Saturday, May 05, 2007

Obligatory Silverlight Opinion

With Silverlight's introduction, all the flash guys have been talking about it and opinions range wildly from Flash-killer to DOA. I think either extreme is pretty unlikely. Adobe has a lot of traction with agencies and development shops and they aren't going to change tools on a whim. These kind of decisions aren't made on a feature-list checkbox basis or buzz.

The most important purpose behind Silverlight will be to discourage .NET developers from checking out Flex and Apollo. Though most .NET developers don't want to stray outside the .NET system if possible, eventually they would have to at least look at it since it promises so much. This has a lot of risk for MS since once they use Flex for the front end they are less dependent on .NET and are learning tools like Eclipse that could lead to further defections. Even if Silverlight was just 80% of flex and had no advantages that would be enough for many developers who want to stay in their comfort zone of Visual Studio or other MS tools.

Obviously being built after Flash, MS will be able to use hindsight to improve on some areas and if nothing else just use programming metaphors that appeal to some developers more just because of style. The biggest area right away is leveraging the MS Video technologies to have better video support than Flash. While this is important for cerain audiences it should be remembered that Flash video has never been better than MS Video or Quicktime but still became the platform of choice. But the majority of Flash projects aren't really video centered so this isn't nearly as important as many bloggers make it out to be.

Adobe will obviously respond to the areas where Silverlight gets attention and will always be ahead on platform neutrality. I can't see the majority of Flash development teams dropping Flash for Silverlight since it would also require switching their whole platform in many cases.


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