Introducing Microsoft® Visual Studio® LightSwitch™


Today during the VSLive! keynote here in Redmond I announced a new product called Microsoft® Visual Studio® LightSwitch™, which is the simplest way to build business applications for the desktop and cloud.  LightSwitch is a new member of the Visual Studio family focused on making it easy to develop line of business applications.

At their core, most end user business applications combine two things:  data + screens.  LightSwitch is optimized around making these two things very simple.  Let’s walk through a simple example which demonstrates how easy it is to get going.

Hello World

LightSwitch is a stand alone Visual Studio product (it will also be available in future versions of Visual Studio Professional and above).  VS Professional gives you a lot of options for building your application, including being able to build top tier enterprise wide apps.  This is very powerful but also presents you with a lot of options to sort out up front as you contemplate your architecture.  With LightSwitch we make it really simple with two choices:  VB or C#!

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To demonstrate the basic features of LightSwitch, we’ll create a project to track Employees.  Since this kind of application always starts off with some form of data, LightSwitch makes it very easy to get going by giving you two choices right away:

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There is no need to go through a complicated set of database operations to get going, I’ll just select “Create new table”.  As you edit the table you’ll notice another feature, business domain data types:

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Choosing these data types gives you data integrity checking automatically and other features.  For example if you select a PhoneNumber, LightSwitch will validate the format of the data you enter and also gives you a detailed edit form for each piece.  In this case I’ll fill out a default table with some Employee columns:

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Creating my main data table was easy.  The next obvious step is to create a couple of screens which will allow me to edit my data.  Doing this is also very easy, simply select the +Screen button on my table:

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As it turns out there are a very common set of patterns used for creating screens.  LightSwitch implements the most common screen patterns by default.  In this case I will select the “Search Data Screen” which gives me a data grid view along with Search capability.  Then simply select the Screen Data setting which points to our Employees table:

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In order to add new Employees to the table, we will also create a “New Data Screen”:

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That’s it!  Now we just hit F5 to get a fully working application:

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Both new screens are present under the Tasks pane.  If you select CreateNewEmployee you can start adding new entries right away.  Notice that if you hit the down arrow on a PhoneNumber field, the domain type allows you to do detailed editing of the field automatically:

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Another common feature you can wind up spending a lot of time on is data validation.  LightSwitch makes this very easy.  For example if I enter an invalid email address, LightSwitch gives me the validation errors automatically:

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When I pull up the SearchEmployee you’ll see a fully completed form that supports Search as well as data paging by default:

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Searching works across all the fields in the table making it easy to find what you are looking for.

Immediate Customization

Once the application is up and running we’ll want to make some tweaks to the user interface.  For typical projects this usually involves making changes to a mark up language (such as XAML or HTML), recompiling, then re-running the application.  LightSwitch makes this process simple by providing the “Customize Screen” button when you are running under the debugger.  As you press the customize button, our running screen is pushed into the upper right and we are given both a tree view of the screen elements as well as a Properties window:

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We can now make display changes, such as changing the name of the displayed columns (for example adding spaces between words or changing the column names altogether from the underlying values in the schema):

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The most interesting thing here is the application is still running.  We have not had to stop the application to make these changes, so when we hit the Save toolbar button, the designers fold away and we are now back to the running application with all of the changes already made:

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This kind of customization really speeds up application development.

Next I can add an EmployeePicture field of type Image.  When I add the new field to the search summary screen, I get a decent layout by default:

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The layout is readable but not the best we could do.  If I switch into Customize mode, we can change the default layout to one of the default line item templates that allows for an image with detailed text:

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After making some adjustments and saving my changes, I now get a better looking details view:

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Office Integration

Integration with Office is another very common task in a business application.  LightSwitch makes this task easy as well.  If we look closer at our SearchEmployee screen, it has a built in “Export to Excel” option:

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In addition to exporting from Excel, you will be able to attach to your Access data, automate Word to generate new data bound documents, activate Outlook, and basically any other task you can do with the Office object model.  For example a common task is to create printed invoices using the Word document format.

