Monday, December 17, 2007

Silverlight - as desktop application.

Silverlight, the Microsoft's weapon in RIA wars, it is the revolutionary technology determined to change the web trend. Microsoft coins the term "for the web" when referring to Silverlight applications,

"Deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web that incorporate video, animation, interactivity, and stunning user interfaces."

- Microsoft Silverlight

It is clear every since the announcement of Silverlight at MIX'07. Opening the key note at MIX07 Ray Ozzie Chief Software Architect at Microsoft emphases the need for creating web application that provide the power of desktop computing on the Internet, and Silverlight is clearly the best approach.

Microsoft already had the .NET infrastructure in place for ASP.NET applications and Windows Forms and the introduction of .NET 3.0/WinFX (WPF/WCF/WF)  was the final nail in bring the best of the Internet services to the desktop computing.

With Silverlight, Microsoft is clearly targeting the best of desktop experience with Internet services. Many developers have been asking about running Silverlight applications standalone, from a drive or folder,as platform independent desktop application. This however beats the idea of Silverlight,  Silverlight is developed to provide desktop applications on the web. But because of  its architecture, Silverlight can also be run from a local location, (in Silverlight 2.0 can also access any web services). Microsoft have market leadership in desktop platform about 85% - 90%, and its only fair on developers to expect cross platform compatibility for the tools they develop, but Microsoft ignored them - till now.

Microsoft have always had monopoly when it came to platform, they would go out of their way to make sure that Microsoft desktop application are platform dependent (i.e., Windows) but rapid expansion of web applications is making "the web" another platform which is totally independent, and Silverlight is the solution for this scenario and as Ray Ozzie said "Silverlight bring the best of desktop applications and the best of web services - together".  It is be true the other way around.

Microsoft is penetrating deep in Adobe's territory, and Adobe is trying to gets its share from Microsoft's territory with Adobe AIR, Adobe hopes that it would gain a share of the market from Microsoft, I am not being critical of Adobe, I genuinely think Adobe AIR is a brilliant idea, but Adobe had this brain wave at the very wrong time, if you happens to know history being in the right time and right place is very important, you won't disagree with me if you have a look at Java and its history.

Adobe AIR can't compete with WPF applications, but if cross-platform compatibility is concerned, watch out Silverlight 2.0 is coming and Mozilla got a trick up its sleeve to help Silverlight archive it.

Mozilla the makers of FireFox, who already have cross platform browsers, came up with an idea, split web applications out if their browser and run them as desktop. They call it Prism, its a very simple idea provide a software that ideally is a web browser (FireFox), modify registry to save shortcuts on desktop/start menu/quick launch to launch the Prism instance and point to one web page/local html file.

"Unlike Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight, we’re not building a proprietary platform to replace the web. We think the web is a powerful and open platform for this sort of innovation, so our goal is to identify and facilitate the development of enhancements that bring the advantages of desktop apps to the web platform."

Whatever be their intentions for creating Prism, to me it is nail in Adobe's coffin, and Microsoft is going to cash on it big time,  this provides development of one application in Silverlight host it on the web or tweak the same application to install and  run as a desktop application.

This people, is history in the making and I am glad to witness it and be part of it.

32 comments:

Robert Pieprzny said...

I am writting Lawyer office application on Silverlight 1.1 ( 2.0)

It's in 80 % ready. It's like a small operating system.

Sameer C Thiruthikad said...

We have developed a tool named as Desklighter that can convert a Silverlight application into a standalone desktop application. See more details at http://blendables.com/labs/Desklighter/Default.aspx

Download some samples from http://ctlabs.blogspot.com/2008/09/desklighter-carry-light-along.html

Shourov Bhattacharya said...

"Adobe AIR can't compete with WPF applications ..."

Why not?

I develop equally in Flash/AS3 and C#/.NET environments and I am about to build my first true RIA; so I am ready to go either way on which technology to use. I think Adobe AIR is a great feature, especially with its ease of deployment, and as far I can see I cannot develop Silverlight applications on a Mac. So I am going to go with Flex (at least for now).

Chris said...

Why is it the nail in the coffin? I will tell you. LINQ, LINQ, LINQ, the support for anonymous types, inline event hanlers, lambda syntax makes silverlight a giant leap beyond AIR. I have developed using Flex API and AIR but let me tell you, its backbreaking grunt work compared to Silverlight, which I have just started using. Flex is still stuck with representing collections as arrays, still living in the Java past where you have to write a class and six interfaces for every little business objects etc... I can develop applications 100X faster using Silverlight/Linq.

Jeff said...

We have also developed a tool that can host Silverlight Applications. It does not require any version of the .Net runtime to work. Check it out: http://www.argentumdesktop.com

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Jeff Bridges said...

We have to agree! Silverlight is definitely the way to go! We evaluated both and are currently porting our applications over to silverlight! They were already written in C++/.NET so it made the most sense, checkout http://www.pacesyssoftware.com

Anonymous said...

Another good example www.windows4all.com

martiendejong said...

Camera.getCamera();

is not in silverlight.

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Wow, really very nice information about Silverlight desktop applications. It is useful for me. Thanks for sharing nice information. Awesome post.

3DTechnikCom said...

The Link of Sameer C Thiruthikad is really interesting. The tool produces an .exe-file which refers to the windows.forms assembly.
I have been on the last CeBit in Hannover, Germany and there was a guy from Microsoft who showed that there exists a way to extract silverlight APIs naturally to a windows stand-alone-app. Has this been a marketing-gag or does anybody know how to do this?

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