Silverlight – Microsoft smacks me with the happy stick

May 5th, 2007 at 01:42pm Os

I’ve been following what was WPF/E for a while now, and I have been expecting some kind of CLR implementation to be added to it. But holy shit, Microsoft didn’t just put in some half-hearted brains-kicked-out CLR for basic programmability, they put in the entire bloody thing – and threw in most of the .net framework API with it – and have called it Silverlight.

A lot of people are creaming their jeans over this, out there in blog land (I refuse to use the word ‘blogosphere’, because, frankly, it makes me want to hurt people in interesting ways), and I can understand why – Microsoft have got it right on the money.

Of course, Adobe (nee Macromedia) got there first with Flash, and by more than a few months. Flash has been synonymous with web-based interactivity for years now, and it does it very well, is ubiquitous and has a large developer network behind it – and yet, even though I’m currently writing a heavily interactive web application, I don’t want to learn it.

Call me a lazy programmer (and I am) but I just don’t want to leave the happy confines of Visual Studio when I’m coding, and I don’t want to learn yet another language. In the brief forays into playing with Flash to fix something, I was dropped into an unfamiliar world of timelines and Actionscript that I really didn’t want to be in.

But with Silverlight, Microsoft will let me write everything within Visual Studio (with journeys into Blend to work on the UI side of things, but that is what designers are for), code everything in good ol’ C# and do all the debugging in VS too.

Don’t underestimate the power of being able to work in Visual Studio, it is by far the most productive coding environment I have ever used, the framework helps rather than hinders (they learned from the mish-mash that is the Java library, and the OO abortion that is MFC), and in the ‘Orcas’ release they’re adding language features like Linq that aren’t just syntactic sugar, but real productivity boosts (I’m lazy, remember, I don’t want to spend my time writing crufty code to do all the boring things).

So, is Silverlight a flash killer, and have Microsoft ‘rebooted the web‘? Well, no and no. Flash is pretty much entrenched and I’m sure Adobe will have something up its sleeve, plus all those Mac-heads in designerland won’t be moving to Windows-only developer tools any time soon.

But I’ll soon be able to write lovely interactive websites, that I don’t have to sell my soul to the JavaScript devil to do, in a language and with tools I’m already familiar with – and that, in itself, makes it worth the price of admission.


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May 2007

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