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First Look At Microsoft Silverlight 3 228

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the and-html-5-to-rule-them-all dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Martin Heller finds Silverlight 3 gaining ground on Adobe Flash, Flex, and AIR in all the areas where Silverlight 2 had lagged. No longer do developers need to build desktop WPF apps based loosely on corresponding Silverlight RIAs, as Silverlight 3 adds the ability to install Silverlight apps on the desktop, update them in place, detect Net connectivity state changes, and store data locally and securely. Moreover, solid Expression Blend 3 and Visual Studio 2010 betas provide developers with much improved tools to create Silverlight RIAs. '"I do not expect many Adobe shops to give up their Flash, Flex, and AIR for Silverlight 3. I do expect many Microsoft shops to do more RIAs with Silverlight now that it's more capable and to create lightweight browser/desktop Silverlight 3 applications where they might have fashioned heavier-weight Windows Forms or WPF client applications," Heller says.'"
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First Look At Microsoft Silverlight 3

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  • by Xest (935314) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:36AM (#28318875)

    Well, not in the grand scheme of things it's not, I'd rather see the likes of Silverlight and Flash dissapear altogether. I think however in this context Silverlight might actually be a good thing. Flash has become so widespread because there was really no challenge to it, Java applets never really ever managed to perform as was originally hoped.

    On one hand I'm glad to see some competition for Flash rather than it be allowed effectively a monopoly on RIAs but on the other the worry is of course that this'll just mean more RIAs!

    I'd personally rather see the advances in Javascript allow us to move forward for RIAs because no plugin is required, and it's not some compiled proprietary lump of bits. Google's chrome demos mentioned here a couple of months ago looked very promising in this area so hopefully this will eventually the path we see taken for RIAs but in the meantime I think Silverlight is possibly a good thing, if not only because even in the worst case it forces Adobe to make Flash a better product.

    • by pjt33 (739471) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:08AM (#28318997)

      There's at least one more "challenger" (I use the term loosely) in the form of JavaFX. The fact that you hadn't even heard of it says a lot about its potential for success.

      I do think you're being unfair on Java applets, though. It took a long time for them to perform as originally hoped, but I think they're there now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MobyDisk (75490)
        I think Java applets seem to perform better now because processors are faster, and because people are comparing it to Flash/.NET/Javascript, not to C++. For example, the JVM took forever to load, but I don't think the JVM is any bigger than the .NET framework. Java was just ahead of its time and hardware caught up.
      • by Xest (935314)

        To be fair, I have actually heard of Java FX, but as with Java I've just never come across it in use. Similarly I understand Java has come along leaps and bounds in terms of performance and I've seen some great Java desktop apps, but on the applet front I've still yet to see anything that shows it off as a viable platform. Of course, that's not to say it isn't just that I've not seen it to compare, I have at least seen Silverlight in use in a few places and it does seem to be able to hold it's own against F

    • by msormune (808119)
      If you look GWT stuff, they use JavaScript in a way it might just as well be proprietary compiled code. As for the required Flash plugin, so what? It's already everywhere.
      • by Xest (935314)

        I've not looked at it to be honest, is it obfuscated or has it simply been run through a non-destructive compression process to shrink the size of the .js file downloads for clients?

        Either way the process should be entirely reversible else the Javascript interpreter wont be able to do anything with it.

        But that's really the beauty of Javascript - it's open, with a plugin you have no idea what it's going to do unless the plugin explicitly allows you to do so, however with Javascript as it's open a Javascript

        • by msormune (808119)

          GWT JavaScript code is obfuscated and compressed. But if you can expand that back to readable code, you can also argue that every piece of code ever written is "open" because it can be reassembled somehow and run with a debugger.

          Don't get me wrong, GWT is absolutely great, I love working with it. Really great innovation. But I would not call it "open" just because it works on JavaScript.

          • by Xest (935314)

            Yeah I understand it doesn't necessarily produce open source code.

            My point is that it's still parsable in the sense that the browser can work with it. Effectively it can still be used with say, accessibility tools such as screen readers - even if a string of text to be displayed on a messagebox is obfuscated in code, it still has to be de-obfuscated before it's rendered by the browser for example and so it can still be used with a screen reader, or perhaps for kids a piece of filtering software. Plugin base

            • by msormune (808119)

              With JavaScript we have a situation where every browser has a slightly implementation of the execution environment. The problem with GWT is it just hides the problem (although pretty well): We need a new standard to building applications and not just JavaScript on top of JavaScript.

              I really do not see the actual benefits of JavaScript vs. Flash plugins for example: To me they are just execution environments within the browser.

