I’ve thought about writing this post several times but just never got around to it. But, recently I’ve seen other posts or heard comments from other professionals that have led me to think that now is a great time to chime in with my own opinion.
First I have to say that compared to just ten years ago, it is absolutely amazing what we can do on the web. Ten years ago, if we wanted to provide a rich user interface, we had exactly one choice: Java.
Today, we have several choices, including:
Which all have advantages and disadvantages.
When I was at the MDC in NY, I went to Jesse Liberty’s talk on Silverlight. He said something that I agree with in part. Something like, “While we all talk about ‘choosing the right tool for the job,’ the reality is that we ‘choose the tool we are most comfortable with.’ I’m most comfortable with Silverlight, so that’s what I use.”
He also said something along the lines of, “Most people still see Silverlight as an alternative to Flash–mostly all about graphics and animation. But there is more to it than that…”
What unique advantages do you get by using SilverLight?
- Might write faster.
- Does animation, especially streaming video.
- Leverages my knowledge of .NET
- I don’t have to load anything extra into my browser.
- Leverages my knowledge of HTML
- With the appropriate libraries, can do some pretty impressive forms and graphics.
Now I will argue the same about SilverLight. I will not force my end user to load something else on their browser unless or until I cannot solve the business problem without it. I try not to make decisions solely on what I am most comfortable with. Rather, I take into account what is best for the end user as well as what is best for the business’s bottom line.
Maybe, instead of spending a lot of time creating solutions that the browser doesn’t allow for, what we really need to do is improve the capabilities of what we already have.
Once those two fundamental elements are added the need for Flash, Air, Flex, Silverlight, etc. pretty well goes away. Not entirely, but it becomes much harder to argue for them.