Other Data, Including SharePoint

Not all of your data is stored in a single database.  Often time you need to combine data from more than one database as well as other data sources.  LightSwitch makes it easy for you to do joins across disparate data sources (internally using WCF RIA Services to serve up the data).  So as an example you can attach to a SharePoint list and create new screens that combine data from a database and SharePoint.  Being able to do this kind of data mash up is very powerful.  Being able to do the join without having to write any code is just awesome 🙂

Kick Starting the Cloud

I’m sure you’ve seen that we are “All in” on the Cloud and LightSwitch is no exception.  In fact LightSwitch has been designed to target the cloud using the same set of data and screen designers I’ve shown above.  You can easily create your schema and store data using SQL Azure.  Your running business logic can be hosted in the Azure cloud meaning you never have to do administration work.  The really powerful thing about this is there is nothing special for you to do in order to run in the cloud.  You will simply do the deploy step when you are happy with your app and then point your users at the URL.  The same is true of SQL Azure:  it is just like any other database you can target.

Running in the Browser

By default LightSwitch produces a desktop application.  This kind of app can work very easily with local data and can integrate with Office as mentioned above.  Some times you will also want to give access to the application in the browser.  This is very easy using the Properties settings for the application:

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Now when I launch the application with F5, it is brought up in my default browser (I run with IE as my default browser, but in this case I’ve shown it in FireFox to demonstrate the flexibility you have):

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In this case features like “Export to Excel” are no longer enabled given we are running in a browser sand box.  But nonetheless you can see how easy it is to get going.

Extensibility

We are currently starting work with several of our Visual Studio partners to add new extensions for LightSwitch. In particular you should expect a rich set of controls for various types of data and services (such as package shipping).  At the keynote we also demonstrated a new application skin from Infragistics which has a very modern looking UI and is touch screen enabled.  Here again I don’t have to do anything special while writing the application to take advantage of the new extensibility points, I simply have to select the new skin from a drop down box.

Find Out More

In this post I’ve gone through many of the key features of LightSwitch.  One thing I didn’t show here was writing code (it is a Visual Studio product after all).  Because you are using VS, you have the full power of the framework including features line LINQ behind you.  Our goal with LightSwitch is to remove a lot of the “plumbing” work and instead allow you to concentrate on the core business logic of your application so that the code you write is exactly what you want to write and no more.

LightSwitch will not be for every developer or for every business application you write, especially if you have sophisticated needs.  At the same time LightSwitch applications themselves are robust and are built on top of .NET technologies including Entities and WCF, the same technologies you already choose from when you write your apps today.  Because the apps are built on top of .NET with VS you will be able to open your LightSwitch applications in the full version of Visual Studio and do advanced extensions.  This is very helpful when your application starts to become more popular and usage becomes wide spread and you need to do more than the core LightSwitch product supports.

You can find out more about Visual Studio LightSwitch on its new home page here.  If you are attending VSLive! here in Redmond this week please stop by the Hands on Labs section of the event and you can try out LightSwitch yourself.  Later this month we will also release a formal beta for everyone to download.

As the beta comes out later this month I will post a complete step by step tutorial on creating your first LightSwitch application so you can try it for yourself.  Enjoy!

Comments (62)

  1. Mike says:

    Good job guys!  Data+screen is exactly what we're looking for!  We'll check it out

  2. decatec says:

    is this an Access GUI for .NET?

  3. atconway says:

    This looks like a great new feature to add to the robust toolset offered in the .NET realm and look forward to using it for certain needs in the future.  Nice job MSFT

  4. @NeilRobbins says:

    FFS. I keep trying to persuade myself that MS are serious about professional developers, but it's getting hard. From TFS to Microsoft.Data and WebMatrix the crap grows, & now MS add to the problems with this. No wonder MS and its dev community have a poor reputation beyond its own shores. You do a good thing like ASP.NET MVC, Linq, or F# and then let it all down with this. If MS is going to produce this sort of stuff it needs to firmly distance it from the professional developer tools & make clear that it is not fit for professional use. Create a separate hobbyists division, but don't blur the lines like this.

  5. Albin Sunnanbo says:

    What about maintainability when you update your tables with new columns or update existing column definitions. Will the resulting application adapt to the changes with existing modifications intact or do one need to throw out changed parts and redo them from scratch?

  6. Mike Chaliy says:

    @NeilRobbins, I think you didn't got a point. This is tool. Just tool. You do not have to use it if you do not need one. But imagine if you need need tool for intranet to manage customers. Few tables. Nothing more. You will create fully blown architecture? Will use DDD? Five layer architecture? Few tiers? I do not think so. You will make it as simple as you can. And this tool can actually help make it even more simple. Just use it for what it suited for.

