Friday, 20 April 2007

Microsoft Silverlight; a brief introduction.

I guess if I mentioned Microsoft Silverlight to most people they wouldn’t know what I am talking about. Sounds more like a Sci-Fi weapon than what it actually is; a cross-platform rich multimedia technology allowing for Videos, animations and graphics to be displayed in a variety of browsers. Now if I said it was codenamed Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere or WPF/E I guess people might start catching on.

XAML is used to represent the text, while scripting is currently achieved using JavaScript. Virtually anything is possible with this current combination; a huge variety of examples are available from the Silverlight website. One of its greatest strengths I feel is that it is able to play Windows Media content without the need of an ActiveX control for the other browsers currently supported. So only just one download and you’re sorted!

So what can you make using Silverlight, well a lot of things! But I will mention some of the demo’s as examples; reading stuff on screen isn’t that interesting, it’s never as good as a book where you can turn a page. Well now you can, grab the edge corners and slowly turn the page right before your eyes. Well if reading isn’t for you how about organising your media collection or what about a cool interactive game. The list goes on.

Now I mentioned earlier that currently the scripting is solely achieved using JavaScript, now many people myself included prefer CLR based languages, and so just wait a little while for Version 2.0 as the CLR (Common Language Runtime) will be included therefore C# and VB.Net will have never looked so good. Of course for safety the local file system can’t be accessed by default by the CLR Languages.

Now this sounds great doesn’t it, rich interactive applications that are cross platform between Windows and Mac and it’s only a 2MB download that works on the majority of major browsers.

I guess there is one downside for Microsoft Silverlight, and it’s a rather major one at that... It’s not out yet! It’s only at a CTP (Community Technology Preview) level at the moment. Don’t worry; I guess Microsoft has lots of Code Monkey’s typing away trying to complete it soon.

I guess now’s the time to suggest visiting the site so you can find out more about it, there are currently a few things available Demos, SDK, Wallpapers. Your epic journey to click on the link below won’t be in vain. I strongly suggest you check it out.

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