Saturday, April 28, 2012

Silverlight Evolution


It has been a while since the last time I wrote post about Silverlight. I still do pure web Silverlight work in my spare time, and there are some nice features in the latest version (5.0) that are quite cool (maybe a post to come !).
I have been working heavily on backend solutions in my day job, however I still invest a lot of my time playing around with frontend .NET development and more recently pure HTML/JS/CSS development.
One fun fact is that here in the UK most people see Silverlight as a failed web plugin technology. Since flash has massively lost traction on the interactive industry and Silverlight never reached the web browser install base promised, most people don’t look beyond and see it as just another failed plugin. The truth is that Silverlight evolved from an interactive browser plugin for rich internet application development into a full blown multi channel interactive platform.
At the moment, there are several platforms powered by Silverlight, or at least powered by the technology underneath Silverlight, meaning XAML/C# and related platform features. Windows Phone development is probably the best example. Even if you can’t run Silverlight web apps in your phone browser, Silverlight (its mobile variant) is in fact the platform used to create applications. The Xbox interface, which was updated last year is also powered by variants of the Silverlight framework. Also there are countless Silverlight controls and intranet applications powering enterprise applications across the globe, which are not going away any time soon and companies like Telerik being successful at it. The expected Windows 8 OS allows Silverlight development, but more than that, the WinRT framework for Metro style application development is powered mainly by the evolution of the Silverlight framework.
All in all, the main point is that even if Silverlight as a browser plugin was not as successful as expected and even if it ends up being replaced by pure HTML5/JS/CSS development, Silverlight’s evolution is undeniable, and there will be plenty of technologies and frameworks based on the core concepts and techniques that come from this technology.
For the .NET world, it means that our skills continue to spread and evolve, so we can keep taking advantage of our knowledge and experience in the next generation applications.

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