Silverlight and SharePoint 2010 – Beating a Dead Horse

Joel Oleson February 15, 2012 0
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Had a great tweetjam today #SPJAM and one of the questions struck a chord with me. It’s around what is the value of the SharePoint community and will it continue to be relevant. You can see the amazing stream captured at http://harmon.ie/blog/02-13-2012

Yesterday I posted a book review SharePoint 2010 Development with Silverlight and immediately after tweeting the post, a conversation started with a small group of SharePoint MVPs and Community influencers. You’ll recognize them from their twitter handles.

The nature of twitter makes the conversation sound a bit more terse and dense, but the value is you get the message across in a lot less space. It starts with my tweet on the book Silverlight and SharePoint 2010 book review, and then goes from there. This blog is to open up a discussion on SharePoint and Silverlight with SharePoint 2010 and beyond. Our friend Mr. SharePoint Sheriff himself Bil Simser speaks very plainly about his attitudes about Silverlight. The world has changed a lot in the last year, and I think this thread is important for NOT to beat a dead horse, but rather making sure we are all on the same page around Silverlight and SharePoint development. Most SharePoint People don’t think Silverlight is that dead horse. They may not be following what’s happening with Windows 8. I think we’re far from being on the same page, but I don’t see too many people pushing Silverlight beyond the book at this point. I am anxious to see both sides represented and expect that with this open thread we will get a lively dialog. I’m going to highlight the important parts for the ADHD in all of us…

Joeloleson: Book Review: SharePoint 2010 Development with Silverlight – It’s the SharePoint APIs on Steroids
http://bit.ly/z7oqF7

Bsimser: I wouldn’t be investing too much in Silverlight on SharePoint. HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript has a better life expectancy

JoelOleson: I’ll follow your lead. I am skeptical, but there are definitely some important investments in client APIs that are very important

Note: When I first got the book in the mail, I was wondering about the odd timing. I had attended a recent session that @mosslover Becky had done on HTML 5 vs. Silverlight where she said it was quite relevant in your toolbox for working with SharePoint 2010. I also followed the conversations out and around PDC where the discussion around the lifetime.    

It’s important to understand the history of Silverlight. We are on version 5 and I see Silverlight as Microsoft’s answer to Flash. It provided a development platform for the web that was cross browser compatible. The challenge has been the device explosion which in my mind is what has been killing Flash and has been challenging the strategy of using Silverlight. Silverlight is amazing in it’s own right, but all you have to do is listen to Microsoft DPE on leveraging HTML 5 in Windows 8 space to see Silverlight’s days are numbered. Part of the Silverlight history is in SharePoint. SharePoint 2010 shipped with Silverlight components both in the site template picker and in the org charts. Those org charts have been in MANY a demo of SharePoint 2010. Silverlight was very sexy in 2010. Now with HTML 5 and much of what has been accomplished with Javascript, ultimately JQuery and cross browser, cross device client scripting. It’s amazing the brevity that you can get out of most JQuery today. Incredible.

JoelOleson: I’m a big fan of HTML5 and Javascript/JQuery with Client side OM. I also live in reality where Silverlight right for some today

Bsimser: I live in the real world where every time someone writes a Silverlight component for SharePoint a kitten dies. HTML5 is today.

Bsimser: I wouldn’t be investing too much in Silverlight on SharePoint. HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript has a better life expectency.

JoelOleson: LOL. Love the candid thread. I do see the value in the SL book is the APIs. It’s a client API book.

Bsimser: Client APIs for sure but SL + SP is a dogs breakfast. HTML5 and JavaScript + Client side OM is more likely a workable solution

 

Bsimser: Someone writing a Silverlight web part means legacy code we have to rewrite later. No thanks. Not worth it.

JoelOleson: Glad to see you can be open and honest here. I know some that speak out both sides of their mouth on Silvertounge I mean light.

JoelOleson:I am impressed with what’s possible with Javascript. Floors me over and over. I’m a big query fan.

BSimser: The SharePoint Sheriff has spoken. So let it be written, so let it be done

JoelOleson: The SharePoint Sheriff has spoken. So let it be written, so let it be done ;) > Bulls eye! Sheriff straight shooter

JoelOleson: I say push JQuery till it hurts. Wish more developers could leverage web services and REST with SharePoint

 

None of this should come across as new. The Silverlight guys went crazy about 8 months ago. Here’s a thread after the announcements around Windows 8, note the date of June 2011 from eclipsoft from the Silverlight forums

This thread is a must read… yeah and there are 192 responses Re: Windows 8 apps going html5, wtf

Jun 02, 2011 01:56 AM | LINK

Potentially TERRIBLE news. It almost puts me in a state of shock. My biggest fears coming into Windows 8 was that, as a mostly WPF+.NET developer, was that they would shift everything to Silverlight and leave the FULL platform (can you write a VisualStudio in Silverlight? of course not, not designed for that) in the dust. To my utter shock, they did something much, much, much worse.

