Monday, November 28, 2011

A review of Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development by Jayaram Krishnaswamy

As a Microsoft MVP, I was fortunate enough to be able to see demos and follow the development of Microsoft’s  project Kitty Hawk, better known now by its release name of Visual Studio LightSwitch (VSLS). I was then, and remain now, very excited about this new version of Microsoft Visual Studio.

VSLS is exciting because it brings Rapid Application Development (RAD) into Microsoft.Net development; something that many developers have complained has been missing since VB6.

VSLS is exciting because it provides an easier .Net development platform for the “techie” that does not want to learn all the complexities of the full .Net stack but needs to quickly deliver line-of-business applications that solve yesterday’s problems today.

VSLS is exciting because it provides a migration path to the full Microsoft .Net professional application when and if that becomes necessary, since it is part of the Visual Studio family.

In “Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development” (ISBN: 978-1-849682-86-2), Jayaram Krishnaswamy, provides a clear path to understanding and using Visual Studio LightSwitch. Published in September 2011, it covers the released version of VSLS with the latest features, not the earlier Beta 1 which was significantly different; be careful to avoid VSLS books based on Beta 1.

Filled with full-color screen images and ample references, the book introduces the necessary concepts and skills in a natural order, one that should be comfortable even to someone with no prior VSLS experience. Examples and sample code are provided in both C# and Visual Basic.

The table of contents are:

Chapter 1 – Getting Started with Microsoft LightSwitch
Chapter 2 – Microsoft LightSwitch IDE and Architecture
Chapter 3 – Accessing Data from a VSLS Application
Chapter 4 – Screens in VSLS Application
Chapter 5 – Working with Entities
Chapter 6 – Querying and Filtering Data
Chapter 7 – Writing Code in Microsoft LightSwitch
Chapter 8 – Authentication and Authorization in VSLS
Chapter 9 – Deploying LightSwitch Applications
Chapter 10 – Troubleshooting, Debugging, Custom Controls, and Extensions

Some books choose to pick a single application and progressively enhance it with each chapter. I am not a fan of this approach since it makes it much harder to jump around to learn specific skills as needed or use the book as a reference. Fortunately, Jayaram does not do this, instead tailoring each example to clearly illustrate the point at hand.

When I began my professional career as a developer, each software program came with a comprehensive printed manual and it was possible to take the manual home and read it over the weekend and come into work on Monday morning, ready to be productive on the first day.  Today, as you know, comprehensive printed manuals have disappeared and it is up to the developer to find and use the best learning resources from myriad sources, each offering only a piece of the information needed. I miss having software product manuals. To my knowledge, Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development is the most comprehensive single resource available today for learning to use Visual Studio LightSwitch.  It is the next best thing to having an official manual; some would say better due to its conversational tone.

Whether you are an experienced developer or just interested in development in Visual Studio LightSwitch, I recommend you read this book.

Joe Kunk
Microsoft MVP Visual Basic
Okemos, MI USA
November 2011

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a free ebook for this review. No other compensation was given.

 

 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Free Databases in the Windows Azure Marketplace

The Windows Azure Marketplace has a hidden jewel: a host of free and nearly free databases.

My article on Windows Azure Marketplace databases just published online and in the November 2011 print issue of Visual Studio Magazine.

http://visualstudiomagazine.com/Articles/2011/11/01/Free-Databases-in-the-Window-Azure-Marketplace.aspx

This article explores 14 different free databases or databases that are free for the first several thousand queries per month. These include topics such as language translation, economics, crime, health, real estate, and global statistics.

A sample MVC 3 web site is available for download that demonstrates using these databases, in both C# and Visual Basic code.  The same techniques used can be used to consume the additional 100+ paid databases available in the Windows Azure Marketplace in many more topics.

I hope you find it useful.

Joe Kunk
Microsoft MVP Visual Basic
Okemos, MI USA
November 2011