              Good call on the GWT obfuscation/compression, I didn't realize it was controlled t

    • by Mista2 (1093071)

      Amd HTML5 will do much of the video streaming and onscreen animation that flash and silverlight are offering, but is an actual open standard. I tolerate flash, but silverlight is not getting anywhere near my machines, Windows, OS X or Linux. Now I see it can install apps and updates directly to the desktop, and is based on .net/mono - absolutely no way!
      Novell - for some reason they keep shipping this crapware called tomboy on their distros, that required mono. It is the single largest resource consuming app

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by benwaggoner (513209)

        Now I see it can install apps and updates directly to the desktop, and is based on .net/mono - absolutely no way!

        It's not running native code apps, sheesh. It's the same managed code sandbox and security model as the browser plugin, but can run without being in a browser proper.

        But the (high) security model remains the same. It's just like opening "Default.html" from the desktop.

  • Mod story flamebait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kramer2718 (598033) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:41AM (#28318885) Homepage
    Seriously. Silverlight is gaining on flash in all areas. What about portability ... open standards ... interoperability. Not that flash is really that much better, but at least Adobe is making a token effort.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:52AM (#28318941)

    What would the web be without JPEG, GIF and PNG? Can you imagine what a hot mess it would be if you had to install proprietary binary plug-ins to view images on web pages? And if some of the plug-ins weren't available on your platform?

    Then go in the other direction and imagine what the web could have been with a universal video format and vector animation format. That's the crazy amount of damage Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Real and the MPEG4 LA have collectively wreaked on the web at large.

    So please, please avoid Silverlight (or Flash, for that matter). It aims to balkanize the web into mutually-incompatible, vendor-dominated fiefdoms in which the overwhelming incentive is to tax users for their access to data.

    • by janwedekind (778872) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:44AM (#28319145) Homepage

      The real underlying problem is software patents. As long as software patents exist, somebody will always find a legally enforcible way to tax users for their access to data.

    • by westlake (615356)

      That's the crazy amount of damage Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Real and the MPEG4 LA have collectively wreaked on the web at large.

      You can't stop these guys.

      Napster. Amazon, Hulu, MySpace, Twitter - something new - something corporate - it has happened before. It will happen again.

      And to perfectly blunt, the damage they cause is mostly to the geek's bruised ego - he can't let go the thought that the Internet was once his private playground.

      The geek places his bets on Dirac -
      while Flash becomes the de facto sta

      • "And to perfectly blunt, the damage they cause is mostly to the geek's bruised ego - he can't let go the thought that the Internet was once his private playground."

        And that bruised ego is probably sympathy pains because most geeks weren't even on the Internet in the pre-commercial days.

  • by LizardKing (5245) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:14AM (#28319025)

    Applications that can be run in the browser or installed on the desktop? Java's had both for many years (applets and webstart).

    Ability to update desktop apps? Webstart again.

    Access to a rich, general purpose library? Yup, Java provides that - and it's very similar to .NET for some reason.

    So suddenly the old thing is the new thing.

    • by bertok (226922)

      True, but in my experience the difference between Java and the .NET stuff is performance.

      Sure, some synthetic benchmarks might show that Java beats .NET by some margin, but in practice, that's not what matters.

      What users notice is that Silverlight loads almost instantly (as fast as Flash), and that desktop .NET apps run just as fast as native, and look as good, or better than native apps.

      I can always tell when a Java app starts because the JVM startup brings my machine to its knees, and the end result is in

    • ...I'm not a programmer, hence the question. Can HTML five do the things you talk about above? Just wondering.

      Thanks.
    • by Shados (741919)

      No, this is not the same thing. Webstart is like .NET's ClickOnce (which, admitedly, came in later).

      What Silverlight 3 does is let you make a browser RIA that the user can "detach", and move and use locally, with or without an internet connection. So basically imagine if you had an applet that could become a WebStart app, with virtually zero effort on the developer side, and completly streamlined on the user site.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:23AM (#28319057)

    For Silverlight, the only direction it had to go was "up". I mean, it had an almost zero percent installed base. Now if I were Adobe, I would seriously consider open sourcing Flash and all technologies around it. Otherwise Adobe will only continue to lose market share to Silverlight.

    • That's probably going to be a good thing. But I think it's going to have to start from the browser side. I like what Google is doing with Chrome in that respect. They have the capability to distribute and support a browser that will encourage or maybe even require open standards on the web.

      So while we do have a few companies seeking their own private monopolies, choosing a browser that requires open standards to render will register as feedback to the various websites we visit. Remember that each bro
    • Exactly. I see a repeat of the browser wars here. If Adobe doesn't do something radical, and soon, flash is going to relegated to the dustbin of history.
    • by kpdvx (546561) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:23PM (#28320473)
      Fwiw, Adobe already /has/ open-sourced Flex, the Flash framework that really makes Flash useful for developing RIAs (they haven't open-sourced their compiler, I don't believe, but all of the Flex ActionScript is available). I'm a Flash/Flex developer, and at least a few times a week I grep through their source code to figure out how to do something, or how to change something about a built-in component, etc. Adobe has also released a specification for their swf file format, available at http://www.adobe.com/devnet/swf/ [adobe.com].
  • Silverlight is a terrible marking choice for a name. I automatically think 'silverfish' when I see the word in print, and find myself substituting that word when I say 'silverlight' or sound it out in my head.

