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David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"

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12 comments   /   posted by Ivan Dragoev on Apr 08, 2009
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Categories: White Papers


Silverlight 3 is on its way with tons of new goodies. But each technology has to be well accepted from the business users in order to be successful. But what can help the business to take such a decision? We, at, think that sharing experience is a good start.

This article is a part of our “Shared Experience” initiative that aims to give a place to every person or company that has experience in a commercial Silverlight product or project to share that knowledge. If you are one of them and you are willing to participate, download and answer our questions. In return, we will publish not only your answers, but a white paper of the Silverlight solution you have.

Let’s take a look at what David Kelley from IdentityMine has shared with us.

Who David Kelley is?

David, that would be me, for the past 10 years has focused on distributed application design and emerging Microsoft technologies on the web. Having helped design and build some of the largest systems for companies like Microsoft, Onyx Software, Saltmine, Giordanous Group, IdentityMine and more, he has been on the leading edge of applying the latest tech to real world business problems. David's technology breadth includes everything from SQL Server to Windows/WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) and Silverlight. David's accomplishments also include developing new technologies such as self editing XML files and related XML technologies to fuzzy logic systems and advanced web user interface design. As to Silverlight in particular David built some of the core Popfly blocks in Silverlight, and many more Silverlight applications including Chart Controls, media players, multiple Silverlight Hacks and was part of the team that built the Entertainment tonight Emmy site in Silverlight. He was the lead on the Silverlight community site and built the Silverlight demo for BG's TechEd 08 keynote. David has also done Silverlight Reporting for Ray Ozzie CSA Microsoft.

David, Silverlight 3 seems more close to the business than before with all the new cool features announced there. But is it really ready for commercial applications?

Absolutely. Granted Silverlight 2 didn’t have everything but we used it in a number of solutions where it was able to provide a better more completely tooled story then other environments for building Web 2.0 User eXperiences. With Silverlight 3 the story only gets better for building rich UX LOB apps.

What are the key improvements in Silverlight 3 that will speed up the adoption from the business compared to Silverlight 2?

Key improvements around data binding, animations and especially improvements to blend with the sketch flow functionality really help us in delivering solutions. This improved process will make it easier for us to push adoption of Silverlight 3 vs. Silverlight 2.

When Silverlight is the right choice for business usage, in which cases?

Silverlight is the right choice for business usage on a number of cases. For us the most important case is speed to market of solutions which is related primarily to tool-ability and workflow and to improved support for key design patterns such as MVVM. Other key business cases include user experience where a Web 2.0 experience is going to save in learning time and will be easier to use. Another key business case is the fact that Silverlight can provide the web 2.0 experience on any platform with the best tool-ability story. In other words I can have the same code base with the best user experience and visualizations and get it done faster than with other platforms.

What about reporting / printing in Silverlight – it is crucial for each LOB application?

I work in SL3 now entirely and the printing story is good at least for what I have been doing as of late. I have not tested to make sure it is entirely consistent across all support platforms though but would expect it to be relatively consistent. There are also a couple of things to consider when 'printing' Silverlight apps. For example, say I have a pie chart that is in a grid set to some size on my page. If I print it or rather print that 'page' that it is on it will render the largest size allowed in a given space so if your relying on HTML page size remember that is different than printer page size and Silverlight will try to be smart enough to figure that out and 'help' you by rendering or changing height and width to fit printer size which is not always a good thing. That all being said from my stand point it is solid enough to support LOB. In the case of the most recent executive reporting system we had the app designed to launch a page where we pass some params to render the same chart w/o the controls and other app chrome and we would fire the print command via html and it works great, although w/o color some of the Silverlight hotness is a bit black and white. :)

Are there cases in which Silverlight is not recommended and if yes, why?

We, in the high end UX development shop, are going to only shy away from Silverlight with even more rich UI issues come up. For example Surface development or complicated real time 3D we would go to a WPF model. For Mobil development we would shy away from Silverlight even though Silverlight for mobile application development is coming.

Are there companies in your client’s list, which have already worked or are now working on Silverlight projects?

Microsoft, DPE Microsoft, more Microsoft, Entertainment Tonight, Accela, Accruent, Forbes, Seattle PI, PhizzPop, Hotel 1000, plus several financial firms, professional sports and more.

Can you tell us in what industry are they and a bit more about the projects? Your answer will help people from the same or related industries to consider using Silverlight as solution.

Our clients are all over the map but we have a number of clients in the financial vertical and hospitality vertical as well as lots of R&D stuff for Microsoft.

You know in concurrent environment, the speed and the quality of the provided products and services are essential for each successful business. Does Silverlight improve the development speed and quality?

Certainly with our team it does. Granted some of that is the fact that we have been doing it since day one.Many of our key developers and designers have worked with WPF and then Silverlight on those teams at MS but really the enabling point for those deeply integrated teams is the tool-ability story of Silverlight.

What do you think about the Sketch-Flow – does it reflect the real business processes of developing products?

Sketch-Flow makes some of our key processes much easier. In my role and many of our designer roles they are evolving into more of a UX architect then a designer, information architect or programmer. And the idea of a UX architect becomes much easier with Sketch-Flow allowing the actual mockups to evolve into the real thing.

It seems that Silverlight has almost everything needed by the business, but what about the third parties? What more could they offer?

