Sunday, January 27, 2008

Silverlight

I was roaming around the web and ran into a web application that used Silverlight this weekend. I did a little investigating and this weems to be Microsoft's answer for Flash and Rich Internet Applications in general. They make a lot of interesting claims about cross browser compatibility (IE, Firefox, and Safari) and compatibility with existing backends and AJAX. The big score for it though seems to be the claim that it is fully accessible and that the toolkit helps you make your apps more accessible and l10n. Overall, it looks pretty compelling and fairly easy to learn so I plan to keep an eye on it and see where it goes.

Main websites:
http://silverlight.net/
http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/

A really cool use of Silverlight:
http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/halo3.aspx

A blog/analysis of it from a developer prespective:
http://www.gskinner.com/blog/archives/2007/05/a_flash_of_silv.html

A demo/interview of Silverlight on Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEUrQEj6Sd4

Linux related project (Moonlight):
http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight

Related (competing) projects:
Adobe AIR: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air/
Google Gears: http://code.google.com/apis/gears/

2 comments:

Thomas Amsler said...

It seems to be cross browser compatible but not cross operating system. It's at least not Linux compatible.

Colin Clark said...

Aaron,

I haven't followed Silverlight as closely as I perhaps should, but I worry a lot about it.

In the open source world, I'm a lot more interested in pursuing open web standards that can be used by everyone, for free. The alternatives to JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and AJAX are all proprietary and controlled by a single corporation--Microsoft with Silverlight and Adobe with Flex. So while they may offer intruiging rich client possibilities, I'll stick with the openness and ubiquity of the Web.

Flex, for example, offers open authoring tools but Adobe retains the runtime as proprietary and closed. Not a good deal as far as I'm concerned.

Brendan Eich, the guy who wrote JavaScript, has been writing a lot on the future of JS 2 and the need to provide compelling open alternatives to Flex and Silverlight.

Nonetheless, Flex and Silverlight do offer some intruiging opportunities to further blur the distinction between desktop and Web-hosted applications. I think over the next five years of the Web, this will be a big shift. Let's hope the Open Web can follow suit, bringing next-generation accessibility along with it.