Tag Archives: Dynamics CRM

Second Look at LightSwitch in VS2013 Preview

More Impressions OF LightSwitch

And Visual Studio 2013 Preview

This week has been very busy for most people involved with Microsoft technologies as the BUILD 2013 ( #BLDWIN ) and TechEd 2013 draw to a close.

Our teams have been busy evaluating and testing. As most activities have been successful and gratifyingly trouble free, some more feedback is available for LightSwitch V4 Preview and Visual Studio Extensions.

Xpert360 Lightning Series in VS2013 Preview

Xpert360 Lightning Series in VS2013 Preview

Above is a screen of a preview of the AIDE power tool running in Visual Studio 2013, an upgraded LightSwitch Rich-Client (V2 > V4) application, our LightSwitch Theme Generator tool, and four of our LightSwitch extensions migrated to VS2013.

For extensions the targeted version range in the manifest needed to include the internal version number ‘12.0’. So now the range is ‘[11.0, 12.0]’ in the manifests. The Dynamics adapter is slightly different as it is built in VS2010 so targets ‘VSLS’ and ‘10.0’ as well.

The LightSwitch theme packs worked straight away but the other extensions required some additional changes and testing.

Xpert360 Office Theme Pack Install for LightSwitch

Xpert360 Office Theme Pack Install for LightSwitch

The ThemeGen application is what we use internally to edit and validate LightSwitch themes for Rich-Client/Desktop/Silverlight clients. When dealing with the 600+ colors in the Cosmopolitan styles it is a big time saver.

In an unusual take on ‘eat-your-own-dog-food’ style, the upgraded ThemeGen is sporting themes from our VS2013 preview of Office Theme Pack, that was created using its self. For anyone new to LightSwitch, yes these are real screens of a real LightSwitch app delivered in true RAD-fashion.

VS2013 LightSwitch in Dark Blue Theme

VS2013 LightSwitch app in VS2012 Color Theme

VS2013 LightSwitch app in Dark Blue theme

VS2013 LightSwitch app in Dark Blue theme

The theme pack contains a total of eight themes.

Office Themes in VS2013 LightSwitch

Office Themes in VS2013 LightSwitch

Our remaining themes, theme packs, extensions and samples are in the queue to be upgraded and should be available over the coming weeks.

Conclusions

We have successfully upgraded some LightSwitch applications (Rich-Client and Mobile-Client) from V2 to V4 and V3 to V4.

Apart from the issues already noted by bloggers and the LightSwitch team, the process has been relatively smooth to-date.

We are running VS2012 Update 3 and VS2013 Preview side-by-side on Windows 7 and Windows 8 OS platforms.

We are in the process of upgrading Visual Studio extensions to VS2013 Preview and this process is also going well.

Good job all around!

Advertisements

Lightning Series for Salesforce CRM released

Microsoft LightSwitch data source extension for Salesforce

Xpert360 Lightning Series for Salesforce released!

This week saw the release of the next Lightning Series product aimed at bringing together Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch with Salesforce. We are expecting to see a surge in uptake of LightSwitch as VS11 beta approaches release. Add to that Office365, the rollout of Windows 8 and the next version of Visual Studio. The Lightning Series products will be addressing the integration and productivity needs of this market space bringing together disparate data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM online/on-premise, Salesforce, Zendesk, HubSpot, Nimble, Office365 and more…

The products are professionally developed commercial software with support contracts available. The difference is the commitment of Xpert360 to deliver FREE product licenses for everyone. This policy will continue provided that there is enough interest from the communities and enough revenue is raised from add-on work and custom versions for Enterprise use. The more people use the Lightning Series products, the better they will get and everyone will benefit.

We develop and use code generation technology rather than purely develop the actual products themselves. This helps us to drive down development costs and is allowing us to transition these activites to the cloud and SaaS over the next year.

The next release of the Salesforce adapter is expected by the end of June 2012 and there is still time for user feedback into the release program.

The next Lightning Series LightSwitch Data Source to be released will support zendesk. We decided that because we are using it ourselves. After that we will be looking for feedback to gauge the demand to prioritize the release other data adapters for the likes of HubSpotnimble and Office365. The series will soon include other custom controls and very importantly, Enterprise-class productivity tools aimed at LightSwitch to make the platform irresistible.

For more information visit the Xpert360 Support and Forums and follow this blog to see how the story unfolds.

Xpert360 Lightning Series for Salesforce

Visual Studio Gallery – Xpert360 Lightning Series for Salesforce

Visual Studio Gallery entry

Visual Studio Gallery entry

Lightning Series for Dynamics CRM Online released

LightSwitch Data Source for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

This week saw the release of the first Lightning Series product aimed at bringing together two of the latest Microsoft product offerings. We are not the only ones expecting to see a surge in uptake of LightSwitch and Dynamics CRM over the next 18 months. Add to that Office365, the rollout of Windows 8 and the next version of Visual Studio. The Lightning Series products will be addressing the integration and productivity needs of this market space.