  7. D. Lambert says:

    I'll sound off on the "hobbyist vs. Pro" topic:  I can appreciate ease-of-use as much as the next guy, and having a capability like this that's truly customizable seems like a very good thing.  I'd ask two things, though, from a product-positioning standpoint:  First, give us some idea where new stuff like this fits into the VS roadmap, and second, make sure you let us know where the blind alleys are (ie, you can customize *this*, but you're going to run into a lot of resistance if you try to customize *that*).  

    Between these two bits of information, I think we can make a lot better decisions about which technologies to employ on new projects.  I can't wait to take a look at this — it shows lots of promise.

  8. atconway says:

    Dare I stand out and say LightSwitch seems like a useful RAD tool reminiscent a tad of Microsoft Access with wizardry style ability to create data and forms, but with a managed code (.NET Framework) backend… While most of us cringe at the thought of Access and VBA it had/has its place and can be useful.  Not by any means that this is Access; it is probably 100x more.  But I agree with previous comments.  Not every single-form, data entry app request needs to have full blow n-layer, OO architecture, etc., etc. applied.  And this coming from soneone that loves to work on the latter.  I think LightSwitch will prevail as a good tool for certain types of LOB applications that do not need the advanced architecture and design of other apps, but yet still have the full power of the .NET Framework. Seems like it fills a niche where there is a void. And I applaud MSFT for continuing to come out with new products to keep the .NET front strong.

  9. Cox, Ken says:

    This is going to be very valuable to people like the office Excel guru who are wizards with software tools but whose job description does not formally include development.

    weblogs.asp.net/…/visual-studio-lightswitch-welcome-advanced-amateurs.aspx

  10. Silverlight Dev says:

    As a full-time professional developer, I have some concerns about this.

    I worry that a non-technical person (or manager) will create an application in a few seconds or minutes, and then think that software development is easy. Next, they give it to me and say they 'just' want a few 'simple'

    changes that LightSwitch can't handle.

    And, since it only took them a few minutes to create the initial application, they will bitterly complain if it takes me several hours

    or days to add features that are beyond LightSwitch's capability, and

    they won't understand why it takes so long.

    It might be better if Microsoft makes it clear what is easy to do with

    LightSwitch, what is hard, and what is not possible. This way, the

    expectations of management won't be too unrealistic.

  11. Joe Feser says:

    @Silverlight Dev

    I have been fighting that for 13 years on an existing access application. When a non technical person puts together a screen in 4 hours they wonder why it takes a week to do otherwise.

    Hopefully this does not create server side cursors like access. At least that will be a step in the right direction.

    Sadly enough I will most likely use it to convert 50-100 forms over from access just to get it off access and get some source control in place.

  12. Mike says:

    Will it support "SQL Server Compact Edition 4" as the db?  (…as per Scott Gu's announcement   weblogs.asp.net/…/new-embedded-database-support-with-asp-net.aspx )

    Add that, and I think we got a winner here!

  13. Jason Zander says:

    @Mike, @atconway:  thanks!  let me know after you try the Beta on 8/23

    @decatec:  LightSwitch is a Visual Studio product. We still expect people to use Access for building out applications, especially information workers.  But we wanted an easier way to produce business applications that directly utilize .NET features.

    @NeilRobbins: as @Mike said in a later comment, LightSwitch is not meant to replace Visual Studio Professional or the kinds of apps you can build there.  It is good for rapidly producing an application.  The app the tool produces does target a 3-tier architecture, it is built directly on .NET features (many you'd be writing yourself anyway), and you can use advanced language features like LINQ in the code you write.  As I mentioned in the post it won't be for every developer or every application, but for some apps it's great.

    @Albin:  Great question.  LightSwitch maintains all of the relationship data from your entities and your screens and it fixes them for you.  In the post above, I added a new column for employee images.  All I had to do to display that was add the new field into the screen field list and hit F5.  From that perspective it is actually much easier to use than solutions that require code generation from schema.

    @D. Lambert:  great point, I will do a follow up post that talks through this in more detail.  At a high level LightSwitch really is optimized for the "forms over data" scenario.  So if you want to do a lot of custom animation or advanced user interaction, you'd have to do a customized template which is a lot of work (we do expect a set to come in from partners).  Most things will fall into that bucket.  Beyond that your big escape hatch is going out to code and writing what you want on .NET.

    @atconway:  your summry is good and matches our intent. LightSwitch is not meant to replace Access (it is still primarily for programmers) and it is also not meant to replace application architectures that are sophisticated in nature (multiple work flows, multiple services you are building, etc). It's sweet spot is targeting business applications which want to mash up a lot of data but still give you the power of .NET.

