3/2/2012 5:00 PM
Alessandro Del Sole and Michael Washington
Microsoft Campus / MVP Summit 3/2/2012
I had the pleasure to talk with my friend Alessandro Del Sole who has released his new book:
Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Unleashed
by Alessandro Del Sole
Hello Alessandro! So the book is finally done, we have been waiting forever for it. So... what took so long?
Hello Michael! Yes, actually the initial estimated release date was earlier. I started writing the book on Beta 1 and on one side we had to wait for Beta 2 longer than the expected, on the other side there were a lot of breaking changes from Beta 1 to Beta 2 plus a number of additions, so a lot of things had to be reorganized while we were in progress. Also, it took some time from getting the RTM and fixing anything before the book went to the printer. Behind books like this there is a complex process where several reviewers make their edits, based on their responsibilities. I am sorry that lots of people had to wait so much, but this amount of time has been useful to add important content, fixes, and real-world tips & tricks. We finally did it!
You have our "LightSwitch Goddess" as your technical editor? reviewer? How did that come about?
Yes, I had the honor and pleasure to have Beth Massi as the technical reviewer of this book. You know, LightSwitch is a brand new product and when I started writing the book no one better than her could know the environment so I asked her if she wanted to join me in this adventure. Beth did an excellent job, she put all her real world experience on business applications and provided several tips for code optimization and pointing out features in LightSwitch that I did not know. Today we have great content and her suggestions have been precious.
You have now explored LightSwitch from beginning to end, what is your favorite feature?
Well, not just one ? What I really like in LightSwitch is that you save a huge amount of time because it generates all the plumbing, you do not need to write code to generate the UI, the data access layer, you just focus on the business logic. When you make edits to tables, screens automatically update to reflect changes so that you don’t need additional effort. I love how it can connect to existing SQL Server databases which is a very common situation and I think that extensibility is very powerful, allowing us to embed existing Silverlight controls. Finally, I like the possibility of passing parameters to screens and to create details screens that match all my needs.
What was the hardest LightSwitch feature to cover in the book and why?
Extensibility, without a doubt. The reason is that there is documentation for some scenarios, but not for all scenarios that LightSwitch can handle. I wanted to provide examples that could be useful in real world applications (such the charting control extension) so it was hard to understand extensibility behind the scenes and to try to explain complex code in a simple way. When I created the charting control extension sample I read documentation about custom controls, but that did not show how to bind controls to collections of objects and how to bind collection properties to the designer, so you know being experienced in Silverlight and WPF helped me a lot. Custom data sources were also difficult to describe with a good example, because the documentation has an example based on a local Excel file but I did want to show something different, such as manipulating data from a networked XML file. In my mind an Excel document suits well in the Office integration, not a custom data source. So it was difficult to merge the documentation with my experience to create useful samples.
What do you think the future holds for LightSwitch?
To me LightSwitch is a key product in the success of Microsoft. I still do not know anything about future plans, but as a community leader I am clear about how people appreciate LightSwitch and how they can be quickly and easily productive. I think that we have to wait to see how things evolve for Windows 8 and Visual Studio 11 but to me this will be a long-life product, as it really deserves.