Little demand yet for Silverlight programmers
Indirect comparisons with Flash skills market bear evidence of long adoption slog ahead
Computerworld - Microsoft Corp.'s Silverlight rich Internet application platform has yet to gain traction among companies or programmers, according to two indirect measures of popularity.
Officially released just half a year ago, Silverlight is being downloaded and installed an average of 1.5 million times a day, Microsoft said during its Mix08 Web development conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Microsoft is aiming for 200 million Silverlight downloads by the middle of this year.
But Adobe Systems Inc.'s incumbent Flash platform remains far more popular, at least judging by the number of job ads demanding either skill and sales of programming instructional books.
Letting the (job) market decide
In a Computerworld search of nine leading career sites on Tuesday, the ratio of jobs mentioning Flash or Silverlight heavily favored the former. Ratios ranged from a high of 67:1 in favor of Flash at Careerbuilder.com to a still weighty 24:1 at Dice.com (see chart below).
All told, averaging ratios from the nine sites found programming jobs requiring Flash skills to be 41 times more plentiful than ones asking for Silverlight.
Silverlight jobs are out there, albeit in small numbers. Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com, both free search engines that aggregate ads from other job Web sites, turned up 613 and 593 positions asking for Silverlight skills, respectively.
At the same time, Indeed.com listed 19,945 Flash jobs while SimplyHired had 20,704 — or about 35 times more than the Silverlight count.
SimplyHired also has a widget on its site that lets users easily graph job trends over time by entering keywords. However, the data runs only from July 2006 to the end of December 2007 when, a SimplyHired spokeswoman acknowledges, job postings tend to be lower because of the holiday season.
Silverlight jobs were downright paltry at sites such as Careerbuilder.com (29), Yahoo HotJobs (21) and LinkedIn.com (8). Other sites surveyed include:
- Collegerecruiter.com: 250 for Silverlight, 10,199 for Flash, for a 41:1 ratio in favor of Flash
- Monster.com: 116 for Silverlight, 3,922 for Flash, for a 34:1 ratio in favor of Flash
- Jobster: 158 for Silverlight, 6,094 for Flash, for a 39:1 ratio in favor of Flash
Caveats include the higher probability that the word flash is used in a job ad to describe something other than the programming language, compared with an esoteric term such as Silverlight — though a cursory skim of the results at various sites didn't turn up any examples of that.
Also, results at some sites, especially those at aggregators such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com, may count ads for the same job multiple times.
WHERE THE JOBS ARE: FLASH vs. SILVERLIGHT
|Jobs site||No. of ads that mention Flash||No. of ads that mention Silverlight||Flash to Silverlight ad ratio|
Making books on market share
Sales of programming books have also been tracked by market researchers, most notably O'Reilly Radar, to gauge interest in computer languages.
According to Nielsen BookScan, each Flash book has generated about four to five times the sales of its Silverlight counterpart. (Of course, no title was likely to match anything in Oprah's Book Club — the most popular has sold only 9,000 copies.)
Christian Wenz, the author of two Silverlight books published by O'Reilly, said he didn't know how well those books are selling.
"Adobe Flash, which I have covered in several successful books for the German market, has an enormous market share and a large user base, so total book sales should be higher there," Wenz said in an e-mail. "I think twelve months from now we will know whether Silverlight will have a chance in the market or not."
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