10 Things You Should Know About Microsoft's Silverlight

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2. Silverlight 1.1 Is the Real Story

The recent Release Candidate of Silverlight 1.0 has many organizations considering whether they should start working with Silverlight. While Silverlight 1.0 has many important and interesting features, in reality most Silverlight adoption hangs on its anticipated 1.1 release.

The Silverlight 1.1 release (currently in an alpha preview) is the first to support .Net in any appreciable way. This includes the basic .Net languages, C# and Visual Basic. In addition, according to Microsoft, Silverlight 1.1 will have .Net support for dynamic languages, such as Ruby, Python, dynamic Visual Basic and managed JScript. In my opinion, the important languages for Silverlight to support are C# and Visual Basic, as they allow .Net developers to create interesting Silverlight applications. In the Silverlight 1.1 release, any .Net language should be supported, since what is actually delivered to the browser are .Net assemblies.

In contrast, Silverlight 1.0 only supports Ecma International languages that are interpreted in the client. Silverlight 1.0 works well for existing Web developers who are already using client-side script for their work.

Silverlight 1.1 also supports a rich custom control model, which is important to ensure an integrated development experience. The Silverlight 1.0 experience is much less mature and is unlikely to get third parties interested in control development.

3. Silverlight Uses Technologies Your Developers Already Know

Silverlight is built with existing Microsoft technologies: a mix of Windows Presentation Framework-like XAML (XML application markup language), JavaScript and .Net technologies. If your developers are already familiar with Microsoft .Net and Web technologies, they can use their existing knowledge to build Silverlight applications. Even if your developers lack these skills, learning these technologies has applicability beyond the single product or project -- which isn't necessarily the case for other solutions, such as Adobe Flash's ActionScript.

The version of Silverlight you choose to introduce to a new project will likely depend on your development team's skill set. If your development team primarily does heavy ASP.Net server-side development (mostly C# and VB.Net), you should wait until Silverlight 1.1 is available. If your team is adept at client-side languages like JavaScript, Silverlight 1.0 is a great platform to introduce.

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