    @kjopc:  I've definitely seen some very innovative Excel/Access/etc applications.  Anyone who can write those kind of apps I think will find LightSwitch approachable.  But also to be clear we do view LightSwitch as a companion to Office, not a replacement.  They go great together!

    @Silverlight Dev:  makes sense.  Our goal was to take the very common patterns for these kinds of applications and make it easy to get going.  Our hope is that productivity translates for you, the professional developer.  We definitely don't expect (desire) to be comprehensive in that approach.  We'll do more to outline what is possible vs where you will continue to write your own architecture and implementation.

  14. roman says:

    1000% agree with NeilRobbins

    Guys, for how long you'll continue to produce this crap?! For your information, Northwind is NOT real-world database, and a phone list is NOT a real-world business application. You produce Toys-R-us level toys, and try to present it as real things. Fisher-Price computer is not a real computer.

    This is in fact quite insulting – how stupid do you think we are?

    Note: I'm a professional developer with 20 years of experience, 10 last years in .NET, biz apps and ERP.

  15. Paul says:

    This is very interesting.  I have been doing .NET for a few years now.  Previously I was a Lotus Notes developer.  I have been very happy to leave Notes, not only because it is dead, but also to stay away from a platform that is associated with hobbyists.  I, too, can very much relate to others who have posted about their frustrations with hobbyists who slap something together and think that they can almost do your job.  I really hope that MS does not market this directly to the Analyst who wishes could be technical so that they can bypass developers in as many cases as they can and get as much recognition as possible.  Don't get me wrong, I know that the tool is not going to replace serious development for now, but, IF(!) it takes off, MS will love to see that cash coming in and will continue to pour money into it and develop it for the Analysts who crave that big pat on the back.  This way, everyone wins in the short term except the Developers.  That is, the real Developers.  Then what happens?  The .NET developers start becoming Java developers and the whole plan backfires.  And all of the Mickey Mouse development will plague the MS enterprise ecosystem.

    I really hope that does not happen.  I currently love MS and I really hope they don't make such a misstep.  Please respond.

  16. Daniel Smith says:

    The intentions with LightSwitch are good, in that you're attempting to provide a jump start for developers, however I'm not sure this is the best way to approach it.

    All too often, high level abstractions like this end up on the wayside once the initial interest dies down and the practical limitations of such a highly abstracted framework become apparent.  Just look at now defunct projects such as PopFly or even the fairly mild abstraction that Acropolis attempted to provide.  I really can't see a demand out there for YAF (Yet Another Framework) which inevitably comes with its own set of limitations and whole new sets of APIs you have to learn and plug into in order to work around the limitations of the overall abstraction.

    A much better approach would be to provide template solutions in Visual Studio which could be set up with each of the required projects all linked up and configured in order to create a solid foundation.  Maybe even with a custom wizard in order to guide the user through the initial setup.  The end result would be a proper application that the dev can then freely build on, and see how each of the pieces fit together.  The real advantage would be that you've got a starting point that would be useful for all levels of developer, and it wouldn't be tied into any kind of overall abstraction framework.

  17. Joao Cardoso says:

    If I may I made a blog post on my opinion about this. No need to repeat myself here, so to anyone interested:

    pontonetpt.com/…/en-visual-studio-2010-lightswitch.aspx

  18. BMN says:

    It should be an add on to Visual studio products.( Just for 2 project types why do you need a new visual studio LightSwitch) .

    Developers are sick of your products now.  Too many products for doing the similar task.

    Silverlight/WPF support might be a better option along with 3-tier, 2-tier and web based.

  19. Kevin says:

    Just like WebMatrix , but for the desktop.

    Can't wait to try it out !!!!

  20. ziv says:

    Will you support RTL languages?

  21. Basant says:

    I am happy & can't wait till Aug 23 to get a hands on experience of LightSwitch. It'll help ISV & individual developers to build apps for SMBs. Looks like all what you need for a small apps is taken care of. Why to waste developers time in mundane DB connection and all…

  22. Ruchit S. says:

    @roman: I don't agree with you here. Read the last line of the blog, it clearly mentions that beta is about to come so it hardly makes any difference if it's a simple db or the compex one. Also note that not everone who'll come here and read this would be a 10+ years .Net experience guy though I appreciate your concern. The focus of the article is to give the first-look of the LightSwitch and not to adovate how it deals with complex database. I'm sure MS guys would have more examples to come up with in the time to come, for time being you can start from here – http://www.microsoft.com/…/lightswitch, which is also clearly mentioned in the end of the article.

