CESPage 25th Anniversary Silverlight
Silverlight was a framework for creating rich internet applications, but Silverlight was originally designed to deliver streaming video and later expanded to other capabilities. Silverlight eventually resulted in a platform that could be used to create applications with a great deal of functionality that was not possible at the time in browsers, except with the competition at the time Adobe Flash which was far more popular. Silverlight would be around for over a decade after first becoming available in 2007 with the final release being in 2019 although Adobe Flash only lasted a little longer up until 2020 although it had first release as Macromedia Flash in 1996! It was amazing to see Silverlight grow from the humble beginnings of using XAML and JavaScript to using a variation of .NET which made it possible to create a variety of small and large applications, this included my own along with tutorials. When Windows Phone was announced it initially used Silverlight as the basis for applications although could not display existing Silverlight content. It was with the release of Silverlight 4 where the original browser plugin reached its full and maximum potential, although there was to be another version along with Windows Phone support, but it was that version if first fully embraced and you can read about the features here available at the time.

Silverlight 4

Microsoft created Silverlight to help companies design, develop and deliver engaging, interactive user experiences for Web, desktop and mobile applications when online or offline. Silverlight is a free plug-in, powered by the .NET Framework and compatible with multiple browsers, devices and platforms. Bringing a new level of interactivity to wherever the Web works, Silverlight will ultimately deliver seamless experiences across PCs, TVs and phones. Silverlight 4 delivers a full suite of powerful features to application developers, bringing innovative platform capabilities to browser-based experiences. Silverlight provides an ideal platform for developing and deploying modern business applications for both internal and end-user applications on both sides of the firewall.

What's New for Application Developers

Silverlight 4 affirms its position as the natural choice for building business applications on the web

  • Comprehensive printing support now enables the creation of a virtual print view, enabling applications to deliver print-friendly documents.
  • A full set of controls with more than 60 customizable, skinnable components makes it easy to build forms that can be sorted, resized and validated. New controls include RichTextArea with hyperlinks, images and editing.
  • The Microsoft .NET Framework Common Language Runtime (CLR) now enables the same compiled code to be run both on the server and the client, reducing development time and testing resources.
  • Enhanced databinding support reduces the amount of code needed to work with customised data for display.
  • Managed Extensibility Framework supports building completely modular applications, allowing for fast startup and download, efficient development and testing, as well as agile customisation and servicing.
  • Windows Communication Foundation RIA Services introduces enterprise class networking and data access, allowing applications to work with any source of data and any server.
  • Extensive tooling support for Silverlight, new in Visual Studio 2010 including fully editable design surface for drawing out controls and layouts, rich property grid and new editors for values, drag and drop support for databinding and automatically creating bound controls such as listbox and datagrid, new datasources window and picker, easy-to-pick styles and resources to make a good-looking application based on designer resources built in Expression Blend, built-in project support for Silverlight applications, editor with full IntelliSense for XAML and C# and Visual Basic languages

Empowering richer experiences

Silverlight 4 introduces additional capabilities that enable developers to create richer, more appealing, high-performance interactive and innovative media experiences

  • Enhanced animation capabilities allow for more dynamic, interactive presentation of data in lists.
  • Webcam and microphone support allow sharing of video and audio in applications such as chat and customer service.
  • Audio and video local recording capabilities capture RAW video without requiring server interaction, allowing new scenarios such as capturing voice or video to send in e-mail, or allowing the recording to be edited locally before saving.
  • Copy/paste and drag-and-drop make it easy to bring photos, text and other data into your application.
  • New features such as right-click and mouse wheel scrolling enable developers to add conventional desktop interaction models.
  • Silverlight 4 runs across all platforms and major browsers and Silverlight 4 applications start quicker and run 200 percent faster than the equivalent Silverlight 3 applications with performance optimisations.
  • Multitouch support enables a range of gestures and touch interactions to be integrated into user experiences.
  • Multicast networking enables enterprises to lower the cost of streaming broadcast events such as company meetings and training, with seamless interoperability with existing Windows Media Services streaming infrastructure.
  • Content protection now available for H.264 media through Silverlight DRM powered by PlayReady and Output protection for audio/video streams allowing content owners or distributors to ensure protected content is only viewed through a secure video connection.

Moving beyond the browser

Silverlight 4 extends out-of-browser capabilities pioneered in Silverlight 3 that enable a Web presence to establish closer, more persistent relationships with customers without any additional runtime download or the need to write applications in a different way.

For sandboxed applications

  • Developers can place HTML within their application, enabling much tighter integration with content from Web servers such as e-mail, help and reports.
  • Silverlight 4 provides support for desktop pop-up notification windows to easily provide real-time information and feedback to users using a common user interface metaphor.
  • Offline DRM extends the existing Silverlight DRM powered by PlayReady technology to work in a disconnected state, enabling users to view content and engage with a Silverlight application where and when they want. Protected content can be delivered with an embedded license so that users can go offline immediately and start enjoying their content.
  • Silverlight 4 offers full control over window settings such as start position and size to ensure applications have maximum usability and flexibility.

For trusted applications

  • Users can read and write files to their My Documents, My Music, My Pictures and My Videos folder (or equivalent for non-Windows platforms), enabling applications to make local copies of reports and media files.
  • COM automation enables access to devices and other system capabilities such as a Universal Serial Bus security card reader.
  • Users can access other desktop programs such as Microsoft Office Excel to create a report.
  • Group policy objects allow organizations to manage which applications are trusted.
  • Comprehensive keyboard support in full-screen out-of-browser mode enhances kiosk and media applications.
  • Enhancements to networking allow cross-domain access without a security policy file.