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Alpha and MS Lightswitch - which seems to be their 'Access' replacement

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  • Alpha and MS Lightswitch - which seems to be their 'Access' replacement

    Just found out about this $200 software which is db centric and on the surface would seem to be their replacement for MS Access development on .NET
    It seems that it has been available for several months and requires silverlight for deployment. It was MS that emailed me (and obviously millions of others) about it so they must be set for a big marketing push.
    Having looked at the intro videos which lead you through step by step in building a simple order entry system, it seems to do what it says on the tin and rarely needs to dip into VB or C# code. So was quite refreshing to see a product from MS that delivered an attractive basic application without major recourse to code.

    I realise that in the real world this MS panacea for the software development dabbler is never a satisfactory full solution and that Alpha is overall a more elegant fit, but, is there potentially any mileage in combining the two products for the sake of product credibility? I.E MS branding and Alpha fine tuning...

    Just a thought!

  • #2
    Re: Alpha and MS Lightswitch - which seems to be their 'Access' replacement

    I have been working with LightSwitch since its release. It is attractive from the standpoint that you can have the same app and code then publish it as a desktop or web app. It does however have a number of serious limitations.

    First it is targeted to in house line of business applications. This is not all bad. The UI is written to use the Entity Framework as the datasource/connection, which has strengths and limitations. Serious problems start to show in that you are generally limited to the functionality found in the package, You can do coding, but need to have Visual Studio Pro 2010 or higher to deal with custom layouts, adding Silverlight components not found in the package, etc. Visual Studio is an added cost of several hundred dollars. Then plan on learning Silverlight a new language if you don't work with it. The first show stopper for me, you have to use SQLServer 2005 or newer. The database used by the agency I was working for was SQLServer 2000 and therefore a non-starter. It also doesn't have any reporting module, though there are a couple of third party products you can buy to fill this hole; again an added cost. Forget about easily being able to connect to any other database such as MySQL, Oracle, even MS Access. Granted it's in version 1.1 and 2.0 when released may resolve some of these issues. There work around to this by building WCF REST services but this to add an unnecessary layer of complexity to an application.

    In the end, when you add in the other costs and learning Silverlight to needed create extensions, coupled with a the lack of a reporting module it simply cannot compete with Alpha Five. The only thing it really has in its favor is the same app, all the components and code run on the desktop or the web. Finally, there are continual rumors that MS is abandoning Silverlight in favor of HTML5. Whether these are true or not I don't know. Given the marketing for LightSwitch it seems hard to believe, but the rumors persist and I have not yet found anything from MS that dispels them. I am not saying Lightswitch is a bad product, but it certainly needs more versions.

    John W.


    • #3
      Re: Alpha and MS Lightswitch - which seems to be their 'Access' replacement

      Thanks John for that insightful analysis. I thought it seemed too good to be true. The MSDN vids really sell the business simplicity concept but obviously make no mention of the downside aspects of the product. HTML5 would seem to make sense for MS as Silverlight has not had the impact they hoped for.

      Thanks again,