    Silverfish, as far as I know, are a small bug that scuttles down further into your mattress when you pull up the covers.

    Work on it a little in your head:

    Silverlight ,,, Silverfish

    Silverlight ... Silverfish

    I think you, too will start to associate silverfish... er ..light, with a scourge.

  • I am rather uninformed, but since when has that ever stopped me from making commentary?

    I have heard/read casually that a lot of HTML 5 will do what Flash does. That rather puts Flash and anything Flash-like (including Silverlight) out of business soon doesn't it?

    • by vux984 (928602)

      I have heard/read casually that a lot of HTML 5 will do what Flash does. That rather puts Flash and anything Flash-like (including Silverlight) out of business soon doesn't it?

      Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 2000/XP is still a significant percentage of the internet browser use. It supports flash.

      In fact nothing out there today except beta's and previews really support html5. But nearly all of it supports flash. Its going to be a LONG LONG time before the current crop of browsers have been sufficiently phased

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shados (741919)

      Flash and Silverlight 1, yes, you're right. Flex and Silverlight, not so much: they're just not browser APIs, but actual app frameworks, so they go a lot further than just providing end user features: they help the programmer, too (like Silverlight can consume an ADO.NET data service with LINQ, which is a lot better than using the built stuff, even in HTML 5. Flex has BlazeDS, and so on. Just an example)

  • 'No longer do developers need to build desktop WPF apps based loosely on corresponding Silverlight RIAs, as Silverlight 3 adds the ability to install Silverlight apps on the desktop, update them in place, detect Net connectivity state changes, and store data locally and securely'

    I don't have admin rights on this computer and how does installing some remote app make this computer more not less secure?
    • by benjymouse (756774) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:09AM (#28319607)

      I think he was referring to "isolated storage". Basically you can allow "applicatoions" to store data locally on your machine. By default only a limited quota is granted (the application can ask for more and the user has to approve it).

      The stored data is obfuscated to avoid malicious apps downloading files/scripts and then use social engineering techniques to fool the user into launching them. This allows an app access to data even when offline.

      Silverlight itself executes inside a pretty restricted sandbox. Silverlight has an impeccable security record Secunia reports zero vulnerabilities in both SL1 and SL2. That is not to say that there are no vulns in SL. But at least compared to Flash it's quite good.

      Even so, installing yet another plugin/app will *never* make your computer *more* secure, except when you're installing some lock-down app or firewall. Obviously any app only increases the attack surface.

  • I expect Silverlight© to enjoy the same sterling security reputation as the rest of the Microsoft® stable of software, increasing the joy and ease of use customers have come to expect over the years.

  • What does Siverlight, Moonlight, and Twilight give me? I have SVG on my Internet Browsers that I test with; they are Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari, and IE. SVG can work with Javascript, and through Javascript access PERL, PHP, Ruby, Python, and any other language that can handle HTTP Posting. XSLT with my XML can generate SVG, and HTML web pages. mySQL can SELECT/DELETE/UPDATE just a good as the other brands. Even Microsoft agrees that Apache is better than IIS. I think if Microsoft wanted to lead th
    • by Shados (741919)

      mySQL can SELECT/DELETE/UPDATE just a good as the other brands

      You had a point until there.

  • We're going to trust the future of rich media/apps on the web to a company that studiedly ignored any progress on their basic web browser for over five years?

    Seriously, the IE 6 fiasco seals it. It was a concrete and persistent demonstration that the company simply does not care about the quality of their products beyond their position in the market, a giant middle finger rising from Redmond to web developers everywhere for the better part of this decade. They sat on a nearly unmatched trove of resources an

  • Microsoft today announced the release of version 3.0 of its world-beating Silverlight multimedia platform for the Web. As a replacement for Adobe's Flash, it is widely considered utterly superfluous and of no interest [today.com] to anyone who could be found.

    "We have a fabulous selection of content partners for Silverlight," announced Microsoft marketer Scott Guthrie on his blog today. "NBC for the Olympics, which delivered millions of new users to BitTorrent. The Democrat National Convention, which is fine because t

  • Is it just me or did this read like a promo right off of Microsoft's web site?

    Is slashdot going to go the way of PC Magazine back in the late 1980s and just becoming a venue for corporate promotion?

    This article was kinda depressing.

    It is nice to have at least one corner of the Netverse not dominated by the corporate overlords.

  • I do expect many Microsoft shops to do more RIAs with Silverlight now that it's more capable and to create lightweight browser/desktop Silverlight 3 applications where they might have fashioned heavier-weight Windows Forms or WPF client applications," Heller says.

    In other words, loyal Microsoft followers will use new Microsoft tool that produces Windows-only GUI software instead of older Microsoft tools that produces Windows-only GUI software.

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