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 Friday, December 07, 2012
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The Silverlight.net web site is apparently now gone, merged into the broader msdn.com ecosystem (where it belonged in the first place imo):

http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-pulls-the-plug-on-its-silverlight-net-site-7000008494/

As we’ve known now for a long time, Silverlight is “dead”. It is in support mode and will be for a decade.

Just like Windows Forms has been since 2005, and WPF is now as well (do you really think Microsoft is going to divert money from WinRT to do anything with WPF at this point??? If so I’ve got this beachfront property for sale…).

As an aside, ASP.NET Web Forms also “died” in 2005, but recently got a major infusion of money in .NET 4.5 – showing that even a “dead” technology can receive a big cash investment sometimes – though it still isn’t clear that this will be enough to breath any new life into Web Forms for most organizations. I suspect it is more likely that this recent investment will just allow organizations with massive Web Forms sites to keep them limping along for another 5-10 years.

If a technology is defined as “dead” when its vendor stops enhancing it and starts maintaining it while they put most of their money into the future, then I must say that I’ve spent pretty much my entire ~25 year career working on dead technologies. And it has been fun! Smile

Although some of us tech geeks like to jump to the next potential upcoming thing, the people who actually fund software projects rarely want to accept that kind of risk. They generally prefer to build applications on stable technology. Most stable technology is “dead” or “dying” based on this idea of “live” technology being rapidly changing and evolving.

Obviously there’s a fine line here.

Target stable technology that is too old and you really are in trouble. Windows Forms is an example of this, because its underlying technology has no migration path to a WinRT future. Although a lot of organizations have massive investments in Windows Forms, I would hope that they’d shy away from starting new development on this extremely stable, but now too old, technology.

Target stable technology that is new, but old enough to be stable and life is generally pretty good. WPF and Silverlight (for smart clients, not for cross-platform RIA) are examples of this. The reason is that these technologies (especially Silverlight) have a good migration story to a WinRT future. A lot of organizations are investing in WPF, and that’s good. But I’d be shocked if Microsoft invests anything in WPF going forward – its future is the one Windows Forms has enjoyed since 2005 – stable maintenance of the technology. Perfect for building critical business apps. Organizations also have large investments in Silverlight, and as long as the intent was smart client development (not cross-platform RIA) it seems to me that they are in the exact same place as everyone using WPF. Arguably better, because Silverlight is much closer to WinRT than WPF.

http://magenic.com/Portfolio/WhitePaperWindows8DevelopmentPlatform.aspx

If you are using Silverlight for cross-platform rich web development, then I do agree that the news is not good. The current alternative appears to be HTML 5, though it is also clear that this is an expensive alternative with an unsure future. Just like every other silver bullet to write once and run anywhere, I think you have to go into such a venture expecting a lot of cost and pain. There’s no widely successful example in the history of computing that indicates otherwise…

The final option is to target “live” technologies. You know, the ones where vendors are dumping huge amounts of money, and where the technology and platform are changing rapidly. Things like HTML 5 and WinRT are examples of this. As a tech geek I love it when organizations want to do this sort of thing, because the challenge is high and we all get to learn a lot of new stuff. Of course the development costs are also quite high because we’re getting paid to learn this new stuff. And the overall costs for the software are high because the technology/platform isn’t stable and the app probably needs to be rewritten (in whole or part) every few months to deal with platform changes.

Some organizations are willing to accept the costs and inconvenience associated with using “live” technologies. But most organizations don’t have the time or money or risk tolerance, and are far better off targeting “dead” technologies like WPF and Silverlight. They just need to be careful to have strategic migration plans so they can get off those technologies before they reach the point of where Windows Forms is today.

