Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

“Ajax is now an Endangered Species”

Category: Editorial

Dare Obasanjo, of Microsoft, is an obvious fan of Silverlight, and has a piece on how Ajax is now an Endangered Species.

Now, there is some compelling work in Silverlight, but come on ;)

Flash has been around for a long time, yet Ajax became en vogue a couple of years ago. It wasn’t because it could pull off richer effects than Flash. In many ways Flash is superior (storage, access to webcam, graphics, browser quirk issues), but it didn’t have some of the webby features that we love. It is a plugin. Silverlight is a plugin. Silverlight doesn’t have the install base of Flash. It doesn’t run on Linux, and I don’t expect everyone to drop arms to take it up after MIX.

Ed Burnette has dissected Silverlight, and he discusses the very different 1.0 versus the 1.1 future.

Sam Ruby has discussed his experience trying to get samples working.

What do you think about the new Flash / Silverlight / Open Web world?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:40 am

2.7 rating from 79 votes


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I wrote up something similar to dissected Silverlight on my blog, Inner Exception, except about how the Silverlight plug-in works on OS X:

Comment by Dave Murdock — May 2, 2007

I could only get some (alpha samples wouldn’t run in beta plugin) of the samples to work, but only on Safari. My BonEcho (FF w/OS X widgets) and FF 2 would not run anything. They kept getting JS errors. Also, nothing ran in Camino, which is to be expected if FF doesn’t work.

Anyway, it looks nifty and neat, but I don’t think I could ever go back to developing in Windows again, esp. with the VS tools; I never liked them.

Too bad cuz it was definitely fast. I hope this sorta gives the browser people a kick in the pants to optimize and improve their JS offerings. Do I think it will take over the web? No. And after the past 7 or so years of IE dominance, I hope it never does.

Comment by Jason — May 2, 2007

Remember guys the adoption of Silverlight is upto us, not users. We’re the ones that will create the content in it.

I have been very unimpressed with Silverlight. I will keep an eye out for each new version of it with an open mind, but I have my doubts on my adoption of it.

Comment by Philip Plante — May 2, 2007

I’ve used Flash since ’96 and have been a strong ActionScript developer for 5-6 years now, but even I’ve realized that it has its strengths and weaknesses. I think big and smart companies are tired of waiting for JavaScript to catch up, but they also want ownership.

Comment by John Giotta — May 2, 2007

There are 2 obvious observations and I’m just echoing everyone else:
1. It’s just Microsoft’s second attempt after the first one namely ActiveX failed miserably.
2. What about Linux?

But after reading Ed Burnette’s article, I have 2 thoughts of my own, and I don’t know if I’m right or not:
1. With all these DLLs being downloaded on-demand the first time, will we end up with DLL hell again? It’s already a mess with the different set of DLLs between 1.0 and 1.1 as Ed pointed out. Then 1.2, 1.3, … How will al of this get managed?
2. Ed Burnette also pointed out: “..writing portable JavaScript is not easy, it’s not impossible either, and tools like the Google Web Toolkit…”. But then again, Microsoft always has a more IE- and Windows-centric mentality and do not always care about portability.

Comment by Kevin Hoang Le — May 2, 2007

Microsoft fans are always a source of great comedy. The Ajax toolkits are just gearing up! We haven’t begun to see the level of invisible integration we’ll be enjoying… Think of DWR meets Ext as a very early beginning..

I see a future when I place jsp tag on a page, and it’s launches a complete JS widget based on open source technologies configurable from my spring beans files for the behavior and CSS for the view… Simple and Easy and non-Microsoft.

That doesn’t preclude M$ from being part of the view implementations, but I just don’t see it overtaking Flash anytime (if ever) soon. Adobe knows how to write and release software- high quality software that is very much cross platform.

Comment by Ivan — May 2, 2007

It’s a plugin! User goes to your Silverlight site and is prompted to download Silverlight. The user probably already has Flash installed too.

