- Where Does Silverlight Come From?
- Using Third-Party Plug-Ins
- Running on Multiple Platforms
- Making the Web Application Secure
- Introducing Silverlight.net
- What Do You Need to Run Silverlight?
- Updating Your Runtime-Automatically
- Trying Silverlight Demos
- What Do You Need to Develop Silverlight?
- Reading the Documentation
- Looking into Silverlight's Future
Using Third-Party Plug-Ins
With the limitations of DHTML, various third-party additions to the web browser have been created with the explicit intent to enhance the user experience. The most notorious technologies are probably Java applets, ActiveX controls, and Flash applications. This section reviews the advantages and shortcomings of these technologies to understand better how Silverlight compares.
Using Java Applets
Java applets were extraordinarily popular for a short time and then became unpopular. While some web pages still use the Java technology, their number is decreasing. The main problem with Java is that the runtime is very slow to start. When you load a page with a Java applet on it, the initial loading time makes it a painful experience.
On the plus side, Java is a great programming language. It paved the way for .NET, and many of the best features of C# are greatly inspired by the Java language. It also enables advanced graphical effects, such as the famous ripple effect.
Java makes it possible to open alternative communication ways to the web server. For example, it enables the server to “talk” directly to the client, which is impossible with classic web communication. While this can be a huge technological advantage in certain scenarios, it can also, under certain circumstances, represent a security threat. Because of this, the acceptance of Java applets by big, security-sensitive corporations has been slow and has pretty much “killed” Java in the web browser.
Using ActiveX Controls
The major shortcoming of ActiveX is that it uses an obsolete, almost 15-year-old technology. Also, ActiveX controls can only be used in Internet Explorer on Windows.
Using Flash Applications
Adobe Flash is probably the most popular third-party plug-in currently available. On the plus side, it allows advanced graphical effects, and it’s not rare to find websites programmed entirely in Flash. While Flash content is often called “Flash movies,” it’s probably fairer to call them “applications.”