Given the amount of time the platform has now been available, we’re starting to see some incredible creativity and very focused, user-centric applications being built for Silverlight. I’m very excited about many of these applications and solutions for both business and consumer scenarios and I want to share some of these great experiences with you. This first post will be about business-oriented Silverlight applications and a subsequent post will highlight some consumer-oriented applications.
It used to be that most rich experiences on the web were focused on public-facing or consumer-based applications. It makes sense; we often see user-centric innovation outside the firewall before we see it inside due to the cost of re-vamping existing line of business applications as well as focusing investment on activities that directly impact customers positively. While that is certainly still true, we are seeing business from all sorts of industries adopting user-centric software platforms for internal applications as well as customer-facing business applications. Below are examples of how you could implement some business-oriented experiences in Silverlight:
These are just a few of the LOB-focused applications we are seeing built in Silverlight. If you have an LOB application built in Silverlight that you would like to share, please let me know by commenting!
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Unfortunately, too many glitzy samples are long on eye-candy and short on real data handling. Is it too much for a pretty UI to actually *save* a record?
As a contrast, check out my free video series on Creating a Silverlight 2 Data Form! The eight episodes take you through the steps of doing realistic CRUD operations. My application's user interface may not 'rock', but the app does show down-to-earth coding in VB for beginners.
Source code: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SLDataForm
Required (free) resources: http://cid-5ba3283f955d0a0f.profile.live.com/Lists/cns!5BA3283F955D0A0F!368/
Hi, Ken. All good points and well-taken. Of course most LOB apps today ("glitzy" or not) require some sort of transaction handling and this capability certainly is not lost by building user interfaces that are not necessarily traditional.
While some of these applications may not necessarily work in true transaction mode (they are demo apps, after all), the intent is to show that you can build custom user experiences that cater to the audience that the application is built for rather than settle for traditional user interface constructs that in many case limit the productivity of the employee or customer using the application.
There are many great applications being built internally by widely recognized companies in Canada and across all verticals using UI enhancement technologies such as WPF and Silverlight. The problem with these applications is that many of them are custom-built and live behind the firewall of these companies so they can't be shown.
In many cases, these apps are using strong visual enhancements and significant UI customizations that Silverlight and WPF give you the freedom to build. But they aren't doing it to make the application look shiny, glitzy or have a "cool factor" to them. They are using these technologies to gain a competitive advantage by streamlining the UI and catering the experience to the user, making him/her much more productive than they would otherwise be using traditional user interfaces. Productivity often translates to lowering the bottom line and also enhances the ability of the employee to provide better service to the customer. That's why I see these types of user interfaces becoming much more prevalent in business today and becoming a key enabler for these companies in gaining an edge on the competition.