What? I wish Microsoft would get with the program and take into account that end users just want to browse to the site and see it, without having to install any extra software.

I would think the more appropriate path would be to enhance the browser and standards to support the functionality offered in Flash and Silverlight.

I’ll stick with web technologies that do not put any extra burden on my users.

Comment by Eric Rich — May 2, 2007

Soo… clicking “yes” to install the plugin is a burden eh? I’m not a proponent of Flash or Silverlight, but if the rich content is there people will click the little “yes” button. People had to click the same button to get Flash, and there’s no disputing the fact that Flash is installed in the vast majority of browsers… content is king no matter if it’s enabled via a plugin or js.

Yes, Silverlight will see adoption. No, it will not take over the web. No debates needed, just see what happens.

Comment by Ryan Gahl — May 2, 2007

I am a little disappointed since the plug in doesn’t work in Windows 2000..

Comment by rodrigo — May 2, 2007

Great, a just wait for new Tech X as it blows away old Tech Y post. Of course Ajax itself is still new and misunderstood, but no matter since given the tech hype cycle it is about time for some of the kewl folks to move to another new, misunderstood and alpha/beta tech. On the positive note it might mean that Ajax is getting real since it isn’t as cool anymore.

p.s. was still available when I posted so register ASAP!

Comment by Thomas Powell — May 2, 2007

All you Microsoft haters can say what you will…but C#/.NET is an extremely powerful platform, and Silverlight definitely has some serious potential (official C#/.NET on my Mac? Count me in!). I don’t think that it will threaten Flash as far as general use (YouTube, annoying Flash navigation windows, etc), but in the web application arena, this could be huge.

Comment by Andy Kant — May 2, 2007

On a side note, since Microsoft included IronPython with Silverlight, maybe they’ll also include Ruby.NET once it matures.

Comment by Andy Kant — May 2, 2007

Like most other web-based implementations of .NET it will once again allow desktop application developers to build shitty-looking web sites without understanding the medium or their audience. Except now they’ll have the power of animation. woo hoo!

Comment by James MacFarlane — May 2, 2007

I’ve heard MS apologists who just a few years ago blasted Flash for having to install a plug-in or force a developer to design two sites (Flash and no-Flash) take to Silverlight as though its the second coming of rich media. Silverlight is no different, the arguments for an against its use is the same as Flash, but AJAX it isn’t and to me this is nothing more than the same old argument us developers get into about every tool that comes down the pipe. Use AJAX or Flash, develop for JS or snub the small percent who browse without JS, design for IE only or standards, etc.

Philip Plante is right, in the end its going to be up to us to adopt this technology, and with the current push towards standards I don’t see many developers jumping on this bandwagon anytime soon… beta or not.

Comment by Sean Foushee — May 2, 2007

James MacFarlane, well-said and so true.

Comment by Kevin Hoang Le — May 2, 2007

Ajax is now an Endangered wazawa??? What’s up with Microsoft and this concept of trying to kill everything off?

Granted, Silverlight looks promising and everything, and I’m eager to play around with this on my free time. But seriously. It’s not going to kill AJAX or put it on the endangered species list. And forget about uprooting Adobe’s Flash: that ain’t happening anytime soon either.

I do hope they consider getting Silverlight to work on Linux.

Comment by Mike — May 2, 2007

Even with the adoption of Flash that is today, most of us are still hesitant to implement our applications in flash and in flash only. For small business like us, the safest route is still based within the capabilities of the browsers with NO PLUG IN.

I love silverlight, had tons of fun such far playing with it, but that’s because it offers the programming languages that I’m familiar with – Javascript, C# and later on IronRuby. Having said that, I still don’t see Ajax will be out of the picture AT ALL.

Comment by Liming — May 2, 2007

I don’t think this guy’s blog is the official stance of MS. They’ve been showing plenty of demos with Silverlight AND AJAX techniques being used concurrently. It’s seems like they’re pushing it more as an extension of Ajax, than as a replacement.

