Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Screw Silverlight

The thought behind evaluating Silverlight 2 was to check whether Silverlight is suited to build rich office applications, that can be handled just like common GUI applications but just in IE. Another central question was to verify that I can use my Xaml controls from WPF applications seamlessly in Silverlight 2.
So I am really not interested in fancy design, multimedia and other special effects that seems to be the general target audience for Silverlight 2.

First thing you have to do when you try to evaluate Silverlight 2 with Visual Studio you have to download a whole bunch off applications. Most important it seemed to install the Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1 .

After downloading some 70 megs of data the the first frustration is right around the corner, if you have to use an authenticating proxy to get Internet access.

Though you have to download some 70 megs the package needs to download more data. And of course there is nowhere a full package. Even more unfortunate it seems that until today Microsoft has never heard anything of a thing called authenticating proxy and consequently the install fails. Sigh.
Call it a act of despair and interest I programmed my own little authenticating proxy bridge that acts as proxy and forwards each request to the real proxy plus adding the required authentication information. So finally I was able to install the tools.

Ok, so I created a new Silverlight project, opened the toolbox, took a button and dropped it onto the designer and...

the designer won't let me do that.

Although we have a fully fledged Xaml designer in WPF, there is absolutely no way to add a control in the designer in Silverlight. You are supposed to drag the items out of the toolbox into the Xaml text editor where it does nothing but adding the following code


Wow, what an awesome and intuitive feature for my 1500 USD Visual Studio.

Ok, lets hand code my button. After setting the button properties width and height you would like some text on your button.

So you code

<Button Width="100" Height="20">Press me</Button>

This is perfect Xaml, even Expression Blend will code it that way, it works fine for WPF, but .....

that is not good enough for Silverlight.

"Button does not support text content" is the error. It turns out that if you want to get it to work with Silverlight you have to code it

<Button Width="100" Height="20" Content="Press me"/>

So let me get this straight.

  • You have to download at least 4 packages to start with silverlight.
  • Even then these packages need to download more data and neither there are full packages available nor does the setup support simple things like authenticating proxies.
    No Internet access means no Silverlight.
  • The nice Xaml designer shipped with WPF had been crippled for Silverlight to be absolutely useless.
  • The Xaml for Silverlight is incompatible with other Xaml.
  • If you do not want to hand code every GUI element and if even if you have the 1500 USD Team Edition of Visual Studio 2008 you need to buy Expression Blend 2 for just another 699 USD.

Ok guys,

this is where my evaluation comes to an abrupt end after just 60 minutes and tell you what....

Screw Silverlight 2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning. I was not especially impressed with the promo, so I avoided it from the beginning. But Windows is determined to update a program I never downloaded in the first place. That was enough to make me quite positive that I did NOT want the thing, even if it could turn lead into gold. But I was acting without any real information. Thanks very much for providing it.