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Over the past year Microsoft Silverlight has enabled developers and designers to create compelling media experiences and rich Internet applications (RIAs) on the Web via an easy-to-use, quickly installed browser plug-in. This week, with the release of Silverlight 2, Microsoft is delivering a wide range of new platform features and tooling options.
New Features in Silverlight 2
- A rich base class library. A compatible subset of the full .NET Framework gives developers the most comprehensive RIA runtime on the Web today, with unparalleled data access capabilities, local data caching and local data storage, superior input-output (IO) performance, and better threading. By leveraging the rich base class library of the .NET Framework, developers can minimize the amount of additional code they have to write for their projects.
- Powerful built-in rich controls allow developers and designers to quickly build applications through a rich set of built-in controls such as DataGrid, ListBox, Slider, ScrollViewer and Calendar. With the rich controls built into Silverlight 2, developers don’t have to start from scratch when building the controls for their rich Internet applications.
- Advanced styling and templating support gives designers and developers complete control over the look and feel of an application to ensure the custom brand experience for their rich Internet application meets their exacting requirements.
- Rich UI Library. Silverlight 2’s UI Library, a compatible subset of the WPF user interface framework featured in the full .NET Framework, makes building rich Web applications easier. The powerful graphics and animation engine enables developers to reuse skills, code and content to build rich applications for the browser that can be rapidly ported to the desktop and devices.
- Better support for higher-level UI capabilities. The UI Framework in Silverlight contains support for higher-level UI capabilities such as layout management, data-binding, styles and template skinning.
- Comprehensive networking support enables Silverlight users to leverage the power of the .NET Framework’s Windows Communication Foundation and directly access resources on the Web by supporting cross-domain network access.
- Out-of-the-box support for calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS and standard HTTP services enables users to create Web 2.0-style applications that easily integrate with existing heterogeneous back-end systems.
- Advanced content protection features, now including Silverlight digital rights management (DRM), Powered by PlayReady. Silverlight DRM builds on Microsoft’s extensive expertise in developing DRM technologies, delivering robust protection for key Silverlight scenarios including live streaming, on-demand streaming and progressive downloads for connected experiences.
- Improved server scalability and expanded advertiser support. The combination of Silverlight 2 and Windows Server 2008 offers streaming video professionals industry-leading scalability and cutting-edge progressive download features. In addition, Silverlight offers superior search engine optimization capabilities and advanced in-stream advertising support through companies such as DoubleClick Inc. and EyeWonder Inc.
- Unparalleled interactivity with high-resolution content through Deep Zoom technology. The new Deep Zoom technology in Silverlight allows users to see images on the Web as never before. The smooth, in-place zooming and panning that Deep Zoom allows is a true advancement and raises the bar on what image viewing should be. It is also now possible through this feature to make super-high-resolution images easily consumable on the Web. Even better, Deep Zoom is designed in a way that will reduce Web hosting and bandwidth costs by sending to the browser exactly the right size and resolution image for the current display area.
Openness and Interoperability Support
In a commitment to openness and support for interoperability, Microsoft is funding a project to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the open-source Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE), will publish the Silverlight Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) Vocabulary Specification, and will make the Silverlight Control Pack available as open source software. The project web site “Eclipse tools for Silverlight” is here.
The Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight Project will integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the Eclipse IDE and Eclipse Rich Client Platform.
- Silverlight Project System and Silverlight Compiler. Eclipse will contain both an advanced project system for creating Silverlight applications and media experiences and a compiler for packaging Silverlight applications for deployment.
- XAML editor and preview with code hinting and code completion. Eclipse will contain an advanced, standards-compliant XAML editor with code hinting and code completion, which helps detect and correct coding errors.
- Full compatibility with Microsoft’s development and design tools. The XAML and Silverlight projects created by Eclipse will be fully supported by both Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio tools.
- Results. See the picture below for a glimpse of a Silverlight application being created in Eclipse.
- Availability. A preview of the bits was posted today at http://www.eclipse4sl.org under the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0. Customers can use the SourceForge project site to submit bugs and feedback or contribute to the project. The release candidate is scheduled to be available free for download by spring 2009.
- Road map. Although the first version of the Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight will be optimized for the Windows version of Eclipse, the project plans to offer full support for the Mac and Linux versions of Eclipse in a later release.
Also, for additional great detail on Silverlight 2, see the following blogs and pages:
ScottGu’s Blog and post on Silverlight 2 as well as other relevant posts on Silverlight.
And Microsoft Videos is showing the Digital Lifestyle: Girl from Mars. This is shown in Silverlight 2, and shows a variety of other products and services.
LineRider, a Silverlight 2-based casual game, was released recently. It also integrates Windows Live Messenger and ID. More significantly, this new release represented a conversion from the previous Flash-based implementation to Silverlight 2.
In his post, David Chou (one of my Microsoft colleagues) discusses the game, the project, and aspects of the Flash-to-Silverlight conversion.
I typically don’t write about specific partners that I work with, as I try not to endorse one over the other. They all do great work! However, the work that Vertigo has demonstrated over this last year has been very exciting, and in particular, their work around demonstrating the value of Silverlight 2 with the Hard Rock Memorabilia Site. Its an awesome demonstration of some of the new features in Silverlight, and specifically the Deep Zoom technology!
Deep Zoom (formerly known as SeaDragon) revolutionizes the way people interact with content. It allows users to explore collections of super high resolution imagery, from a 2 or 3 megapixel shot from a digital camera to gigapixel scans of museum pieces, all without waiting for huge file downloads. The simple zooming interface allows users to explore entire collections down to specific details in extreme close-up, all with fantastic performance and smooth transitions.
Read the “bits behind the music” to learn more about the Hard Rock project. The project and work behind the Hard Rock Memorabilia site was so great, that Vertigo received the Web Development Partner of the Year from Microsoft.
I have written about Silverlight in previous posts. Recently, Silverlight for Mobile (beta) was released, enabling some great, rich experiences for mobile applications, and extending the reach of rich internet applications built on Silverlight.
Sam includes a video from Ch10 that highlights the project and includes a cool demo.
The Napkin PC is the first place winner and chairman award winner of the Microsoft Next-Gen PC Design Competition.
The Napkin PC is a multi-user, multi-interface, modular computer designed for creative professionals to collaborate and bring their greatest ideas to life.
The design closely resembles a Napkin holder, combining multiple touchscreen devices within a collaborative network. Digital pens allow users to draw on these touchscreens just like they would on a napkin.
Very innovative…Check out the other entries.