Comment by michael — May 2, 2007

It’s Microsoft’s old dream to run applications on your computer using the Web (their real dream is to lease Office in such a way).

The problem with .NET is that it’s not lightweight !
It’s even more memory hungry than Java.

For example, consulting an empty page in ASP.NET requires more than 16Mb of memory on the server !

How can you imagine that users will have good experience with a runtime that uses so much memory -as long it’s not integrated into the OS- ? (I purposely didn’t mention that a lot of users don’t use Windows).

Ok, we’ll be able to develop more quickly than ever, but only for niches. That’s so cool !

Comment by jcm — May 2, 2007

Kevin writes:
> With all these DLLs being downloaded on-demand the first time,
> will we end up with DLL hell again? It’s already a mess with
> the different set of DLLs between 1.0 and 1.1 as Ed pointed out.

For the two dll’s they have in common, the 1.0 beta and 1.1 alpha appear to be byte-for-byte identical. I’m guessing they’ll try hard for 100% backwards compatibility in the future so that version x.y can play any content designed for 1.0 onwards.

Comment by Ed Burnette — May 2, 2007

.NET on the server is quite a bit different than on the client. It requires a much smaller hit on both CPU and memory than the ever starving Java. Besides, this isn’t the full framework…as of right now, its an even smaller subset than the .NET Compact Framework because Silverlight is meant to be light-weight. The big thing about Silverlight is that it brings the power of CLR languages such as C# (although I hope plan on including System.Collections and System.Collections.Generic at the very least in their subset).

ASP.NET as you said though, does tend to be a bit sluggish.

Comment by Andy Kant — May 2, 2007

blah blah blah. Oh no Ajax is gonna die. Smoking some bad hash maybe? Go do a search on what type of languages firms out there are actually hiring for.

PHP, C#.NET and the winner? AJAX. No f’ing way is AJAX dead. hell its just starting to take off. And o f’ing way is “Silverlight” gonna replace JavaScript. JavaScript is waaay more deeply rooted than Flash, RUBY, whatever the hell crap combined. As long as you have JavaScript, you have AJAX. There is no separating the 2.

What would truly be a revolution in web technology? None of the plug-in bullshit. Integrate actual DirectX into the browser so that we can program DirectX commands just like we code HTML and JavaScript. THAT would truly be revolutionary. Until that happens everything else is just the same old shit rehashed.

Comment by Peter — May 2, 2007

What about Opera? Konqueror?

I’m not a big fan of “cross browser” meaning “3 browsers” and “cross platform” meaning “2 platforms.”

Comment by Tom — May 2, 2007

I struggled a long time to have a cross-browser cross-system AJAX platform. I will definitely NOT go back to any MS proprietary software in web development.
There is still a lot work ahead of us to find the most stable and balanced way of doing xhr driven websites. I won´t let this distract me.

Comment by Frank Thuerigen — May 3, 2007

For the last 10 years M$ has tried to stop the web on its tracks.
Now they want us to trust them?

Nop, we don’t trust you M$

activex was a huge failure
.net on the web is a failure!

Comment by scriptkiddie — May 3, 2007

Yeah no Opera support yet, so that bites. MS can’t even get their websites properly cross browser. Cross browser for them seems to be IE 5.0 or later.
What are the development options going to be? VS studio and Expression? (ie MS Windows)
I stopped using Flash because it was way too expensive to buy (even the old 30 day demo doesn’t exist for Flash CS3) and running it under linux&wine was a pain.
Presumably MS tools will be cheaper than Flash CS3 but you never can tell. Will there be cross platform development options or is it going to be hand coded xml for the rest of us?

Comment by Deadmeat — May 3, 2007

everybory forgot svg…

only IE has not yet any svg native support… i don’t care about flash or silverlight, svg is w3c standard… And it works with javascript…

Comment by charlie — May 3, 2007

Silverlight is definitely going to shake things up. Technologically, Flash is way behind on what it offers compared to Silverlight. Ruby,Python, C#, VB, F#, Boo, Javascript all running on the client, but also with the ability to just send up XAML with some standard Javascript.

