Architecture + Strategy

Musings from David Chou - Architect, Microsoft

Silverlight 3 Beta

Silverlight 3 Beta

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You may have already heard about the many announcements made at Microsoft’s MIX09 conference this week in Las Vegas. One of the major announcements is the Beta availability of Silverlight 3 (and it does look like three’s the charm).

Customer adoption to date

Scott Guthrie during his keynote at MIX09 shared some encouraging statistics:

  • Silverlight launched 18 months ago, shipped Silverlight 2 six months ago
  • 350+ million installations globally
  • 300,000+ designers and developers
  • 200+ partners in 30 countries contributing to the ecosystem
  • 10,000+ applications globally
  • Microsoft has 200+ of its own websites built using Silverlight

A few major customer adoption announcements were also made:

  • Netflix standardizing on Silverlight to deliver its online on-demand video instant watch service across PCs, Macs, and devices; leveraging PlayReady DRM and smooth/adaptive streaming capabilities
  • 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver – NBC announced that the event will again be delivered online using Silverlight, similar to the 2008 Beijing Olympics event
  • NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Basketball Championship – CBS Sports Online coverage of all tournament games delivered using Silverlight at mmod.ncaa.com
  • 2008 Presidential Inauguration – the Presidential Inauguration Committee selected Silverlight to enable online video streaming of President Obama’s official swear-in and Whistle Stop Tour events
  • Bondi Publishing (who owns the Playboy Archives above) – working to deliver their set of magazines including the New Yorker, Rolling Stones, and Playboy online using Silverlight. Playboy Archives is now live with with search, navigation, and DeepZoom at playboy.covertocover.com (best to visit at home)
  • KEXP – a Seattle-based radio station showed off an out-of-browser version (that works when off-line) of their content browser and player
  • Kelley Blue Book – Perfect Car Finder application using Silverlight at www.kbb.com/kbb/PerfectCarFinder/PhotoEdition.aspx
  • SAP – working to deliver Silverlight controls to be used in Netweaver and Web DynPro
  • Microsoft Worldwide Telescope – now Silverlight enabled at www.worldwidetelescope.org/webclient
  • Microsoft Virtual Earth – Silverlight Map Control for any website to use for enhanced visualization of geo-location and mapping capabilities CTP now available
  • Other mentions including Yahoo! Japan, CareerBuilder, 10 Cent QQ, BSkyB, ITV, Intuit, etc.

Interesting Silverlight applications to see

Some of the most compelling Silverlight applications I have seen (many are registered on Silverlight Showcase) are listed below.

General Info:

Media sites/demos:

Rich application sites/demos:

Casual Games:

Reusable Controls Libraries (for enterprise applications):

Now these are just some of my favorites. But with the pace of developers building cool Silverlight applications, this list may need to be updated very frequently (last updated 3/20/09).

What’s new in Silverlight 3?

Fully supported by Visual Studio and Expression Blend, highlights of new features and functionality of Silverlight 3 include: major media enhancements, out of browser support allowing Web applications to work on the desktop; significant graphics improvements including 3D graphics support, GPU acceleration and H.264 video support; and many features to improve RIA development productivity.

Enhanced media support

  • Live and on-demand true HD (720p+) Smooth Streaming. IIS Media Services (formerly IIS Media Pack), an integrated HTTP media delivery platform, features Smooth Streaming which dynamically detects and seamlessly switches, in real time, the video quality of a media file delivered to Silverlight based on local bandwidth and CPU conditions.
  • Hardware accelerated HD playback. Leveraging graphics processor unit (GPU) hardware acceleration, Silverlight experiences can now be delivered in true full-screen HD (720p, 1080p, etc.).
  • Extensible media format support. In addition to VC-1/WMA, Silverlight 3 now supports MPEG-4-based H.264/AAC Audio. Also with the new extensible Raw AV pipeline, audio and video can be decoded outside the runtime and rendered in Silverlight, extending format support beyond the native codecs.
  • Digital rights management. Full and built-in support for DRM, powered by PlayReady Content Protection enables protected in-browser experiences using AES encryption or Windows Media DRM.

