Out from the dark of the lab and into the silver light

18 January 2008

We're in Nevada, so what else are we going to call our super-duper secret research center? Meet Area 51.

Today, we've unveiled some of what we've been working on over the past two or three months with regard to Silverlight 1.1. Er, sorry, that's now Silverlight 2.0. Got to keep my facts straight. I've been dropping hints about it for a little while, especially after DevConnections in Las Vegas last November when we showed it off to a couple of interested people, but this is the first time we're uncovering it for the general public.

Area 51 (I'll give the real URL in a moment...) is our web page for showing off our prototypical work with Silverlight 1.1 Alpha release. It shows three layout controls, used for displaying many items that are similar. Rather than me describe it all here, I'd recommend you go take a look.

But before I give you the URL, I have to give a few points of order.

1. Download the Refresh version of Silverlight 1.1 Alpha from Microsoft. The easiest way to get it is to go to silverlight.net and click on the links. Do not navigate to our web page first and hope that Silverlight 1.1 Alpha will be installed automatically. For reasons that are too tedious to relate, Silverlight 1.0 will be installed instead and Area 51 won't work. The Silverlight version of the Refresh is 1.1.20926.0.

2. Silverlight 1.1 Alpha is, well, an alpha release. Duh. Apart from the Silverlight team at MS, who knows what will be appearing in the next (an actual beta?) release. Our layout controls are therefore a very pre-alpha release. They will be changing. Do not assume that what you see is what you will eventually get when we release way off in the future.

3a. Talking of releasing, no, there is no release at this time. Area 51 is "just" a demo. There is no source to be had. I'm calling our layout controls a pre-alpha to emphasize that we're only showing them off now to disclose to you, our customers, what we're up to. Similarly there is no pre-compiled assemblies to be had, or documentation, or help, etc. What you see in Area 51 is all there is at the moment. Remember: things will change, and probably quite drastically as MS go through the implementation of Silverlight.

3b. And also talking of releasing, no, we don't have any concrete release date, either for the final thing or for an actual get-your-hands-on-our-bits beta. Do not assume that we would be releasing anything the same day as Silverlight 2.0 (whenever that is) or the following week or anything like that. I hate to be pedantic and boring and to have to say these things, but, even now, we get customers who make firm commitments based on some comment that we may let out inadvertently and then are upset that we let them down.

4. I can personally vouch that Area 51 works with IE7 (7.0.5730.11) and Firefox 2 (, since that's what I run on my machine. And as I said, you must make sure you have installed Silverlight 1.1 Alpha Refresh (1.1.20926.0) manually.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for. Ladies and gentlemen, behold Area 51.

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Robert Fuchs
Robert Fuchs

Sometimes i do not understand Devexpress.

There are great and existing MS technologies like WPF, WCF and WF.

That is RELEASED STUFF since late 2006, but instead you are dealing with ALPHA crap from Redmond:

"Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be,

the future`s not ours to see, que sera sera.

What will be, will be."

18 January 2008
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)


We do have more than one developer, you know, and we can follow several development paths at once. It's not all banging on WinForms, ASP.NET, WPF, or the IDE interfaces here. We do have to try out some of the new things, the things that are coming up (a GoLive beta of Silverlight 2.0 is promised for Q1 this year, and that's less than 2.5 months to go). As it happens, Area 51 was implemented by one senior developer.

And of course, in this announcement, I haven't said anything about the other things we're doing. The article is not about them -- they'll be talked about in our roadmap.

And to be honest, this stuff isn't crap. I think it's quite revolutionary and may change how we all develop apps in the future. Of course, I'm a CTO and I look further out than most and therefore can run into the problem of stepping in something nasty right in front of me.

Cheers, Julian

18 January 2008
Alex Hoffman
Alex Hoffman

How can Silverlight be a success when it just doesn't work out of the box on Firefox for a significant percentage of users?

I have installed 1.1 Alpha Refresh manually, and am using Firefox  As with all my other attempts, when I go to your page I am prompted to install yet Silverlight again!

19 January 2008
Ben Hayat
Ben Hayat

Julian, I have no doubt DX team will have one of the best and most top-quality controls for SL. I'm very happy to see DX is  reassuring us that they are on the top of SL development.

Can you tell me what that number (top left corner of logo) is that changes as I move the mouse or other activities?

19 January 2008
Mick Seals
Mick Seals

I am very glad you are looking into the Silverlight platform.  I am an experienced .NET developer who recently did some Flash work and Adobe simply does not know how to do a development tool.  Microsoft nails it.  This is the real reason Silverlight will succeed.

