Silverlight’s future at DevExpress

ctodx
22 December 2014

Over the past year, it has become increasingly apparent to the Microsoft development market that Silverlight has become sidelined. Silverlight 5, the current major version, was released December 9, 2011, three years ago. Apart from a series of minor updates occurring at roughly 6 month intervals, the only code changes have been security updates propagated through Windows Update. Compare that with the rapid-fire releases of Silverlight 1 through 4 (Sep-07, Oct-08, Jul-09, Apr-10) and you soon begin to wonder what Silverlight’s future portends.

Driving on road towards the setting sun © rasica - Fotolia.comNow, first things first: Microsoft have provided a standard Product Lifecycle for Silverlight that states, in summary, Mainstream Support for Silverlight 5 will end on December 10, 2021. (Support for Silverlight 1 – 4 has already ended.) That’s the official news.

Apart from that, there is no real explicit news about Silverlight’s future. Last month, when Microsoft were open-sourcing .NET Core 2015, talking about Visual Studio 2015 and ASP.NET vNext, and providing early bits for testing, there was a blog post detailing a roadmap for WPF, but, tellingly, there was nothing about Silverlight. For all intents and purposes then, we are left with the impression that Silverlight is in maintenance mode.

From my viewpoint, I’d say this: the overall strategy of the web application market is moving away from the requirement for browser add-ons. It’s HTML5 and JavaScript and client-side controls and web services and simple deployment and the cloud. Not that Silverlight can’t do any of the latter things, but it’s no longer what the market is steering towards. Application frameworks like Silverlight and Adobe Flash have had their day: HTML5 and JavaScript are rapidly becoming the de-facto web application framework. This is especially so when you consider the burgeoning market for responsive/adaptive web apps that target tablets and phones: there’s no Silverlight there. We are clearly seeing this trend in our own sales statistics too: throughout 2014 it’s been obvious to us that customers want to write web apps but don’t want to write Silverlight ones.

The one thing about Silverlight that is still valid today and into the future is XAML. From its early beginnings in WPF and Silverlight, XAML has grown into a cross-platform user interface definition language. We now use it for WPF, WinRT, Windows Phone, and soon-if-not-now Universal Apps. The legacy of Silverlight the framework is essentially Windows Phone, but that of XAML is across all platforms.

Based on this analysis, we made the decision to put our Silverlight controls into maintenance mode as well – in fact, we have already forked the code. We will not be providing any new functionality for our Silverlight controls but will provide maintenance updates to fix any issues as and when necessary. We have already stopped selling DevExpress Silverlight as a separate product (either as a new subscription or as a maintenance subscription) and it is now only available as part of DXperience or Universal.

We regret having to make this decision, but we feel our XAML development expertise and resources are going to be better spent in the future being targeted at WPF, WinRT, and Universal Apps. As always we welcome your feedback about our future strategy, so please feel free to email management@devexpress.com or comment below.

21 comment(s)
Mark Harby
Mark Harby

Fair enough.

23 December, 2014
James Zhong
James Zhong

Any comments about XPO's future? It seems that XAF wizards in recent versions encourage Entity Framework adoption.

24 December, 2014
QUALCO SA
QUALCO SA

sad but fair.

25 December, 2014
Erik Damgaard 1
Erik Damgaard 1

Very sad.

There is a long way to 2021.

Silverlight is an execelent technology. It is WPF just made broader and essier to deploy.

It is supported on Mac and you get the "app-experince".

Silverlight is like WPF and it would not have been a problem to keep updating Silverlight, when you update WPF.

When did Microsoft add new feature to WinForm ?.  You still update your Winform products.

Just because Microsoft does not add new features for Silverlight and wants us all to do WinRT, should not mean that you have to do it.

Remember Microsoft makes decisison based on politics. Not on common sense.

26 December, 2014
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Erik: "Silverlight is like WPF and it would not have been a problem to keep updating Silverlight, when you update WPF." Not so. Although the underlying layers are extremely similar, the user experience is not. We have found that we have quite a bit of work to port the user experience from WPF to Silverlight, and given the slump in sales of DevExpress Silverlight, we decided that this work was no longer viable.

Cheers, Julian

26 December, 2014
Erik Damgaard 1
Erik Damgaard 1

I bought the "Universal Subscription", but I only use the Silverlight so fare. So I guess that you do not count me for a Silverlight user, even that my primary reason for buying was the Silverlight product. How many are there of my type that buys the full package, but only use Silverlight ?

With so many Mac computers sold, I find Silverlight very attractive. You get the same richs experince on Mac and PC.

Now you do not have a product for a Mac computer any more !!

