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Silverlight Lures Desktop Developers

Earlier this month, RDN Express asked if Silverlight was ready for business.

Paul from Minneapolis commented:

"I agree that Silverlight is coming along nicely. However, it is still a work-in-progress. I'm designing a global SL 3 app that talks to several back-end systems. Items still needed: print and webcam/audio support, being able to set starting paths for the file dialogs. SL's security sandbox needs to provide for intranet zones if we are to be building business apps. I'm incorporating Telerik's SL controls to satisfy requirements such as right-click menus, a 'real' grid, a rich-text control, etc."

Many of you weighed in and John K. Waters posed several of your questions (thanks to those who commented) directly to Scott Guthrie himself during a one-on-one interview at the Silverlight 3 launch event. Guthrie said a print API and webcam/audio support is on Microsoft's radar for a later release.

As far as the sandbox model, he said: "With Silverlight, we allow you now to open files locally, but it still requires user permission. One of the things we're looking at for future releases is an option, especially for enterprise apps, that allows an administrator to grant permissions."

Waters asked if that option was in the works and Guthrie said, "The truth is, people who want to use Silverlight for enterprise full-trust apps still represent a relatively small portion of the market. It's something that we haven't built yet, but it's something that we are considering."

When Waters asked Guthrie why enterprise developers should care about Silverlight 3, he commented:

"One of the growing trends that we see is people wanting Web-based deployment of apps. In other words, they want the TCO of a thin client, but at the same time want to deliver the end user productivity from the traditional desktop-based applications. Where I think Silverlight is interesting for enterprise shops is that it can provide this blend of Web-based TCO and deployment with all the end user capabilities of a thin client app."

That may sound like a marketing soundbyte but it coincides with a comment that Todd Anglin, lead technology evangelist for Telerik, made a few weeks ago. Anglin told me he was surprised when he recently posed a question to his audience during a conference session. He asked attendees who were developing apps for Silverlight whether they were coming from a desktop or a Web background. Desktop ruled by far.

If you missed it, the ScottGu interview is definitely worth checking out: "Guthrie Breaks Down Silverlight 3 for Enterprise Developers."

In other Silverlight news, Microsoft is saying bye-bye to Popfly, a mash-up and game app creator based on Silverlight aimed at non-professional programmers. Popfly debuted in 2007 but apparently didn't catch on with consumers. A note on the beta project's site indicates that the service and all accounts will cease on Aug. 24.

What's your answer to Todd Anglin's Silverlight background question: desktop or Web development background? Is Silverlight driving more developers to the Web? Is this a good thing or are rich Internet apps too challenging for Web dev newbies? Express your thoughts below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/21/2009

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