Trip Report: TechDays Netherlands 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at TechDays in The Hague, Netherlands. It was my fourth time speaking there and as always the show does not disappoint! Held at the World Forum, the venue is big, bright and flashy. Check out the session recordings as they become available on Channel 9.

I had three talks this year, and it was GREAT timing as we just released the latest preview of LightSwitch version 3 which includes HTML client and SharePoint 2013 support. If you missed it, check out my post: Getting Started with LightSwitch in Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 CTP4

Building Modern Business Applications for SharePoint 2013 with Visual Studio LightSwitch

My first session was held in a large theater and I’d guess there were about 60-70 people in the audience. About 60% of them were SharePoint developers. Almost everyone had heard of LightSwitch but there were still about a quarter of the audience that had not seen it before. This was the first time I presented LightSwitch to SharePoint devs and all I can say is WOW what a warm reception LightSwitch received! All the SharePoint developers seemed to be very impressed with the ease of development.

We started the discussion with the SharePoint hosting models and the new apps architecture. Then I showed some demos around building a mobile app hosted in SharePoint — similar to the lessons you learn in the LightSwitch SharePoint Tutorial like:

I think this turned out to be my best session of the week. To learn more about building SharePoint apps with LightSwitch see:

And stay tuned to the LightSwitch Team Blog for a lot more content rolling out in the coming weeks!

Building Mobile Business Applications with Visual Studio LightSwitch

This session focused on the HTML Client where we build a mobile application that extends a desktop application and then deploy it to Azure. It was in a smaller room but it was pretty full, probably 50 or so people. Again most people had heard of LightSwitch but a lot had never tried it. (I always love a challenge! he heee)

I showed the design experience particularly around the screens and all the things you can do to provide a tailored user experience without writing code. Then I moved into how LightSwitch provides hooks in the client for you to write your own HTML/JavaScript just where you need it in order to use custom controls, special UI logic, etc – similar to the lessons you learn in LightSwitch HTML Client Tutorial like:

  • Building a mobile companion to a desktop client against the same middle-tier (reusable data model, rules, permissions)
  • Seeing how LightSwitch handles scaling screens for multiple form factors & async loading of data automatically
  • Learning how you can reuse dialogs and screens for viewing/editing data
  • Showing how to filter/find data and providing a good mobile experience
  • Integration with NuGet & customizing HTML/JavaScript client code for
    • Custom Databinding
    • Custom controls
    • Conditional theming
  • Modifying the look-and-feel using standard CSS
  • Deployment to Azure

This session also went well. There were some gasps of joy when I showed the scaling LightSwitch does for you (apparently that’s hard to do if you have to do it yourself ;-)). I also had a lot of great comments about how much customization you could do with LightSwitch — but only if you needed it. I like to say, LightSwitch does the boring stuff for you so you can concentrate on the fun stuff/business value. To learn more see:

Building REST-full Data Cloud Services using LightSwitch

This session is more advanced and really focuses on the LightSwitch services layer / middle-tier. Almost all of the talk is around what was released in LightSwitch version 2, which is part of Visual Studio 2012 RTM. This was in a HUGE room (looked more like a dance club) so it was hard to tell how many folks were in there, maybe 80.

Unfortunately not only was the internet being picky, my jet lag kicked in full force and I messed up a demo at the end. Luckily I always have a “done” backup I can walk through if needed, and boy I needed it. In the end I felt bad but people came up and told me I had a good recovery. Whew.

We went through a lot of stuff that we’ve talked about on the blogs before like:

I also showed a bit of new stuff coming in the next version that lets you tap into the LightSwitch server context in order to create your own service endpoints. I showed how you can use WebAPI to provide aggregated data (using LINQ against the LightSwitch server context) to a custom chart control on the client. This allows you to create reporting dashboards over LightSwitch data. Joe introduced those concepts here:

Stay tuned to the LightSwitch Team Blog for a more information on how to create dashboards as well as a lot more information on how to get the most out of the next version of LightSwitch.


You don’t travel all the way to Europe without having a little bit of fun ;-). This year I had the pleasure of meeting up with TWO LightSwitch community rock stars, Jan van der Haegen and Paul van Bladel. They travelled three hours from Belgium to meet me and geek out about LightSwitch. Man I thought I had a lot of energy but these guys, especially Jan, are insanely hyper (in a good way!!) and super passionate about LightSwitch. We headed out to dinner with some other folks including Gil Cleeren to the same place we went to eat last year. I think we’ll be making a LightSwitch tradition out of this!

Thanks for all you do to help the community, it was great seeing you in person my friends!

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Until next time.