Impacts of Silverlight for a Flash Programmer

I have been thinking lately about what impacts will Silverlight have on me as a Flash Programmer. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really threatening. It could have been threatening in the sense that it could have made Flash obsolete and make me loose future jobs at the same time. But the thing is, Flash is such a good technology, it’s been around for a long time, the community supporting it is amazing and Adobe has big plan for it, Silverlight would have to be packed with a lot of feature in order to shake Flash’s position in the market. I don’t think it has just that.

It’s true that videos in Silverlight look good, but now with the moviestar release of the Flash Player, I don’t think one is better than the other on that characteristic. It’s nice for programmers who know .net, they can just jump right in and start programming Silverlight applications (maybe with a small learning curve). Good for them, .net programmers are already in demand, now they are going to be even more in demand, their salary is going to increase, so does the cost of building a Silverlight application.

One of the thing that Flash as always suffered was the penetration rate of the Flash Player, as a proof, website using flash 9 are now starting to emerge even if its been more than 6 month since it’s been release. Silverlight will suffer even more as people are not willing to download anything anymore. Flash as the chance to be adopted by huge website like Youtube and Facebook and has been around for way longer, people trust the Flash brand.

A big advantage Flash has over Silverlight is all the documentation lying around the web. If you want to know how to do something in Flash, just Google it, it’s that easy. Also open source projects like papervision3d and Tweener are just amazing.

For all these reasons, I don’t think Flash programmers have to be afraid for their jobs because of Silverlight and that for at least five years. I actually think Silverlight is a good thing; a little competition never hurt anyone, Adobe will have to keep improving Flash which is very good for us.

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  1. #1 by Gavin Doolan - May 20th, 2008 at 12:33

    Interesting post, I myself tend to agree that Flash has a huge head start and that many users (including myself) do not want to install Silverlight just yet. I was on a guitar tab website just the other day and noticed that it was asking for the Silverlight plugin to be installed. I’m just not interested yet, until I can see an advantage or reason to use it.

    I myself can’t stand .NET or programming in it. However I can see a huge advantage in using it for Silverlight, I don’t like Actionscript that much. Although I do use it here and there, I prefer to use the timeline for simple animations.

    Do you know of any websites that have stats on Silverlight penetration rates? It would be interesting to see how many are using Silverlight. Which reminds me I’ll have to check and see if Google Analytics records this data as it does for Flash.

  2. #2 by dgelineau - May 26th, 2008 at 13:12

    I don’t know about the penetration rate of Silverlight and I have checked Google Analytics and there is no metrics on it yet, but I guess this will change soon.

    What is funny also is that Microsoft doesn’t seem to be pushing their new technology so much. I guess they are waiting for it to be more robust before they start making microsite with it or pushing it trought automatic updates.

  3. #3 by MacManzo - July 12th, 2008 at 22:25

    Want to know why your Flash job is safe? Because MS is never going to finish Silverlight. What do they have now? A beta of silverlight that endusers can’t use, that only works with .NET 3.0, that needs Visual Studio 2007.

    I guess you should worry if they ever finish it and make it programmable with Visual Studio 2003 and 2005. But come on, what are the odds of that happening? Really. You’re more likely to die from a lightning strike than to lose your job because of Silverlight.

  4. #4 by dgelineau - July 16th, 2008 at 15:21

    I’m not so sure Microsoft will not finish Silverlight; why wouldn’t they? As for the Visual Studio 2003 and 2005 thingy, I am sure it slowed the adoption rate of Silverlight a bit, but I don’t think it is such a bad move, in the sense that you have to start somewhere and maybe this will boost the adoption rate of Visual Studio 2007 instead.

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