1. What does your application (or extension) do? What business problem does it solve?
Security Central is a role based application designed for Corporate Legal and Physical Security Departments. The application is a centralized location for creating, managing and printing all reports related to Physical Security and Corporate Investigations. i.e. Incident Reports, Vehicle Inspections, Post Inspections, (Bolos) Be On the Lookout, Alerts, (DAR's) Daily Activity Reports, and Investigator Case Management.
2. How many screens and entities does this application have?
Currently there are 24 entities and 17 screens.
3. Did LightSwitch save your business money? How?
The original solution was a commercial desktop application interfacing SQL Server, it was designed for law enforcement agencies and is much more complicated than what is required by Corporate Physical Security. Each desktop or laptop client had to have a separate instance of the client application which required Super Admin privileges to install due to company security policies, this is no easy task. This version was coming to its end of life and no longer being supported by the vendor. The vendor's new version was proposed but the upgrade required an annual renewal License of $30,000 and this didn't include the cost of the new hardware that would be required for both client and server.
Because of the increase in licensing fees and hardware cost, in 2008 my employer asked me to develop an in-house solution using Adobe Flex. The new version was completely web based and only required a single administrator with appropriate network and database privileges to install and maintain. Clients only need to point their browser to a secure URL where they are authenticated and authorized to access features based on their company network user logon credentials, (SSO) Single Sign On.
Another requirement was that the application had to target Physical Security operations only.
But now in 2011, new requirements are being requested that will require a significant amount of time and effort. I was already trying to come up to speed on LightSwitch and was pleasantly surprised at how quick I was able to build an application with the features required.
As a result of this new version being developed in LightSwitch, it will save my company money in terms of time and productivity. The ease of development, installation and the ability of the users to quickly complete their reports, it frees all parties to take on other responsibilities. It also allows me to build other types of reports quickly and efficiently to help managers make intelligent decisions about equipment and personnel that may be needed to ensure the protection of the company's assets and personnel.
4. Would this application still be built if you didn’t have LightSwitch? If yes, with what?
I was originally looking into just biting the bullet and upgrading the current version in Flex but I have recently been trying to learn about C# and came across LightSwitch. I downloaded the trial version of LightSwitch, built some of the sample apps and I quickly realized that there was no other choice to be made for the new version. I was working on a proof of concept on my personal laptop, my employer was gracious enough to let have the application as my own property, so when the new requirements were requested, I showed my manager my demo. It was a success, I purchased a personal license for LightSwitch and XtraReports and Security Central is now scheduled to replace my employers current Incident Management system.
5. How many users does this application support?
The current production version is used by 103 users spread out across the US, India, and Korea. The LightSwitch version will be released for other worldwide operations to also include China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Germany. The number of users is expected to at least double.
6. How long did this application take to actually build using LightSwitch?
This version is about 80% complete, still a work in progress. It took me about a month to redesign the primary Database, connect 3 new Databases, map out the new features, build the screens, set up permissions and write validation code. Next phase will be to include Yearly, Monthly, Incident Tracking Reports and any other types of reports required by Investigators and management. Add Administration screens, perform user testing, draft documentation and develop user tutorials. Given that the holidays are upon us, I plan to make it available to my employer between mid February to late March of 2012. For the rest of the world, I'm hoping by at least late 2012.
7. Does this application use any LightSwitch extensions? If so, which ones? Did you write any of these extensions yourself? If so, is it available to the public? Where?
I have not written any extensions as of this writing. The application currently uses DevExpress XtraReports, Pixata Custom Controls, Document Toolkit from First Floor Software, ComponentOne OLAP for LightSwitch.
ComponentOne OLAP for LightSwitch.
8. How did LightSwitch make your developer life better? Was it faster to build compared to other options you considered?
From the time I downloaded, installed, launched and went through several of the sample applications, started designing and writing code, my productivity shot up by 100%.
LightSwitch has definitely made my life as a developer easier, I don't have to write the plumbing code nor the majority of the user interface code unless I need to and so far what code I have written is minimal in the UI. I know that the middle tier is built on a solid Industry standard design pattern, Entity Framework, extending the application will not take that much effort.
The original Flex version took over a year of design and development. I know some will say this is just a port but I disagree. This version is a completely new application. The User Interface and the middle tier are completely new and I was able to design the majority of this application within a months time. WOW! Now I don't worry about any new requirements that may arise. I feel completely confident that I can extend this application fairly quickly if new requirements are requested.