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Sunday, January 15, 2012

AX 2012 and the value of Microsoft's Visual Studio LightSwitch

Recently, I posted an article on my column, for the Microsoft Dynamics Community site, in which I focused in on the Any Device ERP concept. The push towards this concept, enabling true mobile ERP, as I stated in the article, will actually help drive adoption of the Microsoft Windows 8 powered devices.

Also, including in this post, I highlighted and pointed to the use of Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch. I'm really stoked about this product, and the more and more I look at it, the more value I see it can bring to companies. The value, in which I'm referring to here is all about giving companies the ability to simply, and in a fast nature, create Line-Of-Business Applications quickly and easily. This means faster Time-to-Value for such solutions, that are needed by companies, which can extend from Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

We see, with AX 2012, a push for it being the central hub of business logic, operations, data and delivery of business intelligence. With this, we also see the move for exposing data, API's and business logic internal and external of AX 2012, via Services. Because of this, companies can use LightSwitch, and it's ability to quickly and easily create apps that extend AX for a company, and help create a more total solution.

This is done, via AX services, be that Document Services, or Custom Services and Service Operations. Taking this design approach then, of exposing Data and Business logic from AX via services, these services then themselves can be consumed within a LightSwitch Application. A great resource for walking through this, by example can be seen at the following location: MSDN: LightSwitch - Consuming Web Services

From the post: "The aim of this document is to show developers how you can easily configure LightSwitch to consume Web Services. This walk-through assumes you have a background knowledge of creating basic applications with LightSwitch."

Having this example, we can now extend AX 2012, with LightSwitch for internally hosted Line-Of-Business (LOB) applications, on IIS, and even quickly scale and create applications that are deployed to Microsoft's Cloud Offering, Azure. In order to enable the scaling to the cloud, we do need to deploy the AX 2012 Services, via IIS, so that they can be consumed externally by the outside world. Doing this, means then, that quickly and easily we can create a Hybrid cloud story, for AX customers, and quickly bring the value to a customer that the cloud brings with scale, agility, and exposing AX business logic and data for consumption through such LightSwitch created apps.

For those customers, that have invested in AX, working with LightSwitch from Visual Studio 2010, will seem familiar, in how it's ability to work with Entity Data Framework, ease of creating and working with services, as well as the Tree Style design of forms, and buttons, that feels similar to AX and how it's forms and UI elements are designed.

So, if your a Microsoft Dynamics AX Customer, I highly recommend looking into either having your Partner, or your staff work with Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch, and how it can be used to extend your AX investment, quickly, efficiently and fast. That's always the goal, and keep in mind Simple is King of value, and let me tell you LightSwitch is one heck of a product that truly simplifies the creation of Line-Of-Business (LOB) applications. It's all about Time-to-Value, and that is why LightSwitch is a tool that should be considered, for completing your companies / customers total solution.

These applications, can then be made a part of the AX story, either hosted externally in the cloud, or internally. After creating and deploying a LightSwitch App, it can be incorporated directly into the user experience, via links hosted within Role Center Pages, to the LightSwitch App UI, or hosted within the AX 2012 Rich Client Forms and UI.

Bringing this full circle and to have a little forward looking exercise here, I personally believe LightSwitch, which currently delivers it's UI via SilverLight, will quickly be updated, once Windows 8 comes out. I believe, that Microsoft will enable you the ability to choose your target UI, be that SilverLight, or XAML+HTML5+JavaScript. The idea, is that LightSwitch will still create the UI for you, and enable fast and easy creation of Apps, that target even the Metro Style UI of Windows 8, and therefore having company specific Win8 Metro Style Apps, that work directly with & extend a companies AX 2012 ERP investment.

The following links, are useful resources that are used throughout this blog post. I would strongly encourage spending time researching and learning from these resources, and others to see how Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch can help you drive the most value out of your AX 2012 investment.:

Well that's all for now, I hope everyone has a great productive week. Check back soon as I have a lot of good post coming out, all around AX, the Ecosystem, Spotlights, Interviews and more! Till Next time!

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