HTML, CSS, and Javscript are very limited from a technical perspective. I can’t wait to start writing client code in Ruby.

Comment by Rick — May 3, 2007

Java needs its own RIA offering. I wonder if next week, there will be one announced, at Java One. It would be an easy guess, that MS marketing, wanted to steal some thunder of such an announcement. So I guess I am saying, next week could be an interesting one. Bruce Eckel is now on the Adobe/Flex payroll, so whoever would make that announcement, would be an interesting speaker as well.

Comment by David — May 4, 2007

“Flash has been around for a long time, yet Ajax became en vogue a couple of years ago. ……It is a plugin. Silverlight is a plugin.”

Comment by pvs — May 4, 2007

Ajax has been around for a long time. It didn’t just come into vogue because someone gave it a name.

Comment by Rick — May 4, 2007

I don’t care how good Silverlight is, I’m not getting behind a Microsoft product that will either a) be left to stagnate as soon as they secure their monopoly or b) be phased out in 3 years when they need to rejuvenate sales with a forced upgrade.

I believe open source is the way to go for long-term viability. It doesn’t progress as fast as proprietary software, but it lasts longer and doesn’t make senseless lateral moves. If I need something beyond AJAX I’ll go with Adobe since they are in less of a position to screw us all over, and traditionally have a much better track record of commitment to quality tech.

Comment by Gabe da Silveira — May 4, 2007

Bundling the CLR with Silverlight was a very smart move on Microsoft’s part. If they had just released the CLR even it would be serious news. This is almost as big as the advent of Java was.

Basically they have the basis for a whole platform here. The language features alone here are amazing. Do you realize how fast IronPython is in Pystone benchmarks and it runs on the PC and Mac and no doubt later on Mono.

A whole platform architecture can be built on the CLR alone. I think you are comparing Apples to Oranges with this comparison you are making to Flash.

I think the commenters on your Blog aren’t being fair about how they tested and aren’t necessarily following requirements to get this going..

Microsoft has two versions of the plug in out, the 1.0 version with NO CLR and the 1.1 version with CLR.. Obviously because of lack of CLR the 1.1 samples aren’t going to work on a 1.0 version of the plug-in and in this case “ALPHA and BETA” are reversed.

The reality of Silverlight applications is they will have a slick graphics layer and because of CLR run hundreds of times faster than HTML/Javascript apps that we use today do.. Plus the CLR works with MANY more languages.

I think you owe it to yourself to look more in-depth at this technology. If you need assistance getting it functional check with Microsoft and any number of .NET developers out there.. I think the quality/value proposition of your work will go up when you start taking advantage of all that’s there..

Comment by Don Burnett — May 7, 2007

Remember developers some folks do not have Admin control over their PCs and Installing a plugin is usually a 4 step process (except IE ActiveX) : 1.) Go to Plugin site. 2.) Download plugin 3.) Install plugin 4.) Restart browser.

And most non-savy users are very paranoid about viruses, phishers, and Trojans and are reluctant to download and install something they never heard of before. If Microsoft can work deals with Mozilla, Opera, and Apple to bundle Silverlight like macromedia did with Flash that would help them. I doubt the other browser makers would, but Microsoft does unfortunately have Internet Explorer with the most market share.

A few questions:

I have is Silverlight accessible and easily searchable by bots?

If you need to build web apps to imitate desktop software why not just write desktop software? Most web apps are created to make easy remote access without special software and setup.

Silverlight looks promising but if Microsoft wants it to take off they need developers and users to back it up. Most web developer OSs and tools differ depending on their likes or requirements. Web developers need a cross-platform IDE and it to run on Linix/Unix. The users (web-surfs) should not even notice the technologies web pages are created from.

Comment by My Design Buddy — May 22, 2007

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