Thursday, March 13, 2008

Silverlight... is..... good?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called "WTF/E", wherein I republished a brilliant post from the Microsoft forums about the precursor to Silverlight, then called WPF/E. The author of that post went off on Microsoft because one of their devs mentioned that applications were something that "they'd be looking into". WPF/E was useless at the time, it could do some basic drawing.

Last week, Microsoft released Beta 1 of Silverlight 2. Wow, things have changed. They've really pushed forward on the ability to use this stuff in applications. Not only do they include standard UI widgets (Button, Textbox, etc) in their 4 megabyte install, but they've included:

  • Layout widgets (grid, stackpanel, etc)

  • Linq (I've decided that nothing beats this for coping with XML)

  • DataGrid control

  • Standard HTTP access, no more browser restrictions on making requests to a different domain.

This got me thinking, is WPF still driving this product, or is it turning into the other way around? WPF has not taken off at all. The interest and uptake has been less and slower than that of .NET 1.0 -- and .NET 1.0 was often dismissed as just another attempt at killing Java.

So is WPF going to re-grow out of Silverlight? I kind of wonder if this is how it will go, because look at how the community and Microsoft are rallying around Silverlight much more than WPF. Look at Mono. Those guys have pushed on Moonlight -- something creates no small benefit for Microsoft's Silverlight since they can market it to Linux and the "safety" of an open source product -- but why have they decided to do it? They must have seen the writing on the wall, or someone in Redmond might have said, "psst.. big Silverlight push coming... forget full WPF for now".

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