Microsoft Silverlight 2
A New Way to See the Web
Over the past year Microsoft Silverlight has led the way for developers and designers to create
compelling media experiences and rich Internet applications (RIAs) on the Web via an easy-to-
use, quickly installed browser plug-in. With the release of Silverlight 2, Microsoft Corp. is
delivering a wide range of new platform features and tooling options that enable designers and
developers to better collaborate while creating more accessible, more discoverable and more
secure end-user experiences.
Silverlight is one of the fastest-growing browser plug-ins in history, both in terms of customer
adoption and consumer installations. In 2008, Silverlight powered the 2008 Beijing Olympic
Games (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/ms-olympics/default.mspx) and the
Democratic National Convention (http://www.demconvention.com). In addition, companies such
as CBS College Sports Network, Blockbuster Inc., AOL LLC, Hard Rock Cafe International
Inc., HSN Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp. are using Silverlight to provide a unique and dynamic
Web experience for their customers. Silverlight has also been widely adopted throughout the
developer and designer community by means of the Silverlight Partner Initiative. With more than
150 companies in the program — 120 of which have joined in the past year — it is a vibrant
ecosystem of agency, solution provider, content delivery network, independent software vendor
and independent hardware vendor partners, which are delivering some of the most innovative
Silverlight experiences on the Web today. Finally, consumer installations of the Silverlight plug-
in are growing rapidly, with penetration in some countries approaching 50 percent.
Openness and Interoperability Support
Proving its commitment to openness and its support for interoperability, Microsoft is funding a
project to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the open-source Eclipse
integrated development environment (IDE), will publish the Silverlight Extensible Application
Markup Language (XAML) Vocabulary Specification, and will make the Silverlight Control
Pack available as open source software.
“We have been very pleased to have a project proposed to create Eclipse tools for Microsoft
Silverlight,” said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. “This
proposed project will provide Eclipse developers with the ability to leverage Silverlight and Java
Web Services when developing rich Internet applications. Having a strong endorsement from
Microsoft for this project is a clear sign of their support for Eclipse and open source
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• The Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight Project will integrate advanced Silverlight
development capabilities into the Eclipse IDE and Eclipse Rich Client Platform. Developed
by France-based IT solution provider Soyatec, the project is funded by Microsoft.
Increased interoperability. Eclipse will contain functionality that will help Java
developers build Silverlight applications that work better with Java Web Services using
representational state transfer (REST), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP),
Silverlight Project System and Silverlight Compiler. Eclipse will contain both an
advanced project system for creating Silverlight applications and media experiences and
a compiler for packaging Silverlight applications for deployment.
XAML editor and preview with code hinting and code completion. Eclipse will
contain an advanced, standards-compliant XAML editor with code hinting and code
completion, which helps detect and correct coding errors.
Full compatibility with Microsoft’s development and design tools. The XAML and
Silverlight projects created by Eclipse will be fully supported by both Microsoft Visual
Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio tools.
Results. See the picture below for a glimpse of a Silverlight application being created in
Availability. A preview of the bits was posted today at http://www.eclipse4sl.org under
the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0. Customers can use the SourceForge project site
to submit bugs and feedback or contribute to the project. The release candidate is
scheduled to be available free for download by spring 2009.
Road map. Although the first version of the Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight will
be optimized for the Windows version of Eclipse, the project plans to offer full support
for the Mac and Linux versions of Eclipse in a later release.
• By publishing the Silverlight XAML Vocabulary Specification under the Open
Specification Promise, Microsoft will better enable ISVs to read and write XAML for use in
Silverlight projects in other design and development software applications, thus accelerating
the creation of a robust authoring and server ecosystem for Silverlight. This documentation
release complements Microsoft’s existing published specifications of the XAML object
mapping rules and XAML vocabulary for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).
• By making the Silverlight Control Pack available as open-source software, which is built on
CodePlex and released under the Open Source Initiative-approved Microsoft Public License
(MS-PL), Microsoft is helping developers easily customize and ship their own expanded
controls, augmenting the powerful built-in control set that already ships in Silverlight.
Featured controls in the Control Pack. DockPanel, WrapPanel, ViewBox, Label,
HeaderedContentControl, Expander, TreeView, NumericUpDown, AutoComplete and
Accordion are available.
Advanced skinning support. The Silverlight Control Pack will provide additional
control skins and templates to customize the look and feel of both the core Silverlight and
Control Pack controls.