  23. JC says:

    Looks like a glorified spreadsheet… or access database

  24. shariq says:

    Excelllent job guys….!!!

  25. Paul says:

    This is very interesting.  I have been doing .NET for a few years now.  Previously I was a Lotus Notes developer.  I have been very happy to leave Notes, not only because it is dead, but also to stay away from a platform that is associated with hobbyists.  I, too, can very much relate to others who have posted about their frustrations with hobbyists who slap something together and think that they can almost do your job.  I really hope that MS does not market this directly to the Analyst who wishes could be technical so that they can bypass developers in as many cases as they can and get as much recognition as possible.  Don't get me wrong, I know that the tool is not going to replace serious development for now, but, IF(!) it takes off, MS will love to see that cash coming in and will continue to pour money into it and develop it for the Analysts who crave that big pat on the back.  This way, everyone wins in the short term except the Developers.  That is, the real Developers.  Then what happens?  The .NET developers start moving to other platforms and the whole plan backfires.  And all of the Mickey Mouse development will plague the MS enterprise ecosystem.

    I really hope that does not happen.  I currently love MS and I really hope they don't make such a misstep.  Thoughts?

  26. Michael Washington says:

    I would like to cast a vote for the "I am so happy Microsoft realizes that there are a lot of people who are unable to use the 'Regular' stuff because it is too complicated". Microsoft must do whatever it takes to make tools that those people can use.

    Good job. I hope this and WebMatrix takes off. I am a pro develper, MVP, blah blah blah. To maintain my "Edge" I now how to work harder, so what that's life. My apps must be 10 times what you can create with this tool to justify my pay.

    Thanks fine, I will do that.

  27. KABay says:

    Sorry to hear that some see this product as 'cr*p'. If I had my choice between 'non-developers' creating Access app & databases to support them and seeing them move to an environment where they are leveraging SQL Server databases and building their own tools to maintain them I would choose the latter. This tool looks like a good candidate to achieve this goal.

    And when they come to me asking for just a few little 'tweeks' that are beyond their (and LightSwitch's) capabilities I will do just what I do when they askin for Excel and Access tweeks, tell them IT does not provide support for them and if they have a need for an Enterprise-level application and infrastructure they need to fill out a Project Request to have one built. So if this tool is distributed to the 'unwashed' they have to understand that they have to support it, as far as it will carry them. As a 'simple' tool' it has limitations.

    Therefore I am not afraid for the future and my job. Many will flock to =LightSwitch in the beginning but they will come back when they thirst for more.

  28. Bob says:

    Really who would use this?

  29. Jonathan says:

    This is microsoft's economic stimulus plan.

    1) business user spends money buying LightSwitch

    2) new jobs open up for software developer sto rewrite Access i mean LightSwitch apps.

    I read somewhere else that the apps are silverlight based, so this might be Microsoft's silverlight distribution plan. Once all the companies i develop for have silverlight, i can start cranking out more silverlight.

  30. Jason Zander says:

    @Joe: The screens you put together with LightSwitch are using standard .NET features (including XAML, entities, Ria Services, etc), basically the same technology you are using in VS Pro.  Our hope therefore is that when the app "grows up" it will translate well into a broader environment.  We're doing some follow up posts and sessions on the architecture which hopefully will help explain the design.  Let us know what you think.

    @Mike:  LightSwitch uses SQL Express by default when you create new tables (but of course we target many other types).

    @Roman: given your background and the applications you write it sounds like you are happy with VS Professional and LightSwitch is not something you are interested in.  Our take is not every application requires a high level of sophistication (eg. the order entry system for sales focused company is mission critical; the vacation tracker may not be).  Often there isn't capacity in the IT group so these apps get built anyway.  We'd like to see them written using a robust and scalable architecture that can translate, if required, into the broadly used application space.

    @Paul: Our goal with LightSwitch is not to target Analysts.  I believe there is the need to be able to quickly produce basic applications that still use robust technologies. I definitely do not think LightSwitch replaces the skillset required to do advanced programming.  For exapmle while LightSwitch enables you to consume WCF Ria Services, creating those services is definitely an advanced skillset.  The same is also true of advanced user interfaces.  We will work more to help explain where we think this differentiation is.

