As a Microsoft MVP, I was fortunate enough to be able to see demos and follow the development of Microsoft’s project Kitty Hawk, better known now by its release name of Visual Studio LightSwitch (VSLS). I was then, and remain now, very excited about this new version of Microsoft Visual Studio.

VSLS is exciting because it brings Rapid Application Development (RAD) into Microsoft .NET development; something that many developers have complained has been missing since VB6.

VSLS is exciting because it provides an easier .NET development platform for the “techie” that does not want to learn all the complexities of the full .NET stack but needs to quickly deliver line-of-business applications that solve yesterday’s problems today.

VSLS is exciting because it provides a migration path to the full Microsoft .NET professional application when and if that becomes necessary, since it is part of the Visual Studio family.

In “Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development” (ISBN: 978-1-849682-86-2), Jayaram Krishnaswamy provides a clear path to understanding and using Visual Studio LightSwitch. Published in September 2011, it covers the released version of VSLS with the latest features, not the earlier Beta 1 which was significantly different; be careful to avoid VSLS books based on Beta 1.

Filled with full-color screen images and ample references, the book introduces the necessary concepts and skills in a natural order, one that should be comfortable even to someone with no prior VSLS experience. Examples and sample code are provided in both C# and Visual Basic.

The table of contents:

  • Chapter 1 – Getting Started with Microsoft LightSwitch
  • Chapter 2 – Microsoft LightSwitch IDE and Architecture
  • Chapter 3 – Accessing Data from a VSLS Application
  • Chapter 4 – Screens in VSLS Application
  • Chapter 5 – Working with Entities
  • Chapter 6 – Querying and Filtering Data
  • Chapter 7 – Writing Code in Microsoft LightSwitch
  • Chapter 8 – Authentication and Authorization in VSLS
  • Chapter 9 – Deploying LightSwitch Applications
  • Chapter 10 – Troubleshooting, Debugging, Custom Controls, and Extensions

Some books choose to pick a single application and progressively enhance it with each chapter. I am not a fan of this approach since it makes it much harder to jump around to learn specific skills as needed or use the book as a reference. Fortunately, Jayaram does not do this, instead tailoring each example to clearly illustrate the point at hand.

When I began my professional career as a developer, each software program came with a comprehensive printed manual and it was possible to take the manual home and read it over the weekend and come into work on Monday morning, ready to be productive on the first day. Today, as you know, comprehensive printed manuals have disappeared and it is up to the developer to find and use the best learning resources from myriad sources, each offering only a piece of the information needed. I miss having software product manuals. To my knowledge, Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development is the most comprehensive single resource available today for learning to use Visual Studio LightSwitch. It is the next best thing to having an official manual; some would say better due to its conversational tone.

Whether you are an experienced developer or just interested in development in Visual Studio LightSwitch, I recommend you read this book.

Joe Kunk, Microsoft MVP Visual Basic

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a free ebook for this review. No other compensation was given.

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