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Web Design » Other » Silverlight: Fire and Motion
Silverlight: Fire and Motion
Views: 1624 | 16-12-2010, 09:14 | Category : Other

Every year or two, an event happens that makes me very glad I'm not a Microsoft shop. These same events also make me ask another question: Why do any business leaders allow their CTOs and technical managers to follow the Microsoft Web development roadmap now that it's become a large-scale implementation of the Hewlett-Packard model?

Let's look at the life of Bob the Development Manager and Tom the Business Owner as they've followed the Microsoft Web development map over the past ten years (Wikipedia providing most dates, facts, etc):

Early 1996:

Bob: "We've got this thing called ASP now! We can take our VB4.0 apps and rewrite them to run through this thing called a Web Browser! No installation or anything! It's sweet!"

Tom: "Ok. Here's a budget to retool our apps. Get to it."

Late 1996 (A.K.A. Rich Client Paradigm 1):

Bob: "Those, uh, ASP apps we wrote. The UI's not as good as it was in the VB4.0 clients. But Microsoft's got this thing called ActiveX that'll let us sort of reuse the VB stuff in the browser. Sorta."

Tom: "Ok. Here's a budget to retool our apps. Get to it."

2000:

Bob: "ActiveX is causing all sorts of problems. Microsoft recommends turning off ActiveX controls, then enabling just the ones you want to use. For our public apps, we'd better stick to ASP. Oh, and there's a new version of that called ASP 3.0. I need to rewrite our public apps using ASP 3.0 and HTML."

Tom: "Ok. Here's a budget to retool our apps. Get to it."

2002:

Bob: "OMG! Microsoft released this thing called .NET! It's *the* wave of the future. We'll just write our business logic and everything from a Web browser to your wristwatch will be able to use it. We've got to move to it to be competitive. Oh, yeah, all of our old code needs to be rewritten."

Tom: "Ok. Here's a budget to retool our apps. Get to it."

2003 - 2006 and Beyond

Plenty of optional silliness about Sharepoint. Some relative stability for MSFT shops, mainly due to Microsoft's inability to finish Vista.

2006 (A.K.A. Rich Client Paradigm 2):

Bob: "AJAX, Tom, AJAX! It's all going to be about about rich clients using javascript. No crazy proprietary plug-in like the Flash player. We just hook up ASP.NET AJAX in Visual Studio, and we're there!"

Tom: "Ok. Here's a budget to retool our apps. Get to it."

2007 (A.K.A. Rich Client Paradigm 3):

Bob: "Silverlight! Microsoft's going to clean Adobe's clock. This is good stuff: finally, our own rich (proprietary) plug-in that'll let us do what those Flash weenies have been doing since...since...wow, 2002 or so."

Tom: "Ok. Here's a budget to retool our apps. Get to it."

Yes, everyone's changed how they do things since 1996. ColdFusion shops have gone through CFML as script to CFCs to Flex. However, we've never rewritten our code. Allairemediadobe has never had to interrupt our entirely development lives because they've been forced to play catch up.

As Joel says, it's all about Fire and Motion:

"Think of the history of data access strategies to come out of Microsoft. ODBC, RDO, DAO, ADO, OLEDB, now ADO.NET - All New! Are these technological imperatives? The result of an incompetent design group that needs to reinvent data access every goddamn year? (That's probably it, actually.)"

Getting on With It

Do I think Silverlight is worth paying attention to? Sure. It's going to be competition, and it may even be halfway well done.

As a small business owner who has to view technology choice as an investment, though, I have really two choices in Rich Internet Applications:

1. Adobe. Flash Player just works. CFML from 1996 still works with latest app servers and dev tools. Java's not going anywhere.
2. Microsoft. Silverlight's new ground they've never successfully tackled. History of cross-platform "debut, hook, drop support." Reinvents its overall development paradigm every other year and constantly changes foundations (data access, target UI [browser, activex, desktop..]) with occaisional though to reverse compatibility.

Take that choice to Tom, Bob.


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