Friday, July 11, 2008

What Is Silverlight?

image002_low I've noticed lately that a lot of people seem to have misconceived notions of what exactly Silverlight is and does.  I will attempt to explain what Silverlight is and how it fits into the web spectrum in language that even your boss will understand.  What I won't do is try to tell you when you should or shouldn't use Silverlight or how to build specific applications using it, those are topics for other posts.

If you have built a little prototype app in Silverlight, and certainly if you have done more than that, this post is not for you.  This post is directed at those that have heard of Silverlight, think they might know what it is and would like to know if it fits their needs.  It is also a good post to read to get a good general understanding of the way web development works.

Terminology

IIS, Apache, etc.  These are web servers.  They accept the request from a client browser and return the appropriate response.

PHP, ASP.NET, PERL, JSP, Cold Fusion.  These are all server technologies.  They execute on the web server itself in response to requests from a client, typically a web browser.  They typically output HTML. 

MySQL, SQL Server.  These are the databases, they also are located on a server.  Typically the web server technology will have a method to connect to the database.

HTML, JavaScript, AJAX, Silverlight, Flash.  These are all client technologies.  They execute from the web browser itself.

SOAP, WCF, REST.  These are all types of web services.  Typically these are created on a web server to expose data and logic to outside applications.

XML, JSON.  These are data formats.

Where Silverlight Fits

As stated in the previous section, Silverlight executes in the client browser.  What does this mean? It means:

  • Silverlight applications need to be hosted on a web server
  • Silverlight does NOT need to be hosted in IIS, any web server will do
  • Silverlight does NOT need ASP.NET on the server
  • Silverlight applications cannot access databases without an intermediary (like a web service)
  • Silverlight applications cannot access server-side classes or variables without an intermediary (like a web service)

Silverlight also can run on any major browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari) on any major OS (XP SP2, Vista, OSX, Linux).

Programming Silverlight

Programming Silverlight applications can take many forms.  This is due to a number of items. 

First, the plugin contains a limited version of the .NET framework.  What this means is that you can write real, compiled and managed code that executes in the context of the client browser itself.  What it doesn't mean is that you have access to the full framework.  There are a lot of areas of the framework that are missing completely, like System.IO and others that are present but are missing features, like no ArrayList for instance.  It also doesn't mean that you can build reference an already existing class library from your Silverlight application.  You can still use class libraries but they must be compiled against the Silverlight version of the framework.

Silverlight also introduces what is known as the DLR, or Dynamic Language Runtime.  This allows you to write code in non-traditional .NET languages such as IronPython or IronRuby.

Silverlight Versions

The most current version of Silverlight that is in full release is Silverlight 1.  Silverlight 1 is very good at displaying Media (audio and video) but it's lack of controls and reliance on JavaScript as the only programming language, introduce numerous limitations.  For a first generation plugin though, it isn't bad at all.

Silverlight 2 is currently in it's second public beta and is due to be in full release this fall.  It also contains a full commercial "go live" license, which means that you are permitted to use it to build real production, money-making applications with the Beta version.  Silverlight 2 introduces the .NET framework to Silverlight along with the DLR and a rich control set.  The majority of applications being built today are using Silverlight 2.  With all of the advances in Silverlight 2 combined with the go-live license and the short timeframe until the full release, building anything in Silverlight 1 today seems wasteful to me.

Silverlight and WPF

Silverlight is a limited subset of WPF, both of which use XAML as their markup language.  This allows for several things, such as the shortening of the learning curve when moving from one to the other.  It also means that typically, if you develop an application using Silverlight, it can normally be ported to run as a WPF desktop application with minimal effort.  Moving the other direction however, from WPF to Silverlight, can be more troublesome due to the greatly increased .NET framework and control set in WPF.

Silverlight and ASP.NET

ASP.NET and Silverlight overlap in some of their capabilities, but Silverlight is not a straight replacement for ASP.NET.  Since code written for ASP.NET executes on the server it has access to the entire .NET framework, can use connection strings to access databases and can use any number of third-party or internally generated class libraries.

