Flecks Flash By…

There is a posting going around about how some part(s) of Microsoft are using Flash or some other not-Silverlight technology and how even Microsoft doesn’t believe in Silverlight, blah blah blah.  I’ll leave it to people who have investigated and who care to straighten out this silliness, but I will say that from what I can tell, there are a lot of post-hoc ergo prompter hoc errors floating around.

The good news is that this prompted a discussion with a very bright member of our community (ew, what a phrase; take two:) with a buddy that I thought I would post here, cutting down his comments and fixing up mine to make them seem much more incisive.

After some back and forth, this lead us to a discussion of his desire to choose to work in Flash or Silverlight, but really not to try to work in both for any length of time, and did I have any thoughts on the matter.

I wrote…

…for me it was never a question. Microsoft’s commitment to Silverlight is unquestioned and core; and as a developer I focus on (a) the commitment, (b) how does it fit into the lineup of development products and (c) what tools can I use and (d) what is the customer base.

As a .NET programmer for 8 years, Silverlight fits in perfectly, and the commitment to Xaml, first for WPF, then Workflow, then Silverlight, and the backflow from Silverlight to WPF, and the promotion of Scott Guthrie to VP, and the hiring of Ray Ozzie, and the creation of the Expression tools and the people they hired to head those teams, and the creation of the Developer Liaison Group that I work in, and more that I can’t talk about in terms of commitment to Silverlight going forward,  all add up to a place I had no doubt I wanted to be and that I still want to be.

….speaking as an individual and not as a Microsoft employee (which I’m told is not possible) I personally would base my decision [as to which to commit to] on what is predictable and not on what is unknowable. So, what can we know with reasonable certainty:

1. Both companies are likely to be around in 5 years, as are both products in some form

2. Both products are likely to evolve, especially in response to one another and for all we know there will be an unexpected third player to come along when we least expect it

3. There will never be an objective view point (who would provide it?) – see my blog post on don’t believe anything I say

While I have a friend who has made a great living by being a jack of all trades, that never appealed to me. Like you, I’d rather stay in one general line of technology; there is enough to learn that I won’t get bored.

So, which? The answer to that (and here I am clearly not talking for anyone but me) is to ask yourself if you have a strong stake in either camp.  If you have a strong stake in the Flash/not-Microsoft camp, then I suppose I’m supposed to turn you over to someone who can tell you why you should switch… 

If, like me, you have a strong stake in .NET then it is a no-brainer because everything I’ve seen and heard convinces me that Silverlight is the right place to put my chips (no warranty expressed or implied). 

Then a final observation, one can complain all one wants about Microsoft, but my experience for the past two decades is that the arc of our products (especially  development products) is that they get better over time, usually a lot better and usually quite quickly.

So, I quit 12 years of happy independence and came to work on the Silverlight team. I just passed the 1 year mark, and I’m committed for at least another year. I can’t make a stronger statement than that.

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About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty is an independent consultant and programmer with three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects. He is the author of 2 dozen books and multiple Pluralsight courses, and has been a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP, Microsoft MVP and Telerik MVP.
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