Progress Hooks DB2/400 to Microsoft LightSwitch RAD Tool
August 14, 2012 Alex Woodie
Got a Microsoft LightSwitch project in the works at your office? If you do, you might be interested in learning about the new data provider from Progress Software that can connect DB2/400 to LightSwitch, the new Visual Studio development environment designed to rapidly create line of business apps without coding.
LightSwitch is a template-based, model-driven rapid application development (RAD) environment that was first released by Microsoft about a year ago. The software, which is sold as a standalone Visual Studio product and as a feature for advanced versions of the integrated development environment (IDE), is intended to be used by non-technical Windows users who need to quickly generate database-powered applications with Web interfaces.
LightSwitch projects start with pre-built application shells, or starter kits, that provide the look and feel of a particular type of application, such as Microsoft Office. User then configure their applications, in a GUI environment, by creating relationships between database tables and entities, and defining queries. The resulting applications sport three-tier architectures, with Silverlight powering the interface (with HTML5 generation coming soon), Windows Communication Foundation RIA Services and Entity Framework providing business logic, and data stored in SQL Server. The finished app can run on-premise or in Microsoft’s Azure cloud environment.
Microsoft encourages its business partners to create add-ons and extensions for LightSwitch to tackle specific tasks, such as accessing databases other than SQL Server or Access with a LightSwitch app. According to Microsoft’s website, there are 149 extensions available, many of which implement custom themes to provide a particular look and feel and provide dashboards.
Although it’s not listed as an official LightSwitch extension, Progress Software’s DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET will provide something very useful for LightSwitch customers: the capability to access DB2/400, Oracle, and Sybase databases with their LightSwitch applications. This new feature was added with version 4 of the software, which was announced in late July.
DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET is a data provider designed to feed .NET applications with data from non-Windows sources, within the WCF RIA Entity Framework. Progress claims that it is the only 100 percent managed code ADO.NET data provider for Oracle, Sybase, and DB2/400 systems. It also says that, because there is nothing to be installed on the source database, it offers higher performance and scalability, tighter security, and fewer compatibility issues.
The capability to rapidly create Windows apps that can access DB2/400 could be very useful for those IBM i shops that develop for Windows, too. The typical IBM i shop stores the most important transactional and customer data on its IBM machine, and it’s not always easy to get to without involving IBM i pros or RPG programmers. With the Progress data provider and the LightSwitch, organizations have a potentially powerful tool to allow non-programmers to quickly roll out fairly simple dashboard, forms, or data-entry applications that hit DB2/400.
In addition to LightSwitch support, DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET 4.0 brings several other enhancements, including support for development pattern support and type mapping; expanded bulk load support; and more detailed and efficient driver logging.
Jesse Davis, director of research and development for Progress’ DataDirect business unit, says this release bolsters the capabilities of developers to build cloud applications. “We also offer the industry’s broadest support of Microsoft LightSwitch, which enables businesses to develop and deploy their applications faster than ever when partnered with the new DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET 4.0 data providers,” he says.
For more information on using DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET to connect Microsoft LightSwitch with DB2/400, Oracle, and Sybase databases, see this step-by-step tutorial on the Progress website.