Today we have finally released our first version of the Visual WebGui Silverlight SDK CTP.
It is still in an early stage, but it gives you guys the ability to both participate in the designing process and to start testing your applications using the exciting features that Silverlight can offer. We hope it will provide you guys with a clear picture of what we are working on and that when it will be ready for prime time (hopefully in a relatively short period) it helps you provide your customers with extra ordinary applications.
In our vision we see the Visual WebGui - Silverlight combination as a perfect way for enterprises to develop real world applications, without compromising on productivity, security, eye candies and backwards compatibility to non Silverlight enabled clients. With that we see the enormous potential Silverlight has to change the way we think of web interfaces.
From our intensive work using Silverlight to create the Visual WebGui Silverlight presentation layer, we have encountered many places where Microsoft has more work, in terms of performance, capabilities and stability. We are working closely with Microsoft and testing future versions of Silverlight, so we can provide for prime time ready applications which will play well with Microsoft's releases and utilize new features as they are released.
The current CTP version provides basic customization support through themes which allow developers to override the default XAML files which ships with Visual WebGui Silverlight SDK. We are currently working with some designer shops on the specifications of the XAML files, in order to allow maximum flexibility in customizing the presentation layer. We also hope that this process will result in ready to use themes that can be used as is or as boosters to creating customized themes.
The Visual WebGui Silverlight presentation layer is heavily based on WPF concepts which are combined with a powerful server binding mechanism. The server binding mechanism provides a generic mechanism to interact between the server and the client, using the highly optimized communication methods of Visual WebGui.
The binding mechanism provides multiple events and over-ridable methods that make custom development of controls and capabilities real simple. It basically frees you completely of the need to expose services, consume services or manipulate data on the client. It makes it possible to implement the empty client approach that Visual WebGui brings with it and to enjoy the multiple benefits it entails.
For those of you that are not familiar with the Visual WebGui empty client concepts, I will do a quick overview that hopefully will help you see why we are so excited with the Silverlight over Visual WebGui .
* Visual WebGui applications run on the server. They expose only UI metadata updates which are xml formatted messages and receive event queues which are also xml formatted messages. An average Visual WebGui message is around 1kb.
* Visual WebGui automatically optimizes server postbacks according to the application code. It basically queues events that do not need immediate processing on the server.
* Visual WebGui automatically optimizes communication by sending only required data to the client. For example if you have a tab control and you never switch to a given tab, its UI metadata will never be loaded.
* Visual WebGui provides full WinForms abstraction which includes design time support, window management, data binding and much more.
* Visual WebGui is an extension to ASP.NET and by that inherits many important aspects such as member management, security capabilities and much more.
All of Visual WebGui's advantages are preserved in the Silverlight presentation layer as well. A good example is that even in our early CTP you can enjoy full data binding support which is completely managed on the server and exposes nothing to the client. So... now that you have a basic idea what Visual WebGui offers, you can see (I hope) why we are so excited with the combination of Visual WebGui and Silverlight. We feel that down the road we will see applications that will look, behave and perform like local applications preserving the wide reach of web deployment.
In the next versions we will offer more powerful tools such as item templates, custom controls and design time integrated support for Silverlight capabilities. We are also working on splitting and allowing control over resource downloads, so that the initial payload which is currently (~300kb) will be loaded on demand and if necessary will provide progress feedbacks.
We would be happy to get feedbacks, suggestions and whatever in the new Silverlight dedicated form area here.
We also created a dedicated "homepage" here, that will provide for all your needs to start working with the Visual WebGui Silverlight SDK.
And last but not least, checkout the online demo here.
Let the party begin :-)