Even on the client, there are times when you may want to stick with ASP.NET over Silverlight.  If you have parts of your application that are nothing more than data-entry forms, the standard ASP.NET controls are very well suited to that kind of work.

Silverlight and Flash

Everyone has heard talk of Silverlight being Microsoft's "Flash Killer".  Personally, I do not think that is the intention or even goal of Microsoft when it comes to Silverlight.  I believe that they (MS) saw a way to add more interactive capabilities to web applications in a way that is friendly to .NET programmers.  I see the emerging RIA space as being plenty large enough for Flash/Flex, Silverlight and even a few others.  Yes, they both do many of the same things and yes, Flash may do some of them better currently.  But give Silverlight some time to mature and you will see much more feature parity between the two.

Silverlight and AJAX

Built into the Silverlight plugin and SDK are numerous features that perform the same functionality as that provided by AJAX, but with the need to write complex JavaScript.  Silverlight has very rich support for reading data of numerous types from web services to RSS feeds to static XML files.  It also has methods to facilitate the deserialization of XML or JSON into strongly types objects for simple manipulation and binding.

Finally

Hopefully this post has helped answer some of your questions as to what Silverlight is, what it isn't and where it fits into the web space.  If you have more questions or want to correct me on something I may have mistyped, please leave comments here or use the forums at http://silverlight.net.

108 comments:

Matt Blodgett said...

Great post!

Nguyễn Thoại said...

Thanks, your post help me much.

proleter said...

nice...

Rajdeep said...

Thanks...your post is really helpful

Nishanth Nair said...

Nice article. very useful!!

petertparker said...

Hi Nice Blog web development services designs custom sites for businesses and non-profit organizations. We can build a site of any size that will reflect the spirit and flavor of your organization. We can rebuild sites that are out-dated or that fail to attract your target audience. We build web sites from anywhere; we work with organizations all over the North America. Best of all, we are not done until you are satisfied.We design customized banners, buttons, and embellishments for your website. We can also implement flash animation, a customized intro page, and other special features. All pages include descriptor tags and keywords for search engine indexing.

Aidan said...

Great post, was sitting here contemplating on whether to invest my time in learning Silverlight for a new web application, but since 75% is probably data entry I think I will stick with ASP.Net

Thanks

shashi said...

thank you..very much..your post is very informative..

Anant said...

Had explored Silverlight a bit and was not able to find out anything that could tell me how to attempt data entry using Silverlight.

I am thankful to you for briefing out what Silverlight is not capable of. My search ends here :)

javabarbarian said...

It seems like Silverlight is basically the .NET version of a Java applet. Is that a fair statement?

Ali said...

gr8 ... !!!

Richard said...

I've been using Silverlight for 9 months and that is the best summary I have read to date!

Power to your mouse!

I have quoted you in my MA thesis, hope you don't mind. :)

Regards,
Richard
www.electricscribes.com

Moumita said...

your definition for SOAP is wrong. SOAP is a protocol not a webservice. Over-simplification sometimes kills the essence.

Ketan said...

excellent post
Thanks

achyut said...

Its highly informative. I would be visiting your blog hereafter regularly to gather valuable information.

Freelance Web

priyanka said...

thanks for this great post.it helps me alot. thanks.

creative said...

I really loved read this blog. It has lot of information’s to the public. Thanks for sharing this information in internet.

Web Design Company Chennai

kristinawils said...

Great post and very well written, that will really help you to learn Web Design, web development and SEO Strategies to help businesses web design company . You can find out many useful information about web design, seo and his work by visiting his blog and I Just wanna say thanks you for the information you have shared. Web Design Company India

web said...

Your post is simply amazing by web design Company.

Priya said...

Nice post dude, keep it up.
Price India

cheapcallstophone said...

Great Post.Thanks for sharing.
Web Design Company India

Priya said...

Really nice blog, very informative. Thanks dude for wonderful posting. Keep it up in the future as well. SEO Services UK

Andre said...

