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Is LightSwitch Useless?

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  • User profile image
    complete

    Is LightSwitch Useless?

    I have used it to create a GUI to my SQL AZURE database, but there is no generated C# code go look at.  Without this, I cannot easily customize what I want to do.

    If you look at the Solution Explorer, you will not find any code to step into.  So I do not know how customization can work.

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  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    @complete: I looked into Lightswitch briefly when it first showed up -- you can access preset events on the objects by writing C# or VB code but i don't know how pervasive they are -- I would start here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff852038.aspx.

    Looks to me like Lightswitch is good for about 80% of LOB applications and I never got round to figuring out how to customise it for the other 20% (although I do know you can create custom controls which might be what is required).

    Let us know how you get on in your investigations. Smiley

     

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    SimonJ

    @complete:If you open one of the entities or screens in your solution you will find there is a "Write Code" button at the top right of the entity or screen editor [Ctrl+Shift+W] whose menu changes according to what you currently have selected (the entity, an attribute, the screen, a field on the screen etc) and this leads you to all the events that happen during the execution of your application.

    You can also right-click on an item in the solution explorer and choose "View Table Code" or "View Screen Code" for a more "traditional" route into the code editor.

    You can customise LightSwitch applications extensively, not only in the look and feel by using different themes and shells but also in the behaviour of the application by writing code or using Custom Controls.

    Behind the scenes LightSwitch uses MVVM and EntityFramework so you can use just about any coding methods applicable to those situations.The front-end is Silverlight (or HTML/JavsScript for the new "mobile" clients currently in beta) so you are restricted to that for the most part but server-side application code can be written using the full power of the .NET environment.

  • User profile image
    lensman

    The short answer is "yes". Lightswitch is useless.  Why use 1/8th the power when you can use another tool with all the toys?  I would say it is more than useless, it is pointless.

  • User profile image
    SimonJ

    I would have to disagree. It is just about the fastest deveopment tool available for making "forms over data" applications for businesses. A big, all-singing, all-dancing development environment it is not - making it much faster and a lot easier to use PROVIDED you use it for what it was intended.

    If you think it is pointless then you either haven't tried it or you aren't in its target market.

    Once you've got to know it you can produce good looking, functional applications in minutes or hours that would take days or weeks with more traditional tools. The applications come with lots of standard features such as "dirty data detection", complex validation and optimistic concurrency resolution with no effort and you can convert from 2-tier to 3-tier or move from in-house to cloud services by ticking one box.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    , SimonJ wrote

    I would have to disagree. It is just about the fastest deveopment tool available for making "forms over data" applications for businesses. A big, all-singing, all-dancing development environment it is not - making it much faster and a lot easier to use PROVIDED you use it for what it was intended.

    If you think it is pointless then you either haven't tried it or you aren't in its target market.

     

    I would have to disagree. LightSwitch is built on the now dead product that is Silverlight. I had to make a choice a little while back and went with ASP.NET because of this. That it is being migrated to HTML 5 means that it is already a dead technology, as HTML 5 is unproven, incomplete and nowhere near finalised.

    There are a lot of system architects (myself included) that have egg on their faces for suggesting customers use a technology like Silverlight, so you won't find people waxing lyrical about LightSwitch that don't work for Microsoft.

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    @vesuvius: Oh, heck, Silverlight isn't dead yet...

     

  • User profile image
    Enginerd

    LightSwitch has HTML Client option as well as Silverlight.

    It has a sweet spot for usage for things like putting a quick GUI over data and allowing you to customize portions by coding around events.

    Let's say I write a new website for my companies clients, and the enrollment and features of each client are driven by a database.  I can code a backoffice application for boarding and maintaining those customers, or I can quickly stand up a GUI in a tool like Lightswitch or Wavemaker, and spend the saved time making the client experience better, rather than investing it in boilerplate maintenance code.

    Is it for everything no.  But neither is XAML, HTML, DirectX, MVC, etc.  Choose the right tool for the right job.  Currently for some data driven LOB applications LightSwitch is one of many tools that can be effective.  

     

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , JohnAskew wrote

    @vesuvius: Oh, heck, Silverlight isn't dead yet...

     

    No it's in the cronic care ward on basic life support ....

  • User profile image
    Rhamilton

    Sep 24, 2012 at 9:03 AM, SimonJ wroteI would have to disagree. It is just about the fastest deveopment tool available for making "forms over data" applications for businesses. A big, all-singing, all-dancing development environment it is not - making it much faster and a lot easier to use PROVIDED you use it for what it was intended.

    ^^ this. It's not for making 'websites', especially since Silverlight blows on mobile (if it'll run at all) and the HTML Client (still in preview, mind you) doesn't look like it will make up that deficiency. You can jerry-rig it to behave like you want but if you are going to be writing 100's of lines of code, you might as well stick with Forms or MVC or some other non-RAD tooling.

    But for simple data-entry (like Simon said, "Forms over Data"), it's an incredible framework. It's a bit of a learning curve due to the application architecture and UI in Visual Studio, but once you get past that, you'll find that Lightswitch has it's niche and isn't dead by any means.

    But definitely keep an eye on the HTML Client. Depending on how well the M$ Team builds it out, you might be finding that Lightswitch's little niche market might explode into the 'actual website' sphere.

    Now personally, I've developed a few websites with Lightswitch but I've restricted it's usage for 'back-office' and 'web admin panel' functionality only. I then use MVC for the front-end (better UI customization and browser compatibility) and query the Lightswitch tables for anything data-driven. That architecture has worked well for me and I never have to touch SQL since Lightswitch generates the database schema and handles CRUD operations (Think of it as Entity Framework on Easy-Mode). You'll also find that customers like the clean, easy-to-comprehend Lightswitch UI. And when they come back with customizations or new data requirements, you'll see why Lightswitch isn't dead.

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