OpenSilver approaches open-source parity with the long-dead Microsoft Silverlight – Visual Studio Magazine


OpenSilver is nearing open-source parity with the long-dead Microsoft Silverlight

OpenSilver 1.0 was released exactly a year ago, on the exact date that Microsoft Silverlight’s official support period ended, and offers an open-source alternative to the developer favorite that effectively died years earlier. Now it has been updated to v1.1, getting closer to functional parity with the framework it was intended to replace.

Microsoft Silverlight, delivered through a web browser plug-in, enabled interactive media experiences, rich business applications, and immersive mobile apps. It was particularly useful for rich web applications with features similar to Adobe Flash, such as: B. playing music, videos, animations, etc.

silver light
[Click on image for larger view.] silver light (Source: Microsoft).

The web development framework was so popular that its rejection sparked years of angst among developers, who loved it and felt cheated when it was killed. It has become synonymous with Microsoft’s alleged practice of investing heavily in a new technology that resonates with users, only to be phased out, effectively letting them and many existing projects down.

This fear was so pervasive that we wrote the article “A Decade Later, .NET Developers Still Fear of Being ‘Silverlighted’ by Microsoft” last year. This was followed a few months later by the article “OpenSilver v1.0 Arrives as Microsoft Ends Silverlight Support”.

Now, almost exactly a year after Silverlight officially died and OpenSilver was born, the latter has been updated to v1.1.

The OpenSilver site describes it as a modern, plugin-free, open-source re-implementation of Silverlight that can run complex legacy applications as well as rewritten C# and XAML applications. The development comes from a development team financed by the company Userware and is carried out on GitHub.

Userware’s vision is described as follows: “We are .NET developers who believe that Silverlight was the best platform ever for building line-of-business (LOB) applications. We are sad that Silverlight is dying due to the lack of support for plug-ins in modern browsers, so we want to re-implement it using modern, open and standards-based technologies. We want to make it even more powerful than before, so developers have the tools to create amazing products that can change the world.”

The v1.1 update includes new Xaml features related to core features like animation, bindings, triggers, virtualization, etc. as well as improvements to existing Xaml features. Userware said it also boosts performance, fixes many bugs, improves simulator and VSIX functionality, and more.

The XAML Capabilities section of the OpenSilver Showcase
[Click on image for larger view.] The XAML Capabilities section of the OpenSilver Showcase (Source: Userware).

Particular highlights are:

  • More than 100 new Silverlight featuresincluding:

    • New DataGrid: Based on original Microsoft code, the new DataGrid is feature-packed and offers pixel-perfect backwards compatibility
    • Silverlight Toolkit: Most controls are now supported in OpenSilver including: DataForm, Accordion, AutoCompleteBox, DataPager, LineSeries…
    • Improved layout system: OpenSilver now supports the Silverlight APIs “Measure” and “Arrange” for creating custom panels and layouts
  • Support for additional third-party librariesincluding Telerik UI: While last year’s v1.0 version of OpenSilver already supported most popular Silverlight libraries, including RIA Services, PRISM, MEF, Unity, OData, MVVM Light and Newtonsoft, the new v1.1 version adds support for more added libraries, including:

    • SignalR
    • Caliburn.Micro
    • PostSharp
    • Black Light Control
    • Google Protobuf
    • Reactive Extensions
    • Interaction/Behaviour of MS Expressions
    • Microsoft Enterprise Library
    • 3x performance increase over v1.0
    • What’s next: VB.NET support coming soon
  • Telerik UI components that are said to be working properly now include (among dozens of others):

    • RadGridView
    • RadRibbon
    • RadScheduleView
    • RadTreeListView
    • RadChart
  • performance improvements which are said to stem from new features like virtualization, .NET 7 support, and several key optimizations. “On average, we’ve improved performance by a factor of three,” said Giovanni Albani, CEO of Userware. “We have observed this when porting Silverlight business apps to OpenSilver for our customers. Some parts of their applications now run even faster in OpenSilver than they did in their original Silverlight version.”

An important new feature will be support for VB.NET in the browser, which is expected in OpenSilver 2.0, which is due to be released early next year.

“This will make OpenSilver the only technology on the market that supports VB.NET and XAML for building web apps,” said Albani. “It will throw a lifeline to the vast number of Visual Basic developers out there who are saddened that their programming language of choice is being phased out and believe this feature will generate significant interest in the Microsoft developer community.”

About the author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.