28 December, 2014
Dennis (DevExpress Support)
Dennis (DevExpress Support)

@James: This is just alphabetical sorting. As I wrote to you in the past answering a similar question, we are proud of XPO and all that it offers. We support it and certainly want to improve it. If you have suggestions, please let us know.

29 December, 2014
Crono
Crono

Not a surprise, the whole industry - Microsoft included - is turning its back to Silverlight in favor of HTML5. It was only a matter of time before DX and other 3rd party controls vendors followed.

Although SL is a fantastic platform, in the end it's pointless to spend resources on it if it stops being supported.

That was the right call, DX.

5 January, 2015
Crono
Crono

Erik,

"When did Microsoft add new feature to WinForm ?.  You still update your Winform products."

It would be a mistake not doing so. WinForms has been used in the industry for what, 13 years now? There's far more resources and expertise for WinForms - both required and available - than there will ever be for Silverlight.

5 January, 2015
Christen Blom-Dahl
Christen Blom-Dahl

Julian,

You could put the programming resouces no longer needed in Silverligth development into FireMonkey. As a result you could offer a solution for the mac, ios and Android platforms.

13 January, 2015
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

@Tecnologia: I'm assuming you're jesting, because of course XAML and C# and .NET are nothing like Delphi and FireMonkey. There is no chance of redeploying the developers in that manner.

In fact, the Silverlight team weren't actually a team, per se. We have an XPF team who deal with all XAML controls, no matter which platform, and it is that team that maintained the Silverlight product (and still develop the WPF and the Win8 XAML products). Nowadays they also provide input into our new Xamarin Forms product.

Cheers, Julian

14 January, 2015
K. Müller
K. Müller

Silverlight is the best solution for easy to distribute

enterprise LOB tools. Changing the UI from Silverlight

to HTML5/Javascript may be a solution. But we have a large

business class library, written in C#, that is shared by

WinForms- and WPF-Applications, a custom Application-Server and a range of silverlight tools.

Duplicating this library with Javascript is not really an option.

Do you have any suggestions how to use the same business library with Desktop- and Web-Applications without Silverlight?

2 February, 2015
Erik Damgaard 1
Erik Damgaard 1

Is there any plans to bring your Windows 8 XAML up to the level of WPF (and Silverlight).

Since Windows 8 XAML goes into the App-store, we have the easy distribution that Silverlight gives us.

I would love to have the big WPF package as a Windows-Store-App library as well !

8 April, 2015
STEWART GOMES TELES
STEWART GOMES TELES

Well now you killed an application that runs on MAC, the product is not bad and strange the company take this attitude without even consulting the customers 'us'

12 June, 2015
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Stewart: First of all, as I intimated here in this 6-month-old blog post, we've removed our Silverlight suite from v15.1. We have not removed it from v14.2, and we are still providing minor updates to that version as and when necessary. So all you have to do is continue using v14.2 for your Silverlight apps.

Please note that at some point, probably in about a year's time, we shall stop updating v14.2. We generally cease updating the last version for a particular technology one to two years after we remove support for that technology.

Even when I wrote this blog post last year, we'd had a dramatic fall off of Silverlight customer numbers. It was already no longer viable for us in a business sense to continue providing new functionality for Silverlight. I'm sorry that you feel differently about the prospects for Silverlight, but we had to call it as we saw it.

Cheers, Julian

16 June, 2015
Dean Perry ToolHound
Dean Perry ToolHound

I also bought the dxExperience Library for Silverlight and it's removal is not even mentioned in the What's New section of the new release. That's a pretty big issue for those of us using it. Also the project converter could mention something about not supporting Silverlight. Just wasted a ton of time installing and trying to convert for nothing.

23 June, 2015
Radosław Czwojdrak
Radosław Czwojdrak

Last Silverlight controls version is 14.2.9 with is not supported on VS 2015 yes?

So to get full support from you we need to develop using VS 2013 and 14.2.9 controls yes or am I wrong?

14 August, 2015
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Radosław: You raise a good point. I don't know, so I'm checking with the team. My first reaction is to say, yes, you can develop Silverlight apps with v14.2.9 in VS2015, but let me get the definitive answer. I'll be back.

Cheers, Julian

14 August, 2015
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Radosław: OK, I got the official word from the team :)

You *can* develop Silverlight apps in Visual Studio 2015 with DevExpress v14.2.9 (or a later minor version, of course). If you find any issues, please contact support in the usual manner.

Cheers, Julian

14 August, 2015
Radosław Czwojdrak
Radosław Czwojdrak

@Julian: Glad to hear it - thank you :)

15 August, 2015
David Weston 1
David Weston 1

Julian, I know you're going to mention that this is an old blog post, but I just wondered whether DevExpress would consider donating their SL controls to the community for Open Source?

Alternatively how about a free download of the latest version (SL only obviously) with no support?

31 December, 2015

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