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Doug's Mailbag: Silverlight Spotlight

Readers share their thoughts on Silverlight's role in a Windows 8 future:

It is too bad you are not more of code monkey as you might appreciate the power that Silverlight brings to the table. Yeah, there is much to do about HTML 5/JavaScript and it is an evolving solution that might be where Silverlight is in a few years (if it does not splinter into Google/Microsoft versions).

Silverlight lets a developer work in object orientated languages like C# where we leverage the power of real classes, interfaces and dependency injection. Thus we can build robust Web-based apps that are almost as responsive as desktop apps. Now, one can do this is JavaScript (and I have), but it takes so much more time and code. The more code, the more support issues. Silverlight SVG is step beyond HTML 5 as transformation matrixes (rotation, translation...), and can be apply on a object basis (where in HTML
5 they are a property of the canvas).

Of course Silverlight is XAML-based and so is one of the programming models for Windows 8 metro. I am currently porting a Windows 7 Phone Silverlight app to Windows 8 as a pure Silverlight app. Much of the XAML moves to the new platform without change.

Because of this, I believe we should be discussing XAML solutions vs. HTML 5. I see a need for Silverlight to build robust business apps like in the medical industry. And, if properly designed, they can run in Windows 8 Metro. However, I must add that the Metro design is not good for developing apps like this and the Silverlight UX will need to be 'watered down' so the business app is better off in the old windows Desktop mode. I must say that I do not see the need to write desktop apps in this day and age.

The other issue is Silverlight vs. WPF. And here I really believe that WPF will gradually fade away, especially now that SL use XNA for its 3D graphics.

The JavaScript option for Metro is interesting as I guess Microsoft is trying to bring in the legions of script developers. But make no mistake: the JavaScript they write is Metro-specific. To make the code portable to a browser will take some great architecture.
-Anonymous

'One important thing to understand is Silverlight has a purposely limited role. For instance, while you can build Win 8 Desktop apps, it is useless for Metro.'

Not entirely accurate. I would say that Silverlight is simply one host for XAML applications, particularly pre-Windows 8. With Windows 8's Metro interface, your Silverlight apps (with relatively few changes) become native XAML Metro applications. Your 'Silverlight' applications continue to live on, now as native Metro applications, and will continue to live in the Silverlight host (at least through 2021) for non-Metro environments. That's a pretty optimistic picture if you ask me.
-Ken

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 01/04/2012 at 1:19 PM


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Reader Comments:

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 amyklai

"Not entirely accurate. I would say that Silverlight is simply one host for XAML applications, particularly pre-Windows 8." That's nonsense. Silverlight ist WPF/E, and the great thing about it is the "E" part: Everywhere. It's similar to WPF, but runs on more platforms. And Silverlight 8 Apps can be easily and freely distributed from any web server, internet or intranet. The new Win 8 Metro XAML applications should be calles "WPF/R", "R" meaning "Restricted". It's also similar to WPF, but i runs on LESS platforms. WPF at least runs on XP, Vista, 7 and 8 (Desktop Mode). Win 8 Metro apps will only run in dekstop mode on Windows 8 and that's it. And you need to go through the App Store to distribute them. So while both use XAML, Win 8 Metro applications are actually the polar opposite of Silverlight application and utterly useless for a lot of use cases (basically any use case that doesn't involve Windows 8 metro mode).

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