The products are professionally developed commercial software with support contracts available. The difference is the commitment of Xpert360 to deliver FREE product licenses for everyone. This policy will continue provided that there is enough interest from the communities and enough revenue is raised from add-on work and custom versions for Enterprise use. The more people use the Lightning Series products, the better they will get and everyone will benefit.

We develop and use code generation technology rather than purely develop the actual products themselves. This helps us to drive down development costs and is allowing us to transition these activites to the cloud and SaaS over the next year.

If the demand is there then the next release of the Dynamics CRM adapter, expected by the end of April 2012, will support both on-premise and online, federated security and more…

The next Lightning Series LightSwitch Data Source to be released will support salesforce. We decided that because we generate revenue in that area and use the adapters ourselves. After that we will be looking for feedback to gauge the demand to release other data adapters for the likes of HubSpotnimble and SUGARCRM. The series will also include other custom controls and productivity tools aimed at supporting LightSwitch in the VS11 Beta and beyond and making the platform more appealing to professional developers.

For more information visit the Xpert360 Support and Forums and follow this blog to see how the story unfolds.

Visual Studio Gallery entry

Visual Studio Gallery entry

Using SalesForce and Dynamics CRM with Visual Studio LightSwitch

“Integrate the local/on-premise/cloud islands of data into low-cost, agile modern data mashup applications and can they be ready tomorrow, please!”

We received a request to see if salesforce CRM data could be made available for application integration soon followed by a similar request for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online data.

LightSwitch Mashup Application

LightSwitch Mashup Application with added Bing, custom visualisations, OpenXML document generation, PivotViewer etc.

Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch was released in 2011 and provides a code-free application building experience designed to appeal to business power users. Since then we have been using it mostly as a RAD prototyping tool.

A characteristic of LightSwitch is its focus on business utility. It presents business-savvy native data types like e-mail and money, including automated validation, input masks and formatting. Although it is a really good platform, it needs extending to reach beyond being a niche product for small developments. Fortunately, it is customizable and extensible and the real power is unleashed when put in the hands of skilled .NET developers.

SalesForce Data Source in LightSwitch Dynamics CRM Data Source in LightSwitch
SalesForce and Dynamics CRM Data Sources in LightSwitch provided by Xpert360 custom adapters

Most samples and articles concentrate on extending LightSwitch using custom controls, few cover custom data extensions. We will be doing the same in some upcoming posts about data visualisation, Bing maps amd PivotViewer in LightSwitch. Going beyond this and enabling the myriad sources of business data to be consumed by LightSwitch brings new possibilities.

Rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’ we attempted to use other third-party tools but they proved to be inadequate, slow and not designed to fully unlock the potential of LightSwitch. Any commercial custom data adapter needs to be designed to support LightSwitch and other .NET technologies such as MVC3. A LightSwitch data extension that does not natively support data contract metadata, relationships and foreign keys is not really much of a LightSwitch data extension.

CRM Entities in LightSwitch designer with defaults, validation and relationships 'out-of-the-box'

CRM Entities in LightSwitch designer with defaults, validation and relationships 'out-of-the-box'

XML underpins the integration of all these application layers and services from XAML screen definitions, LightSwitch metadata, configuration settings, SOAP WDSL’s through to data serialisation and storage.

Full support for SalesForce extended metadata in LightSwitch

Full support for SalesForce extended metadata in LightSwitch

So, we designed and built our own and having to use our own software is a good driver for quality. We are currently running a private beta program for the Xpert360 Lightning Series data adapters for salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and are in the final stages of preparing them for general release.

The adapters support most CRUD operations subject to the security context of the connected user. They include efficient caching to speed your applications along and reduce the Web API calls.

Field-level validation inherited automatically from CRM

Field-level validation inherited automatically from CRM

Using the Web API’s requires a salesforce Enterprise Edition subscription or a developerforce account. To access the Dynamics CRM Online services requires Windows Identity Foundation for the security.

Windows Azure Demonstration accessing SalesForce data

Windows Azure Demonstration accessing SalesForce data

We also have versions of the adapters in testing for Windows Azure, other Dynamics CRM versions (security models and on-premise) and proof of concept projects for HTML5, Windows 8 WinRT and Windows Phone. The availability of support for these variations will be subject to customer demand and platform releases, not least our own application development and custom development service projects.

SalesForce Opportunity in LightSwitch Screen Designer

SalesForce Opportunity in LightSwitch Screen Designer is just a few clicks away

We have already trialled an offline support model that can provide a partial or total mirror of the CRM data. Our initial thoughts are that this will be provided as a part of an ‘Enterprise’ version and custom solutions. This feature has turned out to be an essential aid to internal product testing against a developerforce account. We will be seeking early adopters in this area later in 2012.

SalesForce data replication for offline support in MSMS

We have custom tools to enable rapid building of custom data adapters. This is useful for customers that have installed third-party extensions or modified the CRM schema. You may wish to have a custom adapter that only implements access to a small subset of CRM entities. We may offer lightweight adapters if that is an option that looks viable based upon feedback.

Data update collision detection and resolution features are scheduled for a subsequent release. There are also more features surrounding caching, paging, metadata and custom queries to come as well as non-English versions.

Any feedback or enquiries welcome at mailto:info@xpert360.com

Other useful links: