Silver(light) is the new Gold!

If there were a commodity called gold in the world of Web applications, without a doubt, Silverlight would classify for the title. So what is Silverlight ? Silverlight is a Microsoft technology. It is a cross-browser, cross-platform implementation of .NET for building and delivering the next generation of rich interactive applications for the Web.


Silverlight is one of the core technologies that help build rich Internet applications. This brings us to another new term, rich Internet applications. You must have surely heard of Gmail, even if you have not actually used it. Google's Gmail is a classic example of a rich Internet application. Today, there are thousands of rich internet applications making their presence felt. This brings us to another question, what is a rich Internet application?

Rich Internet Application

The term "rich Internet application" was first introduced by Macromedia (now Adobe) sometime in 2002. Rich Internet applications, also called RIAs, are Web applications which function almost like traditional desktop applications. Typically, most RIAs use a client side technology which can execute instructions on the client's computer and thus overcome the slow, synchronous behavior that is typical of traditional Web applications.

One feature common to all RIAs is that they introduce an intermediate layer of code called a client engine between the user and the server. In many RIAs, this client engine is available as a downloadable plugin. This plugin or client engine acts as an extension of the browser, and is responsible for rendering the application's user interface and for server communication.

Why Silverlight ?

Back to Silverlight now, because that constitutes our main topic. What can Silverlight enable you to do? In simple terms, Silverlight can help you develop rich Web applications that can run across different browsers and different platforms. You can embed media elements such as videos, sound, and images, and simultaneously include shapes, events and code logic, all within a single application. Think of examples like Virtual Earth, or a highly sophisticated Web based chess game. These could be developed with Silverlight and Visual Studio 2008. Silverlight makes use of XAML and allows use of existing C# code. Design tools like Microsoft Expression Blend allow creation of Silverlight projects which can be later edited in Visual Studio 2008 and also allow existing Visual Studio 2008 projects to be editable in Blend.

Flash, which used to be a ubiquitous technology, is now slowly losing out to Silverlight which has more plus points in its favor. Powerful products like Adobe Flex are also being compared against Silverlight. Such is its presence.


With the release of Silverlight 2.0 recently in October 2008, Microsoft has only added more shimmer and shine to the silver lining in Web application development.


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