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Silverlight RIA

One thing for sure there hasn’t been a dull moment in technology for a while.  The ever increasing pace of change can make it almost as challenging as picking stocks to know which technology to choose.

HTML is one of the interesting technologies because it has been the foundation of the web evolution.  Without going back on a history trip, lets just agree its been around for a while.  Last updated with the HTML 4.01 specification back in 1999, and with a new HTML 5 specification in the works.

Recently, there’s been a lot of hype around HTML 5.  In fact almost enough you might think it’s ready to go and fully supported.  But as Philippe Le Hegaret simply stated on the W3C blog “HTML 5 isn’t a standard yet”  The first draft of HTML 5 can be traced back over a year to January 2008.  The most recent draft was just recently published.  One challenge with HTML 5 is not all the players have been at the table.  In fact Microsoft has just recently joined in, up till now it’s been a Google/ Apple show.

What’s the rush for HTML 5?  Simple, HTML hasn’t kept pace with other emerging RIA technologies like Flash and Silverlight.  HTML 5 promises a lot of fancy new features like built in video, audio, and local data storage to name a few that will close the gap.  This has lead some to speculate if HTML 5 could be the death to Flash, Silverlight and other RIA technologies. I wouldn’t call your florist and order flowers for the funerals just yet….

Why you ask?  HTML 5 is in a fight with some very nimble competing technologies.  The RIA space has been fire with new features being released at neck breaking speed. Most RIA technologies like Flash and Silverlight have streamlined their release cycles to 9 months or less because they don’t have to battle it out with a standards committee.  Most of the competing technologies simply depend on the object tag in HTML to host their plug-in and then they manage the plug-in area as they see fit.    That means that Adobe only has to agree with them self for Flash changes, and same for Microsoft with Silverlight.  HTML 5 has two big challenges.  First, getting all the players to approve the new specification.  Second, and probably an even more challenging aspect is to get it implemented in a consistent way in enough users browsers.  Even today, with the push towards standards in IE8 most the time unless you have a real simple page it won’t look the same the first time you run it in the different browsers.  In fact, sometimes they look radically different!

Like movie sequels you can’t help but think are we just trying to make HTML like all the other popular movies instead of letting it do what it was designed to do originally.  By trying to morph it to be closer to RIA technologies do we risk causing even more fragmentation?  I know for me, writing an application that just works in different browsers and even out of the browser is compelling.  Anytime I spend time working on resolving a browser compatibility issue I feel it’s 100% wasted time that I could have spent building something with higher business value.  Am I against standards?  No, I think they have their place, however, the more complex they get the harder it is to get consensus and compliance. 

So what do you think about HTML 5? Should we start a pool of when it will finally be approved? 

Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2009 2:40 PM | Back to top

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