It seems like it's been forever since Microsoft first started talking about
Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E) and its vision of a XAML-based,
cross-platform media and application runtime. And while Silverlight 1 was nice,
in a sort of me-too Flash media player kind of way, most developers recognized
Silverlight 1 for what it was -- a vehicle for getting the all-important browser
runtime bits onto millions of machines.
But with the official release to Web (RTW) of Silverlight 2 last
week, .NET developers can finally get to work on robust, Silverlight-based
applications that can run on a variety of platforms, systems and even (one day)
devices. Far more than a slick runtime for video and animation, Silverlight
2 delivers a robust subset of the .NET Framework to client machines. The possibilities
for delivering sophisticated, connected, robust business applications are truly
As Andrew Brust, Microsoft Regional Director and chief of New Technology for
consulting firm twentysix New York, describes it, Silverlight significantly
ups the ante for Web development.
"Silverlight is a rich Internet application environment and not a 'poor
desktop' application environment," Brust wrote in an e-mail exchange. "What
I mean by that is developers care less that Silverlight lacks capabilities of
the full .NET Framework and care more that it provides a better user experience
(especially for line-of-business and data-entry-intensive apps) than any HTML-based
He's got that right. Silverlight could really look attractive to a lot of dev
managers who today grapple with AJAX-based development and its inherent complexity.
And while the shared XAML heritage of Silverlight and WPF offers possibilities
for delivering differentiated experiences locally or over the wire, I remain
concerned about the lack of Linux and other platform support in the runtime.
Yes, the open source Mono implementation of .NET is out there. And yes, Moonlight
at least offers Silverlight 1 runtime support for Linux clients. But the fact
is, reach is what makes Web development compelling. I wonder if the lack of
native Linux support will scare many dev shops away from Silverlight 2 development.
Are you planning to look into Silverlight 2 based application development?
Let us know why, or why not. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/21/2008 at 1:15 PM