LightSwitch in Visual Studio 2012 Proves Effective as RAD Tool

By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2013-02-12 Print this article Print

Adding the tab event is easy. You get a dialog box that includes default actions you can choose from, one of which is called showBrowseTitles. This appeared in the list after I added my Titles browse screen. I chose that one and then I had to choose the type of “task.” This one threw me for a loop until I realized what it meant: Each subsequent screen you navigate to can have buttons in the upper-right corner. A screen where you might enter and save data could have a Save button. A screen that doesn’t have that would just have a “Back” button. In this case, I chose the “Back” task.

That was it.  Now when I ran my app, I could click on (or “tap”) a Genre and go to a screen showing me the titles available under that genre—or at least that was the theory. I apparently incorrectly configured my data and instead of seeing a title, I’m seeing an ID. That’s okay; in other apps I configured the data correctly.

Adding subsequent screens was just as easy. Instead of adding a Browse screen, I did a Details screen where it would display details of a title, and so on. I couldn’t add data with the NetFlix data source, but I could with my own custom data. Screens for adding data worked nicely, and included drop-downs for dates. And, of course, they all performed well on my iPhone.

Working With LightSwitch

While using LightSwitch for various tasks, I noticed some things that were a bit odd. Whereas with a normal programming tool, you create a new file and then you save it before closing it. If you close without saving, you lose your changes. That’s true not with programming tools, but with most tools, including this word processor I’m working with.

But with Lightswitch, closing automatically saves. So if you create a new table, but then decide you don’t want the table and close it without saving—too late. It’s already there and it’s given a generic name. You have to then right-click on it in the solution explorer and delete it. Also, if you make changes and decide you want to abort, you don’t want to just close it, thinking you’ll get rid of your changes. Your changes will be saved. Instead, you need to use the Undo feature.


What would you use this for? It’s best for in-house apps. In the past I’ve said the same thing for LightSwitch and my view there was partly based on the Silverlight requirements. But still, even though it can now run in basically any browser and it looks decent on the small mobile screens, it’s still a quick RAD tool and the apps look like they were made by one. But if you are looking for an effective RAD tool, this one definitely works well. While LightSwitch lets you quickly assemble applications, you can drop down to the code level to make more complex apps with it.


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