There’s a lot of buzz about Silverlight 2.0 right now, and people are expecting some big announcements at MIX soon. But where the hell are the cool Silverlight demos? Offline support would bring Silverlight closer to competition with AIR, and it’s looking like SL 2.0 is going to be an actual competitor with Flex now that it’s going to have a framework of controls (SL 1.0 wasn’t even close to a Flex competitor, it was more a Flash Player competitor). All that sounds sweet, almost makes me want to download Expression Blend and try it all out, but again, where’s the cool stuff?
I figured the first place I’d look for the kick ass Silverlight demos would be the silverlight.net showcase page by Microsoft. I mean, there HAS to be sweet stuff shown there right? Um, not so much. I checked out each of the demos on the main silverlight.net page and here’s what I found:
- Infragistics Silverlight demos
This site has a few screenshots of some charting stuff in Silverlight. The charts look pretty good in fact (heh, at this point anything that doesn’t look like the default Flex charts feels “fresh”). But the Infragistics demo site itself (which is a Silverlight app) is slow as balls and doesn’t impress me at all. It feels clunky, the animations are rough, and is just kinda boring.
- Silverlight book flip effect
On the Microsoft Action Pack (wtf is that?) product page they use Silverlight for that amazing book flip effect. I won’t rail on this too hard, but suffice it so say I think the book flipping thing is an awful idea 99.99% of the time (that .01% of the time it was actually useful was the anatomy example Ely Greenfield did, that was the only time I’ve ever thought book flipping was useful). The Silverlight flip effect was super slow (like in the unusable way).
- Microsoft Dynamics
I think the only use of Silverlight on this page is for a non-interactive animation. Consider me unimpressed. But maybe I’m missing something since the site’s in Italian. Does this Silverlight demo do more than simply play a short video?
- Sanremo Anche Noi
This app’s actually pretty sweet, it’s a well designed video showcase. It’s simple, basically just lets you browse various videos, but does a good job at showing good quality video is designed well. There’s nothing jaw dropping here, but it’s a solid, well designed experience.
This is a store that sells animal skins and heads and stuff. And as much as I want a big animal head mounted on my wall… But seriously, the site uses Silverlight for a few small animated effects, but it comes off feeling like an old, poorly made Flash site, complete with that scrolling news-ticker thingy to show product specials.
- Vodafone Interactive TV
Another video site, complete with a skip intro movie! Ahh, back to the good old days. Seriously guys, if you want to do the whole “better than Flash” thing then don’t take us back to the skip intro era. The site itself is pretty simple, again just showing off a bunch of videos.
Yes, I am aware of the Silverlight showcase, and I’ve been browsing through a little bit, but it’s hard for me to wade through so many apps in order to find that one amazing example that blows me away (yet to be found). I did find this example though, which was cooler than the ones on the front Silverlight showcase page.
- Microsoft TechDays
This is a pretty cool design that lets you drag around polaroid looking photos that play video. Cool concept, except it runs pretty slow on my machine, which destroys the smooth dragging and resizing effects. I can almost guarantee I could make the same concept that would feel smoother and slicker as a Flex app.
This all feels like old, bad Flash
I feel like I’m in a time warp. These example apps all feel like old Flash sites to me. They feel clunky and slow (is that because I’m on a Mac?). They even have design elements that people used to use but have since been demonized and cast aside (skip intro, news ticker).
Show me something I can’t do
I have yet to see a single thing that I can’t do with Flash/Flex. Now I’m not saying that Silverlight is worthless unless it has sweet features above and beyond what Flex (or Flash Player) can do. Having a competitor is a good thing, it’ll keep Adobe on its toes (H.264 anyone?) and drive innovation. But for all the hub-bub about how Silverlight is going to be awesome, I have yet to see anything awesome being created. It all feels slow, clunky, and poorly designed (that last part isn’t Microsoft’s fault obviously). I just want one thing that makes me sit back and say “Holy shit! THAT’S what you can do with Silverlight?” Just give me that, throw me a bone.
I had that moment when I saw Pavan Podila‘s WPF example of doing 3D layouts with WPF. That blew me away (he made it back in June) and I realized that WPF ain’t nothing to fuck with. If you get 3D out of the box and can create such fluid layouts, I may just have to start learning WPF. Granted, you can do very similar things with Flash, but Pavan’s videos are just so damn smooth and responsive. BTW, Pavan’s a really cool guy, I met him at 360Flex just recently, and he’s one of the few guys I know who rocks both WPF and Flex. We’re lucky to have him on the Flex side (Pavan’s on the Degrafa team) because not only is he a smart ass dude, but he has a whole different perspective because he knows how they do things in WPF. For those that haven’t seen, here’s a video that Pavan made to show off 3D layouts in WPF:
So I know most of the people who read this blog are Flex devs, and that the crossover is pretty slim, but in case anyone knows of the dopest, most jaw dropping Silverlight demo they’ve ever seen that would make me mess my pants, send me an email. I don’t necessarily mean an actual application, I just want to see something cool. Maybe there’s some sweet stuff hidden away on blogs (I know there are tons of cool Flex demos on people’s blogs). Bonus points if you have something that does cool data visualizations stuff. And yeah, I’ve seen the tafiti demo, don’t send me that one. And super double bonus points if the app wasn’t made or funded by Microsoft.