  31. Jason Zander says:

    @Daniel:  The approach you are describing is closest to WCF Ria Services in VS Pro in that the controls do the databinding to your sources directly and give you default templates, but of course you have control over the precise layout. We actually built LightSwitch on top of WCF RIA Services for this same reason. You can still escape to .NET to write code, but we also are not trying to replicate all of the features you can do dirctly in VS Pro with the technology.

    @BMN: LightSwitch will be part of future versions of Visual Studio Professional (and above).  When we create stand alone products it is usually to provide an environment that is targeted for a particular scenario. I get a lot of feedback that while Pro is very powerful, it can also be hard to get started because there is so much functionality.  Our Express products are another example of trying to have a focused environment.

    @Kevin, @Basant: let us know what you think!

    @Ziv: We plan to localize LightSwitch to all the same languages as the core Visual Studio product today.  The applications run on top of Silverlight so we get all built in support that exists there.

    @JC: give the beta a shot and then let me know what you think.

    @Shariq: thanks!

    @Michael: looking forward to your feedback, you are describing the problem we'd like to solve: quicker time to a high quality appliction

    @KABay: in general I think we are in agreement.  Our hope is that LightSwitch will create applications that are candidates for "growing up" in that they target the same core .NET technologies you use for high end apps.  At the same time we are not trying to simplfy the entirety of enterprise programming. If "growing up" requires utlization of advanced work flow techniques, complicated SLA's with high end components, etc, then you will arrive at the same inflection point you describe with Excel/Access today.

    @Bob: try out the beta and let me know what you think

    @Jonathan: my focus is enabling programmers to build better applications.  we want to target the core .NET technologies because they are powerful and I see a better on ramp for these applications than those that hit a chasm.  Try the beta and let me know what you think…

  32. weitzhandler says:

    WOW!! This is amazing! finally! we're all eagerly waiting to start experiment it!

    Is there any official LightSwitch blog or RSS I can subscribe and get notified for news?

  33. Ian Ringrose says:

    Is the Microsoft Access for the web age?

  34. MikeG says:

    Not a bad idea.  I'm not sure I'd use it for an enterprise app, because I'd want a lot more control over the architecture.  I could see it filling a niche for doing perhaps administration screens.  I would be curious to see articles in the future on how the extensibility works in .NET.  For example, is it generating a DataGrid that I could customize like I do any .NET DataGrid?  The question you ask for any of these RAD tools is what is the granularity of customization I can do in it?

  35. Ian Ringrose says:

    Why just siverlight and not web as well?

    A tool like this that could create the data entry from for BOTH siverlight and web would be great.  A lot of apps need to be able to be used from a iPhone what will never have siverlight.

  36. B Grant says:

    NOT another app generator. Havent you guys given up on this yet. You just cant stop a bad idea.

  37. Jason Zander says:

    @Shimmy:  Looking forward to your feedback!  The home page for LightSwitch is here msdn.microsoft.com/…/default.aspx which is a good place to look for news and the beta when we release on 8/23.  And of course I will blog the available drop with a tutorial as well.

    @Ian:  Our target is developers whereas Access is very approachable by non developers.  From that perspective we see LightSwitch as a good complient to Access rather than a replacement.

    @MikeG:  Excellent points.  We are working on giving out more information ont he architecture and limitations.  Your example of admin screens sounds like a great use of the tool.

    @Ian:  There are a lot of options we are considering for the backlog.  For this release we've concentrated hard on Silverlight as it gives us both the desktop (easy access to local files and resources) as well as in-browser reach for Windows and Mac (and linux if you target Moonlight).

    @B Grant:  Give the beta a try and let me know what you think.  I don't consider LightSwitch an "app generator"; I worked on case tool systems in the early 90's.  In this case we are using the same underying architecture you use to build .NET line of business applications including WCF Ria Services.  The big difference is rather than having you do all of the pattern based querying / filtering / screen layout we've chosen the most common and made that part simple.

  38. Tudor T. says:

    It's an unfortunate idea the MS is still trying to promote this kind of "visual app. builders" which mare very easy to create CRUD applications.

    Indeed, similar software (Access, 4'th Dimension, Filemaker) has been very successful and to some extent still is, and such products have grown into very complex products.

    The problem is that people have developed very complex business applications using them, which are now very difficult to maintain and extend, full of hidden bugs, and usually, after 10 – 15 years of changes the product is too expensive to be rewritten.

    Without a solid architecture to start with, it will be very difficult to evolve such IDE-generated code into a real application when the requirements start to become more complex.

    Many people have migrated from Access, 4'Th Dim. or other such tools to .NET exactly because of these reasons.

