From usually well informed sources [1, 2] comes news that Microsoft may halt development on Silverlight after version 5 ships, which could occur later this month. This news comes on the heels o word that Adobe is abandoning development of Flash for mobile devices [3].

It would seem more and more software platform companies are giving into HTML5 and Javascript. Although on the surface this appears to be a good thing, that is an platform using open standards built upon a such a pervasive technology (the web browser), I can't help but feel like this is a mistake which is going to take developers a VERY long time to get over.

Javascript isn't the most developer friendly technology out there, by a long shot. It lacks many OO features (inheritance, polymorpism, properties and indexers etc) which I personally want and almost demand when I zen into my programming sessions. A lot of people have a problem with this too and have created language translators. Google recently announced Dart, there is a neat compiler/language I've used called Haxe [4, 5], and heard there's even an open source C# to Javascipt tool available (which I haven't tried).

But fixing the problem of complex HTML5 development by converting other more featured languages to Javascript is half the problem. And the lesser half. The real problem with HTML5 is the incomplete, incompatible, and poor performing implementations. This is the part that's going to stymie the regular software developer for a VERY long time.

The animation system is HTML5 is still undergoing changes. Some browsers are exposing a method for requesting the next frame, but their names are different and they pass different information back to you application regarding timing. Some browsers are using open standards to expose hardware accelerated graphic effects [6] while other are not. The audio/video API have differences, including what formats to accept. The 2D drawing APIs are quite slow on some browsers, and horribly slow on others. And then there are the usual problems with differences in Javascript access to a browser's DOM. I could go on and on here ...

I'd love it if someday there were a unified development platform for all devices, but am opposed to using HTML5 as the answer now.

  1. http://www.theverge.com/2011/11/9/2548975/microsoft-may-halt-development-work-on-silverlight-after-next-release
  2. http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/will-there-be-a-silverlight-6-and-does-it-matter/11180
  3. http://www.freep.com/article/20111109/COL41/111109013/Adobe-kills-Flash-mobile-devices?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE
  4. http://codebot.org/haxe/
  5. http://haxe.org/
  6. http://www.iquilezles.org/apps/shadertoy/