I've been reading a ton of blog posts containing developer reactions to Microsoft's Silverlight announcement at MIX '07. One thing that I've noticed is that people are coming to some of the same conclusions I came to in my post What Comes After AJAX?. Specifically, it is now clear that WPF/E Silverlight is a contender for the throne of king development platform for building rich internet applications (RIAs). Additionally, it is also clear that the days of Asynchronous Javascript and XMLHttpRequest (AJAX) being first choice when building rich internet applications are numbered. Below are excerpts of some of the posts I found interesting.

In his blog post entitled The Day the Web Changed: NET in the Browser! Jeff Prosise writes

MIX 07 opened yesterday and I believe we'll look back on that day as the day that the Web changed. Microsoft made several announcements, not the least of which is that Silverlight, formerly known as "WPF/E," will include a cross-platform version of the CLR that runs in the browser.

What does it mean? It means goodbye JavaScript, hello C#. It means managed code in the browser. It means an escape from HTML and browser DOMs and a better way to build browser-based UIs using XAML. It means incredibly rich browser experiences and a whole new generation of RIAs.

In his blog post entitled May ASP.NET AJAX Futures CTP... wtf? Drew Marsh writes
Soooo, ok, they released a new May CTP of ASP.NET AJAX futures. It's got some new support in there for Silverlight related stuff now. Great, awesome, love to see it and totally understand they need to pimp the new platform. What has really happened beyond that though?
Anyway, it seems like Silverlight is ursurping the development of the core AJAX futures and, while I'm all for Silverlight, I think it's a bad move to put these features on the backburner. They should be fleshed out and delivered. They are extremely valuable to those of us trying to build rich web browser (only) based applications.

I'd love to heard from someone inside MS on what exactly their intentions are at this point. If it's dead, fine... just let us know. If it's not, tell us what to expect and when to expect it so we can make decisions on how to proceed. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the stuff that was cut from ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 and ended up in the futures was much more important to developing rich internet applications and 1.0. It's true that 1.0 layed the groundwork, but having to cobble together all the UI in JavaScript still with $get and $addHandler, while possible, isn't what I'd call a good platform.

Drew Marsh also writes in his post Where's the MSHTML/IE news?

I find it strange that there has been absolutely no mention of what the MSHTML/IE teams are working on right now yet at Mix. I remember they stood on stage last year and talked about much shorter product cycles. Shouldn't we be expecting some kind of new enhancements by at least the early second half 2007? I really don't care about the IE shell, I care most about MSHTML coming up to speed with more/better support for CSS (gimme my selectors damn it!), enhancements to the DOM, etc.

Update: It seems I didn't provide enough context in this post because I assumed people reading this would also read my What Comes After AJAX? post. My point in this post isn't to state that Silverlight will kill AJAX. In my previous post I already mentioned that based on the data we have, Adobe's rich internet application (RIA) platform seems more likely to take the top spot than Microsoft's. Instead I was pointing out that we are further along the road towards replacing Asynchronous Javascript and XMLHttpRequest (AJAX) with a richer and more productive set of platforms. Additionally, if you read between the lines of the MIX '07 announcements, it seems AJAX is no longer the new hotness, given the lack of news on improvements to the Microsoft AJAX stack coming from the conference.

Popular consumer websites like Yahoo! Maps, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace have made rich interactivity mainstream and even expected when it comes to building a modern "Web 2.0" consumer website by using a post-AJAX platform (Flash). My thesis is that we will see more sites embracing post-AJAX platforms until we reach a tipping point where brand new Web 2.0 sites choose something like Silverlight, Flash or OpenLaszlo instead of AJAX when considering a platform for building a rich internet application. 


Categories: Web Development
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