Tag Archives: lightning series

First look at LightSwitch V4 in VS2013 Preview

VisualStudio 2013 ( #VS2013 ) Preview

… was released yesterday coinciding with the BUILD 2013 conference ( #BLDWIN )  in San Francisco.

There is a LightSwitch session by Joe Binder scheduled for today:

Building Modern, HTML5-based Business Applications on Windows Azure and Office 365 with Visual Studio LightSwitch

Today should also see the first blog articles and materials from the LightSwitch Team based on this new release.

So, we have installed and tried out LightSwitch V4 and our initial thoughts are here. This version is focused on improving team development and the LightSwitch IDE experience. We have yet to try out deployment and there should be some surprises unveiled later.

VS2013 Preview Install including LightSwitch V4

VS2013 Preview Install including LightSwitch V4

The VS2013 Preview can be installed side-by-side with VS2012 Update 3 (also released yesterday). You will be required to reboot after the installation. We installed it on an old Windows 7 Ultimate machine.

You can see the LightSwitch V4.0 contents on disk afterwards.

LightSwitch V4.0 on disk

LightSwitch V4.0 on disk

This “SQL Database Project” will require some more information later. Anyone?

[Update: @janvanderhaegen ] This is for providing ‘seed data’ to populate your database. Thanks Jan! We look forward to experimenting with this.

LightSwitch and SQL Database Project

LightSwitch and SQL Database Project

So we will not get too excited and read too much into this until we hear about it and try it out for real!

The most obvious difference in the IDE is the view of your project in Solution Explorer. The much maligned “Logical/File View” option is gone, there is only one view, it will feel more familiar now to non-LightSwitch developers.

LightSwitch V4 in Solution Explorer

LightSwitch V4 in Solution Explorer

The LSML files containing the application metadata have been split into separate LSML files, one per screen and entity, that contain partial fragments. This will be a big win for team development and source control management using TFS.

The screens and entities appear in the explorer as ‘lsml’ files with code-behind files appearing as child items, much like Xaml/C#/VB items appear.

The available menus for items in solution explorer are mostly the same as before.

Solution Explorer Menus

Solution Explorer Menus

You can still only officially have one of each type of client in a LightSwitch V4 project: one RichClient/SilverLight, one MobileWeb/HTML.

Screen Context Menu

Screen Context Menu

The screen context menu does not have a ‘Copy’ option.

Luckily we have Xpert360 Lightning AIDE for LightSwitch approaching release. AIDE provides a much anticipated ‘Clone/Copy’ screen feature, amongst other things, for LightSwitch V2 and V3 projects. This LightSwitch Power Toolkit will be upgraded to provide the same for V4 projects in VS2013 later this year.

There is a video of cloning screens in AIDE here.

Each screen and entity loads into it’s own designer window. Overall this is great, giving you the possibility of viewing project items side-by-side like below:

LightSwitch screen designer windows

LightSwitch screen designer windows

Sometimes this can be disconcerting in the entity designer windows if you are used to drilling-down through entities and relationships as you quickly end up with a multitude of windows open. It works perfectly well for screen but we would prefer it different for the entity diagram. Time will tell if this feeling persists.

There is still an odd anomaly with the HTML client property view for an entity.

HTML Client Default Screen?

HTML Client Default Screen?

The property window for the HTML client lists the RichClient/Silverlight screens as default screen options. Luckily it does not break the project and appears unused at the moment.

If you flick through the menus you will notice potential other commands and standard Visual Studio 2013 operations. They are tempting but please don’t try out anything on you critical solutions and projects, and make sure you have a backup!

You will:

  • Add new item
  • Add existing item
  • Create subfolders
  • Sometimes drag-n-drop screens and entities

All these operations will likely result in this:

Clone screen good the rest bad!

Clone screen good the rest bad!

So you have been warned, but it is a preview after all. Happy testing.

Conclusions

Clearly for team developments this version looks like it has the potential to be a big win. Most effort for V4 has been concentrated in the IDE.

Will multiple clients and clients that target Windows 8.1 be on the radar. We can hope, but at this speed of delivery we are not betting against LightSwitch V5 appearing before the end of 2013.

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Xpert360 Lightning FUSION CE for VS2012 RC Released

[UPDATE: 20-JULY-2013] Xpert360 Lightning AIDE for LightSwitch

The community addition has been discontinued for the foreseeable future. The complexities involved in the rapid releases of Visual Studio and LightSwitch versions have taken their toll. It became unfeasible for us to maintain it for free. Unfortunate, but almost inevitable with the new release cadence.

