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LightSwitch Beta 2 Adds Support for Windows Azure

by Abel Avram on Mar 17, 2011 |

Visual Studio LightSwitch Beta 2 implements features promised from the beginning, such as cloud support, and improves its functionality based on user feedback collected since Beta 1 was made public in August last year:

  • Publish to Azure: the Publish Wizard now provides the ability to publish a LightSwitch desktop or browser application to Windows Azure, including the application’s database to SQL Azure.
  • Improved runtime and design-time performance: Build times are 50% faster in Beta 2 and we have made the build management smarter to improve iterative F5 scenarios by up to 70%. LightSwitch Beta 2 applications will startup up to 30% faster than Beta 1. … The middle tier data load/save pipeline has been optimized to improve throughput by up to 60%.
  • Runtime UI improvements: Auto-complete box, better keyboard navigation, and improved end-user experience for long-running operations.
  • Allow any authenticated Window user: The project properties UI now allows you to authenticate any Windows user in a LightSwitch application while still using the LightSwitch authorization subsystem for determining user permissions for specific users.

LightSwitch is a Microsoft tool for “developers of all skill levels” who want to build simple business applications in a short time without having to understand most of the underlying technologies. LightSwitch generates applications based on the presentation-logic-data storage architecture. The developers starts from creating tables or data entities using the built-in database or an external data source. The next step is creating a series of screens that are meant to display the data and accept user input, and by establishing relationships between the screens and data entities. A screen is a unit of work, with no shared data between screens, and they are created following the MVVM pattern. All is done with mouse clicks, the tool generating all the underlying code. The developer can edit the code in C# or VB.NET if he needs additional functionality. LightSwitch then generates a Silverlight application that can be deployed to the desktop or in the browser while the related application services (WCF RIA Services) can be deployed on user’s machine, on an IIS server or on Windows Azure. The application architecture and the underlying technologies employed by LightSwitch are depicted in the following image:

image

Some have argued that Visual Studio LightSwitch is amateurish reminding of the old Access, but others consider it appropriate for small businesses with simple needs, being able to create their own CRUD applications without having to hire programmers for that. 

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