Friday, March 25, 2011

Overview of Microsoft® Visual Studio® LightSwitch™

If you have been introduced to Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch then you might be having one question, “What is LightSwitch really building under the covers?” Is it mere two tier application wrapped in some fancy UI or anything more? This question is very valid and answer is that LightSwitch applications are built on a standard three tier architecture where each tier runs independent of each other and performs the role within its boundaries.

The presentation tier is responsible for human interaction with the application. Its primary concern is data visualization and editing. The logic tier processes requests from a client to fetch data, update data, or to perform other operations. This tier’s primary role is to shield direct access to the data from unwanted or invalid reads and updates. This helps to ensure the long-term integrity and security of the data. The data storage tier is responsible for durable storage of the application data.

Following is the architectural representation of a standard three tier application:

Following is a more concrete representation of three tier architecture in context of Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch application.

If you carefully look into all these three tiers you will have enough reasons to be excited. On presentation tier you are getting Silverlight 4.0 based UI. Office automation will let you export you data directly to Excel. Logic tier or application tier or middle tier is built on a set of technologies. There is ADO.NET Entity Framework for access to SQL Server and SQL Azure. There is WCF Data Services for access to SharePoint 2010 via the OData protocol. And if this was not enough there is a shim to talk to an in-memory WCF RIA DomainService for extensibility. Then on the storage front you have SQL Server, SQL Azure and as I mentioned above, using WCF Data Services you can also consume SharePoint based data.

Is it not something more than what you had wished for? I am placing my bet on LightSwitch. Are you?

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