The LightSwitch Clone Screen feature is available now in the paid for AIDE for LightSwitch product. AIDE supports LightSwitch V2, V3 and soon V4 flavours of LightSwitch projects, in Visual Studio 2012 versions to Update 3. This includes rich client and html client support (Silverlight and HTML5). V4 support will be in the AIDE version targeting VS2013 RTM later in the year.

ooo

The VS2012 RC version was packaged and uploaded for preview to the Visual Studio Gallery today. The LightSwitch 2011 version needs some final integration tests running tomorrow. We tried out the extension on the LightSwitch HTML Client VHD preview and we will build a version for that too.

Here in our Xpert360 development labs we have been busy prototyping, designing, building and testing companion products for Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 and 2012 RC. This is the first in the FUSION range that augment the LightSwitch designer capabilities. In time, we hope that similar features will be added to standard product. Meanwhile, we will support and enhance these extensions.

We have dedicated the LightSwitch Screen and Query Clone features to the Microsoft LightSwitch Team who are continuing to enhance and deliver arguably the most awesome RAD platform. Just look at that HTML Client preview!

Download from VS Gallery

Xpert360 Lightning Fusion CE in the VS Gallery

Xpert360 Lightning Fusion CE in the VS Gallery

Lightning Series FUSION - Entity List Details

Lightning Series FUSION – Contact entity in the prototype companion designer.

Lightning Series Fusion - Clone Screen Menu Item

Lightning Series Fusion – Clone Screen Menu Item

Clone LightSwitch Screens and Queries

Clone LightSwitch Screens and Queries

Click to reload the LightSwitch LSML files, reload the designer to access the cloned screen or query.

Do make sure you take backups and report back on your successful cloning. Any problems then get back to us and we will try to diagnose and fix.

Some points of note

  1. The new menu commands are available in the context menus for LightSwitch screens and queries in the solution explorer window.
  2. The name of the cloned entity is taken from the original entity name with a version number appended.
  3. Always make sure you take backups of your project.
  4. The clone functions manipulate the Client.lsml file.
  5. After cloning you will be prompted to reload the Client.lsml file, then the designer, this is normal behaviour.
  6. After the project reopens you can access the cloned screen or query.
  7. This extension works with VS2012 RC, not the HTML Client preview and not LightSwitch 2011.

Testing

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the clone functions operate correctly in a wide variety of LightSwitch projects it is up to you to test and verify that it works in your environment, with your custom LightSwitch extensions, service packs, patch levels and complexity of screens.

The Xpert360 development team have performed extensive testing against all standard LightSwitch types, custom controls and custom business types including the Pixata controls.

We are now adept at running tools to diagnose and fix corrupt Lsml files, even manual Xml edits: so you don’t have to hopefully!

What it does not do

We have not tested against custom shells and all possible custom controls from third-parties. You can help yourselves and the community by providing feedback for third-party controls that work with FUSION CE and reporting any bugs to warn others and so that we can investigate and supply fixes.

The clone functions do not clone or copy custom C# or VB code associated with a screen or query.

We are in the final stages of packaging a version that works with LightSwitch 2011.

We are working on a preview version to work with the HTML Client VHD version of VS2012 RC.

Anybody ever wanted to clone a LightSwitch Screen?

[UPDATE: 20-JULY-2013] Xpert360 Lightning AIDE for LightSwitch.

The community addition has been discontinued for the foreseeable future. The complexities involved in the rapid releases of Visual Studio and LightSwitch versions have taken their toll. It became unfeasible for us to maintain it for free.

The LightSwitch Clone Screen feature is available now in the paid for AIDE for LightSwitch product. AIDE supports LightSwitch V2, V3 and soon V4 flavours of LightSwitch projects, in Visual Studio 2012 versions to Update 3. This includes rich client and html client support (Silverlight and HTML5). V4 support will be in the AIDE version targeting VS2013 RTM later in the year.

[UPDATE: 28-MAY-2012] Released VS2012 RC version https://xpert360.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/xpert360-lightning-fusion-ce-for-vs2012-rc-released/ in Visual Studio Gallery:

[UPDATE: 22-MAY-2012] VS2012 RC version passed tests today …

Here in our Xpert360 development labs we have been busy prototyping, designing, building and testing companion products for Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 and 2012 RC.

When you try these products you will know why we consider them to be the essential LightSwitch companions. We are very excited by these tools and just don’t know how we ever managed without them.

We would like to dedicate the LightSwitch Screen Clone feature to the Microsoft LightSwitch Team who are continuing to enhance and deliver arguably the most awesome RAD platform.

Lightning Series FUSION - Entity List Details

Lightning Series FUSION – Contact entity in the prototype companion designer.

