D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

Monday, June 20, 2011 9:42 PM

I’m starting to see a whole bunch of tweets and blog posts on how Silverlight/WPF is dead, or how the XAML team has been disbanded at Microsoft, or how someone predicted Silverlight would die, blah blah blah.

They all have a similar ring to it though:

“Told ya so!”

“They were stupid ideas anyway!”

“Serves Microsoft right, boy are they dumb!”

Let me tell you something, all those that are gleefully raving about Silverlight/WPF’s demise are nothing more than death trolls.

Let’s assume that everything out there is true. Microsoft is obviously moving towards HTML 5 in a huge way (TechCrunch pointed out that SkyDrive has replaced its Silverlight based version with an HTML 5 one), and not just on the web as we’ve seen with recent announcements about how HTML 5 apps will be natively supported on Windows 8. WPF never caught on in the marketplace, regardless of its superior technology offering to Winforms. And Silverlight…well, it gave Flash a good run for its money, but plug-in based web applications are becoming passé in light of HTML 5.

(It’s interesting that at a developer conference I put on just a few weeks ago, only 1 out of 60+ sessions included Silverlight. 5 focussed on HTML 5.)

So what does this *death* of Silverlight/WPF/XAML mean then in the grand scheme of things (again, assuming that they truly *are* dying/dead)? Well, nothing really…at least nothing bad. Silverlight has given us some fantastic applications and experiences (Vancouver Olympics anyone?), and WP7 couldn’t have launched without Silverlight as its development platform.

And WPF, although it had putrid adoption, has had some great success stories. A Canadian company that I talked to recently showed me how they re-wrote their point-of-sale application entirely in WPF, and the product is a huge success providing features their competitors aren’t. Arguably (and I say that only because I know I’m going to get WTF comments for this), VS.NET 2010 is a great example of what a WPF app can provide over previous C++ based applications.

Technologies evolve. In a decade we’ve had 5 versions of the .NET framework, seen languages like J# come and go, seen F# appear, see communications layers change with WCF, seen EF go through multiple evolutions and traditional ADO.NET Datasets go extinct (from actual use anyway), and ASP.NET Webforms be replaced with ASP.NET MVC as a preferred web platform.

Is Silverlight and WPF done? Maybe…probably?…thing is, it doesn’t really affect me personally in any way, or you…so why would we care if its gets replaced with something better and more robust that we can build better solutions with?

Just remember the golden rule: don’t feed the trolls.


# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

So you agree it might be true and say it would not be so bad? For you personally?

Dumping a whole set of technology that was praised as the future just two years ago is a pretty bad thing as time and resources you or a company have invested are nullified.

But well, honestly, who else than die-hard Microsoft fanboys really believed in Silverlight. It was doomed from the first day.

I guess they are not just death trolls then. They are right. 6/21/2011 4:06 AM | Ronald

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

There's a difference between stopping development/support and "dumping" a technology. Microsoft has never said they're dumping Silverlight (in fact, there's still no official word on all of this, just rumour and conjecture).

Also, a company investing in a technology is only wasted if the ROI is low/non-existent. Did your company benefit from creating Silverlight applications that enhanced your business? Did the investment in Silverlight provide efficiencies within your organization? I know shops that are still using VB 6.0, even though its been "dumped", but it still meets their business needs and they can leverage the investment in knowledge that they have.

Sorry, but "doomed from the first day"? You had knowledge of this? You were able to forsee years ahead at where we are as an industry today? Or did you just figure "Hey, its Microsoft, so I'm going to hate on it and if it fails I'll say I was right, and if it succeeds I'll just continue to point out its shortcomings?" You're sounding like a guy I know in Vancouver...

D 6/21/2011 9:17 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

Well, "stopping development/support" is just a nicer way of saying "dumping", isn't it?

Do you never predict what will become of a new technology? There are a lot of people who earn a living by predicting the way technologies go. So please do not make it something that is "unforeseeable" and one would need a crystal ball to predict the obvious.

Silverlight main competitor is Flash - no matter what Microsoft says - and there is and never was even the slightest chance that it could make any significant impact on the web. Besides popularity and features, it still is missing essentials things like being truly cross-platform (with Linux Moonlight always being behind two major versions), wide-spread and preinstalled Plug-In availability and great designer tools as these are the people that use Flash. So there was and is no magic about predicting its doom, it is just a reasonable conclusion. The quick rise of HTML 5 will simply accelerate the process.

