PDC 2009 Day 2: Second Keynote – Silverlight 4 Announced

The second keynote given today focused on the Silverlight platform. As it turns out, 45% of users have Silverlight installed on them, and Microsoft has risen the bar with the new Silverlight 4!

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Announcing Silverlight 4

Silverlight 4 was just announced at the beginning of the session, and the entire keynote was devoted to reviewing and demoing the new features it provides.

Media

  • Webcam and Microphone – Silverlight 4 allows connecting to a microphone and webcam and performing a variety of pixel shader effects on videos and video image analysis such as a barcode scanner.
  • IIS Smooth Streaming – Smooth Streaming analyzes the network available bandwidth and quality, and allows streaming both live video and on-demand video with rewind, pause, fast forward and more. A small network connectivity malfunction occurred while trying to demo IIS Smooth Streaming working an iPhone but we believe this works.

Business Applications

Application development with Silverlight just got a lot easier with support for the following features:

  • Printing and Print Preview
  • Rich Text Control
  • Clipboard Access
  • Right Click
  • Mouse Wheel
  • Implicit Styles
  • Drag/Drop
  • Bidi & RTL
  • HTML Controls – These control allows some amazing HTML manipulations, such as using an HTML page as a brush (even if the HTML has a running video inside of it!)
  • Commanding and MVVM
  • Additional Controls

Data & Networking

Data & Networking features added for Silverlight 4 are:

  • Share Assemblies Across SL and .NET 4
  • Data Binding Improvements
  • UDP Multicast Support
  • REST Enhancements
  • WCF Improvements
  • WCF RIA Services

Visual Studio 2010 Integration

Silverlight 4 now integrates even better with Visual Studio 2010:

  • WYSISYG Design Surface
  • XAML IntelliSense Improvements
  • Data Bindings
  • and more…

A very impressive demo showcasing development of a simple Silverlight 4 application in Visual-Studio 2010 was given. From my impression, it is now indeed very easy to bind data from various data sources including Entity Framework, ADO.NET and even nHibernate if you’d like!

In addition the new WYSIWYG design surface is truly impressive and very easy to work with. Be sure to watch the demo in the keynote video once it gets published.

Sandboxed Applications

Silverlight 4 allows running applications outside of the browser in a sandboxed manner:

  • Windowing APIs
  • Notification Popups (similar to the popups used by Outlook when new mail arrives)
  • and more…

Trusted Applications

  • Custom Widows Chrome – full control of the shape of the surrounding window when running outside of the browser.
  • Local File System
  • Cross-Site Network
  • Keyboard in Full Screen Mode
  • and more…

Silverlight 4 Performance

A main issue in the development of Silverlight 4 was performance:

  • Twice as fast
  • 30% faster startup
  • New profiling support and integrated profiling support in Visual-Studio 2010
  • Still 10 seconds to install!

Facebook Application Reference Sample

Make sure to check out and download the Facebook application Silverlight 4 demo, showcasing many of the above features.

Schedule

Silverlight 4 has three scheduled releases:

  • Beta – contains all the features and is now available for download!
  • Release Candidate
  • Release – During 1st half of 2010.

The Bottom Line

The Silverlight 4 demos were definitely very impressive and if you’re into Silverlight development or even just curious about it, be sure not to miss the video of this keynote.

This session left me wondering – if Microsoft has put so much effort into Silverlight 4, what is going to become of WPF? How to they coincide? I hope these questions would be cleared soon.

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