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U.S. Army using Silverlight for Resourcing Troops

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Dan Hickman from ProModel tells the story of converting their Predictive Troop Resourcing application for the U.S. Army from a Windows Forms application to a Silverlight-based application. Reusing existing .NET code, working with familiar controls from IdeaBlade, and helping to get Silverlight on the approved browser plug-ins list for the Army; ProModel was able to build the application in a very short amount of time.

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  • This is very cool! Silverlight is underestimated by many but companies and the Government has already realized its potential and i can tell you guys for a fact that corporate use of Silverlight has a huge interest now that V3 has met a lot of functional requirements.

  • Our company is also converting a lot of old Winform, ActiveX apps into SilverLight. If only there were the right-click context menu, but it's still very impressive.

  • So you need zero deployment for a winforms applications? Ever heard of clickonce?

     

    Not that the silverlight version isn't cool, but you have responsiblity to your customer to offer them all the relevant choices. It seems that this was not the case here.

  • They DID use ClickOnce. That's how the WinForms app was routinely installed and updated. But there was strong resistence from IT to installing any applications on the client, whether ClickOnce is doing it or not. I've found this to be true for years. Many organizations lock down the PC. They don't want Full Trust code running there. This is a major reason "Smart Client" never took hold. Now, all you have to do is get the organization to buy into the plug-in ... and you're golden.

  • Clickone deployment supports web based deployment, so it running in a temp folder not that different from your web cache. IE, not "installed".

     

    Your making a different case then he did though when you switch it to a fulltrust / partial trust issue. He clear states "Winforms is great, but we don't want to do any deployment".

  • First, I'm a fan of ClickOnce. The problem in many cases is that the client either does not understand all the issues or sees them differently than I do. In this case as I understand it, the client's IT department opposed a smart client app delivered via ClickOnce for all kinds of reasons that could be simply summarized as "deployment". Some of the technical reasons include [a] requires Full Trust, [b] has unfettered access to the PC, and [c] requires a specific version of .NET to be installed on all target machines. These requirement are as much aspects of "deployment" as the location of the bits on the file system.

     

    I doubt Dan failed in his duty to educate. He knew the benefits (and headaches) of ClickOnce quite well ... as did his client. He spoke about "reletentless pressure" to be fully in the browser implying that he tried mightily to make his case. He would not have put his success at risk casually to try two risky migration paths (ASP.NET and Silverlight) ... at the client's expense ... unless he had to do so.

     

    I've been on his side of that argument. Sometimes the resistence is substantive and sometimes it feels like politics and deliberate misunderstanding. I don't know how Dan encountered it. I am reminded of one of the wisest life questions ever put to me: "do you want to be right or do you want to be effective?"  Evidently, Dan became convinced that he could not be both and had to find an alternate path to delivering the goods ... and Silverlight + DevForce came along just in time.

     

    Now that he is in Silverlight and discovered its richness, power and productivity, there will be no going back.

  • Click once is great but what about the fact that Silverlight is Cross Browser/Cross Operating system.  You now have the ability to reach more users with out having to build multiple version of our applications.

  • Cool! I wanted to say that the Gantt chart component in the WinForms app is GTP.NET from plexityhide.com, and in the Silverlight version it is GTP.NET.SL from plexityhide.com; watch demo here.

     

    I also wanted to comment that the use of a framework like ideablade is really key to getting things done fast and still have them maintainable; but I always recommend the ECO framework from CapableObjects.com for cases like this.

     

  • Ward sums it up nicely.  Clickonce is very useful in some cases. One of the major DoD issues with it is that it requires to many permissions to run, does actually have to be installed on the users computer, and can only be installed to the users local profile.  Which means that any thing that is saved to 1 computer is not available from another terminal, and if you re-image the system, all that locally saved material is gone. 

     

    Silverlight and .NET is THE choice now for enterprise solutions on a DoD level.  Commanders like it cause its pretty and User friendly.  IT likes it cause its non intrusive on the thousands of PC's they have to maintain.  Any IT department is going to be much more responsive to. "Add a link to the home page" v. Install on 3k pc's.

  • Eric PerkinsESP Working or Riding

    Hi All -

     

    I wanted to comment on this from a different point of view. Many of you are from the development community, and I think this case study and usage additionally needs to be considered from an Infrastructure, server and IT perspective. Many of the people I interact with on a daily basis are VDI proponents or Terminal server advocates and have blinders on to some degree as to developments in delivering applications through new delivery mechanisms like Silverlight (or sorry.. FLEX/AIR).

     

    I have used the example above in a couple blogs I have written and it is almost as if people in my little group disregard this as a game changer, and I truly beileve it is.

     

    Why implement VDI for task workers in a manufacturer setting when you can run a small windows based thinclient with a silverlight client and not need the massive storage, connection broker and other related costs for VDI implementations.

     

    Congrats on a great project!

     

    Best

     

    Eric S. Perkins

    http://chimerically.com

     

     

  • magicalclickmagicalclick C9 slogan, #dealwithit. C9 Broken Non-Scroll Editor.

    Pretty cool, but, I hope our troops are still techless proof. I mean, if EMP hits or no more power, they don't go screaming around like noobs LOL.

     

  • I wonder if you can tell me a little about your experience in getting the Army to accept the SilverLight plug in.  Was this acceptance across the entire Army or just a portion?  How much effort was involved.  We too have an application that is being converted to SilverLight and we are concerned about acceptance of the plug in.

     

    thanks

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