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Silverlight 5 Analysis: features for Enterprise, businesses and game developers


Silverlight 5 beta has been made available by Microsoft after MIX 11 event and Enterprises, developers and end users are interested what to make of it. One thing is clear that Silverlight is not dead and definitely there is lot happening within Microsoft and in enterprise world around it, especially with new special features, Windows Phone 7 and upcoming Windows 8 it is again in limelight. Speculation is that Silverlight will have major role to play in development of Immersive apps for windows 8 and will be favorite API for rich UI experience instead of WPF. It would be interesting to see Microsoft like Windows Phone 7 giving Silverlight center stage for development on windows 8 with dedicated API.

silverlight5 features thumb Silverlight 5 Analysis: features for Enterprise, businesses and game developers

I believe it is safe to say that Silverlight 5 will be better for games and likewise for enterprise applications but the real question is whether it can hold its position against rival browser based HTML5 / JavaScript stack ( hardware accelerated ). The answer is yes because dedicated 3D games for both Windows Phone 7 ( wp7 ) make sense to be done in Silverlight for WP7, Windows 8 and even for Windows7/XP thanks to tighter integration of XNA studio features. As for enterprises, Microsoft is also pushing HTML5 development tools and models to catch the productivity levels, but direction from Microsoft tilts toward Silverlight with windows Azure admin interface, windows intune ( PC management & security), Lync Server 2010 and Few windows management tools is clear which are built using Silverlight. Silverlight is also being used as output of Visual Studio Lightswitch beta which generated data driven business apps on top of database by auto generating code and UI, a nice tool learn more about it from here.

Silverlight 5 final is expected to be shipped in 2nd half of 2011. But in meanwhile you can Download Silverlight 5 beta from here.

Silverlight 5 Beta key and important Features

  • Silverlight 5 supports Hardware-accelerated 3D graphics and H.264 video
  • Silverlight 5 application can now display and open multiple OS windows when running trusted and out of the browser, this brings it closer to WPF ( windows presentation foundation ) which is intended for rich interface desktop development.
  • In Silverlight 5 Trusted applications will get full access to the entire local file system under standard System.IO namespace.
  • Trusted applications can now run inside the browser while previously they had to be out of browser, this requires few registry tweaks and code signing certificates to get working. This is key feature for Enterprises to mitigate security concerns.
  • Better Text and Font Handling : character spacing, line spacing, and the ability to flow text content automatically between RichTextBox controls. Improved OpenType font support is meant to be coming soon
  • With Silverlight 5 the internal threading architecture has been improved  with the introduction of a composition thread – a trick borrowed from Silverlight for Windows Phone, what happens is that  Silverlight 5 offloads some of the work traditionally done by the UI thread to another thread called the composition thread for better processing and smooth animations even if UI thread is busy in performing other tasks. Read more.
  • Eventually Silverlight 5 will support P/Invoke (Only on Windows)  which can make calls C++ native code, COM objects/dlls, Win32 APIs.
  • HTML Support Use HTML inside Silverlight Apps and reuse existing HTML/ASP.NET content ( IE support only )

Top Developer and Visual studio related Features

  • XAML Debugging with breakpoints for data binding debugging which was missing in Silverlight 4, developers should be happy.
  • Improvements in Data binding:  Style values bound to object properties; use different data templates for objects according to their type. Read more.
  • Implicit data templates for easy UI reuse
  • Double (and multi) click support
  • GPU-accelerated XNA-compatible 3D and immediate-mode 2D API
  • Low-latency sound effects and WAV support
  • Real operating system windows and multi-display support
  • Significant performance improvements, fixes and much more

Upcoming features of Silverlight 5 not available in Beta

  • vector printing
  • remote control support
  • Ability to call the Windows API though platform invoke
  • 64-bit support
  • Support for conventional WS-Trust web services and security model
  • HTML Support

Would you be interested in Silverlight 5 for your next project, enterprise product or tool ? if yes let us know why and if not which other technology stack you’d opt for please let us know in comments.

Filed in: Development, Microsoft