Rich User Experiences: Silverlight Framework
Microsoft’s pulling out all the stops in a bid to compete directly against Adobe’s Flash/ Flex with Silverlight, entering the Rich Internet Application (RIA) framework business as of 2007. Trying hard to gain recognition in the shadow of a behemoth globally recognised as the standard for its video streaming capabilities is no mean feat, but its viability to produce new and innovative services – and richer user experiences in wake of competition – makes Silverlight something to look out for.
Silverlight pushed hard to spread word with Popfly, a basic programming tool for Silverlight which launched simultaneously with the RIA framework. It was designed to build a social community dedicated to encouraging developers and inquisitive nonprogrammers to adopt the product by means of a game, mashup and web creator with a ‘Popfly Space’ to publish works with network features. It’s interesting to note that Tim O’Reilly expressed skepticism early on in its creation, saying: “Popfly shows me that Microsoft still thinks this is all about software, rather than about accumulating data via network effects, which to me is the core of Web 2.0. They are using Popfly to push Silverlight, rather than really trying to get into the mashup game.”
In accordance with O’Reilly’s prediction, Popfly was mysteriously discontinued in August of 2009. TechFlash squeezed further information out of Microsoft with regard to its swift removal, who confirmed that it was ‘no longer part of its refocused strategy’. While it did seem somewhat geared toward product exposure, the impact of its loss may have really hampered public exposure. What do you think?
What is Silverlight offering in terms of rich user experiences?
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of ongoing hype between developers when it comes to choosing between Flash and Silverlight, regardless of Flash’s obvious maturity advantage within the market. Silverlight played to its weakness, implementing yearned-for features by Flash developers in such a way that they’ve effectively taken two routes: Design versus Development. From a personal perspective, Flash appears tailored as a creative outlet for animation, advertising and simpler interfaces, while complex interfaces and web-based services seem better served by Silverlight’s development environment. A lot more can be said for technical specifications here if you’re interested. How else does Microsoft differ? A major plus is its browser-based rich User Interface (UI) left open for .NET developers with languages and tools they’re already familiar with.
Silverlight and Microsoft’s Bing
In an ongoing attempt to differentiate the Bing search engine from Google while improving on interface interactivity through different visual techniques, Microsoft’s Silverlight-powered Bing visual search functions as a gallery of moveable images to replace text links. Flip through moveable pictures to discover the variety of results – a tentative move Microsoft went ahead with in light of surveys indicating that consumers process visual results 20% faster than their textual counterpart. Bing’s Visual Search beta can be found here.
The new features look minimalistic, clean (and Mac-esque don’t you think?), if you ignore the fact that it’s currently limited to 50 specific search terms and buckles with any input beyond mainstream searches. While it’s a beautiful example of the potential of intermingling RIAs with search function, it has a way to go before it can consider challenging Google’s stronghold over the most effective search capabilities to date. In this case, Microsoft has as of yet fallen short on an agreeable balance between form and function – that’s not to say the techniques employed here aren’t worth exploration.
All in all, while Adobe’s dominance over the field hasn’t yet come into question, the competitiveness Silverlight offers as an alternative platform for interactivity and visual advancement to a degree that really highlights it at the forefront of change for greater user experiences.
|Print article||This entry was posted by digilee on March 23, 2010 at 5:51 am, and is filed under Web 2 Applications. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
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