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Why I Love Silverlight

Update on June 9th, 2012

It is now the year 2012. All of the previous love I had for Silverlight has long since moved on to web standards, specifically HTML5. I don’t miss Silverlight, even a little bit. Even so. I will leave this post around for fun.

Silverlight is at the top of my “to learn” list this year. I’m already pretty familiar with the basics but now I need to dig in and write some real apps using it.

This afternoon I decided to outline why I’m so excited about Silverlight. Enjoy.

  • Cross-platform. Microsoft supports Silverlight on Windows and Mac. This is ground breaking for me. I can write applications using .NET and they will run on a Mac. Score. Moonlight also enables some Silverlight support on Linux. As of this writing I believe they support Silverlight 2.
  • Rapid development. Not my rapid development but Microsoft’s! Microsoft has been ramping up Silverlight at a phenomenal rate. This says a lot. At the very least it says Silverlight is here to stay. More than that, it says if Silverlight isn’t a viable medium for your application now… it probably will be soon.
  • Web technology. I’ve ventured into WinForms and desktop apps since my beginnings as a web developer, but I still favor the always up-to-date, easy deployment and lack of client install that web applications offer. Being a web technology, Silverlight brings all this to the table.
  • User experience and easy UI building. Another reason I prefer web apps is that I prefer building my UI in HTML/CSS instead of with WinForms/GDI. Designing a unique and creative UI in WinForms is very difficult. Restyling controls, complex layouts, and theming an application are all painful in WinForms but very natural and easy with HTML/CSS.

XAML is what makes this so much better in Silverlight. The often annoyingly verbose syntax aside, you get all the easy creativity and power of HTML/CSS. * Offline and out of browser. Silverlight apps can be installed to run offline and out of browser on users’ machines. Remember, this isn’t just on Windows, either. Mac and Linux users get to share the love. This is the feature that makes me say Auf Wiedersehen to WinForms and even WPF. Not only do I get all the deployment and easy update benefits of a web app, but I can also interact with the user’s desktop, have shortcuts, file associations, and drag & drop, just like a native application.

WPF may be the next WinForms, but for me, Silverlight is the next WinForms and the next ASP.NET. Sure Silverlight won’t work for everything but this year I’m hoping to make Silverlight my MasterCard. As in, “…for everything else, there’s MasterCard Silverlight.”

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