An alternative called Silverlight

Jan 20, 2009

Silverlight has been primarily advertised as a high tech product for multimedia online services. The demonstrations displaying Silverlight technology for multimedia have been more than convincing of its superior capabilities, with Silverlight displaying a strong part in video streaming. Online video has been traditionally associated with Flash where users, were familiar with constraints such as quality levels and the impossibility of fullscreen viewing. Silverlight can distribute multimedia as part of the application itself at quality levels up to 720dpi (high definition) and also in native full screen, not just a maximized browser screen.

With Silverlight, there is no need to work with matrixes as in Flash, since it supports the WPF animation model which is time based instead of frame based, and enables the definition of the start and end conditions. Because of this, there is also no need to calculate positions on various frames, Silverlight does the job by itself. Another thing about using XAML, is that XAML is a declarative language, while Action Script for Flash is imperative. Using imperative languages to build user interfaces is as old as DOS and early days of Windows, when developers had to manage all of the API nuances when interacting with graphical panes. Silverlight provides end-to-end server and application platform, supporting hardware assisted editing and encoding solutions. It also supports scalable video formats from HD to mobile and does not require video codec to run industry standard videos like .WMV, this last feature reckoning the possibility that a lot of media websites who commonly use the .WMV format will shift to Silverlight video services.

All Silverlight applications stream down video through Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on both Windows and MAC OS. The total download size for an application that is just doing video and audio without needing the rest of the Silverlight CLR functionality, and including the codecs required to play the stream is around 2MB, being a bit bigger for MAC OS (as it is a universal binary).

All in all, Silverlight is not just a tool for publishing nice looking animations and user interfaces, but a serious development environment, that makes use of the powerful features of .NET to bring together the usability and performance of the desktop applications with the flexibility and mobility of web platforms.

Read more about it:

Multimedia in Silverlight
Silverlight Features - a Comparison with Adobe Flash
Development Premises
Common Language Runtime on Silverlight



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