Friday, November 25, 2011

Adobe Flex/Flash versus Microsoft Silverlight. And the winner is… HTML 5!

The last weeks there were some rumors that Silverlight 5 might just be the last version of the technology. Combine this with the fact that Adobe is  killing any further development of it's flash mobile plugin and you can only conclude that both Microsoft and Adobe think that the future of web development does not lie in a proprietary plugin technology, but in HTML5.

Flash has long been the standard bearer of richer experiences inside browsers. I’ve always had the feeling that Microsoft only created Silverlight to get a piece of this cake. (Maybe someone still remembers that Silverlight version 1 was based on JavaScript?!). Although I have to admit that Silverlight showed some real potential and allowed to create stunning user experiences , far better than I had ever even seen imagined with Flash. And now that Adobe is refocusing it’s effort to HTML 5, Microsoft no longer cares and I’m guessing that Silverlight 6 will never see the light.

But what about the Windows Phone than you could ask?

It’s all based on Silverlight so it will not disappear right? Even there I think we’ll see Silverlight replaced by a new WinRT alternative(just by guessing that Windows Phone 8 will have the same version number as Windows 8 Smile).

Should you care as a WPF/Silverlight developer?

No. One XAML framework will be replaced by another. And as long as the tooling for HTML 5 doesn’t keep up, we’ll remain far more productive in XAML development (without even talking about the technical expertise required to build an enterprise level business application, and no that’s not the same as a web application enhanced with some JavaScript here and there…). However in a future were HTML5 will become more and more important, it’s not wise to place all your eggs in one basket.

Should you care as a Mobile developer?

Although a native experience remains the ideal, I don’t see a world where every application will be written for each and every mobile platform. So I think the future of mobile is HTML5 and mobile web applications. For now, there are a few restrictions, but if you know about the device APIs you should realize those few limitations are going away in the near future.

So the safest guess today as a developer is to spend time learning HTML5 and JavaScript and you are ready to build rich user experiences for Web, Windows AND Mobile.

I know how I’ll spend my time the upcoming months…

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