a volunteers organisation, running on mySQL and PHP. And it has a simple backend 'admin panel' to do CRUD opperations on the database. This would make that experience so much better AND richer, for fewer hours I have to put into the 'admin panel'. So then the website itself displaying the data can get more attension.

     

    Love the fact it runs on Silverlight. This means I can run the app inside my 'admin panel' as a silverlight application, replacing some really bad html forms! To test this however, we would need to allow Remote access to the database (at least to test the desktop version). To test the web version without deploying it to the real webpage we would also have to configure remote access to the database. Hmmm, 'localhost' connections made me spoiled...

     

    (this might not be what you have in mind for this product, but I will surely give it a try)

  • MJFMJF

    Any word on how LightSwitch will compete with or complement xRM, Microsoft's "relationship management" platform, which also can be used as a starting point for LOB apps?

  • Dan FernandezDan

    Interesting scenario, you're right that an admin is a good example as you need a way to do data entry and you don't have a lot of time to do CRUD admin screens...

  • Tremendous.  What sort of Access Control options are provided out of the box?

  • Very nice product.  I like how it integrates with Visual Studio.  In some respects, I wish more products used the VS shell instead of rolling their own, it's just a great interface and quite common for many apps that need a "surface" of some kind.

     

    I was going to ask about TreeViews but I'll wait until the beta comes out on the 23rd...

  • A prior post mentioned this ("Access Control"), but I'd like to second the request for add'l info. What about security? Did I mention security? I'm curious about security.

     

    Let's put it this way - pretend I'm a pit-stained Ballmer at the lecturn chanting, "SECURITY! SECURITY! SECURITY!" and the crowd is chanting with me in a "We want answers!" kind of way.

     

    Butt seriously, it looks like a very intriguing tool, one that could potentially be used to handle a lot of development scenarios. But I hope that security isn't being left for V1+. If so, it'll be useless for even very small departmental apps.

  • which can be used as a starting point for LOB apps?

  • @NotLarryEllison, security is a really great question to bring up early on. I'll post something on the team blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/lightswitch/ regarding security during our beta 1 timeframe.

    A short summary for now:

    LightSwitch supports varying degress of security, including transport level security between the client/mid-tier and mid-tier/database, SQL logins for data access, and client logins for accessing the middle tier. On top of platform level security, LightSwitch also supports access control business logic. The application can define Permissions that are associated with Roles. In the LightSwitch business logic, you can enable/disable access to data, screens and commands by testing whether the current user has a specific permission.

     

  • ChevalN2Cheval Why not null?

    Of all the ways that people wanted to kill off Office Access, this one looks to do the job.

  • FlatlinerFlatliner With our thoughts we make the world.

    Was it just me or was that an Office Space reference by Dan at the start?

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdH-QZahS0w

  • I'm curious how this product will be integrated with PivotViewer?  Clearly developers can integrate PivotViewer themselves via the custom controls extension point.  But if we had more advance knowledge of Microsoft's plans to integrate PivotViewer (specifically the timeline), such insight could stave off needless development effort.

     

  • Martin Ennemosermawcc Make it so

    Very interesting! But what does this tool create behind the scenes? Does it write XAML files which can be manually edited if necessary? 

     

    It would be very useful if Lightswitch creates a starting point which can afterwards be customized just like any other Silverlight application.

  • For the font size - there is the zoom options in the bottom-left of the screen... you don't *need* control+scroll

  • Dan FernandezDan

    We have a winner Smiley

  • We focused on the ability to control the functionality of the application and/or implement business logic and rules based on the current user of the application.  In LightSwitch you define the set of permissions ("CanApproveOrder", "CanPromoteEmployee") you need and write code to implement your custom logic based on those permissions (User.HasPermission(CanApproveOrder)).

     

    LightSwitch applications include built in support for creating and managing the user->role and role->permission relationships. 

  • No plans currently to integrate PivotViewer.  Integration would be via the custom control extension point you mention.

  • LightSwitch does not generate XAML files that can be manually edited.  We compile the screen definitions (and the rest of the application components) into assemblies.

  • Two questions (with two answers)

    When can I get it, the full version not the Beta?

    (after Beta 1, Beta 2, and RC)

    How much will it cost?

    (Comes with VS2010 pro)

     

    Totally loving the look though for all those nasty little data entry applications.

    Can you authenticate against an aspnet_db?

  • figuerresfiguerres ???

    so far the *ONLY* thing i hear that i am not sure about is that it does not generate xaml files....

    I will have to use the beta to get a feel for how this works .....

     

    I would like to have the option to generate C# and Xaml  - if i find some problem with the canned code and need to tweak it.

     

    but i can see a *LOT* of cases where yeah this may well be the right thing w/o any custom coding.

     

    also what about having an option to do this for WPF / desktop applications??

    seems like a switch in the code gen could build a desktop form packgae to target the non-browser world also....

     

  • LightSwitch uses the ASP.NET Membership/Role system under the covers.

  • Silverlight only for the client applications at this point.  We do support creating an out of browser client application (in fact that is the default) which runs in the extended sandbox giving the application access to desktop resources (file system, devices, COM interop with other applications). 

  • Great!

    I look forward to August 23 to test all this myself!

    Nice news Wink

  • figuerresfiguerres ???

    Jay: I am very interested in using LightSwtch, we have MSDN and do a lot of stuff

    things that i think need to be lokked at are:

     

    1)  option to generate a std VS project with C# and xaml code ( many cases around why can be given)

    2)  option to create a "downlevel" client for non silverlight users (HTML) while the focus on silverlight is great there are users who will not be able to load silverlight but should be reached

    3) as the LightSwitch level is all meta data and models generation of WPF clients should be very doable once silverlight is out

    4)  SQL SERVER Reporting Services:  to complete a good SIlverlight LOB app we NEED a report view / print control!!

