Avastone Technologies LLC

SharePoint and Silverlight: A Perfect Match

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You might have heard about Microsoft Silverlight as a competitor to Adobe Flash Player. Outside of Netflix and development on Xbox Live, you probably have not thought much about it, if at all. Nevertheless, An Information Week article helps us understand that Silverlight is a robust XAML-based development platform that has found an ideal mate in the enterprise software world: Microsoft SharePoint.

Leveraging the power of the .NET Framework, Silverlight can go far beyond being simply a delivery tool for streaming video or animation. Strategically placed on a SharePoint page, developers can use it to deploy entire applications, widgets, or other useful tools.

Bob German and Paul Stubbs firmly believe in the viability of integrating the two and have documented it in their book, SharePoint 2010 Development with Silverlight . Their reason for writing the book was that they found little coherent documentation on the use of Silverlight in SharePoint development, and the documentation they did find was scattered across numerous Microsoft developer and third-party sites. They even went a step further.

“We also document stuff that didn’t exist, techniques that did not exist anywhere,” Stubbs said.

When SharePoint developers work with Silverlight, a prime advantage over other development tools is that they do not have to leave the Visual Studio environment. Everything they need: SharePoint, Silverlight, and .NET is already there and nicely integrated, ripe for innovative development.

Microsoft Silverlight is also ideal for enterprise because it works on multiple browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and the mobile Windows Phone 7 platform.   For those companies that need iPhone, iPad, or Android support, however, German and Stubbs acknowledge that developers might want to look to HTML5 standards for extended mobile development.

One of the advantages of Silverlight is that developers can ensure the cross-platform applications they develop will work as intended, whereas HTML and Javascript tools often vary in performance and functionality across various browsers and operating systems.

“It doesn’t add any new capabilities to SharePoint, but it lets you take the capabilities that are there and integrate them in a new way,” German said.

By Avastone Technology, Wisconsin Microsoft SharePoint Partner


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