Friday, December 07, 2012 2:15:00 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
As a LOB dev, I feel that MS have lead me down a blind alley. IMO, nothing has surpassed the simplicity of WinForms and ASP.NET development - each with common business and data layers to build the simplest or most complex apps. Now if there was a similar approach for XAML and HTML5, each with full access to the Windows API, I'd be sold (XAML posted to a server that can output as HTML5 on non- MS devices?). I would suggest to MS that Metro be re-purposed for ribbon controls - an 'application companion' that 'folds down' into tiles in my side screen. Too bad that re-purposing on its own doesn't justify the app store model.
Friday, December 07, 2012 3:42:05 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
You nailed it Rocky. That's pure reality indeed.

Dev technologies are not your smart phone to be in or out.

- ngm
ngm
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 2:12:23 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
As a Silverlight developer it pisses me off that Microsoft is pulling the plug on what could have evolved to become their most powerful technology yet: a truly portable and largely platform-indepdendent .NET delivery vehicle. But like Rocky said, the actual SL technology isn't going anywhere just like Winforms is still alive and kicking and probably will be for years if not decades to come.

However, it concerns me that since 2005 or so Microsoft has been building up a reputation for hyping something as The Future(tm), pushing as hard as they can to get everyone to adopt it, then abruptly throwing it under the bus to chase after some new shiny. If I was a business decision-maker, especially one that had invested heavily in WPF and/or Silverlight, I'd be having doubts about whether Redmond can be counted on as a reliable long-term partner. Is stuff like the IE10 Flash/SL situation a short-term compromise to get product out the door or a sign of things to come? And as a rank and file developer aware that such a line of thought often leads to "hey let's fire all the Silverlight guys" it makes me very nervous about my place in the Microsoft ecosystem.
Bogus
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 3:16:06 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Personally, I don't mind Silverlight going away, and thought it wasn't too great of a runtime for complex LOBs. But don't quite understand why there's such strong HTML5 support from MS as it's not a good strategy long term -- doing some support for HTML5 while doing a better job improving WPF would be a decision.

Allowing an app to run on other platforms via Silverlight or HTML5 doesn't bode well for MS long term for a MS investor, exec, employee as you're going decimate the lock-in you have for your OS. So from a long term perspective on making money, and keeping the Windows ecosystem alive it would benefit them more to make WPF better just like Apple is continuing to add more with each release to Objective-C. Apple is doing a great job by locking in devs into their OSX api platform as building mobile apps using Objective-C for non-trivial apps work and feel better using the native OSX apis than using a web based version.

I used to be a big Microsoft supporter, but all of the HTML5 hype over WPF makes me think Microsoft execs don't know how to make money long term. I tried waiting for Surface Pro, but failing to release that before Christmas is just ridiculous. I've now bought a super expensive (and overpriced) Retina Macbook Pro but don't care, and while I have VMWare haven't even given the effort to install Windows to run as VM. MS is losing devs like me and several others similar to me over to Apple as we start to embrace XCode/ObjectiveC despite the somewhat crappy language, tools, etc. but it's still better than being screwed by Microsoft. Hence why I don't even care about WinRT or supporting Win8 and would rather help Apple until MS gets their stuff together again to figure out screwing their core devs isn't a good idea especially when it doesn't make sense from a long term strategic view of lock-in. Maybe I'll be a MS supporter again when the next version of Windows come out, but it'll take a lot.
nah
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 5:00:31 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
" The current alternative appears to be HTML 5, though it is also clear that this is an expensive alternative with an unsure future."
I can't imagine how you came to that conclusion. I honestly can't. Perhaps you are simply not aware of what is out there.

I know you've espoused this opinion for some time now and perhaps there was a grain of truth a few years ago, but now?! I feel like you are putting your fingers in your ears and saying "lalalalalal I can't hear you HTML 5 go away". ;)
JohnC
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 6:43:46 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Well said Rocky. I've been telling people much the same thing. I always harken back to something Don Box said when asked if COM was "dead" around the time that .NET was really taking off.

"It's not dead;" he stated, "it's done."

Development of COM was complete although even it has likely had a fresh infusion of cash recently since here we are many years later and what's under the hood of WinRT? It's COM all the way down. :-)


Dave
David Totzke
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