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Betting The House On LightSwitch

You should never “bet the house” (to risk everything) on anything. If you were actually gambling, and risking your proverbial “house”, where would you live if you were wrong and you lost? However, when backed into a corner (Microsoft has indicated they will tell us nothing about the future of Silverlight until the Build conference in September), what have I got to lose?

As of now, one place that I feel confidant that Silverlight will be used, for years to come, is in Visual Studio LightSwitch. Here is my reason:

I believe that LightSwitch will release a HTML/HTML5/Jupiter (whatever that is) “enhancement”

I believe that when these “other outputs” come, Silverlight will remain the “best user experience”, and it will continue to be used. However, the ability to create LightSwitch applications that render output that works on a IPad, makes it a technology that is worth my investment.

Then again, what choice do I have?

The Future Of LightSwitch


I have already pointed to statements by Steve Anonsen (one of the LightSwitch architects), about supporting the “HTML scenario”, and that the LightSwitch team is “looking for help with V2 and ‘Windows next’”. I just saw a statement by another LightSwitch team member, Steve Hoag:

“The architecture of LightSwitch is such that we can (somewhat) easily switch out the presentation layer. Looking forward, is that HTML5, or WPF, or something else related to an alleged future version of Windows that hasn't yet been announced?”

I guess my point is that I really do not know what Microsoft’s plans are, and most importantly, what will actually happen in the future. My “bet” is that the LightSwitch team seems to be in the best position to deal with future changes.

  • LightSwitch is composed of Data (create a table, attach to external table, or attach to a WCF RIA data source), and Screens (create a "object tree" or "View Model") to bind your data to visual controls (built-in or custom). When you click publish it "Renders" the application you built. LightSwitch can therefore "Render" HTML5, Jupiter (Windows 8) ect.
  • The LightSwitch team knew about HTML5 and Windows 8 years ago (ok I do not know this, I just believe it)
  • The LightSwitch team went with Silverlight because it is, and will probably remain the "best user experience", however, they made sure not to "paint themselves into a corner". This is why I believe the Screen designer is only an object tree not a visual layout.
  • LightSwitch is the future of Visual Studio. The creators of Visual Studio know that the majority of developers need something that is easy to use. LightSwitch is a "Home Run success" in achieving that objective.
  • LightSwitch is being sold as "for non-professional developers" but that is mostly because that is a bigger market. They know that pro developers will use LightSwitch when they see that they are able to do the advanced things we describe on

Basically, the LightSwitch team has not “bet the house” on anything. What they have done is kept their options open. They use Silverlight (and I believe they will continue to do so), but they have not tied themselves down to Silverlight.

They have not even tied themselves down to any particular data source. By using WCF RIA Services, they allow you to basically connect to practically any data source that you would need.

By “betting on LightSwitch”, I am basically “betting on team that is keeping all their options open”.

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Showing 7 Comments
Avatar  admin account 9 years ago

@Chui Tey - I believe that the Visual Studio "Empire" needs LightSwitch for market share, and will support it because it will be successful.

Avatar  Chui Tey 9 years ago

Actually dynamic data also had architecture to support different presentation layers. Just because extensibility is built in doesn't mean much unless management actually commits to supporting further development.<br />

Avatar  Oscar Agreda 9 years ago

Ben is right, Microsoft is in "reactive" state against, Google, Sony Playstation, Firefox, Iphone, Ipod and Ipad pressure from stockholders, media and etc. They're no longer on a solid 5 year plan anymore, as then always used to<br /><br />Unfortunately now, with the advancement of the Internet, competition can spring up left and right and faster than ever before. Since they have more fronts to cover, some departments will lack innovation and creativity. <br /><br /><br />for Microsoft right now is a matter of, how will I survive as the best?<br /><br />I have made my living developing software applications thanks to Microsoft Business Plan.. but when, now when I talk to people they all agree than in Microsoft not even the past is certain

Avatar  Ben Hayat 9 years ago

Mike, Bob Muglia got booted out shortly after his speech.<br /><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

Avatar  admin account 9 years ago

@Ben Hayat - LOB is suppose to be a Silverlight "Sweet Spot" according to Bob Muglia.

Avatar  Ben Hayat 9 years ago

Mike, I think you're missing one significant point on your betting. <br /><br />LS & it's team are under the control and decision of MSFT decision makers, who are creating a real confusion not only for developers but for companies as well. The LS product could be tossed out in a heart beat by upper management, and there is nothing the LS team can do, they are just employees...<br />If LS team was independent, I agree with your assessment, but we're dealing with a company who is in "reactive" state against Apple, Google, pressure from stockholders, media and etc. They're no longer on a solid 5 year plan anymore. Heck, even in six months who knows what will happen to any products.<br /><br />Building a house on a sliding ground is not a good idea...<br />..Ben

Avatar  Fernando Villar 9 years ago

I agree with your opinion clearly stated in this blog. I am sure that other client types will be introduced during LS next versions.<br />My reference is Ironspeed Designer, which is being used in my company since 2005. It is an application generator aimed at non-developers but with a very consistent framework and code model.<br />In one of my trials I have managed to insert a table (Tasks datagrid) inside a main table (People DataGrid), But the data in child datagrid of every people row is the same and bound to the selected item of the main datagrid.<br />It seems to me that the LS screen model is always tied to a selected item in relationships, which is a limitation compared to Ironspeed. <br />Other limitation is that I cannot see any code entry point that fires for each row being displayed in a datagrid or list.<br />