Silverlight and the CoreCLR

by Matt 23. May 2007 17:57

So I'm only really just catching up with the fun and games of Mix07. (The kitchen has a lovely new coat of paint, the holiday was nice, but plagued with minor illness and my work project has just been put on hold. I've been busy, alright?)

I don't really want to simply regurgitate the list of new products here, but there are a few things of interest I'd like to comment on. I have a feeling I'm going to be using the word "interesting" a lot...

Of course, Silverlight was the star of the show. They've revved the beta version and apart from the rebranding, one thing to catch my eye was the use of the ASP.NET AJAX style of JavaScript (namespaces, classes, etc) in the launcher scripts. Reinforces that it's an integral part of the ASP.NET family. Nice.

But who's looking at the 1.0 beta? It's already old news - Microsoft have taken the very interesting step of also releasing an alpha version of 1.1. Is this a good way to stop the "waiting for SP1" mentality? (If so, they're using the same tactic with Expression Blend - releasing the RTM of v1 and the beta of v2 on the same day.)

Yeah, 1.1 is where it's at. I don't think anyone was really surprised with the CLR in the browser. No, I think the big surprise is that's it's not the tiny CLR - it's the real deal. It's a slimmed down version of the .net 2 runtime engine. Aside from BCL changes, I think the main thing that's missing is the CAS security model and P/Invoke and COM interop, but essentially, it's the desktop CLR. It can run side-by-side in-process with the desktop version (which could mean scary things when both CLRs want to suspend threads for garbage collection). I'm also wondering what the ramifications of this refactoring will be on the desktop version. Will any of these changes filter back up? Will the CoreCLR be a true subset of the desktop version? Or will it become like the .net Compact Framework, where classes don't have all the same methods and properties, making compatibility a bit of a challenge.

Just to show how cutting edge it is, it's based on .net 3.5 - it's got some LINQ stuff in, but no heavy duty implementations, just LINQ over objects, with LINQ over xml coming soon. Microsoft have posted a very useful little diagram with the supported namespaces and classes which shows the ambitious scope for this. The System.Windows.Browser namespace looks fun - another API for accessing the DOM? But the best bit of the diagram is support for WCF. A client side WS-* stack (hopefully with CardSpace support) in a cross platform (ah, probably not with CardSpace, then) browser plugin for just a couple of meg? I'm pretty close to thinking that's the holy grail.

I'm really looking forward to playing with Silverlight. There's a huge amount of technical innovation going on here that deserves a lot of study and comment.

Not the least of which is the Dynamic Language Runtime...

Tags:

Silverlight

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