Silverlight 4 is out…

…just a word of caution for developers: if you are still developing with Silverlight 3 and VS2008 don’t install the Silverlight 4 runtime. If you do, you won’t be able to build your SL3 application anymore and you’ll spend the next hour

a) looking for a way to make your app build again

b) looking for the SL3 runtime (that you won’t find anywhere –and won’t correct the situation anyway).

This problem should not arise if you are already on VS2010 because it allows you to choose your target between SL3 and SL4, but if you are stuck with VS2008 you are out of luck.
It seems that the folks at MS think that everybody can just go ahead and migrate all their solutions to VS2010 and SL4 the next day things are released.

Epic fail! Rant over.

P.S. the correct way to make things work again is:

– uninstall the Silverlight 4 runtime (listed as “Silverlight” in the Programs & Features panel)
– restart your machine (no, you cannot skip this step!!!)
– download the Silverlight3 Developer Runtime and install it (hurry up because as soon as they’ll notice they will remove it from the download server!)

And no, you won’t be able to view SL4 websites –but at least your app will build.

UPDATE: forget the rubbish above. If you install the Silverlight 4 developer runtime you will be able to run SL4 apps and build SL3 apps (of course if you had the SL3 SDK). Just don’t install the “normal” SL4 runtime.

WPF is dead. Long live WPF!

Some months ago I read in a blog post that Silverlight ate WPF from the inside. I had a good laugh and thought it was the most foolish thing I’ve read in a while. I even posted a comment that (thankfully) never got published. Having worked extensively with both WPF and Silverlight I thought the two things were not even remotely comparable. While WPF provided great power, Silverlight was full of limitations and getting any real work done was frustrating and painful.

Turns out I was wrong. Completely wrong! This week I attended TechDays (the small version of MIX that Microsoft does in European countries) and while nobody says it explicitly, the strategy at Redmond seems pretty clear. Silverlight is progressing at an impressive pace and WPF is not getting many exciting improvements. The gap is still there (still large to say the truth), but seeing SL reach and eat WPF is not that difficult. I think MS is pushing in that direction with all their forces.

Out of the browser was almost a gimmick in SL3, but with SL4 they revealed their cards: they added so many features (even COM support when running in Windows) that it’s now doable to build a desktop application entirely based on SL. You can even deploy it directly on the desktop without any browser interaction.

I’m pretty sure it will only take a few of years for Silverlight to be the Windows UI library, with the big bonus of true multiplatform, small runtime and web deployment with a single codebase. WPF won’t loose anything as it will just be part of Silverlight.

This is the future I think. Unless I’m completely wrong again.