Excellent post. So simple and yet so detailed. MUCH better than much of the other explanations out there.

jia said...

silver light is really good for developers...web designing company noida

jia said...

nice posting...gate coaching|ies coaching|psu coaching

cheapcallstophone said...

That's really very good read about Silverlight thanks for sharing keep posting.
SEO UK

Pooja said...

Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck! Web Design Company

vishu said...

Really looking forward to the next few days when people start properly aggregating this information.Will be interesting to see if what Google reports seem to match the studies we have done on the basis of your experiments for our Seo Company India website

seouk1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerald said...

Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

SEO Company Chennai

Alvin said...

I am amazed to see such an amazing post. Keep up the good work.
--------------------------------
badge reels

Web Design Company said...

Wow, this is the best site I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing this.kids tables

Steave said...

Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel fervently about this and I like learning about this subject.
-------------------------------
Sarrell Dental Center

Kevin said...

KidsDesk.net brings innovative products and educational resources to parents, caretakers and educators. With products ranging preschool to grade school age children.childrens furniture

Priya said...

It's hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! Take care and see you soon
Printing Services

SEO Services Consultants said...

I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome site!

Uk Ties

SEO Services Consultants said...

Interesting layout on your blog. I really enjoyed reading it and also I will be back to read more in the future.strumpfhosen

Harry said...

Forniamo ai nostri clienti servizi di sviluppo di siti web e servizi di web design.Realizzazione Sito

Harry said...

Felix Labs is a best web Design Company india, providing top flash web design services, website development services and 3d animation services. Get high quality website development and web design services from the experts.Web design company

Harry said...

ESG Appliance is an appliance repair and service company operating in the Los Angeles and Orange counties and providing Installation, Service and Maintenance for appliances like Ice Maker, Microwave Oven, Washer Dryer.Washer Dryer

Priya said...

This is a good common sense article. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.Web Design

Maninder Kaur said...

Thanks for this post. It Very nice article. It was a very good article. I like it. Thanks for sharing knowledge. Ask you to share good article again.

Kiosk Manufacturers

Maninder Kaur said...

This is a good common sense article. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me. Web Designing Company

SEO Services Consultants said...

I can see that you’re an expert in this region. I am starting an internet site soon, and your information will be very helpful for me.. Thank you for all of your help and wishing you all the success inside your business.
CCIE Rack Rental

SEO Services Consultants said...

Used Cisco ResellerHi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this topic, so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be subscribing to your site. Keep up the good posts

poh said...

this is really interesting post but question about silverlight. What is the benefit of using it? Sorry I kind of idiot about app.


Thank
Regards
Poh
Cuisinart TOB-195
Acne Conglobata
Acer 11.6 Netbook
500 payday loan
acne inversa
VIZIO M261VP
checkmate payday loans

GUNASEKAR said...

I am really very much thankful to you. I like all your post. I am looking forward to you.

YOU POST HELPFUL FOR MY SERVICE

Thanks & Regards
R.Gunasekar

Web Development | Software Development said...

Web Design Missouri

softtrix said...

Wow, Fantastic article, it’s so helpful to me, and your blog is very good,
I’ve learned a lot from your blog here, Keep on going, my friend, I will keep an eye on it,
Acne Chicago

SEO Services Consultants said...

Wow, Fantastic article, it’s so helpful to me, and your blog is very good,
I’ve learned a lot from your blog here, Keep on going, my friend, I will keep an eye on it,


virtual assistant

SEO Services Consultants said...

Man I like your post and it is so good and I am definetly going to save it. One thing to say the Indepth analysis this article has is trully remarkable.No one goes that extra mile these days? Bravo!! Just one more tip you canget a Translator for your Worldwide Audience !!!
Price trades

SEO Services Consultants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SEO Services Consultants said...

Awesome post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.
Deep Cycle Battery

SEO Services Consultants said...

thank you..very much..your post is very informative..
Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer

Lingerie Pantyhose said...

Thank you, thats very interesting information. I need to share with my friends.Pantyhos

softtrix said...