I have to say however that I think right now the installation procedures for Silverlight are a total mess.  It is bad enough to make me doubt that SL will succeed before MS gets its S together on this.

I have installed, uninstalled, upgraded, gotten latest, removed latest, etc etc etc.  Yet still whenever I hit a Silverlight page I am often presented with the 'Install SL' dialog.  When i try to install, it fails because I have a newer version!  Does this mean that the more recent versions of SL are not backward compatible!  ?????  I am incredulous that a technology with so much promise as SL would be stiffled by such a S***ie install and upgrade 'strategy'.

Pisses me off actually.  Because I want it to succeed.  It wont if this keeps up.

And WTF is an alpha preview that requires us to uninstall the prior version?

20 January 2008

Hi Dev fellows,

Ive been seeing the latest efforts on Silverlight, must say this is still unstable. Its not Dev's concern, since its something MS should be looking after.

What Alex posted is correct, SL is still not working ok in FF, and I got the same msg, telling me I havent installed Silverlight yet...pretty frustrating.

But you are right I guess, you have to work with what you have available...

21 January 2008
Ben Hayat
Ben Hayat

Guys, SK1.1 was a "proof of concept" that had a few minor versions and depending on which runtime version you have on your machine and which version the developer used to build his app, you may get inconsistencies at runtime. However, as Julian pointed out the runtime version of SL, that runtime version(1.1.20926.0) seem to be the best one.

Simply uninstall SL version 1.0 and Version 1.1 first, then grab the latest version from Silverlight.Net and install that.

With that version, I've tried it on multiple browsers (including FF 2.x) and works well (some speed issues, but runs).

Starting with 2.0, MSFT will have a cleaner version to start with.

Let's all give support to DX team to gives us their best. You'll be happy you did...



21 January 2008
Vlad Filyakov (DevExpress)
Vlad Filyakov (DevExpress)

Ben, the red number in the top left corner of the SL demo page is the actual frame count. It is calculated by the demo. The value provided to the SL plug-in during initialization is 100.

22 January 2008
Chris Vickerson

You guys produce great stuff - Thanks for the demo.  I can't wait to play with the real thing.

23 January 2008

I haven't been able to see the point of Silverlight until I just saw this demo. I've been busy learning about WPF, WCF and WWF coming from MS in addition to my dayjob with is to make Winforms apps and ASP.Net apps for pocketpc on barcode scanners, so I've just read some about Silverlight and have seen a few demos. But this is the first time I can see how it can be put to good use.

This is awsome stuff Julian, looking really great !

Any chance for more preview's of the WPF stuff you're (hopefully) working on soon ?


Best wishes

Kai Bohli


26 January 2008
Tamas Szaniszlo

I get Silverlight error message:

Error code: 2254, Error type: PARSEERROR, in PAGEMAIN.XAML, Line: 56, Position 82

31 January 2008
Jon Shern

Are you just working on layout controls, or are you going to be developing controls similar to the win forms controls?

Will you be doing any kind of beta with this product, if so how do I get on the beta test team.



5 February 2008
Don Robertson
Don Robertson

I do not understand why developers stay with Microsoft iwth all of this installation and versions issues. We have been redeveloping an old Delphi legacy app user Adobe Flex 3 and you do not have these issues and you have usable third aprty controls and ir runs on Windows, Apple, Linux and in all Browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera)


13 February 2008

Don, SL 1.1 was an Alpha; now it is 2.0 and in Beta.  Any piece of software that is under development is going to follow a different development model.  Yes, versions will change quickly, feature sets will differ from version to version.  You're comparing a baked product to one under development.  

Congratulations, I'm glad you can build something that works; I'm sure you will get a nice pat on the back in the Delphi forum where your comment belongs.

25 March 2008

I also would like to see silverlight work as I have a stake in this for an RIA implementation. But as I currently see the future, silverlight 2.0 has a some major problems with stability. After visiting liquid silverlight, a site that specializes in silverlight controls, it caused my browser to become highly unstable. While the silverlight portion worked, once I navigated to a site away from the silverlight, it caused any external IE window to hang upon creation. The only way to fix it was to reboot the machine. Not even going to task manager to kill the processes fixed the problem. It didn't matter which site you visit after. If the site created a new window, it caused a complete hang on IE after visiting a silverlight site. I did not install any prior versions of silverlight other than version 2 and I am running IE7 currently patched to the latest version. I need something like this to be super stable, and right now we are invested in the .net platform. So even pushing out a small test version of the ria won't do us any good if it causes them to lose work in other parts of their system unrelated to our app. It would be a really hard sell to explain to a customer that the thing we trusted was more like an alpha software versus a beta software.  

19 August 2008

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