Silverlight vs HTML5? Now vs Tomorrow.

Several people have asked me – much to my astonishment – what I think about the PDC-originated kerfuffle about Silverlight and HTML 5. I’m primarily a Microsoft-stack developer, my current day-job project is using Silverlight 4, I’ve got a side-project using Silverlight for web, desktop and Windows Phone, so you’d expect the future of Silverlight to be important to me, right? And to a certain extent, it is. But what’s much, much more important to is the right now of Silverlight.

All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.

I’ve been a professional software developer for over 20 years now. My first job, I coded in Informix ESQL/C. Then they released Informix 4GL, so I started using that. When the client-server thing happened, I evaluated a handful of new development systems, picked one, and started using that. (It wasn’t Informix’s offering (New Era), because that was rubbish. And I never liked VB, although I have used it for creating COM components because it’s easier than doing it in C++.) Since 2001, I’ve been using version after version of C# and .NET, and various associated frameworks.

At every stage of this evolution, there was a “next big thing” that I knew about, and probably played with a bit so I could form an opinion and be ready if it ever became the current big thing. Most of the time it didn’t. Projects got killed, or technology moved so fast that by the time whatever it was got off the drawing board it had already been superseded by something newer and more improved. What I learned, eventually, was this:

Whatever you’re using right now, however well you know it, however much you love it, one day it will be gone.

This is true of everything. Time marches on, faster and faster. The world changes, hopefully for the better. And the way to deal with it is to perform a tricky balancing act, where you take as much happiness as you can from your immediate situation, but also embrace transience and change. That’s not my idea, by the way: Siddhārtha Gautama thought of it two-and-a-half thousand years ago. I’m just paraphrasing.

In summary, then:

Silverlight is here right now, and I like it a lot, and I’m enjoying using it to develop applications for all the platforms it supports.

One day, Silverlight will be gone, and I will use whichever I like best of the things that are to come.

That’s pretty much all that matters.

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