Simply want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is simply great and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.SEO Services

Essential Oils said...

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you're a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the foreseeable future. I want to encourage you continue your great job, have a nice day!
Where to Buy Essential Oils

sjflksd said...

G&G provides the best value in reliable, cost-effective, and quality custom software development.application development

Arun said...

thanks for sharing useful informations Web Design Company Chennai

EmmaRichard said...

There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith.
SEO services London

madhuri said...

Thats really helpful.Thanks a lot for ur useful and interesting post.
web design company

SEO said...

Buy Sigma Lenses, Sigma Prime, Sigma Telephoto, Sigma Zoom, Sigma Fisheye Lens for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and Four Thirds Olympus, Panasonic from Microglobe in very cheap price.

sunitha said...

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I've really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. joomla development | joomla developers

my seo said...

nice post helful post,ink for printer cartridges

wyntech solutions said...

Man I like your post and it is so good and I am definitely going to save it. One thing to say the In-depth analysis this article has is truly remarkable. No one goes that extra mile these days? Bravo!! Just one more tip you can get a Translator for your Worldwide Audience !!!
Vancouver Internet Marketing

Adol said...

What a wonderful article? but I am not that much familiar with share market information. Now only I have read to gather some knowledge. Thanks for sharing. Buy domains

ecobedding said...

Internet Marketing Bristol

MURTHY WEB DESIGNER said...

good information post

freelance web designer hyderabad

mumtaz said...

Great article..really very helpful and useful.
web designing company

Jessica B Johnson said...

Before read your your i was unaware about silverlight's technicalities and important points. Now i have great knowledge regarding silverlight due to your shared post.

web development services
business logo design

Maxdence said...

I extol the valuable post you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your site and have my family check up here regularly. I am rather sure they will study lots of new stuff here than anybody else!
Flights to New York

Fortius Fitness said...

Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.
Marisa Miller workout

Kenneth said...

It has lot of information’s to the public. Thanks for sharing this information in internet.
Professional SEO

kyaminy06 said...

I can't wait to read far more from you. This is actually a tremendous web site.
cool gift ideas

amelia said...

I had a great time reading your article and I found it interesting. This is such a beautiful topic that me and my friends are talking about. Thanks for this blog, we are enlightened.
Free classified Ads Pakistan - Web Development

devindennis said...

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this topic.
Advertising agencies in Lahore

devindennis said...

Usually I do not post comments on blogs, but I would like to say that this blog really forced me to do so! Thanks, for a really nice read...
Breast Augmentation Dubai

devindennis said...

This is a very helpful post; i hope this really helps me to complete my project.

Advertising agencies in Pakistan

devindennis said...

Want to thank you for interesting content dude. Keep writing...
2d Animation in Pakistan

amhash said...

Thanks for sharing such a useful information. The information provided is very very niche. Custom Logo Designs, I was just surfing on internet and found your blog after reading this i realize that i should come here often.

devindennis said...

Brilliant blog posting. I begin your column actual interesting; I anticipate you are a ablaze writer. I added your blog to my bookmarks and will acknowledgment in the future...
Advertising

Siva Shree said...

Looking for Web Design Company in Chennai India? Sivashree is a best website design company offers ecommerce website design, flash design & logo design.

Cisgirin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blaircraig said...

That is some alarming and advantageous advice appropriate there. I cannot delay until the little humans go to beddy-bye so that I can apply and plan some of this being out.Thanks!
Digital advertising agencies

blaircraig said...

This column reminds me of a continued time ago if in academy we acclimated to accept a accountable (with able lectures - although I don’t bethink about the exams: P) alleged "handwriting improvement". It sounds absolutely a funny but accessible advance now :)
Website designing

blaircraig said...

Very cogent commodity for us, I anticipate the representation of this commodity is in fact superb one. This is my aboriginal appointment to your site...
Website development

Ali Hussain said...

This article is very nice i like it this is paragraph is so nice its very informative.
Advertising agencies in Karachi | Advertising agencies in Islamabad | Advertising

Website development bangalore said...