Besides the current features, the underlying Silverlight environment is more open with Silverlight 3 because we are now able to write custom pixel shaders, and have the file and bit streams more accessible. Thus we are able to write custom video codex and we have more advanced controls. Silverlight is a deeply enabling UX technology for the next generation systems, from 3rd party control vendors to clients and everyone along the food chain.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

More Silverlight please :-)



Comments RSS RSS
  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by brian on Apr 08, 2009 10:06
    What is the reporting / printing story in Silverlight?  I can't believe this is not mentioned for LOB applications or in this article.  Everybody is so blinded by "UX design" experiences.  The first thing my customers say to me when I show off Silverlight capabilities is, "wow, that's a pretty interface.  How do I print it?"  And "Okay, show me the reports."  Today, you have to cludge reporting by opening a new browser window and use html.  Sorry, in my opinion Silverlight 3 is NOT ready for business.
  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by idragoev on Apr 08, 2009 10:10
    Hi Brian,
    thanks for your comment.
    Definitely, reporting is one of the most important features needed in each LOB application.
    We will add this question in our list...

    However, threre are some solutions to that problem but if you are looking for Silverlight solution check

    Ivan Dragoev
  • good read, more on Sketch Flow?  

    posted by David on Apr 08, 2009 12:03
    Good read, thanks for the post - I would like to hear more about Sketch Flow, it's pretty good stuff and should be highlighted in SL3 discussions with a little more explanation than is usually given (I know it's early still).

     great site, bookmarked!

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by DavidJKelley on Apr 08, 2009 13:46

    here is the presentation at MIX about.  there is a short demo in the key note too:

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by Alan B on Apr 09, 2009 04:00
    Yep, printing and reporting need to be *seriously* addressed - and not exclusively by expensive third-party approaches.
  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by Andy B on Apr 09, 2009 04:16

    Thanks for asking :-)

    For me another 'Silverlight Hole' is the lack of mouse event support. Despite the i-style touchscreen gestures on display at Mix, most real business users will still be using the computer mouse for at least the next decade. At the coal face when, for example, showing Deep Zoom in full screen mode ( a big silverlight tick ) people ask of their user experience, "why can't I use the scroll wheel?" Silence.

    It's these little 'hygene factors' that make Silverlight feel like a product in a perpetual state of Beta. That is, a solution not ready for business.

    If developers don't believe in Silverlight, why should anyone else?

    Andy B

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by MAQ on Apr 09, 2009 05:36
    The support from third party vendors is very limited. There are not any architecture or application frameworks which makes the development easier. I would love to see vendors coming out with their own application frameworks on silverlight platform which can make silverlight development breeze and improve the efficeincy and quality deliverables. This will help software companies to go live earlier with their new products.
  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by Brian on Apr 09, 2009 09:37


    Yes, I am aware of that reporting solution.  I've been watching it's progress in beta for months now. 

    The point of my original post is to understand what Microsoft's reporting / printing strategy is for Silverlight.  There has really been no guidance on this topic.  Is it XPS? XAML? SQL Reporting Services?  Are they working on a printing framework?  The fact that there is so little information from Microsoft tells me they are still in the process of figuring this out....which is okay, it's just that you won't see a lot of LOB applications until they do.

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by Ward on Jul 04, 2009 09:44

    I agree that we'd all feel better if Microsoft said more about its plans for Silverlight printing and reporting.

    On the other hand, a little perspective, please. Reporting is only one of the functions of an LOB application and far from the most important. The first order of business is to build an application that does something useful in an efficient and effective manner. There is something fundamentally wrong if printed reports are the centerpiece of your application. I thought the days of band printers and rivers of ink were behind us.

    Most ASP LOB applications have no intrinsic reporting capabilities at all. Banking sites, trading sites, purchasing sites offer the most primitive of print and download options. You typically fire off some server process that generates a report for pickup ... often a PDF ... often viewed and printed from a separate browser window. You can do that today in Silverlight.

    Sure it's less than ideal ... and something should be done ... but the lack is far from fatal for LOB, IMHO.

    Finally, I don't know why anyone building an LOB application would think Perpetuum ( pricing is "expensive". It isn't free, but it's not outrageous. You are building a business app, yes? Then Time to Market and ROI ought to mean something to you. Btw, I have no affiliation with Perpetuum.


    You can also go after SL 3 for missing mouse wheel support. Lack of decent context menu support bothers me too. But ... let's get real ... these are annoyances. You are really lost in the weeds if these are the reasons you can't make SL3 work for you.

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by Ward on Jul 04, 2009 09:58

    I think we'll be hearing a lot more from 3rd parties over the coming months. Not just in the UI Control space either.

    As long as you asked, I might as well throw my hat into the ring. If you are looking for a robust and low-hassle way to get data to and from your Silverlight application, check out DevForce at

    Compare it with RIA Services or CSLA for Silverlight.

    MAQ might find what he is looking for in the way of an "application framework which can make silverlight development a breeze and improve the efficiency and quality of deliverables".

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by phang on Jul 08, 2009 13:11

    let's say i build application in siliverlight. For printing report, i'll need to customized the report for viewing, export to pdf and printing. Can we do that easily in silverlight?

    I am building closely 70% the applciation. But now, i am stucked on the report. I need to put the company logo, customize soem fields, allow for printing. especially bulk printing for letters. how can this be achieved with silverlight3?

  • RE: David Kelley on "Is Silverlight 3 ready for business"  

    posted by Craig on Sep 21, 2009 06:26

    I am sorry to say that silverlight 3 is not ready for business for all of our potential projects,  LOB absolutely requires out-of-the-box printing support as well as ability to view xps and other document formats. While there may are third parties who are providing solutions, I find it a hard sell to have thirdparty solutions approved by business and government clients, esp. when this is a fundamental requirement of LOB applications. While Silverlight 3 is a huge leap forward there are still these areas that need to be addressed to become part of the client solutions tool box.

    We can not spend weeks to get a third party component approved, prior to committing to a particular development path.


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