Customizing Screen Appearance in a LightSwitch Application

In this lesson, you'll learn how to change the layout and appearance of screens in LightSwitch. Screens in LightSwitch differ from forms in traditional development tools, because their layout is predefined. You can get a screen up and running without any modifications or code. However, if you want to customize or enhance a screen, there are many ways to do so.

You can use the Screen Designer to customize a screen in many ways. For example, you can change display name, change the display order of fields, or change the kind of control that's used to present a field

To change display names

  1. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the BrowseContactLists.lsml node, and then choose Open.

  2. In the center pane of the Screen Designer, choose the topmost Screen | ContactLists node.

  3. In the Properties window, choose the Display Name property and enter Northwind Contacts.

  4. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the AddEditContactList.lsml node, and then choose Open.

  5. In the center pane of the Screen Designer, choose the topmost Screen | ContactList node.

  6. In the Properties window, choose the Display Name property and enter ContactInformation.

  7. In the Screen Designer, choose the ContactName node.

  8. In the Properties window, choose the Display Name property and enter Name.

  9. Repeat the process for the ContactCompany, ContactState, ContactPhone, and ContactEmail, changing their display names to Company, State, Phone, and Email, respectively.

    The customized Add/Edit screen

To change controls and display order

  1. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the BrowseOrders.lsml node, and then choose Open.

  2. In the center pane of the Screen Designer, choose the topmost Tile List | Orders node.

  3. Expand the Tile List control list, and then choose Table.

    This will display the orders in a table format instead of the default tile list.

  4. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the ViewContactList.lsml node, and then choose Open.

  5. In the center pane of the Screen Designer, choose the ContactPhone node, expand the control list, and then choose Text.

    This will display the phone number as plain text rather than the hyperlink displayed by the default Phone Number Viewer control.

  6. Choose the ContactState node, and then drag it below the ContactCompany node.

    The customized View screen

To add a tab with related information

  1. In Solution Explorer, open the shortcut menu for the ViewContactList.lsml node, and then choose Open.

  2. In the center pane of the Screen Designer, choose the topmost Tabs node, and then choose the Add Tab node.

    A new tab is added to the screen.

  3. Choose the Rows Layout | Group (Tab) node. In the properties window, choose the Name property, and then enter CustomerInformation.

  4. Expand the Add list, and then choose Other Screen Data.

    The Add Screen Data dialog box opens.

  5. In the Add Screen Data dialog box, in the Specify the screen data to add box, enter Contact.Customer, and then choose the OK button.

    The updated View screen

To view the changes

  1. Run the application. Notice that the title on the home screen is now Northwind Contacts.

  2. Open the Browse Orders screen and notice that the orders are now displayed in a table.

  3. Return to the home screen, choose the tile for the contact Elizabeth Lincoln, and then on the View screen, choose the Customer Information tab.

    Notice that the information from the Northwind Customers table is displayed.

  4. Return to the home screen, choose the tile for Howard Snyder, and then choose the Customer Information tab.

    Notice that no information is displayed. There is no matching record in the Northwind Customers table.

  5. Choose the Details tab, and then choose the Edit button to open the Edit screen.

    Notice that the title is now Contact Information, and the display names for the fields have been updated.

  6. Close the dialog box, and then close the application.

This lesson showed how to modify screen appearance in several ways. The lesson also demonstrated how the Screen Content Tree in the Screen Designer relates to the user interface in the running screen.

When you changed the Display Name properties, you changed the user interface text that the user sees. You may remember that you changed the Display Name for another field in the Entity Designer in an earlier lesson. When you set the Display Name in the Entity Designer, the change is propagated to all screens; when you set it in the Screen Designer, only the screen that you are working with is changed.

When you changed the control type for the ContactPhone field from a Phone Number Viewer to a Text control, you may have noticed that the list of available controls for each field only includes controls that are appropriate for the underlying data type of that field. For example, for a field of the Text data type, you can choose a Text Box, Text Area, or a Text control. The list also contains an entry for Custom Control, which allows you to create your own JavaScript control. See How to: Add a Custom Control to an HTML Screen for a LightSwitch App.

In addition to dragging a field (in this case, the ContactState field) to another place in a list, you can drag fields from the left pane of the Screen Designer to the center pane. For example, if you were to accidentally delete the ContactState field, you could drag it back from the Contact list in the left pane.

When you added the Customer Information tab, you used the relationship that you created in the lesson Defining Relationships in a LightSwitch Application to pull in related customer information. The ability to relate data from disparate sources is a powerful feature of LightSwitch.

In the next lesson, you’ll learn how to create a Popup screen.

Next lesson: Creating a Popup Screen in LightSwitch

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