Now that Silverlight 4 beta has been released there are tons of people trying the new bits, starting to develop applications, and blogging some great samples and ideas. You can check out all of the features from the Silverlight 4 beta Technical Whitepaper I wrote in HTML format here or download the whitepaper form this link, for offline reading.
Some of the features are fairly obvious crowd favorites such as the printing API, but my favorite feature is in fact a series of features that make up the Trusted Application support with Out-of-Browser applications. Unlike previous releases, there is no single feature that grabs me and if you look at each feature by themselves they do not seem nearly as compelling as they do as a set. So many of the features can add a ton of value in creating applications. Individually they are great features but when you combine them, you get a huge value add.
For example, the Out-of-Browser features allow you to operate at a lower level out of the browser. Sounds good, as you consider you can use the WebBrowser control to display HTML. OK, pretty cool. You can use an HtmlBrush to take that WebBrowser control as a source and display the HTML content using various elements, transforms, and effects. Yeah, now we’re talking!
Then we look at the Trusted Application features that we can use including accessing the file system. We can read files from the file system and plays audio, video, or even load HTML content from the file system into the WebBrowser control. What about interacting with Office? Sure, now we can use native integration and invoke COM Automation to start up and control an instance of Outlook or crank open a new instance of IE. What if we want to interact with local applications? Well, if they have a COM interface (or one can be created) its entirely possible.
My point is that the features themselves are great, but as a whole they are truly powerful. Recently I created a music and video player that runs OoB, similar to the one Joe Stegman created and demo’d at PDC. The application reads the local file system for media, interacts with COM to talk to save playlists to Excel, emails favorites to friends, allows drag and drop of media files onto the player, and more. i was even thinking of pulling RSS feeds and display the HTML content into the player form my favorite artists and their sites.
it is an exciting time to be a Silverlight developer. There is a lot going on and the demand for Silverlight applications are on the rise (based on my recent experience as a consultant in this space).
I’d love to hear what types of applications you are creating with Silverlight 4. What are your favorite features? What creative ideas are you generating? Please leave your comments and share!