So maybe you do not call the absence of Silverlight web apps a failure, but the rest of the world does. And what else is it good for that cannot be done equal or better in .NET, which is probably the more reasonable choice as the only people who run Silverlight are Windows users?

For the VB 6.0 thing... well, of course there are a lot of legacy applications flying around. Hell, I even encounter Java applets from time to time. But the reason they are still there is that there is no money to move them to newer technology. So they will get maintained but probably are not evolving further.

You are right about the investment in a technology. But VB 6, for example, has gone a long way whereas Silverlight is still very young. I just think Microsoft should have known better before throwing out a technology to its developers that hardly fits anywhere only to shred it soon after - yes, I predict here, let's come back here in a year or two to see who is right.

And I am not from Vancouver. 6/21/2011 10:50 AM | Ronald

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

No, technologies have lifecycles like everything else. If a technology has no value in the market, or if better technologies emerge, then it makes sense to not throw good money after bad in a losing cause.

I don't care what happens with new technologies, I care how it can be leveraged within businesses to produce value. Longevity is part of that equation, but technology is liquid - always moving, always changing. You have to adapt. Also, please list who all these people are who earn money predicting technologies (other than Gartner, Morgan Stanley, etc.).

"The only people who run Silverlight are Windows users". You do realize the majority of computers in the world run Windows right? Also, have you even used the design tools for Silverlight (Blend, VS.NET 2010)?

Also, I disagree with your assessment that "the reason legacy apps are still there is that there is no money to move them to newer technology". You don't change applications just for newer technology, you change because there's a business need that new technology can provide better than the current technology.

Silverlight is young, but such is the rate of technology changes in the 21st century. Technologists need to be nimble, agile, and subjective in making suggestions and recommendations to their organizations on technology choices, realizing that a platform may not have the same longevity as previous ones.

You come back here in a year or two to see who's right, I'm going to focus more on creating solutions with whatever technology makes sense in the hear and now. Who knows, that might even be Silverlight. ;)

And that's too bad, cause you sure SOUND like someone I know from Vancouver...so there's at least two of you ringing the death bell for Silverlight. ;) 6/21/2011 12:22 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

So the same old HTML5 better than SilverLight brouhaha again. It's like going to a basketball game. If you throw a 13-year old into the game to play against NBA players then he's gonna get crushed, and it does not take a Michael Jordan to crush the kid.

We can debate all day long if SilverLight is a Michael Jordan kinda tech but we know for sure HTML5/JS is definitely a 13-year old that is just not up to the task. My apologies to all H5 pumpers out there but I just have the habit of calling a spade a spade.

You don't have to take my words for it. Go take a lap around Google Docs then explain to me why that junk is not even as useful as Word 6 if HTML5 is such highly touted a capable framework. Why does Google score so much more success with Android platform than whatever they have been throwing down the HTML5 rat hole? If Google cannot pull it off, can you?

The only thing going for H5 is "...but ...but ...but it's cross-platform". Yeah, true, and your point is? What use is "cross-platform" when all that gets across are the mediocre, lowest common denominator features?

What are the most popular Apps coded in iPhone? Well, native iOS apps. What are the MPA coded in Android? Well native Android apps. What does it tell you about H5's capacity or lack thereof when two of biggest H5 pumpers are unable to do jack with it? HOHO.

Trust me this latest MSFT love for HTML5 is just another EEE attempt to lure a few H5 fools to the new Win8 platform and hopefully lock them in. Those H5 pumpers cheering for it are simply fools dancing on the string held by MSFT, GOOG and AAPL who are playing it for own agendas. 6/21/2011 4:37 PM | SLivesOn

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

This is not about HTML5 vs. Silverlight or vs. native apps at all, you are missing the point.

Web apps are web apps that run in the browser and the point is that Windows 8 provides a way to write "native" apps with web technologies.

You cannot argue that HTML sucks because apps on most Smartphones are written in a native language as Android and iPhone do not offer to write "native" apps with web technologies. The alternative is to open the browser to use a web app just as you do on your PC. Yeah, you can link web apps to your home screen, but they are not never ever tied into the native OS (to access the camera or other local devices for example).

