Last April, I wrote a post listing some reasons why I felt Silverlight would not succeed. That post garnered a lot of visits, comments and a few trackbacks. It’s still a highly trafficked post of mine. Furthermore, that post is the number one Google result for “silverlight IDE” and ranks pretty highly for a number of Silverlight related phrases like “silverlight penetration”, “silverlight market penetration”, and a few others along those lines. I’d like to revisit some of those points to see how things have changed in the past year. I was inspired to revisiti this after reading Robert Scoble’s friendfeed topic on this subject. Read on to see the progress.
- No IDE for me – There is still only one way to compile SIlverlight content. Windows. On the Adobe side of the fence, there is indeed a Linux version of Flex, and with the Open Screen Project, I’d be willing to bet a lot more SWF compiling/creating tools are coming soon.
- No plug in for Linux - Adobe’s Linux support continues to grow, albeit a little slowly for the 64 bit crowd. As for Silverlight, it’s pretty much a no show, but if you are a particularly industrious Linux user, you can compile yourself a Silverlight version that doesn’t play video or MP3s. Sounds fun, right?
- Market Penetration = Demand - With Flash Player 9 on 85-90%+ of the clients out there, deploying Flash content and knowing that your audience will see it is a sure thing. They use Flash player. Microsoft still has yet to publish any sort of numbers on what sort of percentage of web users can use SIlverlight content. Does anyone know how many users are out there with Silverlight 1 today? Silverlight 2? I have yet to have a client request Silverlight content on their site or in their project, I definitely can speak for the demand side of things. There isn’t much. There are a lot articles and blog posts on this topic.
- The Growing Mobile Content Market - I have to admit, I’m not familiar with the progress made in the mobile arena. I see that Silverlight mobile has been announced, but it doesn’t look to be available yet. Anyone know more about the release of this?
- Maturity – Adobe issued a Flash Player update, “Moviestar”, that added HD video playback, and just recently, Flash Player 10 Beta, with a number of big additions. Silverlight has released a beta of version 2.0 of their plugin which adds a lot of great features including a small but acceptable list of controls for developing RIAs (Silverlight 1 largely requires you to roll your own, similar to Flash player pre version 6). I have to admit, I’m pretty sure that MS’s Silverlight push has to have motivated Adobe to get these crucial player updates out so quickly. I also know that the lack of good controls has soured a lot of potential Silverlight developers.
- The Developer Community - Not much of a change here. The community for Adobe has only grown more open, with OSS advocates coming to the platform in droves, the Open Screen Project changing things dramatically industry wide. The Silverlight Community has Moonlight, but not much else to hang it’s hat on besides a few apparently sponsored showcase pieces and a few blogs here and there with some XAML and other tests, mostly focused on Silverlight 2.0.
- CS3 ‚Äì Microsoft still has no creative suite competitor. No big surprise here.
I welcome being proven wrong. I really want to see more growth in this area. Honestly, I do. More demand in the RIA space ultimately means more demand for me and my company’s services. I am attending RIAPallooza at the end of the month, so I will be very interested in learning more about the SIlverlight ecosystem. The agenda looks great, so if you are in the Chicago area, I would recommend checking it out.
In my opinion, having competition in this space keeps Adobe from being slow and unreactive. I have little doubt that without Silverlight, H.264 support would not be in Flash Player 9. Also, I’m willing to bet that it certainly weighed on the decision to open the SWF and FLV formats, etc. I don’t begrudge or wish ill on the Silverlight project, it ultimately may serve to save MS from the collapse of the desktop which few deny is coming. RIA and thick client/semi connected app development is the next wave, with SaaS and freemium services leading the way. I’m glad that there are currently multiple paths and avenues to explore. What I really want now, though, is a nice DeepZoom like Flex component. Something better than Zoomify, please, I want to emulate that animation and the smooth loading/slicing done in that very cool tech demo.
Posted on May 15, 2008