It is with tremendous pleasure that I can reveal Microsoft Silverlight: our next-generation, cross-platform, cross-browser web client runtime. Silverlight (previously codenamed “WPF/E”) is a lightweight subset of XAML for building rich media experiences on the web.
There’s lots of material at the NAB virtual press room site, but I thought I’d share my top ten list of reasons why you might want to use Silverlight:
- It supports playback of WMV files on both PC and Macintosh, with many options for interactivity during playback; with just a couple of lines of code, you can provide a platform-neutral way to handle all your movie files. Silverlight supports full-screen 720p video and offers seamless transitions between full-screen and windowed mode without losing your position in the video (something that media sites are crying out for today).
- By separating markup (XAML) from code, Silverlight provides a familiar web metaphor for designers and developers. You can embed XAML directly within an HTML file if you want a simple, monolithic solution, or you can keep the two separate to enforce a delineation between different web development roles.
- Silverlight is just a 1MB download on a PC (slightly more on a Macintosh because the universal package contains both Intel and PowerPC versions); it supports Windows XP and above, with Windows 2000 support to come.
- Silverlight is blindingly fast – for example, you can play many videos simultaneously without stuttering or dropping frames (subject to network bandwidth, of course). We’re introducing a new video brush in Silverlight that allows you to use video as a texture for any 2D object (a rectangle, an ellipse or a path). This is going to allow designers incredible power to use media in new ways that have never been accessible through other existing technologies.
- Silverlight is both client- and server-agnostic. There’s no difference between the Macintosh and PC runtimes; you don’t need any Microsoft software on the server if you don’t want to – you can deliver a great Silverlight experience from an Apache / Linux server to a Mac OS 10.4 client.
- Silverlight is almost 100% upward compatible with WPF. Animation, 2D vector graphics, media, text – they’re all present in Silverlight and the concepts you’ve learnt in WPF carry forward (although Silverlight is a subset – it doesn’t support WPF features such as 3D, data binding or templates). You can use the same tools (e.g. Expression Design) to generate content for Silverlight; you can take XAML from Silverlight and use it in a WPF application when you want to scale up and take full advantage of your local machine.
- Ah… #10. I can’t reveal this yet – there’s a big surprise up our collective corporate sleeve that will be announced at MIX. I hate to hold back on you, but anticipation is part of the pleasure, as my mother used to tell me as a child when I was waiting impatiently for Christmas to come!
Now that Windows Vista is done, I’ll be shifting the focus of my blog slightly – I’ll still write just as much about WPF, but I’ll also start to write about its web-based little brother, since they both are part of the same continuum and my day-to-day job incorporates both technologies equally. Rich interactive web-based and Windows-based content; it’s an exciting time to be a client platform evangelist!