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Silverlight probably being retired

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  • User profile image
    sysrpl

    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/

     

  • User profile image
    TomboRombo

    Remember when Coca-Cola changed the recipe for Coke?  This is the same story for Microsoft.  Microsoft, Sinofsky, and Balmer will go down as the recipe changers who screwed over a happy development community.  

    You cannot give developers a nice technology and take it away and then expect them to flop over to HTML5/Javascript.   Someone else will fill this gap and if it is not Microsoft then they will start hurting.  Maybe Microsoft becomes the next Kodak where it thinks its king and film will last forever.

  • User profile image
    Harlequin

    Everything in HTML5 is still changing. Look at the <time> element, lots of people were using this and it was removed and changed to a <data> element which had everyone scratching their heads as to it's uselessness.

    Link explaining <time>/<data> change:
    http://html5doctor.com/time-and-data-element/

    And I'l REALLY not looking forward to building large LOB applications in HTML5/JQuery. All it's going to do is increase costs.

     

  • User profile image
    Bas

    You cannot give developers a nice technology and take it away and then expect them to flop over to HTML5/Javascript.   Someone else will fill this gap and if it is not Microsoft then they will start hurting.  Maybe Microsoft becomes the next Kodak where it thinks its king and film will last forever.

    In fairness, in most cases they expect them to flop over to WinRT, which is still XAML, which is the biggest learning curve for Silverlight anyway. What's gonna happen on the web, of course, is anyone's guess.

    Anyway, I still think there's something else to it. With all the rumors that they're about to push Silverlight to the Xbox it seems unlikely that they'd simultaneously pull the plug.

  • User profile image
    sysrpl

    @Bas: My understanding is that this push of Silverlight to the Xbox is to enable and enhance more secure media streaming (Netflix like applications), and that it will be fairly incompatible with the other version of Silverlight. That is, you won't be able to write a Silverlight program, test it on your PC/Browser, and expect it to work on Xbox. It won't.

     

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    What they're relying on here is that they're still king of the desktop. Developers are a dime a dozen to Microsoft. Why do you think their pushing the HTML5/Javascript agenda? To add a bunch of low rent developers to the fold... They're opening up their own Walmart and stocking it with cheap HTML5/Javascript. For those you you who are HTML/Javascript gurus I mean no offence. I'm sure there are many quality HTML/Javascript programmers out there. That said there are also hords and hords of lesser programmers right behind you.

    "WinRT - with Windows 8 Lock-in (tm)" Wink

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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  • User profile image
    Lee_Dale

    I TOLD YOU SO!

     

    Perplexed

  • User profile image
    sysrpl

    @DeathByVisualStudio: "Developers are a dime a dozen to Microsoft."

    Really? I got a personal message from Steve Balmer that developers are Microsoft's highest priority. I guess I didn't get his retraction. I'll check my inbox right now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE

     

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    Adobe ending Flash Mobile support in the browser makes sense - there's no good reason for Flash in the mobile browser window - but if Adobe worked on a good "pop out" mobile player, where Flash SWFs are opened in a dedicated application, that would allow people control over the Flash experience - and allow Flash to retain its status as a gaming platform (one of Flash's three pillars, the other two being web video, and advertising).

    That's something Microsoft could pursue for a possible future of Silverlight... if Silverlight was ever adopted by the indie web gaming community, but it wasn't, so therefore Silverlight has no future.

    I saw this happening when Silverlight was first announced in 2005 (search for my posts on this very forum) I'm just surprised Microsoft kept it running as long as they did - but I suppose the size of the developer community was too large to kill it off recently, is it now falling such that they can end the product without too many protests?

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    @sysrpl: Why don't you petition Microsoft to set Silverlight free? I'm mainly referring to patents MS holds. And ask MS to state it has no intention to sue anyone over SL/dotnet.

  • User profile image
    sysrpl

    @W3bbo: You made an interesting reply.

    Though I think Silverlight was the natural extension of WPF, which in turn was supposed to be Microsoft's next generation Windows user interface toolkit. WPF/E (E is for everywhere) turned into Silverlight and then interest turned to parity between WPF and Silverlight. For whatever reason (maybe the success of touch interfaces and iPhone/iPad/Android)  Microsoft decided to leave behind both WPF and Silverlight and focus instead on HTML5 and maybe optionally salvaging the XAML notion in Windows 8. But you can be sure, it won't be WPF. It'll be something else entirely (WinRT).