  39. Ian Ringrose says:

    Will it be easy to use Active Directory as a data source?  

    (To get emails, name, "reports to" etc)

  40. Dan P says:

    I've tried to watch the videos at http://www.microsoft.com/…/lightswitch, but after loading it's just goes all white and nothing happens…

  41. Rhyel says:

    LightSwitch will help to create Silverlight Games? Like Flash Web Games?

  42. Stephen Gennard says:

    It looks good..

    How is easy is it to add other languages to Visual Studio LightSwitch?

    Stephen.Gennard@MicroFocus.com

  43. Moo Cow says:

    Using the LightSwitch UI, are the forms completely customizable, or do they need to conform to the layout patterns/templates that LightSwitch comes with? I don't mind templates as a starting point, but if you are rigidly tied to them for the UI layout we won't have a lot of use for the tool. Everything we build is pretty intense on the UI side.

    I have never understood why so many developers whine about how lousy Access is (or in more general terms why so many are so sure that their way is the best/only way.) We use it a lot and it's very productive for the right scenarios. Yes there are plenty of junk Access apps out there and it's got lots of limitations on the technical side. But guess what…the junk aspect, if it exists, is more a product of the developer or the development process than anything else. We've built some extremely successful Access/SQL Server apps which replaced porky .net apps that the users hated to use, didn't solve the business need (even thought they were custom apps), and cost 10x more than the apps we built to replace them. I don't blame .net for those failures.

    LightSwitch will be great if it comes anywhere close to the versatility of Access. The technology stack that LightSwitch is built on is greatly preferable; but if the UI that it can build are inflexible, we won't find much use for it. I have not seen anything in the material out about LightSwitch that indicates real UI flexibility. I hope it's there but just not shown off yet. This is version 1 of course. I do hope that the forms one can build with the coming v 1 of LightSwitch are as flexible as regular winforms or wpf/silverlight, or at least in the vicinity.

  44. RobT says:

    Looking forward to trying this out. I need to develop some sort of a Daily Activity Log for my Sheriff's Office (spreadsheet isn't cutting it) and I'm running into some roadblocks with Visual Basic (I'm not a programmer, just trying to learn some basic principles).

  45. Jaya Kumar says:

    This was very nice idea and it's very useful.

  46. Byron says:

    Looks good.. I'll check this lightswitch..

  47. JoeH says:

    Great idea. I imagine in this version it won't be too powerful, but if you continue regularly adding new features it could be come a fantastic option for quick and simple application development (obviously for relatively simple apps).

    It would be great to see this included 100% in the "Express" packages.

  48. HowardH says:

    Has anyone attempted or thought about hooking LightSwitch up to IBM Mainframe DB/2 data on the back end? HIS Team have a new Entity provider for DB/2, so theorectically this should be possible. Mainframe programmers new to .NET would benefit greatly as they often do lots of reptitive development tasks around theri DB/2 data.

  49. Nelson says:

    I did not read through all the comments so I may have missed this, but will this be a free product similar to the "Express" line?  I would love to use C# Express, but it cannot connect to SQL database backends.  If this product can connect to a SQL 2005 or SQL 2008/R2 database and is free, it might fit my needs.

  50. peter kellner says:

    i think this means i may be able to finally abandon gridview ans sqldatasource for making simple UIs.  maybe even have my own insert now.  good excuse to learn lightswitch.   thanks team lightswitch!

  51. Gboluwaga says:

    Stop condemning MS Access. A great programmer can write sophisticated application with it: Using MS Access forms as front end and connecting to a SQL Server backend. I have written application before in Java, .NET (C# of course), and I can see where LightSwitch fits in. Recently, I got a contract to convert MS Excel data to application. I have been thinking about using MS Access 2010, to develop application to publish to a SharePoint. Now I see another option. I will definitely give this product a try. Thanks to the "almighty" Microsoft

  52. techvslife says:

    This looks perfect for quickly getting done a lot of routine data access work (as msaccess does with flexible forms and form wizards).  Will Lightswitch allow 64-bit development, or access to 64-bit sources (64-bit sql server)?  I ask because I read somewhere that it is based on silverlight, which is still 32-bit only (at least the browser components).  

       Does the dependence on silverlight mean it can be extended only with silverlight-compliant controls or can more general wpf controls be used.  In general, are there any special restrictions or consequences implied by the use of silverlight, rather than the more general or less restrictive wpf?  Thank you.  

       (I'm just starting with wpf or silverlight, so this may be obvious.)

