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A Letter to Some Listing to Silverlight Haters...

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A Letter to Some Listing to Silverlight Haters...

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I guess up front this topic is one of my hot buttons but I’ll try to be as even as possible in my explanation. But in fairness I do have a vested interest in Silverlight as a Silverlight MVP for the past two years, a published author and professional speaker as well as being one of the Silverlight insiders at Microsoft… besides having a vested interest it also puts me in the know as it were.

First WPF or ‘Windows Presentation Foundation’ to say is dead would be on par as saying Windows is dead as WPF is the primary method for building native applications on Windows. VSTS is in WPF, most other ms products are written in either WPF now or are C++ written in VSTS which is in WPF. That notwithstanding, there hasn’t been as much excitement about WPF as most of the industry talk has moved on to other things, even the last version of WPF was more or less a support release. Where all the talk in the ms world is as of late around Kinect (oh but all of these apps are WPF or C++), Phone 7 (which is XNA/Silverlight) or HTML5 (which the browser is written in WPF on windows) etc. WPF is therefore for native Windows Only applications. WPF primarily consists of XAML markup and C# code.

Silverlight which is also XAML markup and C# code, is a cross-platform lite version of WPF (Silverlight was first called WPF/e), it is cleaner with lighter overhead and runs on Mac, Linux, phone7, Symbian, CE, windows etc.

Last year ms decided that the HTML standard moving to 5 was a good thing and that they would support it for cross browser applications but that was never what Silverlight was about. During PDC last year (MS Professional Developer Conference) a former ms employee that at the time was senior vice president… Bob ‘what’s his name’ was interviewed on TV and made some less then well thought out comments about Silverlight which started this silly-ness about Silverlight being dead and ms has been doing damage control ever since. In Dec they announced the feature set for Silverlight 5 coming out later this year and demo’d features like pinvoke, native 3d and hardware acceleration even on the mac and XNA support built in. Silverlight is also the primary method for building apps for Phone 7 which ms is basically bet the company on. They will make it work which means supporting Silverlight for the foreseeable future. Silverlight is for building immersive cross platform user experiences and high end video, LOB apps that are cross platform etc. Developing Silverlight is for the most part the same as WPF, if you learn one, you can do the other easily.

One last point is that I work for an interactive design agency of almost 200 and we are primarily an Adobe shop. We do things like the Nike Touch wall or the Jordan retail kiosk, or the Microsoft Software Kiosk in the new MS Retail Store’s etc. Our clients don’t care about technology and projects should generally never be about the technology but the best way to deliver the Best Possible User Experience to the target demographic. I believe in this more than anything and is also way I helped start ‘Interact Seattle’ – designer developer interaction group. We meaning ‘[wire] stone’ deliver most of our work in WPF or Silverlight as our time to market is double our competition over say Flash which used to be our primary delivery model for interactive designs. Silverlight allows us our dev teams to build almost directly against illustrator files so that we are able to not have a design team or a dev team but a single team working together. In short as mentioned it cuts time to market in half once the dev’s and designers learn to work together and the designers can continue to use their tools they are used to. Therefore for business reasons we continue to use Silverlight…

I hope that helps :) please feel free to ask any questions and if you are in Seattle feel free to come by our office.


David J Kelley
Principal UX Architect, MVP
[wire]stone | Blog/Site | {Interact} | SeattleSlug
twit: @DavidJKelley

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