BizTalk360 and future of SilverLight

Published on : Oct 6, 2012

Category : BizTalk360 Update



In the last few months I have heard this question at least dozen times from  existing customers and new prospects. I replied back to them via email and in person during presentations. I’m sure there are lot of people out there with the same question in mind. So, I thought I’ll write down my views and plans for BizTalk360 (in relation to SL) here. image When we decided to build BizTalk360 back in February 2010, we know for sure we are going to build a web based console.  The next decision we had to make was whether to build it using standard platform (mobile, desktop) independent HTML application or take advantage of one of the Rich Internet Application building technologies like Adobe AIR, Microsoft SilverLight etc. We vaguely know the scope of BizTalk360 and know for sure standard HTML, JavaScript, Ajax kind of application development will take  4 times the development effort for something what we are trying to build. So we decided to go down the RIA route and being on Microsoft platform it was easy decision to use SilverLight (of course there were no other choices). Microsoft was also heavily investing on SilverLight, they released 4 versions within 2.5 years and big guys like Scott Guthrie was constantly pushing the technology and there were big events like SilverLight fire starter.  We started BizTalk360 with SL version 3.0 and also working on WCF RIA services BETA, the technology Microsoft was intending to use to build browser based Rich Internet Line of Business applications. After couple of months we realized WCF RIA is bit limited to what we are trying to build and we decided to use pure SL based application.  It was one of the good decisions, since WCF RIA didn’t take off after version 1.0 (they took a different direction and ended up as ASP.NET single page application).

So what’s our plan?

We are pretty cool at the moment.  The Microsoft Silverlight Support Lifecycle  page states SL version 5.0 is supported until 10/12/2021 (nearly 2022). That’s 10 years from now. As most of you will agree with me, 10 years is a very long period in technology land scape, especially on the web world. This is our architecture at 10000 foot height image As you can see SilverLight front-end is just one part of the puzzle, most of our investments are in the WCF services layer. Our current architecture is designed in a way to replace the front-end technology with something else (ex: HTML5 based application) fairly easily without changing the back end logic.  Our current plan at the moment is to continue the way we are bringing new functionalities for another 2 years. Things will get much clearer over time and also at the same time we believe the tooling around building HTML5 based applications will grow in next couple of years increasing the development productivity time.