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Tim Heuer on Silverlight - The Answers

Post icon  Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:33 PM

A while ago we had a topic where you asked your questions regarding Silverlight. Tim Heuer answered those and the answers are below! :)

Why should I use Silverlight instead of Flash?

Tim: I think developers/business decision makers should evaluate the best platform for their project. It isn't a zero-sum game to me. I could tell you all the benefits of Silverlight but if you turn around and tell me you have only Flash developers and no money to outsource or train, then it seems it wouldn't be a good decision at the surface. Each project/need should be evaluated in totality. I happen to think Silverlight creates a more overall productive environment for designers and developers to collaborate and get to and end product that is maintainable more easily and with familiar tools and languages for those in Microsoft development.

What Silverlight can do better than any other product out there?

Tim: The first thought comes to mind is media. The innovations that Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming have made are really revolutionizing online media. The demand for high quality from users is clear and the results of our innovation show that we're succeeding in this area. Development would be my second answer. I think with managed code/Visual Studio, it makes Silverlight a much more attractive option for a lot of development projects looking to get into an RIA platform.

What are the plans on extending the Silverlight development possibilities on other platforms (like Mac)?

Tim: You already can develop Silverlight applications using the Mac -- check out http://www.eclipse4sl.org/.

Do you directly collaborate with the Moonlight team on the process of porting of SL features to Mono?

Tim: We collaborate in the sense that we provide them help when needed in interpreting specifications as well as providing some of our test suites. Miguel and the Moonlight/Mono team have been accomplishing great things in short timeframes and I personally am always excited to see what they release. Their latest beta of Moonlight 2 also implements some Silverlight 3 features! The relationship between the Moonlight team and the Silverlight team is a good one.

Are there any plans on integrating Silverlight development directly in Visual Studio, since at this time, there is a whole bunch of downloads needed to setup the Silverlight development environment?

Tim: This is a result of varying ship cycles between products. Ideally yes this will happen. Visual Studio 2010 will have a lot of this built-in. But even when later versions of Silverlight get released, we wouldn't ask people to re-install a full version of VS just to get one added feature area. It's better for customers to release these tools rather than the entire product again. We've wrapped the tools, SDK, project templates and developer runtime in one installer and people can also use the Web Platform Installer to get what they need and get running quickly!

What was the toughest problem you had to solve when develping and deploying Silverlight?

Tim: Cross-domain service calls. Ugh. I wish the web juggernauts like ourselves would come to a standard on x-domain in RIA. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to me, but I understand we're all trying to mitigate security risk for the end user. Cross domain and service issues are what I see causing most people headaches!

Are you only using C# to build the Silverlight core or there are other programming languages involved?

Tim: No, there are parts of the core written in non-managed code. The base classes and controls, of course, are managed code.

Why did you decide to keep Silverlight in major version numbers (2, 3, others to come) instead of using something like 2.5 (like .NET Framework)?

Tim: Excellent question and I have no idea of the answer. Simplicity I think. We do have minor versions (in fact we're on version 3.0.40818 right now), but so far each feature set has warranted a full version major change.

What would be the feature you are most proud of that is present in Silverlight and might be considered as something, that is only specific to Silverlight at this time?

Tim: I'm most proud of our enabling for application building and data access. I think the ease of getting data (once you understand it) makes building data-driven applications a lot easier in Silverlight. This is probably coupled with the fact that Visual Studio makes this a productive environment to do so.

Will Silverlight ever have native support for image formats other than PNG, and JPG (Namely native support for GIF images)?

Tim: If we see a mass need from our customers we will evaluate the change. In the meantime you can always build extensibility points. Here's a GIF decoder: http://blogs.msdn.co...ge-samples.aspx

What new features can we expect in Silverlight 4 (if this is not a secret)?

Tim: Right now we're not saying much :-) Stay tuned!

Stay tuned for more Q&A Sessisions on Dream.In.Code!

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