Visual Studio gets a new family member – Visual Studio LightSwitch!
The previous post on data-centric WPF applications showed some enhancements of Visual Studio 2010 to use data sources with WPF applications. Visual Studio LightSwitch goes big steps further with Silverlight to create 2-tier desktop or 3-tier desktop or Web applications.
The data source window from Visual Studio 2010 helps with writing data-centric applications as user interfaces can be created out from a data source just by drag and drop after defining in a graphical editor what UI elements should be used for what data. The data source window here gives a few options such as using grids, lists, or details, and allows selecting labels, text boxes, combo boxes or various other controls. The code-behind to retrieve the data or do updates usually needs to be custom implemented.
Developer’s aren’t the only ones writing applications – I never forget how Microsoft Access was (is) used!
With Visual Studio LightSwitch the complete application can be done with the help of a designer tool; writing just a few lines of code. The Visual Studio templates for Visual Studio LightSwitch offer C# and Visual Basic code.
Visual Studio LightSwitch supports data from lot of different sources, e.g. SQL Server (of course also SQL Azure), SharePoint, WCF RIA Services…
Instead just having grids, lists, details to define how the data should be displayed many more pre-built screen templates are available: new data, search data, details, editable grid, list and details.
The outcome from Visual Studio LightSwitch just by selecting a checkbox is a 2-tier desktop, 3-tier desktop, or 3-tier Web application.
Visual Studio LightSwitch also integrates with Office 2010. For example data can be exported to Excel, Word document templates can be used, and with Outlook it’s possible to integrate workflows because on arriving emails.
What if the features and templates from Visual Studio LightSwitch are not enough? I expect many scenarios where this is the case. Visual Studio LightSwitch can be extended by custom templates, controls… There’s a big market on writing extensions, and some 3rd party providers are already working on extensions, e.g new skins, adding tough functionality for the application…
Remember the times where Visual Basic users just used drag&drop to connect some ActiveX controls? I’m seeing two kind of people working with this technology: just using it, or writing extensions.
Can’t wait to try this out and find out about customizations and all the features that Visual Studio LightSwitch is based on. A public beta of Visual Studio LightSwitch will be available on 23-August.
This could be a new way to write fast applications for Windows Azure! Hosting the application in Windows Azure, using the SQL Azure database.
More information on Visual Studio LightSwitch: