Why Silverlight is right for the enterprise…

There is much discussion today about the benefits of HTML 5 and how it will dramatically improve the capabilities of web-based applications. New ‘media’ tags and offline cached page capabilities will enable a much more enterprise-friendly user experience. However Silverlight still has these new HTML 5 capabilities trumped. It is true that Silverlight is a proprietary technology that is only supported on desktop Operating Systems such as Mac OS X and Windows XP, Vista, 7, and more. However it provides one thing that an HTML 5 standard cannot… more consistent support across the supported OS and browser platforms!

During 1 of my recent projects, I took on the task of coding up some mechansims for developing client-side rich functionality. Specifically, I wanted to pull data from a data-service exposed via WCF in .NET and consume it via Javascript as a JSON or ATOM-based data feed. Once I had that data, I wanted to enabled dynamic HTML control generation, ui validation, and save/cancel functionality. I found the lack of consistent support for Javascript elements across multiple OS’s and browsers quite troublesome. I was already frustrated by the Javascript debugging setup and configuration experience across all browser platforms. Non strongly-typed code made it difficult for me to quickly analyze what my staff had developed for me in Javascript under the hood. Finally, I was frustrated by the mix of online “help” content that ranged from approaches that were arcaic and poorly architected… to elegant and efficient.

What has your experience with HTML 5 been so far versus your experience developing enterprise Silverlight applications? Which tools do you use for your HTML 5 development? Do you feel you need to throw away Visual Studio in order to do “real” development in Eclipse in order to achieve your project goals?

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