Silverlight 2.0 – What is Silverlight and Getting started with Silverlight

Posted by: Suprotim Agarwal , on 6/17/2008, in Category Silverlight 2, 3, 4 and 5
Views: 40284
Abstract: Silverlight has created an amazing buzz amongst developers, especially the web ones. Starting with this first introductory article, I hope you all will join me to embark this journey of learning Silverlight.
Silverlight 2.0 – What is Silverlight and Getting started with Silverlight
The article is based on the Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2 version and is subject to change.
Silverlight has created an amazing buzz amongst developers, especially the web ones. It is truly a beautiful concept which is being transformed into reality as the product matures day by day. I decided to take a plunge into this technology. Starting with this first introductory article, I hope you all will join me to embark this journey of learning Silverlight. I will try my best to keep up with the technology and share all my experiences while learning it through these articles at dotnetcurry. So get set and GO..
What is Silverlight?
Silverlight is a lightweight cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in designed to create rich internet applications which is freely available for download. It enables developers to create Rich Internet Applications (RIA) and is a competitor to other RIA platforms like Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, Google Gears, JavaFX and so on. Till date, there have been two ‘major’ Silverlight releases by Microsoft: Silverlight 1.0, and Silverlight 2.0.
Silverlight 1.0 – Silverlight 1.0 applications are a mixture of XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), HTML, and JavaScript. When a Silverlight 1.0 application is run in the browser, it invokes the Silverlight control, which in turn loads up the XAML file.
Silverlight 2.0 – Silverlight 2.0 is a superset of Silverlight 1.0 and is the focus of this article. The major difference between the two lies in the fact that Silverlight 2.0 includes a refactored version of the .NET framework with CLR 3.0. This change brings along a flexible programming model and has been designed from ground up to support .NET languages like C# and VB.NET, which in turn lets you utilize your .NET skills. Silverlight 2 also supports Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) for compilation and execution of dynamic languages like IronPython, Managed JScript and IronRuby.
Silverlight 2 comes with a subset of the WPF programming model and includes support for user interface controls, layout, databinding, documents, media, and animation. Silverlight can also deliver high-quality video to all major browsers running on the Mac OS or Windows.
Silverlight 2 is just a 4.6 MB download but the benefits are huge. The download contains a stripped down version of the .NET framework in your browser. So there is no need to install the .NET framework on client machines.
What advantages does Silverlight give me over Flash?
Adobe Flash is a technology to add animation and interactivity to your web applications. Flash provides a truly amazing cross browser cross platform support to create RIA’s. Silverlight also provides similar features. Silverlight however extends these features by providing a first-class programming framework that incorporates .NET. That means that you can write code that will execute at client side using a .NET language.
Let us see some similarities and comparisons of these two powerful technologies

Timeline animation in Flash is frame based. It uses transformation matrix.
Silverlight uses timeline (vector) based animation.
Flash uses a 3rd party library to store shapes
Silverlight uses XAML.
Flash supports multiple video formats/codec’s,  however the output is proprietary
Silverlight uses an industry standard codec
Flash content can be created by using Adobe Flash.
To create Silverlight content, you can use your existing tools like Visual Studio. Another dedicated tool is Expression Blend
As a programming model, ActionScript has a huge learning curve and is not a common programming skill found in developers.
Silverlight has been developed from ground-up using the languages you are already familiar with as a .NET developer. Silverlight content can be created using XAML and a .NET language. This way, you can utilize your existing skills.
Flash provides with 2D animation graphics.
So does Silverlight
The cost of Media server licensing in Flash is more.
The cost is much lesser than Flash
Full screen video capabilities (720p) not available
Scalable full screen video available up to HD (720p)
Flash content binary in nature
Silverlight content is textual in nature

 If you are interested in some more differences, you can find an analysis report over here
Getting Silverlight
The latest release in Silverlight as of this writing is Silverlight 2 Beta 2 (commonly known as S2B2 amongst developers). Silverlight 2 Beta 2 was released on June 6, 2008. There are few changes in Silverlight 2 Beta 2 which I will be covering up in my next article.
In order to create Silverlight 2 content, you would need the following tools:
Visual Studio 2008 – You can download a 90-day trial from over here. There is also a Service Pack for VS 2008 available over here
Expression Blend – The latest offering from Microsoft to create Silverlight content is Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 Preview. Visual Studio and Expression Blend share the same project and file formats. This brings about some cool collaboration in the efforts of developers and designers.
Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008 – This add-on for VS 2008 installs the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 Runtime and the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 SDK and provides templates to create Silverlight applications using .NET.
Note: This add-on does not work on the Express editions.
Some additional tools for Silverlight can be found over here. 
Upgrading to Silverlight 2 Beta2
If you already have Silverlight Beta1 on your machines, check this article by Bradley to upgrade to Silverlight Beta 2.
That’s it for this article. We took a whirlwind tour of Silverlight 2 and compared it with an existing competitive technology called Flash. We also learnt about the tools that are required to create Silverlight 2 content. In the next article, we will cover the new features that Silverlight 2 Beta 2 offers. As we progress, I am sure you will be clearer and convinced of how this technology is going to transform the way we think about and develop web applications. I hope this article was useful and I thank you for viewing it.
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This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.

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Suprotim Agarwal, MCSD, MCAD, MCDBA, MCSE, is the founder of DotNetCurry, DNC Magazine for Developers, SQLServerCurry and DevCurry. He has also authored a couple of books 51 Recipes using jQuery with ASP.NET Controls and The Absolutely Awesome jQuery CookBook.

Suprotim has received the prestigious Microsoft MVP award for ten consecutive times. In a professional capacity, he is the CEO of A2Z Knowledge Visuals Pvt Ltd, a digital group that offers Digital Marketing and Branding services to businesses, both in a start-up and enterprise environment.

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Feedback - Leave us some adulation, criticism and everything in between!
Comment posted by santosh kumar on Sunday, June 29, 2008 12:37 AM
how to start silverlight 2.0 , you give the great article to learn.
Comment posted by Nitish vrema on Saturday, December 20, 2008 3:18 AM
this is very good
Comment posted by Nishar on Friday, May 1, 2009 7:04 AM
Respected Sir,
I want to know the step of silverlight how to use in 2.0.
Comment posted by Suprotim Agarwal on Monday, May 4, 2009 12:10 AM
Nishar: Check my article over here:

Remember that article was written using an older version of Silverlight, but most of the concepts remains the same
Comment posted by Suhani on Saturday, July 18, 2009 12:09 AM
This article is helpful to me to know about Silverlight.
I want to make website and to use silverlight in it can you help me.
Comment posted by Deepu on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 7:48 AM
Hi Suprotim Agarwal,
Nice topic covered. It help me to begin.
Comment posted by hjgh on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 6:44 AM
Comment posted by Siva on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 4:40 AM
I want to know difference between Silverlight and
Comment posted by avinash on Thursday, February 11, 2010 4:01 AM
I liked your article, as i didn't had any idea regarding this new emerging technology.But after going through this article i just got the gist of it.I will look forward to your new article on this topic.
Comment posted by Suprotim Agarwal on Saturday, February 13, 2010 12:24 AM
Avinash: Glad you liked the article. Keep a note that this article was written sometime back and now Silverlight 4 is in the release process. You can read all SL article here
Comment posted by KRISHANA KUMAR on Monday, June 21, 2010 2:57 AM