Whether you are looking to deploy an Intranet or Internet solution, Silverlight can really help make your application come to life! With the most recent versions of Silverlight and SharePoint, it’s definitely something worth considering in your next solution. As many of you already know, Silverlight is cross-browser compatible, runs on the client machine (in and out of the browser) & has a great developer story. You can learn more about Silverlight @ http://www.silverlight.net/
Here are two real world examples of sites built on SharePoint 2010 that use Silverlight effectively:
A frequent question I get from customers & partners is what the synergies and opportunities are for Silverlight & SharePoint 2010. Here’s how I explain it:
1. SharePoint 2010 takes advantage of Silverlight in certain places. For example, the new organization browser, several of the Office Web Applications like the Word Web App and the solution gallery when creating a new asset. While each of these experiences is enhanced by Silverlight, there is a down-level DHTML experience.
|My Organization Browser||The Word Web Application Silverlight viewer|
2. SharePoint 2010 makes it easy to host Silverlight applications with the new Silverlight Web Part. All you have to do is point to the XAP file and you’re done! SharePoint 2010 also ships with a new Media Web Part that is Silverlight based that streams video.
|Using the out-of-the-box Media Web Part to stream a video stored in a SharePoint library.||The free Point8020 CourseViewer Silverlight Application available at http://www.point8020.com/services.aspx. Very, very cool and easy to use. I highly recommend downloading and trying it out.|
3. SharePoint 2010 makes it easy to develop Silverlight + SharePoint applications with the new Client Object Model (OM). With SharePoint 2007, developers can integrate SharePoint data & application functionality in a Silverlight application by calling the out-of-the-box SharePoint web services. With SharePoint 2010, developers can take advantage of the new Client OM that makes it really easy to develop & debug.
Here are some of my personal tips & tricks for you to consider when adopting, developing and/or hosting Silverlight applications in SharePoint:
- Extending your Hosted Environment: Whether you are looking to extend the SharePoint Online service or a hosted service in your Enterprise, Silverlight gives you a lot of flexibility to customize SharePoint in a sandboxed environment. You can package up your Silverlight application (XAP file and other resources) into a WSP to make it easy to deploy. Whether you are a corporate developer or Independent Software Vendor (ISV), this lowers your deployment barrier especially when it comes to departmental solutions that are generally more locked down.
- Use Silverlight for Powerful Visualization. Use SharePoint lists/libraries for data. This is a common pattern I’ve seen with customers & partners. SharePoint provides some fantastic out-of-the-box collaboration features including workflow, versioning and check-in/check-out. Couple this with the power of Silverlight, and you can really make that data easy to visualize and interact with. For example, use a SharePoint list to track all your different retail stores in different geographies; use Silverlight to show this data on a map. You have yourself a mash up! There are many other examples like rotating images/banners or even just making text look sexy! In these scenarios, you are really separating your presentation and data layers.
- Pre-configure your Web Part: While the Media Web Part & Silverlight Web Part make it easy to host media content & Silverlight applications, there may be real scenarios where you want end-users to just drag & drop a preconfigured Web Part. Tip: Configure your Web Part, Export your web part (.webpart file) and re-add your Web Part to your gallery. You can even create a custom tab in your Web Part Browser. You can use this tip for any Web Part – the RSS Web Part is another good scenario.
I expect to see a really great & growing ecosystem of customers & partners using Silverlight and SharePoint with the latest SharePoint 2010 release! If you’re looking for a place to start, I recommend watching this Channel 9 video with Paul Stubbs.