For those of you who have day jobs and find it hard to keep up with all the code-names and product names coming out of Microsoft, Silverlight is the name a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in for rich interactive applications for the Web. Huh? Break it down:
- Silverlight is a browser plug-in: Runs in IE, Firefix, Opera, and more.
- As a plug-in, Silverlight provides a runtime, which is at it's core, .NET based. It is a lightweight version (subset) of the .NET Framework. When you write declarative code, you'll be using a .NET langauge
- Silverlight is cross-platform: Microsoft produces versions to run on Windows and Mac and the Mono project is doing Moonlight for Linux.
- Silverlight is for Rich Interactive apps. This means high-def video, audio, hypertext, dynamic data.
Bottom line, Silverlight is like Adobe's Flash, but built on a broad platform (.NET and the CLR) with mainstream language support (C# and VB) as opposed to a relatively narrow platform and runtime requiring ActionScript.
Because Silverlight uses a lightweight NET runtime, if the Eclipse4SL project succeeds, developers will be able to use Eclipse tools to create .NET applications. How about that! You will be able to edit XAML and C# in Eclipse!
Milestone 1 for Eclipse4SL is set for this week: October 14th there'll be a CTP of the tools. Feature complete in December. Nice! I love to see this. Love it, love it, love it.
From the Eclipse4SL website, Interop is a key criterion for success: Increased Interoperability: Eclipse will contain functionality that will help Java Developers build Silverlight applications that work better with Java Web Services using REST, SOAP, JSON and other standards. There's a company called Soyatec, a longtime Eclipse Foundation member, doing the analysis and development work.
For my part, I'm so glad we're getting to the point where we all can work together collaboratively to produce interesting stuff for customers. Next milestone: when a proejct like this doesn't warrant blog posts entitled "interesting times indeed."