I say ‘potentially’ because, it is possible WPF and Silverlight will be able to be everywhere and do everything that the Html5+JavaScarry "platform" (replacing XAML + C#…. can you believe your eyes? I can’t) can do in full integration into the slick riding OS. There is reason to hope that is the case.

< 4:49 pm: Where is Silverlight in all this?

There’s still a place for Silverlight, says Sinofsky. "The browser that we showed runs Silverlight and it will still run on the desktop." />

But Microsoft reps reading this, I admonish you to make things clear in the fullest sense of the term ASAP. It’s hard to not enter panic mode, when our investments in .NET look to be seriously demoted. Even worse, demoted in place of what is clearly the most hated programming language (not even object oriented! … boy are we taking steps back). So please get on the message boards ASAP, because when Mr. Sinofsky said, ‘There’s a PLACE still for Silverlight,’ (let’s throw WPF and .NET fully into that), we would really like to know if that place is an isolated corner, or a fully, absolutely integrated "place." It will be shock and awe if the answer is no."

I know there were more than a few people taken off guard with the Windows 8 announcements and plans to support HTML 5 in a big way.

Bsimser: It’s more trouble than it’s worth IMHO to write SL code today just to be sexy. Be real today with JavaScript.

Bsimser: @joeloleson Of course if you’re still on SP2007 (as many are) this isn’t an option but then I wouldn’t be doing SL + SP 2007 either.

 

 

What’s new is our considerations for how we build apps. We start drawing a line in the sand with the improvements in HTML 5? Yes!

Bsimser: @joeloleson There’s tons possible with JavaScript but do be wary of the slippery slope too. Not everything should be client side.

Bsimser: @stacyDraper @joeloleson Writing Silverlight + SP today is like writing in .NET 2.0. It’s legacy and long term pain to replace it later.

JoelOleson: @bsimser Glad to see you can be open and honest here. I know some that speak out both sides of their mouth on Silvertounge I mean light.

 

I was very interested in seeing the other side of this debate, so I pulled in @mosslover.

mosslover: @joeloleson @stacydraper @mrackley @bsimser SharePoint 2010 sucks less with Silverlight…If I were less exhausted I could add more.

Mosslover: @stacyDraper @mrackley @bsimser @joeloleson That is actually what I told people in my talk to just use jQuery…Ok I need a nap really.

 

 

Bsimser: @joeloleson @stacyDraper @MossLover @mrackley When MSFT isn’t coming out on the future of it you don’t need a boot to head to get off now.

Bsimser: @MossLover @stacyDraper @mrackley @joeloleson Silverlight on SharePoint. Beat the rush, avoid the rewrites! Learn JavaScript and C#

Bsimser: @praveenbattula @joeloleson @stacydraper @mrackley @MossLover Don’t hate Silverlight, use it everday (WP7) but SP + SL is death warmed over.

JoelOleson: bsimser Is it possible that anyone who could defend the future of Silverlight can’t talk about it? @stacyDraper @MossLover @mrackley

JoelOleson: @bsimser @stacydraper @mrackley @MossLover In my org, I’m not pushing SL. I do encourage Javascript/JQuery with the right developers.

 

Sympmarc was late to the game, but added in his $.02

@joeloleson @stacyDraper @bsimser Looks like an interesting discussion about SL/jQuery today. Sorry I missed it.

@bsimser @joeloleson @stacyDraper So, what "won"? SilverLight, jQuery, HTML5, or "it depends"? Hoping the latter.

@sympmarc @joeloleson @stacyDraper The answer is always, it depends. You should know that by now.

 

The thread ended with this nice wrapup…

Path2sharepoint: @sympmarc So, what "won"? SilverLight, jQuery, HTML5, or "it depends"? => the finish line is in 2013 @bsimser @joeloleson @stacyDraper

 

In my additional research, I find that Bil isn’t so off base, and I also find that there are PLENTY of articles on the imminent death of Silverlight

Mary Jo Foley mentioned in a post Will there be a Silverlight 6:

Several of my customer and partner contacts have told me they have heard from their own Microsoft sources over the past couple of weeks that Silverlight 5 is the last version of Silverlight that Microsoft will release. They said they are unsure whether there will be any service packs for it, and they are also not clear on how long Silverlight 5 will be supported by Microsoft.

Yes, this part is hearsay, but Wow.

Conclusion: Client Side development has never been more important, and the Silverlight book has great references to leveraging web services and client OM, REST and more. I do think it’s time to caution developers not to make major investments in Silverlight.

Here’s some additional light reading:

Let me know on twitter @joeloleson if you post a blog response. I want to include it here… I did try to include

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