Another Silverlight Rant!

I debated even posting about this because there are so many developers in the Flash community already talking about it; then I thought why not I still have a few questions. I won’t take this post as far as bashing Silverlight as much as a search for an answer to “Why switch?”

There is no argue that Microsoft has offered the RIA world a new way to create and display solid interactive applications, but I still don’t see a need to switch. Dave Wolf from Cynergy comments on how this is good for the world of RIA’s and only confirms that RIA’s are here to stay. I agree. As well as I agree with all of the bloggers stating that this competition will be good for Flash and can only help its future growth. But I still want to know why I would switch to developing applications in XAML and JavaScript and as Keith Peters says, taking a 5 year step backwards with prototype classes.

I attended MIX 2006 where Microsoft demoed WPF and a bit of WPF/E and I watched the Flash developers around the room with smirks on their faces basically saying, “Okay, I’ve been able to do that for 5 years with Flash.” They continued to show applications with a cube of videos that spun as a 3D object. Kinda cool and it was very smooth because their player has a closer tie to the hardware but I don’t think that will sell it for anyone.

I promise, I’m not trying to bash Silverlight, I just don’t understand why I would switch. Okay, maybe I don’t have to and that is not the question, maybe I should be asking why business owners and executives are asking my to really look into this. Why do they care? Since when is it a business goal of an application to have XAML over MXML or vice versa? It must be because Silverlight can do something more than Flash. If so, what can it do? As of a year ago I was not impressed. It was shiny, and I like shiny things that move, but I had seen it all before.

So I guess I can end by asking those of you who have worked with WPF or Silverlight, what can it do that Flash cannot and how important are these features to the success of solid web or desktop applications?

- Tim O’Hare

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