Just recently, our agency became responsible for handling a very high-profile and time sensitive incident, but unfortunately, I was not called in for assistance until a month after the project already started. As some of you may already have guessed, it was a DBA’s nightmare where there were thousands of records stored in 20 different separate spreadsheets, redundant data galore, and relationships that were only recognizable by the owners of the spreadsheets. My task was to produce an application that would capture all the current information and relationships and to provide the capabilities to add, edit, etc. within a few weeks.
With time as the driving constraint, I sought out a tool that would assist me in rapidly developing a GUI for a CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) application. As a programmer by heart, I have always been hesitant to use any of these types of tools in the past since they never seemed to provide the flexibility I wanted. Moreover, a lot of those tools generated a lot of redundant code and prevented me from maximizing any optimizations (yes, I was one of those C++ programmers that didn’t trust the Java Garbage collection mechanism….). However, my search turned up a new offering from Microsoft called Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011.
LightSwitch provides the ability to rapidly develop desktop or web-based applications, yet contains a lot of potential for expansion. It is definitely meant for the non-programmer, however using custom code and some creative thinking, it’s possible to make some incredible applications with this product. Needless to say, I was able to create an application that met the needs of the investigative team and we are still currently expanding the application as the case continues.
Beth Massi’s Blog is an excellent resource for LightSwitch and her tips and videos have definitely helped me with developing custom functionality for our application. She just recently wrote a series called Beginning LightSwitch that can get you off and running.
I can’t wait to have more time so that I can start using LightSwitch to get rid of all those legacy Microsoft Access and FoxPro databases….but I’ll save that for another post.