Enhanced graphics support

  • Perspective 3D Graphics. Content can now be applied to a 3D plane without writing any code. Live content can be rotated or scaled live content in space.
  • Pixel Shader effects. Image manipulation effects such as blur and drop shadow, using software-based rendering. Custom effects can also be created, and applied to any graphical content.
  • Bitmap Caching. Vector content, text, and controls can now be cached as bitmaps. This improves the rendering performance of applications and is useful for background content and for content which needs to scale without making changes to its internal appearance.
  • New Bitmap API. Support for writing pixels to bitmaps directly.
  • Themed application support. Runtime support for application theme updates driven by templates, and cascading style sheets.
  • Animation Effects. New effects such as spring and bounce. Developers can also now develop their own mathematical functions to describe an animation
  • Enhanced control skinning. Simplified skinning capabilities by keeping a common set of controls external from an application. This allows the sharing of styles and control skins between different applications.
  • Improved text rendering & font support. Enhanced rendering and rapid animation of text. Applications also load faster by enabling the use of local fonts.

Enhanced rich internet application (RIA) support

  • Out-of-Browser capabilities
    • Run outside of browser. Light-weight, sandboxed companion experiences for the Web that run on the desktop. Enabled without any additional download of runtime or the need to write applications in a different way.
    • Consumer friendly non-administrator install. Applications are hosted in a cache and do not require any privileges to run.
    • Safer, more secure, sandboxed. An application can be trusted without security warnings. All assets are stored in an isolated storage.
    • Built in auto-update. An application will check for new versions on the server and update on launch.
    • Connectivity detection (on-line/off-line). Can detect a loss of connection (or react to event notifications), then choose to cache data locally until a network connection is restored.
    • Desktop integration. On Windows and Macs, applications can be saved as short-cuts on the desktop and be one click away from your customer. On Windows 7, support will be provided for superbar integration, multi-touch, and location awareness services such as GPS support so that your application can react to the users location.
  • Deep Linking. Support for deep linking, which enables bookmarking a page within a RIA.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By utilizing business objects on the server, together with ASP.NET controls and site maps, users can automatically mirror database-driven RIA content into HTML that is easily indexed by the leading search engines.
  • 60+ default controls with source code. Over 60 fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls such as charting and media, new layout containers such as dock and viewbox, and controls such as autocomplete, treeview and datagrid. The controls come with nine professional designed themes and the source code can be modified/recompiled or utilized as-is. Other additions include multiple selection in listbox controls, file save dialog, and support for multiple page applications with navigation.
  • Enhanced data support
    • Element-to-element binding. Enables property binding to CLR objects and other UI components via XAML, for instance binding a slider value to the volume control of a media player.
    • Data forms. Provides support for layout of fields, validation, updating and paging through data.
    • Data validation. Automatically catch incorrect input and warn the user with built-in validation controls.
    • Support for business objects on both client and server with n-Tier data support. Easily load, sort, filter and page data with added support for working with data. Includes a new built-in CollectionView to perform a set of complex operations against server side data. A new set of .NET RIA services supports these features on the server.
  • Improved performance
    • Application library caching. Reduced the size of applications by caching framework on the client which helps improve rendering performance.
    • Enhanced DeepZoom. Allows users to fluidly navigate through larger image collections by zooming.
    • Binary XML. Allows communication with the server to be compressed, greatly increasing the speed at which data can be exchanged.
    • Local Connection. This feature allows communication between multiple Silverlight applications on the client-side without incurring a server roundtrip.
  • Enhanced Accessibility Features. Provides access to all system colors, allowing partially-sighted people to make changes such as high contrast color schemes for ease of readability by re-using familiar operating system controls.
  • You may have already heard about the many announcements made at Microsoft’s MIX09 conference this week

  • You may have already heard about the many announcements made at Microsoft’s MIX09 conference this week

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