OpenSilver: Silverlight makes an open source comeback


Ten years ago, plugins were needed for a lot of things in web browsers. Today, only Flash survived in the browser and its time is running out as well. Plugins such as Flash, Silverlight, or Java were fundamental parts of the Internet but the rise of web technologies such as JavaScript caused these to be removed from web browsers by companies such as Mozilla or Google.

Adobe will end Flash development in 2020 and Microsoft revealed that it won’t support Silverlight from October 2021 anymore.

Developers and projects that use these technologies won’t be able to do so anymore when support ends for these products. While it is possible to run some older versions of browsers and the last plugin released, it is not recommended due to security concerns.

Tip: Flash gamers may check out the Flash Games preservation project to continue playing games made in Flash.

Silverlight developers and projects may have a way out however. The French organization Userware released a preview of OpenSilver today, an open source implementation of Silverlight that is based on web standards and modern web technologies such as WebAssembly.

OpenSilver is a modern, plugin-free, open-source reimplementation of Silverlight, that runs on current browsers via WebAssembly. It uses Mono for WebAssembly and Microsoft Blazor. It brings back the power of C#, XAML, and .NET to client-side Web development.

Since it is no longer provided as a plugin, it is compatible with (most) modern web browsers and should run fine in those.

One component, CSHTML5 allows developers to make web apps using C# and XAML. It comes with a tool to port existing Silverlight and WPF applications to the web by “compiling C# and XAML files to HTML and JavaScript”.

opensilver-  silverlight

Interested developers may download the preview release from the OpenSilver website. A Microsoft Account is required to download the preview to the local system. Additional information is provided on the project’s GitHub website.

About 60% of Silverlight APIs are currently supported. Userware plans to improve API support in the coming months and add support for Open RIA Services, AOT compilation and third-party libraries. Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation will speed up loading times by “at least 30 times” when it lands.

The company launched a conversion service to convert existing Silverlight applications to the modern version so that it may run on websites without plugin requirement.

Interested users may load the demo from here to check out the functionality that is currently available.

Now You: Have you used Silverlight in the past? What is your take on the resurrection?

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