Saturday, 21 July 2007

Flex VS Silverlight - another shot in the war

Another interesting post by Kurt Cagle on The Open-Sourcing of FLEX (no, I'm not paid to shill for Kurt - even if we do live in the same town). I've been wondering how the Flash/Silverlight war was going to evolve, but I'd missed this turn of the strategy. Kurt has some interesting points:
  • Open Source is a weapon to gain market share
  • Does this promote the slow death of SVG? And will Mozilla team up with Adobe to promote Flex? (If so, maybe this answers the question about how the OS community will provide a story to reply to Silverlight)
  • Does OS-ing Flex enhance Adobe's ability to improve the technology with feedback from OS adopters?
The battle for the client UI is going to be very interesting to watch, and the outcome is going to affect the way we design applications for a long time to come. I'd give the edge to MS in this one (much as I hate to say it) except for one thing - will they sacrifice lock-in to the Windows platform in order to ensure dominance for their client platform? That's a hard one to call...


Jonathan said...

And then there's Java FX, which is evidently Sun's response to Flash. I must confess though that I am not really sure what it is exactly.

Dr JTS said...

Yes, good point. Although I'm not clear either on exactly how JavaFX compares.

It strikes me that all of these developments are an updating of the original pitch for Java, which was to be a better environment for building web-deployable apps. Unfortunately through various circumstances (some its fault, some not) it never realized this potential. There would be a nice symmetry if JavaFX came out on top now that the world has finally accepted that they need such a solution. But this game is wide open now.

There's also Lazlo, which is the "little guy" in this horse race. Gotta admire their guts, but not sure I'd bet on them.

What would be *nice* to see is an Open Standard covering all this stuff. But I suspect this is one area which is way too complex to permit anything except a de jure standard to emerge. And that's probably a good thing, since no-one really knows how this world should best be architected.

Regina Obe said...

Lets not forget MoonLight - Novell's Open Source/Linux answer to Silverlight.

Dr JTS said...

Wow, Regina, I hadn't heard that the Mono clone of Silverlight actually had a brand name (makes sense - if MS can come up with a cheesy name no reason others can't too. Moonlight actually is very clever - plays on Silver obviously, but also the word Mono).

This will be very interesting to watch. I've been a bit sceptical of the Mono effort, since I just don't see how they can track MS's effort that closely. Surely MS doesn't want Mono to take off? Or maybe in a wierd political way they do... Or maybe they want Mono to always be not-quite-as-good... It would be bizarre if Moonlight emerged as a contender for the new UI environment, and this ended up giving Mono a lot more traction.