With the release of Silverlight 3 on Friday, I’m wondering whether the enterprise (that mythical stereotype) will adopt Silverlight 3 for line of business (LOB) applications. The official “what’s new” section included the following items that I found very interesting:
Improving Rich Internet Application Productivity. New features include:
- 60+ controls with source code : Silverlight 3 is packed with over 60 high-quality, fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls such as charting and media, new layout containers such as dock and viewbox, and controls such as autocomplete, treeview and datagrid. The controls come with nine professional designed themes and the source code can be modified/recompiled or utilized as-is. Other additions include multiple selection in listbox controls, file save dialog making it easier to write files, and support for multiple page applications with navigation.
- Deep Linking. Silverlight 3 includes support for deep linking, which enables bookmarking a page within a RIA.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Silverlight 3 enables users to solve the SEO-related challenges posed by RIAs. By utilizing business objects on the server, together with ASP.NET controls and site maps, users can automatically mirror database-driven RIA content into HTML that is easily indexed by the leading search engines.
- Enhanced Data Support Silverlight 3 delivers:
- Element to Element binding : UI designers use binding between two UI properties to create compelling UI experiences. Silverlight now enables property binding to CLR objects and other UI components via XAML, for instance binding a slider value to the volume control of a media player.
- Data Forms. The Data Form control provides support for layout of fields, validation, updating and paging through data.
- New features for data validation which automatically catch incorrect input and warn the user with built-in validation controls.
- Support for business objects on both client and server with n-Tier data support. Easily load, sort, filter and page data with added support for working with data. Includes a new built-in CollectionView to perform a set of complex operations against server side data. A new set of .NET RIA services supports these features on the server.
- Improved performance, through:
- Application library caching, which reduces the size of applications by caching framework on the client in order to improve rendering performance.
- Enhanced Deep Zoom, allows users to fluidly navigate through larger image collections by zooming.
- Binary XML allows communication with the server to be compressed, greatly increasing the speed at which data can be exchanged.
- Local Connection This feature allows communication between two Silverlight applications on the client-side without incurring a server roundtrip: for instance a chart in one control can communicate with a datagrid in another.
I’ve just downloaded the bits and will begin exploring the new controls and just how easy it is or is not to build applications. My only criteria at the moment is whether or not the applications are as easy to build as a Windows Forms application. Obviously there are far more important evaluation criteria, but I’m wondering whether my stated criteria here will be the more common question raised in the enterprise. That is, can we build apps faster, easier, better with this? If not, I’m not sure the enterprise will get too awfully excited about it unless a clear case can be made for replacing the often time consuming, error prone web application development process with a simpler Silverlight 3 development process.
One way or another, I’m excited about Silverlight 3 and eager to dive in and have some fun.