Well said, I can certainly not concur additional along with you on this concern. I'm sure your own web log is incredibly popular on this topic just by the rest of the remarks placed with it.
Web Design Company

rocky case said...

Stephen Stapinski

Really your blog is very interesting.... it contains great and unique information. I enjoyed to visiting your blog. It's just amazing.... Thanks very much for the share.

Ali Hussain said...

I read a lot of blogs in 8 hours in a day I like overbearing and fantastic blogs.
Advertising agencies in Karachi | Advertising companies in Pakistan | Media buying houses | Media buying houses in Pakistan

seo eds said...

Looking for Web Designing Company in Chennai! Elicit Designz Solutions is one of the leading top Website developers in Chennai,india.we offer services as web development, Internet marketing, etc

Ali Hussain said...

Your blog is great for anyone who wants to understand this subject more. This is one of the most incredible blog. I enjoy reading this blog. Great stuff; please keep it up!
Advertising agencies | Advertising agencies in Pakistan | Advertising agencies in Karachi

Ali hussain said...

It will be very constructive in regular part of life. I hooked up with your precious work here it’s driving me crazy. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.
airport pickup w2 | heathrow to w2 | southend to w2

devindennis said...

That was an interesting piece of information on handwriting analysis. Please post more about this interesting topic. Thank you!
Cheap office furniture | Best office furniture | Customized office furniture

Ali hussain said...

This post actually revealed quite a bit more information than I was hoping to find. I'm really glad I discovered this site for that reason.
Pakistani matrimonial sites |Pakistan marriage | Pakistani Shadi

Qaisar Hafiz said...

this post has been described fairly well ...GATE coaching

somnus11258 said...

Congratulations for this wonderful reading article. I found it very informative and interesting too, I think you are a brilliant writer. I have bookmarked your blog and will return in the future. I want to encourage you to continue that marvelous work, have a great daytime!I am a china tour lover,You can learn more: China tour operator | China tour packages | China city travel

amelieadam10 said...

I cannot delay until the little humans go to beddy-bye so that I can apply and plan some of this being out.

Computer Enclosures

seo rankings said...

It’s very common for web designing services to use subtle colors and to avoid extreme use of color when designing a web designing services

Manohar singh said...

they rich contents and data accurately.they are help to me.I expect Bridal saree

Sagar Patel said...

Hey thanks for sharing guideline about Sliverlight.
Professional Website Developer in Bangalore | Ecommerce Website Development in Bangalore

Omkarsoft Bangalore said...

I always liked your posts because every post has something for me to learn.
website development services bangalore
Android Development Companies in Bangalore

Learn Chinese language on hanbridgemandarin said...

I'm learning mandarin because I believe it's the only way to really learn about China.When I was searching for a place to learning to speak Chinese, I called several schools. Hanbridge was the best because they had excellent teachers and a very friendly and welcoming spirit . I really appreciate the opportunity to learn here and would recommend Hanbridge to others.



Sanjay Agrawal said...

Thanks for your effort for make this post.keep it up.Most useful information about IT learners gate coaching classes in Bangalore
gate coaching in Bangalore for mechanical engineering
gate coaching in Bangalore for computer science
gate training institutes in Bangalore
gate coaching for electronics & communication in bangalore
gate coaching for chemical engineering in bangalore
gate coaching for aerospace engineering in bangalore
ibps exam coaching classes in Bangalore

Kepran Infosoft said...

Good Article
Web Application Development Company

Kristi Byrd said...

This is an incredible rousing article.I am essentially satisfied with your great work.You put truly supportive data. Keep it up. SMS Marketing Solutions


GateIIT Coaching said...

gate biotechnology coaching centres
gate coaching for chemical engineering
gate coaching for civil engineering
ies coaching centers
iit jee coaching institutes
gate coaching for aerospace engineering

paulrobert932 said...

Flash may do some of them better currently, but it seems silverlight will be at top one day. Bangalore Web Development Company