Take the following default LightSwitch List Detail screen for the Contacts entity served-up by the Lightning Series for Dynamics CRM Online data adapter. This entity has more than 150 properties and is unwieldly to manage in the standard IDE.

Xpert360 Lightning Series - Default Screen before a makeover

Default ListDetail screen for Dynamics CRM Online Contacts

After investing some 15 minutes frantically deleting, clicking and dragging items around in the LightSwitch screen design we are now approaching a half-usable screen design.

Xpert360 Lightning Series - LightSwitch screen in design

LightSwitch screen in design undergoes many iterations and there is no undo function!

We just invested considerable effort (in LightSwitch timescales!) modifying this read-only screen and we need a similar screen that allows the end-users to edit some of the Contact’s properties. Start again? No, just clone it!

Lightning Series Fusion - Clone Screen Menu Item

Lightning Series Fusion – Clone Screen Menu Item

Click to reload the LightSwitch LSML files and a few quick edits…

Lightning Series Fusion - Cloned Screen

FUSION – Cloned Screen generated and modified in a couple of minutes

  1. Add LightSwitch screen – 10 seconds
  2. Re-design screen – 15 minutes
  3. Clone screen – 10 seconds
  4. Time saved – priceless!

Community edition coming to your LightSwitch IDE desktop very soon!

So you got this far, still reading. I think I’ve got that friday feeling #FF so lets tease you some more. What if… I could transfer screens between projects. Why not include queries, entites and all my settings. What if… I could generate documentation, compare projects, mass generate screens, mass change property attributes, apply templates, localise my application in a few clicks. Yes, these are the things LightSwitch dreams are made of. What else would you want to do? What a wonderful LightSwitch world it would be! Coming soon too…

Working with SalesForce and Dynamics CRM data in Visual Studio 11 Beta

Microsoft Visual Studio 11 beta and Windows 8 Consumer Previews were made available on Feb 29th 2012. They will be valid through to June 2012.

The Xpert360 development team took the beta for a spin with the latest versions of the Xpert360 Lightning Series product builds: WCF Ria Service data source extensions for LightSwitch and .NET 4 that connect to salesforce and Dynamics CRM Online instances.

VS11 Beta Premium Applying: LightSwitch Beta Core

VS11 Beta Premium Applying: LightSwitch Beta Core

After the VS11 install a quick rebuild of the data extensions VSIX in VS2010 pulled in the latest software versioning as shown below:

Clip for LightSwitch Data Extension vsixmanifest

Clip for LightSwitch Data Extension vsixmanifest

The new VSIX files now prompt for the version of Visual Studio if not already installed and within ten minutes of the VS11 install we are building our first Visual Studio LightSwitch 11 application to interact with our CRM test systems.

LightSwitch project templates in VS11 Beta

LightSwitch project templates in VS11 Beta

Then we create new data connections with the Xpert360 Lightning Data Extensions.

LightSwitch designer - Choose a WCF Ria Service

LightSwitch designer - Choose a WCF Ria Service!

… and we move on and choose some of the CRM entities exposed by the service.

LightSwitch designer - Select Data Source Objects

LightSwitch designer - Select Data Source Objects from Dynamics CRM Online

The chosen entities appear against the data source in the LightSwitch designer and can be explored and manipulated as usual. Notice the automatically available entity relationships between the salesforce entities.

LightSwitch designer - SalesForce Opportunity Entity

LightSwitch designer - SalesForce Opportunity Entity with chosen subset fo relationships

A few more clicks to build a list detail screen…

LightSwitch designer - Xpert360 Lightning Data Extensions

LightSwitch designer - Xpert360 Lightning Data Extensions

Ten minutes later we have our first CRM data from salesforce and Dynamics CRM Online.

LightSwitch - SalesForce Opportunities List Details

LightSwitch - SalesForce Opportunities List Details at your disposal

Looking around in the VS11 IDE the default theme has faded to grey, perhaps its vying for an Oscar with “The Artist”. Here are the two LightSwitch project views available in solution explorer:

LightSwitch designer - Logical viewLightSwitch designer - Logical view

LightSwitch designer - Logical and File views

If you are embarking on custom UI controls with Silverlight 5 then here are the available project templates in VS11:

VS11 Beta Silverlight project templates

VS11 Beta Silverlight project templates

We are also eagerly awaiting the VS11 LightSwitch Extensibility Toolkit which has been indicated to be ready in a few weeks by Beth Massi:

The Xpert360 Lightning Series data extensions will unleash the true power of LightSwitch onto your salesforce CRM and Dynamics CRM Online data very soon. They are currently undergoing private beta testing which will now be extended to include the VS11 Beta as this platfrom has a go-live license.

If you somehow missed all the anouncements here are the links:

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