One of the Holy Grails of application development has been to allow a businessperson to build his or her own application without needing a professional programmer. Over the years, numerous attempts at this goal have achieved varied levels of success. A few have survived; most have sunk into oblivion.
Microsoft's latest attempt at this is Visual Studio LightSwitch, now in its first beta test. LightSwitch uses several technologies to generate applications that connect with databases. It can run on a desktop or in a Web browser, and it can use up to three application layers: client tier, middle tier, and data access.
[ Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 is a no-brainer upgrade for Microsoft-oriented developers. See "InfoWorld review: Visual Studio 2010 delivers" | Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog and Developer World newsletter. ]
The technologies used are quite sophisticated. Silverlight 4.0 is a rich Internet application (RIA) environment that can display screens in a Web browser or on a desktop, and it hosts a subset of .Net Framework 4.0. WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) RIA services allow Silverlight applications to communicate. An entity-relationship model controls the data services. (See the LightSwitch architecture diagram below.)
LightSwitch screens run in three layers of objects. A screen object encapsulates the data and business logic. A screen layout defines the logical layout of objects on the screen. And a visual tree contains physical Silverlight controls bound to the logical objects in the layout.
In a conventional Silverlight application -- or in almost any conventional application built in Visual Studio -- the user works directly with the controls and layout and writes or generates a file that defines the visual layout and data bindings. For Silverlight and WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), that file is in XAML. The Silverlight and WPF designers in Visual Studio 2010 offer two synchronized panes of XAML code and visuals.
Having trouble installing and setting up Win10? You aren’t alone. Here are many of the most common...
It's all about knowing how to build an open source community -- plus experience running applications in...
Win7 Update scans got you fuming? Here’s how to make the most of Microsoft’s 'magic' speed-up patch
Look to these clever open source tools to keep secrets out of source code, identify malicious files,...
From a simple platform for beginners to an expert-level development workbench, there's an IDE for most...
Technology may appear to be smart, but in most cases it merely has great logic. That’s not the same as...
Stop obsessing about the latest overhyped security threats. Delve into your own data about successful...