Feeds

Microsoft Silverlight: 10 reasons to love it, 10 reasons to hate it

Four-letter word

Boost IT visibility and business value

A year or so ago I wrote a post called Adobe AIR: 10 reasons to love it, 10 reasons to hate it. Here’s the same kind of list for Microsoft’s Silverlight, based on the forthcoming Silverlight 2.0 rather than the current version. The items are not in any kind of order - they also reflect my interest in application development rather than design. It is not a definitive list, so there are many more points you could make - by all means comment - and it will be interesting to have another look a year from now when the real thing has been out for a while.

For context, this Silverlight developer chart (below) is available in full on Brad Abrams’ blog here, or in Joe Stegman’s Deep Zoom version here.

Silverlight developer chart

The pros

  1. The Silverlight plug-in means developers can target a single, consistent runtime for browser-based applications, rather than dealing with the complexity of multiple browsers in different versions. You also get video and multimedia effects that are hard or impossible with pure HTML and JavaScript, though Adobe Systems' Flash has the same advantages.
  2. Execute .NET code without deploying the .NET runtime. The Silverlight plug-in does include a cut-down .NET runtime, but instead of dealing with a large download and the complexities of the Windows installer, the user has a small download of about 4MB, all handled within the browser. In my experience so far, installation is smooth and easy.
  3. Performance is promising. Silverlight comes out well in this prime number calculator, thanks no doubt to JIT compilation to native code, though it may not compare so well for rendering graphics.
  4. Support for Moonlight means there will be an official open source implementation of Silverlight, mitigating the proprietary aspect.
  5. Silverlight interprets XAML directly, whereas Adobe’s XML GUI language, MXML, gets converted to SWF at compiling time. In fact, XAML pages are included as resources in the compiled .XAP binary used for deploying Silverlight applications. A .XAP file is just a ZIP with a different extension. This also means that search engines can potentially index text within a Silverlight application, just as they can with Flash.
  6. Third-party component vendors are already well on with Silverlight add-ons. For example, Infragistics, ComponentOne and DevExpress.
  7. Take your .NET code cross-platform. With Macs popping up everywhere, the ability to migrate Visual Basic or C# code to a cross-platform, browser-based Silverlight client will be increasingly useful. Clearly this only applies to existing .NET developers - I guess this is the main market for Silverlight, but it is a large one. The same applies to the next point:
  8. Uses Visual Studio. Microsoft’s IDE is a mature and well-liked development environment, and since it is also the tool for ASP.NET you can use it for server-side code, as well as for the Silverlight client. For those who don’t get on with Visual Studio, the Silverlight SDK also supports command-line compilation.
  9. Choose your language. Support for multiple languages has been part of .NET since its beginning, and having the .NET runtime in Silverlight 2.0 means you can code your client-side logic in C#, Visual Basic, or thanks to the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) Iron Ruby or Iron Python.
  10. Isolated storage gives Silverlight applications local file access, but only in a protected location specific to the application, providing a relatively secure way to get this benefit.

Boost IT visibility and business value

Next page: The cons

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.