OpenSilver v1.0 Comes as Microsoft Ends Support for Silverlight – Visual Studio Magazine


OpenSilver v1.0 Comes As Microsoft Ends Silverlight Support

Userware, on a multi-year mission to provide an open source alternative to Microsoft Silverlight, shipped OpenSilver 1.0 just as Microsoft ended support for the popular web development tool.

Silverlight was delivered through a browser plug-in and was primarily used to create rich internet applications, providing features similar to Adobe Flash such as playing music, videos, animation, etc. As the plug-in approach faded in favor of modern web constructs like HTML 5, browser support declined until it only worked with aging Internet Explorer. . Finally, Microsoft ended support for IE earlier this month, spelling the end of Silverlight 5, the latest and greatest release. The Silverlight site is still online, but the installer is gone. Microsoft doesn’t actively kill Silverlight apps, but those who dare to use it will do so in unsupported scenarios and it won’t even get any quality or security updates.

Silverlight’s demise has been ridiculed for years by a loyal fan base of developers who loved the tech and voiced their opinions. Many developers have also expressed reluctance to embrace new Microsoft technologies that flourish for a while, then lose their appeal as the business moves in other directions. This can leave them stuck using a dead end development tool with no forward momentum, making them “Silverlighted.”

Microsoft did not give in, however, and for alternatives, the company suggests two ways forward for the non-web and web development camps:

  • For browser-less projects migrated to a Windows desktop app, Microsoft recommends migrating to WinUI 3 with the Windows App SDK, which was previously called Project Reunion.
  • For web apps, the company recommends taking a look at Blazor, which allows developers to reuse .NET Silverlight code. “Blazor lets you create interactive web user interfaces using C # instead of JavaScript. Blazor applications are made up of reusable web UI components implemented using C #, HTML, and CSS. Client code and server code are written in C #, which allows you to share code and libraries. “

The client-side version of the latter option, Blazor, is powered by WebAssembly, which allows compilation of C # code in the browser instead of the ubiquitous JavaScript that is basically used in every web application.

And it’s also WebAssembly that supports OpenSilver, one of the many projects that over the years have come forward as a replacement for Silverlight.

The .NET section of the OpenSilver showcase
[Click on image for larger view.] The .NET section of the OpenSilver showcase (source: Userware).

“OpenSilver is a modern, open-source, plug-in-less reimplementation of Silverlight capable of running large and complex legacy applications, as well as newly written C # and XAML applications,” Userware said on Oct. 12, the day Microsoft released ceased to support Silverlight. .

“Developers around the world have put a lot of effort into building countless Silverlight applications over the past 15 years. OpenSilver offers them an alternative to rewriting them. It allows their existing code to run on every browser, so they can take advantage of their .NET skills and focus on new enhancements instead. ”

The genesis of the project goes back years Visual Studio Magazine reported on Userware’s C # / XAML for HTML5 (CSHTML5) in early 2018. Then last year came the launch of OpenSilver as a technology preview.

About a year and a half later, v1.0 was announced. “The development of OpenSilver was driven by the team’s strong belief that developers should not be forced to rewrite existing applications due to a change in the underlying stack,” Userware said this month. this. “The thousands of Silverlight applications still in production bear witness to this. Silverlight’s end of life was announced in 2011, when a technical barrier arose: browsers would one day stop authorizing plugins. Still, many developers stuck with what they considered to be a valid platform for more than a decade because it worked very well for their needs. OpenSilver has worked to remove the obstacles of Silverlight and improve the underlying technology. ”

The Paris-based company’s press release serves as a sort of FAQ for the project, answering questions about migration, feature equivalency and more.

Regarding future plans, the company said, “The team is continually expanding the API coverage of the Silverlight platform and improving OpenSilver’s ability to migrate WPF applications (in addition to Silverlight applications). Future versions of OpenSilver will also include new features, such as the ability to support applications written in VB.NET and those using the Microsoft LightSwitch component. ”

More information (and a download) is available on the OpenSilver website, while the source code can be found on GitHub. The press release is available here.

About the Author

David Ramel is editor and writer for Converge360.

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