Saturday, October 01, 2011

Death of Silverlight

Lately there has been a stir about the future of Silverlight. Developer community is worried about the future development model. I am least concerned about how things will turn out. All I am concerned about is the ROI of Silverlight. Why should I as an Architect zero on Silverlight? These days I have seen the trend of pushing Silverlight for LOB (Line of Business)/intranet applications where it makes least sense to use it. LOB applications are not usually public facing applications and mostly they run within the intranet of organizations.

There are some reasons people say when they push Silverlight for LOB applications:

  • Silverlight gets you rid of cross browser compatibility.

Well that seems to be the only reason why people are using Silverlight even on intranet applications. This reason alone is not sufficient to use Silverlight because in intranet scenario I can instruct my users to use only one browser (IE or any other better browser). So where is the cross browser compatibility? There is another reason Silverlight is not the best for intranet applications because of lack of good Silverlight developers. Whole point of developing an application in Silverlight is to have better look and feel. But believe me all those regular .net skills that Microsoft uses to push Silverlight are not designer type guys. They are same drag n drop guys and they can’t think of sophisticated UX. On top of this intranet/LOB applications are hardly focused on UX, they are more about getting the business done.

This was about intranet/LOB applications. Talking about public web applications, you any way cannot think about Silverlight or any such thing. iOS (includes both iPhone, iPad and probably iPod touch) is not going to let you use any plugin in near future. Though Android now supports Flash but Silverlight is still a distant dream. I am talking about iOS and Android here because desktop is disappearing slowly. More and more people are using their smartphones for regular browsing. There was some hope from Microsoft’s own platforms but that is also gone with the details disclosed by Windows 8. Yes, you can switch IE 10 to legacy mode and plugins are supported there but I have real doubt whether this option will be there on slates or not. I won’t count WP7/7.5 here until it gathers 25-30% market share (not happening in near future). Until then it is waste of time talking about that platform.

Doing all this reasoning on my own and talking to couple of my colleagues, I don’t feel like selling Silverlight based applications to my clients anymore. Yes, Silverlight has its own niche offering (DRM etc.) and it makes sense to use Silverlight in such scenarios. But for normal intranet/LOB applications I will be better off with ASP.Net or ASP.Net MVC.


Gaz said...

why is the desktop disappearing? what do you develop on an IPOD? why can't you use any browsers? chrome,firefox,opera work well. Javascript/html very poor for development. Silverlight has strong tools, good seperation of concerns and a nice pattern. I actually can't wait for metro to disapper, tablets to be seen as the useless tool they are and the fact that the iphone was mentioned the stupidity that silverlight is dead - who wants to develop widgets instead of powerful business apps that may include integration to sps, biztalk, using wcf and SL.

Pradeep Gururani said...

That's the exact point I am building. If it is and internal application integrating with SPS, Biztalk etc. then why build it in SL. Build it in much cheaper thing called ASP.Net. Cheaper because developers with ASP.Net skills are easy to find and less costly compared to SL developers. And if it is going to be public facing web application then anyway SL doesn't stand a chance.