    And a note about Windows Phone 7 ... true story:

    I went to my local Walmart super center the other day. They have a mobile phone store inside. They looked at me funny when I asked if they sell a WP7 phone the other day. The answer is no. I was at my local super mall yesterday where they have three phone stores: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and Radio Shack (hey, they sell phones too!). None of them had a WP7 in their store.  The Verizon store said they could order one for me, but that they don't carry them in store. When I asked when the manager said because they bounce back. When I asked what he meant by bounce back he said when they sold them customer would be them back and return them for a non WP7 phone.

    Kinda sad for Microsoft.

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    , sysrpl wrote

    ...

    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 ...

    ...

    My friend, I understand that you are unhappy about this but FUD-ing HTML/HTML5/JAVASCRIPT/CSS will not bring your beloved Silverlight back (if it was even alive sometime).

    Other then to look to Microsoft what are you doing about it? There is a LONG list of open projects for various aspects of dealing with browser quirks (none came from Microsoft, many came from Google). Look up shims and libraries.

    A small, and not that complete, example is SVGWEB.

  • User profile image
    sysrpl

    @fanbaby: Settle down there chuck.

    I never said I was a fan of Silverlight. Yes, I'd dug into it, but that doesn't mean I bought into it. My "problem" is with the wasted development months/years companies like Adobe and Microsoft as experiencing. Not only with their own development teams/dollars, of their developer and vendor base.

    This is part of the reason people hate Microsoft so much, and part of the reason their losing developers and partners (like the partners who helped Microsoft release the Kin). Businesses and developers now more than ever loath to hitch themselves to Microsoft. It's at the point now where almost no amount of Microsoft goodwill can surmount the negative experiences Microsoft has brought them. They pissed off Intel [1], netbook makers [2], programmers [3] ... the list would be large.

    About what I am doing about it? Well I've been using Haxe some and will continue to write software which uses OpenGL, which I've been doing for about ten years now. I'll also probably tell the business I work with not to nest too much into Microsoft related technologies. I'll steer them away from developing SharePoint systems. Finally I'm going to do more Android development when the Asus Transformer Prime ships next month with ICS.

    1. Intel Paperweight
    2. Microsoft releases maximum netbook specs
    3. Visual Fred
  • User profile image
    cbae

    , DeathBy​VisualStudio wrote

    *snip*

    For those you you who are HTML/Javascript gurus I mean no offence.

    *snip*

    I see that the atrocious spelling of the Brits in this forum has started to rub off on the Merkans.

    Wink

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    , sysrpl wrote

    @DeathByVisualStudio: "Developers are a dime a dozen to Microsoft."

    Really? I got a personal message from Steve Balmer that developers are Microsoft's highest priority. I guess I didn't get his retraction. I'll check my inbox right now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE

     

    Enjoy that pat on the head.

    Quantity is always better than quality... Perplexed

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    I think the big issue here is that WinRT provides less attraction for business, than Silverlight, so I cannot see significant adoption of WinRT until windows 9 or 10, unless Windows ships RT updates between versions, which is an impossibility going by past form.

    Going by the past form Microsoft, I am going to be very cautious, it is only a few years until iOS and Android become full blown operating systems. Microsoft are quite a risky company to develop for for the first time in their history.

    I am looking to develop a Win phone 7 application soon, but the underlying tech is (allegedly) losing support, that makes Win phone 7 insane to choose as a development platform, if this turns out to be true, Microsoft have effectively killed Windows Phone, I won't touch it with a bargepole.

     

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    I'm looking forward to using my WP7 skills on WinRT - planning on seeing how much code I can share between the two (liberal use of conditional compilation perhaps)

    Shooting Range should be a good place to start - as soon as I can get my hands on a tablet that includes the relevant sensors (I didn't go to Build)

    Happy Days ... Wink

  • User profile image
    Bass

    I second fanbaby's motion that if they are going to kill a product developers rely on, they should at least open source it.

    I'm personally happy about this news because I didn't want proprietary technologies to become popular on the web. With HTML5 at least everyone regardless of their choice of operating system or device can participate in the web.

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