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The pointless comparison: Silverlight vs. HTML 5

, 22 Nov 2011 CPOL
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Why Silverlight vs. HTML 5 is a pointless comparison.

Never believe rumors..

Once again the internet is overflown with more rumors and “news” about Silverlight being dead or that HTML5 will “kill” Silverlight, and yes….! also that Flash is dead. The main reason why rumors like that spread out so quickly is that the news will travel faster depending of the popularity of the author or the media, rather than relaying of his/her technical knowledge.

And we have very popular bloggers that write articles like this one. Also there is the anti-Microsoft feeling... nothing we can do about it, right?

So if you type in Google “Silverlight vs HTML5” or a similarly query, you won’t be pointed to the right direction. You will likely get a lot of entries that are not exact in terminology, and then even when is not the author’s intention, they are just spreading a false rumor.

Why Silverlight vs. HTML 5 is a pointless comparison

The model
  • HTML5 is a document model that relies on JavaScript language for scripting purposes.
  • Silverlight is a full RIA Framework that is language independent. 
The front end
  • HTML5 even with the use of SVG, will rely on HTML tags and CSS for layout and style. And if you have ever done a web page, you know is not that easy to make it look the same in every browser.
  • Silverlight relies on XAML, which is a deterministic engine for graphics.
The languages
  • HTML 5 has JavaScript.
  • Silverlight has C#, F#, VB.NET, IronPyton, IronRuby, check this page to so how you can use dynamic languages using the DLR.
The tools
  • While there are incredible good HTML designing tools,  JavaScript development/debugging are not mature enough like:
  • Microsoft Visual Studio, Expression Blend. But  also many other editors/IDEs for other languages such as Ruby and Python.
It runs on?
  • HTML/JS are interpreted by the browser. So the behavior is browser-dependent.
  • Silverlight code runs on top of the CoreCLR.
Also important.... HTML5 is not finished. And as it has happened with all previous HTML/CSS versions. Even after is completed, not all browsers will support it in the same way. We have seen it before.
The video streaming market share ...
About 80% of the people I have asked about this subject, think that Silverlight will be dead because now HTML5 have video capabilities (although limited ones). If you really consider that this only feature will be enough to overthrow Silverlight or any other RIA framework, including Flash, then you need to read again what a RIA framework is.

To sum up
These two technologies are not in competition by definition, we see all the time mixed applications that make use of both of them. The best choice is to select the most effective path to accomplish a task. And for now, combining HTML5/JS with Silverlight and yes, why not.. also Flash, seems as the best choice.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Leonardo Paneque
United States United States
Leonardo loves to code with C# on any platform and OS.
He has a Master degree in Computer Sciences and likes to share code and ideas.
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmemberefarr8-Apr-14 6:57 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberLeonardo Paneque8-Apr-14 10:33 
Questionwaising my time PinprofessionalBravo9229-Jan-14 0:23 
QuestionMicrosoft Dynamics CRM : HTML5 or Silverlight ? PinmemberMember 1036798029-Oct-13 6:30 
AnswerRe: Microsoft Dynamics CRM : HTML5 or Silverlight ? PinmemberLeonardo Paneque29-Oct-13 6:47 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmembersanthosh.vavilala10-Oct-13 22:27 
Questiondo you expect Windows to run everywhere? PinmemberAlex Cohn29-Nov-11 3:39 
AnswerRe: do you expect Windows to run everywhere? PinmemberLeonardo Paneque29-Nov-11 9:08 
QuestionThat's not entirely true... PinmemberRoey C28-Nov-11 21:56 
AnswerRe: That's not entirely true... PinmemberLeonardo Paneque28-Nov-11 22:26 
GeneralRe: That's not entirely true... PinmemberRoey C28-Nov-11 22:32 
GeneralRe: That's not entirely true... PinmemberLeonardo Paneque28-Nov-11 22:38 
GeneralRe: That's not entirely true... PinmemberRoey C28-Nov-11 22:42 

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