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Will Silverlight Be DOA?

Silverlight is a worthless steamy pile. I just took a huge step in Flex's direction

Kevin Hoffman's Blog

Lately there seems to be a lot of buzz around the whole Flex, Flash, Apollo environment for creating extremely powerful, cross-platform RIAs (Rich Interactive Application). In the interest of fairness and objectivity, I've been reserving judgement until I got a chance to really play more with Flex. Likewise, I hadn't really made any judgements about WPF/E yet, either.

So, when I read today that Microsoft had changed the name of WPF/E to Silverlight, I got a little excited. Why? Because by changing that name, it sounded a little bit like Microsoft had finally decided they were going to throw down the gauntlet and try and compete directly with Flex.

I went and saw that Microsoft had re-skinned their WPF/E developer page and it was now called the "Silverlight Developer Zone" , which looked promising. Even more interesting was that there was now a download for the February CTP of WPF/E for the Mac. This looked really good, so I grabbed the CTP for Vista, grabbed the SDK, grabbed some samples and started to look around.

This is where I threw my hands up in disgust. What in the holy name of Scooby-Doo are those people thinking?!?! After poring through the API, I thought "I must be mistaken. Surely this is a mistake." But then I asked a colleague and he confirmed it for me. Let me skip a couple lines and highlight this so you all can see it clearly.

WPF/E (Silverlight) HAS NO SUPPORT FOR BINDING TO MODELS, BINDING TO DATA, OR EVEN CONNECTING TO NETWORK RESOURCES TO OBTAIN DATA.

So, I will summarize Microsoft's efforts to date around Silverlight. They have created a declarative programming model that uses XAML as an instantiation language for rich 2D (not 3D) content and animations, as well as extended JavaScript to support this model. Using this model, you can create embedded mini-apps that have access to rich animations, graphics, audio, and video objects. However, these mini applications cannot communicate with the outside world, they cannot consume web services, and they cannot bind UI elements to data. In addition, this model doesn't even have support for things that should be considered a stock part of any library such as buttons, checkboxes, list boxes, list views, grids, etc.

In short, unless my findings are incorrect, Silverlight, as it stands now, with no support for data binding, service consumption, or basic UI controls, is a worthless steamy pile. I just took a huge step in Flex's direction.

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More Stories By Kevin Hoffman

Kevin Hoffman, editor-in-chief of SYS-CON's iPhone Developer's Journal, has been programming since he was 10 and has written everything from DOS shareware to n-tier, enterprise web applications in VB, C++, Delphi, and C. Hoffman is coauthor of Professional .NET Framework (Wrox Press) and co-author with Robert Foster of Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Development Unleashed. He authors The .NET Addict's Blog at .NET Developer's Journal.

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