Standards-Based Web, Plug-ins and Silverlight

fork in the roadCreative Commons photo by i_yudai. Click the photo to see it on its Flickr page.

road to mix smallBy now, you’ve probably read the article titled Standards-Based Web, Plug-ins and Silverlight, which was written by three heavy-hitters within Microsoft: Walid Abu-Hadba (he runs Microsoft’s Developer & Platform Evangelism group), Scott “The Gu” Guthrie (Corporate VP of the .NET Developer Platform) and S. “Soma” Somasegar (Senior VP of the Developer Division). In the article, they talk about HTML5, Silverlight, and where they see both fit in the grand scheme of things. Their timing is intentional: the MIX conference is next week, and we’ll be doing a lot of talking about Silverlight and HTML5, and people have been puzzling over Microsoft’s stance on the two.

(If you haven’t read the article yet, go read it now, then feel free to come back here.)

Go Wide or Go Deep, It’s Your Call

In the end, what it all means is that you, the developer, have options:

  • Want to go wide and make sure as many people as possible can use your application? No problem: build an application following web standards. Build it using the technologies we collectively refer to as “HTML5” (technically HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript) and it’ll run on every modern browser (and, we believe, anywhere from as fast or a little or even much faster on our particular horse in this race, IE9).
  • Want to go deep and make sure your application has the best controls and rich multimedia capabilities and will give you the best developer experience as you’re building it? Then a plug-in’s the way to go, and we think Silverlight does a great job at that. A plug-in’s also good if you need to deliver desktop application-like functionality via the browser and your customers aren’t on HTML5-compliant browsers yet (and there a number of companies who are in this situation).

If that message sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw an amusing little video I made last year, titled HTML5 and RIAs: Friends with Benefits

(Really, I need to make more amusing little videos. It’s fun.)

Go With What You Know and Love, It’s Your Call

In their commentary on Standards-Based Web, Plug-ins and Silverlight, InfoQ point to some market research from Telerik (if you’re not familiar with development in the Microsoft sphere, they’re a vendor of components for .NET programmers) in which they confirmed that:

  • People from the web development world weren’t interested in Silverlight. “They always stayed close to what they felt most comfortable with – JS, HTML, CSS, AJAX. Sure, they suffered from cross-browser issues due to the fact that every browser has its take on how “standard” features should be implemented, but they stayed true to pure web development and never embraced Flash or Silverlight.”
  • People from the WinForms development world, especially those building “LOB” (Line Of Business) applications for the enterprise, like Silverlight. For them, it’s the transition from WinForms to the next-generation world. Silverlight might be the super media platform, but most of our customers are not using it for that and don’t appreciate it for the HD streaming. These people were doing WinForms development and were looking for ways to enjoy richer functionality and simpler deployment of the backbone apps of their organizations.

Whatever you love, we’ve got you covered with a commitment to both HTML5 and Silverlight.

Go Silverlight or XNA (or soon, HTML5) on the Phone, It’s Your Call

fork in the road 2Creative Commons photo by Friends of San Jacinto. Click the photo to see it on its Flickr page.

The “It’s Your Call” philosophy extends to Windows Phone 7. Silverlight shines on the Phone as a way to build apps with standard controls and user interfaces, but we’ve also thrown in XNA for games and graphics-intensive apps as well. Pick the framework that works best for building your app and run with it!

And yes, we’re going to have the mobile web covered with IE9 for WP7. Joe Belfiore demoed it at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona back in February. It does HTML5 and it’s got the hardware acceleration goodness that its desktop counterpart has, too.

Keep an Eye on MIX11 and Find Out What Else is Your Call

ice cream barCreative Commons photo by Samantha Marx. Click the photo to see it on its Flickr page.

As is the tradition, there are always some interesting announcements at MIX, and you may be pleased at the options you’ll soon have. Keep an eye on the conference through this blog to find out what else is your call!

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.