Flex 3 and Silverlight

InfoQ recently published an interview with me about Flex 3 and Silverlight. In the interview I talked about what I see are some of the differences between Flex and Silverlight. After reading my words again I realized that they may come across as critical of Silverlight. I don’t at all intend them to be taken that way. Silverlight is helping to bring the idea of richer and better user interfaces to the masses. This vision is something I believe in and I’m glad that Microsoft and Sun (with JavaFX) have all now embraced the RIA vision and are making significant investments to make it reality. Silverlight and JavaFX, have validated the programming and deployment models which Flex uses. The combination of things like a declarative language, a procedural language, cross-platform bytecode, a high performance VM, vector graphics, and a web browser plugin have been the foundation of Flex based RIAs since 2004. Silverlight and JavaFX have validated that this is the best way to build a successful RIA platform. So please don’t read my comments on Silverlight and JavaFX as being critical. I’m excited that Microsoft and Sun now believe in the RIA vision. But I’m also glad that I get to evangelize the RIA solution which is proven and available today.

  • James,
    I for one felt like you gave an honest assessment of the current RIA landscape, as Adobe is clearly leading the charge. As we all know, Microsoft’s presence will soon be felt in the RIA space through sheer size and power, and their willingness to stick with products until they are competitive (to their credit). I personally wouldn’t say the same for JavaFX, as Sun doesn’t show the same commitment to their offerings.

    Ultimately, I agree with you and believe that Silverlight will be good for Flex. Hopefully creating a competitive environment similar to Java and .NET where they push one another to get better, but in the analogy it is 2001 for Silverlight.

  • Reminds me of a quote on Dave Wolf’s blog:

    “Microsoft not only agreed to fight, they agreed on the weaponry – player based RIA’s with Vector Drawing, Tweens, Animations and Choreography. In other words, Microsoft just told the world, yes Flash and Flex’s biggest selling points versus the rest of the RIA space are indeed the right approach and will be the future of how new RIA’s are built.”


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  • Rob

    Actually that’s not 100% right. Adobe actually came after MSFT in the desktop space. As I recall, there was supposedly some unspoken agreement where Macromedia didn’t infringe on MSFT desktop space and MSFT didn’t come after Flash. After Adobe bought Macromedia and had plans to come after the desktop, MSFT retaliated in kind. I wouldn’t have expected anything less either…you can’t go after the alpha pack leader and not expect a fight. And when that pack leader is the 800 pound gorilla, it should be unsurprising that they not only fight you, but try to rip out your heart / livelihood — hence Vector Drawing, Tweens, Animations and Choreography