  53. Gboluwaga says:

    Visual Studio LightSwitch is going to succeed big time. With the world buzzing about cloud computing, and an easy tool that you can use to deploy application into the cloud, Microsoft has hit a home run. If those people responsible for this dev tool have a temple in my neighborhood, I will definitely go there to worship! Thank you! Thank You!! T – H – A – N – K    Y – O – U ! ! !

  54. Rahul Kulshrehshta says:

    Light Switch is another great work of Microsoft. Can we create custom screen templates?

    It looks like totally database oriented work but if we go for desktop solution then those will require some other work like fetching system information (PC name, username) so can we do mixed coding?

    If possible also add "Source View" images.

  55. visual studio professional says:

    Could a lightswitch project be opened by vs2010 pro for further customization?

  56. costas Bakopanos says:

    Could a lightswitch project be opened by vs2010 pro for further customization?

  57. bakopanos costas says:

    Could a light switch solution be opened using visual studio pro for further customization?

    Can a light switch solution have many projects? What is the approach for working with light switch in bigger teams?

    Is light switch a follow up of the unfinished "acropolis" project?

    What about ms access? Are they out of business now? There is an awful overlap.

    BTW, really great job! The first case tool that really looks useful. I really enjoyed the keynote.

  58. Hamish Anderson says:

    I've spent some time today connecting a LS app to existing SQL data… wow… once I get my head around some of the extensibility issues and use of custom XAML controls I can see this being a great tool for the novice and pro developer in the SME space. I am a pro .NET developer and I think that all of the negative vibe from other developers is out of fear, this isn't a threat guys – this is an awesome tool to relieve you of the mundane. If you still want to set yourself apart as a pro build on the base that LightSwitch provides beyond the capability of the novice.

    hamish.anderson@trackinginnovations.com.au

  59. Jason Zander says:

    @Tudor – We've published the architecture of LightSwitch apps and the beta is out now.  Give it a try and let me know if you still have concerns, I look forward to your feedback (blogs.msdn.com/…/lightswitch-beta1-now-available-building-your-first-app.aspx)

    @Dan – are you still having this problem?

    @Rhyel – our target for LightSwitch is just business apps.

    @Stephen – at this point we only support C# and VB.  LightSwitch is built on normal VS so it has the right extensibility points, but we are concentrating on just these two for this release.

    @Moo Cow – by default you use the screen templates.  You can add your own screen templates using VS Pro for any LightSwitch app to pick up.  Joe's video on C9 also demonstrates using some custom XAML to change the form, although that is more advanced.

    @Rob – the beta is out now, let us know what you think

    @Howard – we are using standard database protocols and entity providers so if you have a driver you are set (Oracle and DB/2 work today).

    @Nelson – we have not finalized the packaging of LightSwitch yet.  We expect there to be a stand alone product and it will plug into the broader Visual Studio product line.  We'll share more as we get closer to final release.

    @techvslife – we are based on Silverlight for this release so the controls extensibility have to be the same.

    @Gboluwaga – thnaks!  let us know what you think of the beta

    @Rahul – you can indeed create custom templates using VS Pro.  Our beta 1 docs are kind of sparse right now but expect more details coming up.  We have 3rd parties adding extensions as we speak.

    @visual studio professional – indeed, you can open a LS app in VS Pro.  Note that you are still using the LS designers et al.  You will do more formal cusotmization by creating a formal extension for LightSwitch.

    @bakopanos – You can open LS app in VS Pro.  LS is not based on "acropolis".  We are a compliment to Access, not a replacement.  Let us know what you think of the beta!

    @Hamish – thanks!  and well said

  60. Vladislav says:

    LS is amusing thing. I always want to see modern business-oriented IDE with modern language, for example C#, but when I saw LS I was dissapointed – LS is too far from real business automation. it reminds a toy car, which can go, you can manage it, but it is TOY. and I would also like to see an integrated support for making print forms (for documents, reports, etc).

  61. Dominique says:

    Hello,

    I love Microsoft Visual Studio LoghtSwitch as it is "easy" to use it… But I am missing the part for the end-users using the Application I developped as they need to install .Net 4.0 , LightSwicth also… I am confused… what are the real pre-requisite for the end-users.

    If these pre-requisites are mandatory any way to install them on a server and having the application running from the server? bad idea?

    Thanks,

    Dom

  62. Ramani Sandeep says:

    nice product but will be very useful for non technical persons to develop app in few seconds.