Microsoft just pulls this off because there simply are more developers and designers able to write HTML5 apps than .NET apps and apps are simply crucial for the success of the new Windows touch. This is the only reason.
6/22/2011 2:52 AM | Ronald

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

Silverlight. Yeah, it is a nice offering platform, but it's lack of cross-platform and support from "the rest of the giants", which just playing a tricks against Microsoft finally bury the platform.
Yes, it is not dead "yet" with this upcoming v.5, but actually developers is enough disappointed already not to took another chance with Silverlight.
Well, about Flash, with the rising of Flex , Flash star start shine more powerfully than ever on Enterprise horizon, and the amazing things we are seeing from upcoming version 11 of Flash platform, those super fast performing 3D demos, toking almost none resources, support of multithreading and so on, really calling the shots to the Flash platform.

The web as we know it will change a bit into the next 20 years for sure, but there will be 2 main platforms walking hand by hand for really long time - HTML5 and Flash. That's all. The open and cheep platforms, with open and really cheep tools will dominate over the Back-Ends.

I am just guessing, but at some point ( probably with upcoming Ecma Script 5, and Action Script 4 ) i really think that Microsoft will adopt Flash open platform license, creating tools ( which actually we are start seeing rising for Visual Studio ) to create a native Flash files.

HTML5 is there just to describe things, and script them more properly than HTML4 does, but when there is a multimedia to be played - to ensure equally quality on every hardware/software platform - will be Flash to took care for.

There is just no other way, and we must only be happy, because freedom of development is the power of the developers, and the results is the truly wish for the consumers. 6/25/2011 3:14 PM | StormAngel

# re: Death Troll and PROUD

Your basketball metaphor is interesting, but let me throw this at you. Perhaps that 13 year old being thrown to the wolves is actually Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain's love child - watch out in a few years! And one of the main reasons we developers have been developing for the lowest common denominator for, oh forever it seems like, is because Microsoft can't seem to make IE standards compliant, much less HTML5 compatible. And since, D'Arcy so eloquently put it, the majority of the world runs on Windows computers (I just threw up a little in my mouth just typing that), what other choice do we developer's have then to keep the 'ol gov'ners on? Rot in hell, Silverlight, with the rest of your MS brethren. And I hope IE follows on your heels (or at least adopts Webkit as its rendering engine). 8/27/2011 11:27 AM | DZig

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

Wow, as an HTML and WPF developer, I have to say, personally WPF is literally 100 times more effective than HTML. With my library I can build a complex database form in minutes, that looks exactly how I want. I can push a button and deploy it and it works and the customer is happy. Its fast, its lovely, its everything they want. Silverlight is a bit more work with WCF, but sometimes they want a low overhead browser app. I hate working on HTML. HTML is like a bad nightmare that won't go away. HTML 5 is no better. And all the nice little libraries and javascript libraries are really 1980's flashbacks which people think are so cool, but really are stupid. I also had the displeasure of building a flex app. What a bunch of crap Actionscript is. I mean, comeon, give me a break.
Ok, so it sucks that Microsoft has a monopoly on this technology, but in enterprise level solutions (the realm within where I work) we have to use it, or we go back to programming in Access. Anything is better than HTML. Here I am Sunday night trying to get my little form, which takes minutes in WPF, to work, cause the customer needs this stupid, backwards language called, HTML, Javascript. Oh yeah, I do use Telerik for ASP.NET, but that still doesnt help, cause it sucks next to WPF.
Microsoft, why not just open source it or something? Or give Mono Project your source and be done with it?

11/6/2011 3:24 PM | Jordan

# re: Silverlight Death Trolls Dancing on XAML’s Grave

Re: Jordan

Dude you are either a complete idiot or a wannabe, if javascript , html5, and actionscript are nightmares then you have no business creating web applications. These are industry standards and as such should be followed by those that want to reach a greater development audience.

As far as Microshaft is concerned they finally found the light in open standards and are moving in that direction in the hope of retaining market share and reaching a larger development base. They still need to drop most of their legacy crap. However they are still poaching other technologies wrapping them in .NET and calling it new..such as MVC which is a blatant Ruby on rails ripoff...I must admit though they did a great job.

If I were you I would make sure you grasp the basic principles of web design before criticizing open web standards as nightmares.

I would recommend that you try to learn the basics
Having a good grasp of what these technologies offer under the hood other than form design will enable you to create projects that can run on agnostic servers 11/8/2011 8:01 PM | Ebola

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