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Time to Stop Whining About Silverlight vs HTML5

People who know me know that I love Silverlight.  Just ask my wife or my 10 year-old daughter.  Ask any of my previous employers whom I consistently begged to let me use the technology to solve their problems.  I was there at MIX07 when Silverlight was first announced and I changed my life and bet big on this technology.  I started the PDXUX.Net User Group right after MIX07.  In 2009 Erik Mork helped me migrate that group into the Portland Silverlight User Group.  We worked with Microsoft and got a busload of 40+ user group members up to the Silverlight Firestarter event last December.  Like others, I started my own Silverlight consulting company.  I aspired to one day be awarded as a Microsoft MVP in Silverlight (yeah, that never happened).  I now create apps and games for the Windows Phone using Silverlight.  I have absolutely no regrets with how I've integrated Silverlight into my life.  Why should I?  Silverlight will continue to be a big part of my life.

Now, before you read any further you need to go watch this video where Mike Angiulo shows off Windows 8 and talks about what's coming in hardware (majority of the video) and hints at what is available for apps (29:40 in video).

I don't know about you, but after watching that video I am super excited about the opportunities coming in Windows 8.  I mean, seriously, how can you watch that video and not be excited?  Did you watch the video?  GO WATCH THE VIDEO!  Please.  :)

Let's be clear here, I'm aware that Microsoft's favorite new catchphrase is "hardware accelerated HTML".  They aren't mentioning Silverlight very much when it comes to Windows 8.  Meh, whatever.  I'm assuming Microsoft is trying to speak to non-Microsoft devs and get their attention.  Good for them.  That doesn't alienate me as a Silverlight developer.  However, this change in language is starting to pique my interest.  I mean, what if they are actually trying to speak to me?  Are they hinting at something new that I could benefit from?

Now I'm intrigued.  I rode the crest of the wave with Silverlight.  Now that I know there will be a Windows 8 app store, I want to make sure I'm at the forefront of whatever is Windows 8.  If that means learning HTML5 and CSS3, then I'm totally willing to invest that time.  I've already picked up a couple books and am reading those now.  I'm encouraging you to do the same.  Don't whine to me about having too much to learn (e.g. what's new in Mango, as well as XNA).  We're all smart people here and we studied multiple subjects while in college.  If you want to take advantage of all the opportunities in Windows 8 then you'll need to invest the time in HTML5/CSS3/Javascript now.

Also, don't whine to me and say "I did HTML+Javascript 'X' number of years ago and it didn't work then so why should I go back?"  Horse shit.  You haven't done HTML+Javascript with the tools/standards/language support/browser support that we have now, not to mention the tooling that will be announced at BUILD.  That–my friend–is a total game changer.

Honestly, it's time to stop whining and start learning.  You remember all the cynics back when Silverlight was first announced?  You remember how hard it was to get your boss to let you do a project in Silverlight back then?  You remember how it seemed they would say anything to fight this new technology?  Do you realize that is exactly who you have turned into?

Opportunity, my friends, it's all about opportunity.  That's exactly why I am attending BUILD, and exactly why you also need to attend.  If you decide to stay home and remain ignorant then you will be increasing my odds of success (I'll have fewer competitors).  But I'm a community guy and I run user groups and I try to help those around me.  All I'm saying is you need to take a hard and honest look at this and think about what this could mean to your future.  When .NET came on the scene there were plenty of VB6 developers who chose to pass on the opportunity before them and were slower in their adoption.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Just be honest with yourself about realize what this could potentially mean to you.

I know I'm going to be doing Silverlight development for a long time.  It will take a while for Windows 8 to ship, and even after it does ship, Silverlight will still be a large part of how we do application development.  Sure there will be HTML5/Javascript apps, but if you think that Silverlight doesn't play any part in the future of Windows 8, or with the Windows 8 app store, then YOU ARE INSANE.  I don't have any secret information, no one does yet.  However I'm continuing to bet heavily on the future of Silverlight, and I'm learning HTML5/CSS3 to expand my opportunities with whatever is announced at BUILD.

My recommendation for you is to do exactly the same.

tags: Silverlight | HTML5 | BUILD