Future of Silverlight 5 and HTML 5 – what now?
Dear visitor: Please keep in mind that this post is originally from Vibor Cipan's personal blog, the name of which we eventually adopted as our company name together with its conveniently-named URL. We're keeping the posts on our official company blog for all the subscribers to Vibor's blog who have read and commented on his previous posts. Please be aware that this post represents Vibor's personal thinking few years ago and doesn't necessarily represent the opinions of the UX Passion as a company today.
You’ve all heard the news – Microsoft is “shifting its Silverlight strategy” and going fully forward to embrace HTML 5 as its cross-browser cross-platform solution. Coupled with IE9, it makes a lot of sense. But what about Silverlight 5 and Silverlight in general now? The same question can be asked regarding Adobe’s Flash.
PDC 2010, HTML 5 and Bob Muglia
If you’ve got the chance to look at Microsoft’s PDC conference (especially the Keynote) with Steve Ballmer and Bob Muglia – you could hear HTML 5, HTML 5, HTML 5. Though, this time Steve has spared us from his monkey dance (remember “Developers, developers, developers!” chant?) – he was damn close to start chanting about HTML 5. Yup – you heard it well – HTML 5. Not a single relevant word about Silverlight 5.
Several weeks ago I was talking to several Microsoft employees who were discussing Silverlight 4.5 and Silverlight 5 and possible announcements of those on the PDC. Following the Microsoft tradition, I was also waiting for an announcement regarding Silverlight 5.
Today I know that those Microsoft employees were just speculating without knowing any real facts. Being bound by NDAs I have with Microsoft, I was keeping my mouth shut. Today, it’s clear – Microsoft is shifting its strategy towards HTML 5 for web solutions.
In the interview with Bob Muglia (you can read it here) – you can clearly see the following statements:
- “Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone.”
- “Silverlight also has some “sweet spots” in media and line-of-business applications.”
- “When it comes to touting Silverlight as Microsoft’s vehicle for delivering a cross-platform runtime, our strategy has shifted.”
- “Silverlight will continue to be a cross-platform solution, working on a variety of operating system/browser platforms, going forward.”
- “But HTML is the only true cross-platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform.”
So, is Silverlight dead?
I don’t think so. Silverlight will be around for years to come. Even Muglia sees it as the choice for the Windows Phone platform, and from my experience in the field I can say that it will continue to be an excellent solution for numerous intranet apps and solutions.
At this moment, my company, UX Passion, is involved in building and designing 4 different large-scale Silverlight-based projects, not counting the ones for Windows Phone 7. Our Wall of Tweets product is nearing its second release and it’s being built with Silverlight as well – but no one can ignore the broad support that HTML 5 is receiving from Apple, Google… and now – Microsoft itself.
Truth be told, one of the HTML 5 / IE9 projects we are working on at the moment is for Microsoft itself – clearly, that’s just one small sign of many currently visible ones, plotting the direction Microsoft and other vendors are taking.
Keeping the promise of a native, accelerated, same-markup, rich platform – HTML 5 is the future of the web for the most part.
I hope you are not surprised by Microsoft’s move. If you are – then you should be worried. But forget that and embrace HTML 5. Now!
Almost 7 months ago my team and I decided to jump on the HTML 5 bandwagon while also working, investing and developing on the Silverlight platform (as well as on other platforms we consider to be relevant for our customers). Today – I can say it was a great choice and a strategy that has positioned us well for the future. Heck, we’ve contracted with a HTML 5 guy here in Croatia to help us out and we are looking forward to expanding that part of our operations. It’s just the business reality here. No personal feelings whatsoever.
Will there be a new version of Silverlight? Silverlight 5?
If we are to trust Bob Muglia then the answers is yes. Although, I’m guessing, it won’t be before Microsoft’s MIX 2011 conference. As Muglia said himself – “As with anything as it matures, the (delivery) cadence changes”.
A couple of days ago I had an interesting discussion (on Twitter) with Goran Peuc from Nivas, one of the leading Croatian web-design agencies, about HTML 5, Silverlight and Flash. Goran made an interesting point saying that Silverlight (and RIA frameworks in general) should position themselves in the game arena – something that HTML 5 won’t be able to do anytime soon (if ever). Now, with Silverlight positioned as a platform for the Windows Phone, this certainly marks the direction in which we can expect Silverlight / Flash to move.
So, it’s HTML 5 then?
If I have to choose between Yes or No – it would be Yes. If I may explain further I’d say: Yes, BUT…
It’s important to understand that HTML 5 does not exclude Silverlight or Flash by default. However, it certainly brings a whole lot of those features to the native web, to the browser itself. As Goran said, HTML 5 is scaffolding combining JS and CSS 3 to work in unison. Many common scenarios will be now supported by HTML 5 by default. For many others we will still need Silverlight / Flash. In the end – you will be the one making the final call, but now there are many more variables involved.
But the world of UI / UX / RIA has changed (and will continue to do so), and you’d do well to be aware of those changes and be sure to embrace them.
Given this news, obviously, you can expect more and more HTML 5 topics to appear on the UXPassion.com blog – I believe that those helping you make transition from Silverlight to HTML 5 will be interesting to you and I’ll make sure I cover those.
However, Silverlight will be here for years to come, with at least one more significant release (Silverlight 5?) and will be focused on Phone and intranet projects. For the rest – explore HTML 5!
Let’s keep in touch – You should follow me on Twitter now!