New Entity Workbench for LightSwitch

LightSwitch Entity Workbench in Xpert360 Lightning AIDE V1.1 Preview

The original and genuine Power Tools for Visual Studio LightSwitch!

The LightSwitch Entity Workbench is a new feature of AIDE V1.1 for LightSwitch. This next version of the power tools is being tested and we are going to show a sneak preview. There is a later version of this preview available to download. In this post we will outline the high-level features of the new workbench.

AIDE for LightSwitch is supplied as a signed Visual Studio Extension. Future releases will also move towards GitHub for easier distribution of upgrades.The AIDE software is integrated into the Visual Studio IDE as standard and familiar dockable windows. The LightSwitch Entity Workbench window can be accessed from the ‘View‘ menu ‘Other Windows‘ and upon first launch will display as below.

AIDE Entity Workbench window

AIDE Entity Workbench for LightSwitch

The window can be dragged, docked and controlled just like any other Visual Studio IDE windows. You will have to experiment with the placement as everyone has their own configuration preferences. The Entity Workbench window brings all information for a selected entity into one place. There is no need to click through several layers of menus and designer commands to view fragmented data, it is served up in a convenient and easily digestible format. It nicely complements working in the standard LightSwitch Entity designer window.

It surfaces all the data in tabular format for easy reviewing. This improves productivity, in particular, when working with medium to large LightSwitch projects. The insights that this gives you make this not just an add-in but an essential development tool.

Workbench window sections:

  • Entity properties and commonly used settings
  • Related screen dependencies
  • Choice lists groups and settings
  • Custom properties and their settings
  • Relationships to other entities
  • Custom and in-built entity queries

The entity properties section enables you to view and compare settings with the need to click on individual column and then view in the properties window. The standard designer is unwieldy in this respect with wide tables.

Entity properties and settings

Entity properties and settings

Here you can see instantly which columns are searchable, maximum lengths, maximum/minimum values and much more. This makes any process of checking settings and quality assurance a whole lot easier. You can sort the data by any column, rearrange the column order and export to the clipboard as standard. Using AIDE to export all entity data to Office documents is a big time saver for project documentation. The data views support clients of V2 and V3 flavors, and support multiple LightSwitch projects in a solution.The VS2012 Update 2 and preview of LightSwitch V4 in VS2013 deliver a new ‘related to’ feature in designers. Why wait? It is there now in AIDE for your V2 projects in the Related Screens section from where you can also launch the related screens in design mode.

Screen dependencies in AIDE Entity Workbench

Screen dependencies in AIDE Entity Workbench

Another time saver in the above screen capture is the display of choice lists. Normally, you would click on columns in screen designer and drill-through the standard properties windows just to view a choice list in a modal window.

We have singled out custom properties for special treatment. Custom property types include Money and PhoneNumber which AIDE helps to tame. A V1.1 enhancement to the LightSwitch Explorer window provides a solution-wide view of PhoneNumber format mask settings. Not normally easy to find at all! One view verifies whether all your phone number formats match.

AIDE Entity Workbench Custom Properties

AIDE Entity Workbench Custom Property settings

We have saved Updating LightSwitch metadata until this next version V1.1 as we had not completed the full cycle of testing in time for the first release. The much anticipated one-click Clone Screen feature did make the V1.0 and is being put to good use already. We anticipate that solution-wide editing of format masks will be an item on the feature request list for later implementation (subject to demand).

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There are many more features in design, development and testing. This past week has been busy with the Visual Studio 2013 Preview and Michael Washington’s new E-Book released and ComponentOne providing an exclusive release of the ComponentOne Studio for LightSwitch HTML to the members of the LightSwitchHelpWebsite.com! For a member’s discount code offer you must register at LightSwitch Help Website , the main independent LightSwitch community website.

Try them, buy them, and support your LightSwitch tooling ISVs.

Also, do participate in forums and vote on your desired AIDE features. Help us to help you by prioritising the features in the product roadmap! Export/Import entities and screens, check. Entity Workbench, check. VS2013, check. How about a localization workbench? Optimization and analysis workbench? Mmm, we like that… Update which metadata fragments? That is a flavour of a few forthcoming features, we need to keep a few things secret to surprise you though!

ooo

Company information: Xpert360 Ltd, founded in 2009, is an Independent Software Vendor and Custom Solution Provider base in the UK.

Xpert360 Lightning” and “AIDE for LightSwitch” are trademarks of Xpert360 Ltd, copyright 2013.

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