At the MVP Summit in March, Scott Guthrie and friends previewed the 1.1 Alpha of Silverlight (named of course, after my good friend David Silverlight, who runs XMLPitstop.com and other fine sites).
We weren't allowed to talk about it until now - and the 1.1 Alpha is now available - along with some nice Quickstart SDK samples.
Get it while it's hot!
Now the big question you'll hear is whether this is going to be a "Flash killer". I don't think that will happen right away, but when you look at the streaming video codec and DRM support, support for managed code, dynamic XAML loading and much more, it certainly represents a refreshing technology innovation to me!
Think about this: Silverlight represents an officially-supported cross-platform implementation of the .NET Framework. That's cross-platform AND cross-browser.
But there's more: MS built a common platform to implement dynamic languages like Python (.e.g IronPython) and Ruby on top of .NET. It's the Dynamic Language Runtime, and it plugs into the CLR, and you can plug in your own dynamic languages. This was also previewed at the MVP Summit by David Ebbo and others, along with parts of the Entity Framework, which links Object Services (LINQ) to Data Models, Mapping, and Sources. The DLR will be open sourced under the BSD license, available for all on Codeplex.com, and IronRuby is right behind IronPython. In fact, one of the Silverlight samples uses Python code right now.
Microsoft also offers the Silverlight Streaming hosting solution (FREE!) with up to 4GB space, for hosting your Silverlight streaming media applications. The Streaming SDK offers a simple REST-ful API that is easy to use.
There is probably some confusion about the differences between Silverlight 1.0 BETA and the Silverlight 1.1 ALPHA. Here are some features in ALPHA:
- Supports communication via XML over HTTP so you can do cool AJAX - like "stuff".
- You can write "code behind" for your Silverlight apps in C# or VB.NET
- You can write your Silverlight apps using the Dynamic Language Runtime, which means you can use VB9 or IronPython.
- Offers all the rich media/video support that Silverlight 1.0 has - plus - true Streaming video.
- Create a "Silverlight" project from Visual Studio "Orcas" Beta 1.
NOTE: You can run samples with just the Alpha installed, but if you want to build Silverlight projects, you'll need Orcas Beta 1. The "Microsoft Silverlight Tools Alpha" for Orcas is also available. There is also a preview Expression Media Encoder for creating Silverlight content (the product key for the trial - is on the page - you have to copy and paste it out). The Alpha 1.1 SDK download is here...
HINT: If you want to find some good custom resources on Silverlight, put that into the custom Google Search widget just below this post. I've got over 1300 custom blogs and resources about .NET that will be searched.
ORCAS PROJECTS: The first thing I noticed when attempting to load and run any of the sample Silverlight ALPHA 1.1 ORCAS solutions was that they run fine for me with Firefox, but in IE 7 (on Vista) all you get to see is the "Get Silverlight" badge. I've noticed that several users have already posted this on the Silverlight community "Installation and Setup" forum, but I haven't yet seen a fix. I suspect it has to be something like running IE as Administrator. Damned Vista! If you've got info or a fix, post a comment!
DOCUMENTATION: As one might expect, complete documentation is the last thing that makes it into an ALPHA release, and Silverlight is no exception. The CHM documentation has lists of all the objects in the framework, but virtually none of them are "filled in" as one would expect. Just do a search on (System.Windows.Browser.Net.) BrowserHttpWebRequest and you will see what I mean. Hopefully soon we'll see a bit more flesh on them bones...