May 08

Silverlight is Microsoft’s answer to Adobe Flash. 

Officially, “Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web.  Silverlight offers a flexible programming model that supports AJAX, VB, C#, Python, and Ruby, and integrates with existing Web applications. Silverlight supports fast, cost-effective delivery of high-quality video to all major browsers running on the Mac OS or Windows.”

Why Use Silverlight?

Given that Flash has over 98% market penetration, why would a developer want to use Silverlight instead?  Here are a few good reasons:

Use Your Favorite .NET Language.  Whereas Flash developers must use Adobe’s proprietary Flash development tool, Silverlight uses the same core CLR engine found in .NET.  Thus, .NET developers require minimal additional training to use Silverlight, and the same .NET code can be used for Silverlight, ASP.NET, WinForms and WPF applications.

Applications are Searchable.  A compiled Flash application is essentially a sealed binary package that cannot be penetrated by Google and other search engines.  As a result, developers often wrap Flash-heavy web sites with keywords that search engines can crawl, resulting in extra work for developers and search penetration nowhere near as good as what the search bots could do on their own.  Silverlight, however, is delivered to the browser in the text-based markup language XAML, and hence is completely searchable.

Program the Browser.  Silverlight simplifies browser programming like never before.  A managed API enables developers to access and modify HTML in a browser using any .NET language (for example, you could add a click handler to an HTML button using C# or VB).  Silverlight also allows JavaScript code in an HTML page to call .NET methods and share data with a Silverlight control or application.

High-Def Video.  Silverlight can display high-definition video files and other graphical content with ease, and Microsoft will optionally store and deliver these files over the Web.  This will enable smaller companies to deliver large video files quickly and reliably, without paying network distribution fees.  Microsoft is promising 700kbps throughput and free distribution on its Live network for one year.


Developers can build Silverlight applications in Notepad, but that’s like cutting your lawn with scissors. 

Fortunately, Microsoft has released a beta version of Microsoft Expression Studio, a suite of tools for web developers and creative designers to deliver rich applications for the Web and Windows Vista.  Expression Studio is targeted for a June release, and is a competitor to Adobe’s recently released Creative Suite 3.  Expression Studio includes the following products:

For More Information

Check out these links:

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Article published on May 8, 2007

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