QueTwo's Blog

thouoghts on telecommunications, programming, education and technology

Thoughts on Offline Silverlight


The Blog-o-Sphere has just been abuzz since Ryan Stewart from ZDNet wrote about how the next big announcement for Microsoft’s Silverlight project is that it is going to support an Offline mode, akin to Google Gears or the AIR platform.

My question to this is why?  What is gained by having an application, that is designed to be contained from within a browser, going offline.

For those readers who don’t know what “Offline” technologies are, or how they work, they essentially allow a programmer to store content in local storage on the user’s PC (think Cookies).  This way, if the user is offline, for example, in an airplane, they can still access their content.

However, one problem with this is, if the user is offline, are they really going to go through the troubles of loading up a web browser, going to your URL, and hoping that your application is still in cache?  It doesn’t seem that this scenario is believable, or really solves too many problems.

What would be really cool is if Microsoft expanded their .NET platform to allow an easy-to-use offline mode.  In AIR, when you are connected to LiveCycle LDS, all you have to do is issue one command, and all of your managed variables are stored locally, and managed remotely.  If you are offline, you access them the same way.  Now, that is easy!  While this is possible in .NET, by using SQL Server Express, you would manually have to write the code to manage your variables’s state in either the local or remote repository, and do constant checking on both repositories.

But back to my original question — WHY.  I think that people are expecting Microsoft to use Silverlight for all it’s newest and greatest applications.  They often forget about .NET being very well deployed among Windows based machines.  The only thing I can think of is people are still waiting for Microsoft to fulfill on their original promise of “.NET will be the ultimate, because you will be able to write once, compile to the CLR, and deploy on any platform!”  For those .NET folk who say they never said that, I still have a copy of the poster I got at the .NET release party that Microsoft threw in Detroit, MI.  I mean, what is the point of compiling down to a CLR if you only support one platform?  Don’t talk about the mono project, because, that is unsupported by Microsoft.  But I digress — I’ll save my beef with the .NET platform for a different posting..

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what is truly announced at MIX.  I will be keeping my eyes and ears open to the announcements, and the future of the world ;-P


One response to “Thoughts on Offline Silverlight

  1. Jason Burton April 20, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Hey, my first post on Nicks blog. yay…

    So I do wanna comment on the offline application rambling… 😉

    The concept of an offline application at least from my understanding is a simple ‘windows’ or .. otherwise in your case perhaps a Mac oriented binary that the user would execute. However, in terms of an offline ‘web experience’. This is something kind of vague. Since really if us .net developers wanted, we could make the browser cache the content, show the user what they last visited, and then use ajax to call methods or functions to see if the application is online like predefined intervals or something….

    Thought I’d share my love for .net platform … thats what I do… (that and silverlight (beta 2 just released).)

    I am very greatful still I have nick as a friend, we’ve got alot of development time together (most of which was him developing and me just ‘bla bla bla’) lol.

    Just came across your blog and had to make my mark 😉 I rarely get any time for my blog at http://www.jasonrules.net

    well maybe ill comment more on your other rants ;=) I like rants though, gives a new meaning to free speech. (isnt the world about open-source?) lol..


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