"I need X, why are you doing Y?"

05 June 2008

We're now at the end of day 3 of the TechEd Expo and another interesting day. For the first time we felt the effects of having the Expo area open at the same time as the sessions: the traffic today was slower and we were able to really get into some deeper conversations without fear of interruption.

Two conversations stood out in particular today. The first riffed some more on the install issue that I'd talked about in an earlier blog post from Tuesday.

The second was about Silverlight. A particular customer who uses and likes our Windows Forms and ASP.NET products was wondering why we weren't doing more for Silverlight. He'd recently -- essentially as soon as Silverlight 2 beta 1 came out -- decided to abandon the ASP.NET version of his product, already fairly well advanced, and delve into Silverlight for his rich internet application. He was fairly derisory about vendors selling simple WPF controls, dressed up, "I can do that myself with the standard controls in Silverlight with XAML", but was really hurting by the lack of the more complex controls.

In essence: "we've made the switch completely to Silverlight, why don't you?"

As I explained, there was just no way we could countenance that. Our development teams are not split up by platform necessarily, but generally along product lines. To take an example, our scheduling products are all produced by the scheduling team. Creating a Silverlight version of XtraScheduler would be within their purview, and doing so immediately at the exclusion of everything else would mean that our current scheduler customers would suffer through lack of attention.

That really goes for the entire product suite really: switching over to a single platform immediately means that all our customers suffer, except possibly for the few that need Silverlight controls as soon as possible.

No, we'd rather approach the problem carefully and develop WPF and Silverlight controls in a measured fashion, making sure that we respond and cater for our existing customers with new functionality and features, while all along developing these XAML-capable controls in tandem. And we are doing so, although I can't talk about what we're doing yet apart from the controls we've already announced and already shown off in demos, etc.

I can't say that this particular customer was pleased with the answer, but it is the only answer I could give.

Indeed, there were a couple of other customers who came up today and asked about various controls for either WPF or Silverlight (One was asking for a property grid for Silverlight, essentially meaning our vertical grid would have to be converted.) I gave the same answer: we can't do everything at once, but we are working on more controls than we've announced so far, and, no, I can't give out any release dates.

I agree that Silverlight is impressive technology and I certainly believe that it will be big once released. But it is still in beta, Microsoft are still actively developing the framework for it, we don't want to particularly replicate controls that they must be developing internally, and so we're developing for it in not such an overtly aggressive manner.

But, make no mistake, we are developing for it.

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