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Learning opportunity. Developers can learn how to create their own advanced
Silverlight controls by using high-quality Microsoft source code as a starting point.
• Growing tooling support from partner ecosystem. Tool support for building Silverlight-
enabled applications continues to grow, with partners such as Captaris Inc., Telerik Inc.,
ComponentOne LLC, Infragistics, Software FX Inc., Intersoft Solutions Corp., Developer
Express Inc., K2, Gizmox and RemObjects Software LLC providing products ranging from
forms layout and rich interactive components to workflow, programming languages and
“Microsoft is thrilled to see the momentum building around tooling support from our
partners,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division at
Microsoft. “The breadth of these partner offerings enables Silverlight developers to build
evermore sophisticated and capable applications, further broadening the appeal of Silverlight
for use in a wide range of scenarios.”
New Features in Silverlight 2
Highlights of new features of Silverlight — which are fully supported by Expression Blend 2
SP1 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 — include these:
• Expanded .NET Framework language support. Unlike other runtimes, Silverlight 2
supports a variety of programming languages, including Visual Basic, C#, Managed
one of these languages to repurpose their existing skills.
Cutting-edge RIA development. With Silverlight 2, developers do not have to pay the
With support for languages such as Ruby and Python, Silverlight 2 enables developers to
be on the cutting edge of RIA development, creating Asynchronous Ruby and XML
(ARAX) and Asynchronous Python and XML (APAX) applications.
• A rich base class library. A compatible subset of the full .NET Framework gives developers
the most comprehensive RIA runtime on the Web today, with unparalleled data access
capabilities, local data caching and local data storage, superior input-output (IO)
performance, and better threading. By leveraging the rich base class library of the .NET
Framework, developers can minimize the amount of additional code they have to write for
Building better AJAX applications. Silverlight 2 includes APIs that enable the creation
Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) and LINQ to XML library support.
• Powerful built-in rich controls allow developers and designers to quickly build applications
through a rich set of built-in controls such as DataGrid, ListBox, Slider, ScrollViewer and
Calendar. With the rich controls built into Silverlight 2, developers don’t have to start from
scratch when building the controls for their rich Internet applications.
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• Advanced styling and templating support gives designers and developers complete control
over the look and feel of an application to ensure the custom brand experience for their rich
Internet application meets their exacting requirements.
• Rich UI Library. Silverlight 2’s UI Library, a compatible subset of the WPF user interface
framework featured in the full .NET Framework, makes building rich Web applications
easier. The powerful graphics and animation engine enables developers to reuse skills, code
and content to build rich applications for the browser that can be rapidly ported to the
desktop and devices.
Better support for higher-level UI capabilities. The UI Framework in Silverlight
contains support for higher-level UI capabilities such as layout management, data-
binding, styles and template skinning.
• Comprehensive networking support enables Silverlight users to leverage the power of
the .NET Framework’s Windows Communication Foundation and directly access resources
on the Web by supporting cross-domain network access.
Out-of-the-box support for calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS and standard HTTP
services enables users to create Web 2.0-style applications that easily integrate with
existing heterogeneous back-end systems.
• Advanced content protection features, now including Silverlight digital rights
management (DRM), Powered by PlayReady. Silverlight DRM builds on Microsoft’s
extensive expertise in developing DRM technologies, delivering robust protection for key
Silverlight scenarios including live streaming, on-demand streaming and progressive
downloads for connected experiences.
• Improved server scalability and expanded advertiser support. The combination of
Silverlight 2 and Windows Server 2008 offers streaming video professionals industry-leading
scalability and cutting-edge progressive download features. In addition, Silverlight offers
superior search engine optimization capabilities and advanced in-stream advertising support
through companies such as DoubleClick Inc. and EyeWonder Inc.
• Unparalleled interactivity with high-resolution content through Deep Zoom technology.
The new Deep Zoom technology in Silverlight allows users to see images on the Web as
never before. The smooth, in-place zooming and panning that Deep Zoom allows is a true
advancement and raises the bar on what image viewing should be. It is also now possible
through this feature to make super-high-resolution images easily consumable on the Web.
Even better, Deep Zoom is designed in a way that will reduce Web hosting and bandwidth
costs by sending to the browser exactly the right size and resolution image for the current
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An early build of the new Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight Project, running on the Windows Vista version of Eclipse
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