Microsoft have just released Silverlight 4 Beta and I can’t wait to trial it on a new VPC over the next few weeks.
Ever since the beta for Silverlight I’ve been really impressed with the possibilities, probably because I’ve not tried any Flash development and I’ve always developed using Microsoft tools. I’ve worked on a major eLearning application as the back end developer which integrated with Flash and what jumped out as a huge benefit with Silverlight is the reduction in the number of technologies / languages to deliver a single solution – I can develop both the client and server logic usign C# and the .Net framework and don’t need to concern myself with serialising / deserialising to and from XML as I did with the Flash project.
Silverlight is evolving very quickly and clearly Microsoft are investing and promoting it’s use heavily:
- Version 2 was 1 year later and introduced the ability develop using managed code ie .Net framework.
- Version 3 was only 5 months ago and provided some great new enhancements to develop business applications ie .Net RIA Services framework
- Version 4 beta now
If you don’t know what Silverlight is then try Silverlight.net where you’ll find a variety of useful resources and a showcase gallery. Some of the examples aren’t great but 2 additional business demo apps are the Woodgrove demo and the Microsoft Health. For me Silverlight provides the framework and tools to truly develope Rich(er) Internet Applications and with the Silverlight 4 Beta the following additional features continue to give developers the APIs and ehancements to deliver:
- Drag and drop files from your desktop into the application ie images into a photo gallery app
- Right mouse button events so you can develop right click context menus and provides familiar Windows functionality to web applications
- Printing control allowing dynamic content to be output either programatically or based upon what users see within the application
- Web camera and microphone support which opens up the potential to embed rich interactive support within web sites
- Networking enhancements such as multisource multicast support – see what others are typing within an IM client real time without your application polling the server – the content will truly be pushed to applications
- Rich text area control which support styling, links, Arabic and Hebrew
- Official Google Chrome support (version 3 is supported by IE, Firefox and Safari on Windows and OSx)
- Out of browser enhancements permitting HTML to be hosted and interaction with the underlying Windows operating system – being able to run a standalone version of an application without internet connectivity opens up new opportunities and with the new MyDocuments integration permits greater synchronisation when reconnected to the internet
If you’d like to see a demo of these features then try Karen Corby’s presentation from PDC 2009.
I’ve been trialling Silverlight for sometime now and we are now using it for commercial applications. One example I’ve developed is a prototype for an iPhone application which shows how to:
- demcompose the application into XAML user controls
- implementing custom events for communication between controls
- consuming RSS feeds
- programmatic animation
- use of the MVVM design pattern to decouple the UI from code behind
- importing assets from Photoshop
- visual state manager to handle user interaction
- developing reusable templated controls
Over the next few weeks I’ll try and create a number of further blogs to demonstrate these topics and how easy Silverlight development can be. Ideally I’ll use Expression Encoder to build some video tutorials and then present them using a Silverlight video player.
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