If I were in a Silverlight focus group, here is ten things I would say.


Silverlight is a great product right off the shelf. I use it, love it and spend a lot of time helping the community understand it. This however, doesn’t mean that I don’t think that it can get better. If I were invited to a Microsoft Focus Group about Silverlight here is 10 things I would say: 

  1. We need more navigation templates.
    • I’ve found (4) templates that Microsoft has released (Cosmo, Windows 7, Accent and JetPack). This number needs to be around 16. In order to get more people developing for Silverlight, we need to give them a variety of templates to get them off the ground quickly.
  2. Silverlight needs to ship with the next version of Windows.
    • At least version 4 needs to be pre-installed on Windows going forward. It’s small, in its own sandbox and I cannot find a reason for it not to be included.
  3. Silverlight needs to run on more platforms. 
    • iOS and Android are the key here. I think Microsoft should shoot for Android first since I believe Android will take the lead in the mobile market (at least for the short-term). It would also be great to see Microsoft use Silverlight as the focus on their new tablets / “AppleTV”. I would even invest in getting it working with Kinect.
  4. When creating a new project in Silverlight, we should have the option to create a Unit Test.
    • Most Silverlight developers are not unit testing. If this is surprising to you then you need to get out and talk to more developers. I partially blame this on Microsoft. When you create a new ASP.NET MVC application, you simply put a check to create a Unit Test project. We need the same thing for Silverlight. We should steer the developer into the right direction.
  5. Design patterns such as MVVM need to be easier to implement in Silverlight solutions. 
    • I’d go so far as to say that MVVM Light should ship with Visual Studio. With the project / item templates and code snippets, Laurent puts you into the right direction. This is the way that it should have been. Easy for the 9-5 developer to grasp. I believe the majority of developers use code behind because that’s what is in all the demos provided by Microsoft. They are not trying to write sucky code it is that they simply don’t know a better way. 
  6. The XAP Files should be obfuscated/unused references deleted by default when in “Release” mode.
    • A better Silverlight experience starts with a smaller XAP file. The less that a user has to download is the better, even with the majority of people on broadband. I would also recommend built-in obfuscation by Microsoft. People are paranoid that they can rename the .zip and run it through reflector.
  7. Get rid of the boring install experiences.
    • Here is a great write up on what I’m talking about. The default “Install Silverlight” and “Loading screens” suck. They suck bad. We need a choice of templates that a professional designer has created. 
  8. Silverlight needs to supports more image formats.
    • For example: it would be great to use .gif’s without converting them to .png.   
  9. Switching between Blend 4 and VS2010 to develop a Silverlight application is a pain.
    • Probably one of the biggest issues that I can’t think of a good solution for. It would be nice if VS2012 had the best of both worlds and you never have to leave VS.
  10. We need reporting controls with SSRS included with the Silverlight Toolkit.
    • I can’t think of another control that we need built into the toolkit. It would also be helpful to have export to .xls, .pdf and .doc included with the control.

I hope that this post will at least get a few people talking. Who knows, Microsoft could be working on these things right now. Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Michael Crump
Last revised: 11 Dec, 2011 12:55 AM


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