     

    if that list was covered then this would really really really ROCK!!!

     

    Waiting for the Beta and for a Go-Live i have a system i can re-do with this to remove a ton of old code!

    I also have a possible new app this would be perfect for.

  • Thank you for your response, thats great news for us.

     

    I will be downloading the Beta on the 23rd, cant come soon enough, to give the IT dept some much needed admin apps rather than having to write raw SQL  Big Smile

     

    I'm seriously chuffed.

  • I agree. From the demos the product looks very compelling for incubating LOB apps, but why no mention of security?

  • Hi all!

     

    First of all, I loved the product! It seems that we'll finally be able to migrate those kind of things that are still done in Excel because nobody has enough time to implement something... With a tool like this, it will be possible to solve this issue in half an hour! That's great!

     

    I've got a question, maybe the same as jonathanf asked above and I couldn't find the answer yet: the ones who buy VS Pro will be able to use the LightSwitch project templates or they will need to buy it separately?

     

    Cheers!

     

    André Alves de Lima.

  • Gamechanger for Phone down the line.

  • Herbie SmithDr Herbie Horses for courses

    A bit late with this question (hey, I'm allowed to go on holiday):

     

    What happens when you want to take a LightSwitch app to the enterprise level with a lot more business process behind the scenes (e.g. update customer status when invoices paid).

    I did notice the 'Desktop 3-tier' option for the application model, but you didn't go into that one ...

     

    Herbie

     

     

  • Already found out the answer in the LightSwitch forum on MSDN. The people who have the VS Pro version (and above) will be able to use the LightSwitch template without extra costs.

  • Elias Haileselassieelijah.exe Elias ​Haileselass​ie

    Great Job! Long time ago I wished there exists a RAD tool which is similar to MS Access, but on the top of .NET. We had to create a lot of data entry forms. Most of the forms deal with only one table in the database but may also need a look-up column. Now Lightswitch is the right tool for such simple data entry applications! I think LS is a very good project. It needs to exist! We need to try it! If it happens to be bad , well it is still good for 1 thing -> unless we finish all the bad solutions & ideas we may not come to the perfect solution!

  • Sweet! Finally Excel can go to rest  Big Smile

  • No. It would not destroy Access. However, it might destory creating application with MS Access. It would only put MS Access in what it should be made to do in the first place: basic database management.

  • You would still need Excel for complex data analysis. In fact you might find this to be more useful: connecting to Excel data and then display it in LightSwith!

  • Pretty sweet actually. Reminds me of a Wall Data (remember them?) Salsa product I once worked on. SOM (Semantic Object Modeling). It didn't work & didn't sell. But it was an idea for easy deployment of data apps.


    LightSwitch is like that. But some say it's more like MS Access on steroids? And it's cloud-friendly too.

  • Lightswitch looked very promising at first, BUT then comes Silverlight and spoils it all!

    I have to develop a new database driven business application for a small insurance company by the end of March 2011. I figured I could use Lightswitch, that is until the customer made me aware that they wanted the application to run just as well on tablets and smartphones of the likes of the iPad, iPhone and Android phones! So, I'm back to the drawing board now!

    Why did Microsoft have to develop yet another proprietary platform (i.e. .NET, XAML, Silverlight) instead of putting its weight behind open standards? I believe few would argue that the most aesthetically designed hardware and software available today is being built by Apple and third parties developing for the Apple hardware. Unfortunately, as long as the Silverlight plugin remains largely tied to the .NET platforms it is never going to see the light on the iPad or iPhone. While Microsoft's strategy might look good from a business and desktop perspective, it seems to leave a void in the mobile arena despite the arrival of the Windows Phone.

    When developing an application, one shouldn't have to constantly be worried that it may not run on all the devices out there, especially the mobile devices (which, I believe, is where the future lies).

  • ChizChiz Chiz

    I like it.

  • KMKM

    I want to confirm.  If I own Visual Studio 2010 Professional Edition, there is no additional cost for Lightswitch?

  • Adli KAdli K

    Printing Support of customizable Forms would be invaluable. e.g. 2 vs 4, order detail items to a page.

  • DataDivaDataDiva

    Fabulous potential! Bravo Jay & team. Browser and mobile device ready screens are a particular priority for so many desktop developers. I come from building very robust Access apps for over 15 years, and am anxious to see how Lightswitch will compare. Here are some concerns:
    1. Lightswitch MUST be able to link to and/or convert from Access tables and Excel. Developers rarely get to start from scratch. My clients always have existing 'systems' or data sources, which are often in Access or Excel.
    2. Reporting: My Access business apps feature extensive sets of reports - these can incorporate complex sorting and grouping, calculations, subtotaling, data driven headers and footers, images and sophisticated conditional formatting - all achieved within Access, using VBA. How do we build similar reports for a Lightswitch app?
    3. My limited experience using SQL Express (from NetMatrix) was disappointing - changing table and field names, data types etc. was painful (compared to Access). Is it any better in Lightswitch?
    4. Images: Is Lightswitch storing images in the db or linking? Performance issues? OLE issues?
    5. Graphs and Charts: Extremely important for business applications, very painful in Access. A great opportunity here awaits the Lightswitch dev team.

  • Nice tool for small business app. Does it creates .cs/.vb and xaml files? it will be interesting to customize them manually, if need be.

  • Where have you been since .NET 1.0 - We needed this tool for FID, foot in door, to help speed inexpensive implimentation with low budget clients that can expand and open into full blown VS developement. Hopefully this concept is fully supported, unlike like VFP, and gives us "that" quick access because we have been in constant search for a similar tool that will. No not add-ons...

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