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10.16.08

Silver Lie

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, RAND at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

THE “scam” that Silverlight had become in 'the media' was covered here two days ago. We included many examples to show how Microsoft fooled the world through journalists, striving to give the impression — no matter how bogus it is — that Silverlight has something to do with open source and is cross-platform (it’s neither).

This type of dishonesty has shown little or no signs of abatement as disinformation continues to be disseminated to deceive Web developers. Here, for instance, is an article from TechWorld which states:

Also, a Linux version of Silverlight, dubbed ” Moonlight,” is being developed by a team of developers led by Miguel de Icaza at Novell, Microsoft officials noted.

The illusion of cross-platform must end. There is no “Linux version of Silverlight.” Those “Microsoft officials” are lying. There is no “port” either, just to refute another wrong terminology used by other journalists. Moonlight and Silverlight are separate. The latter is the ‘real thing’, whereas the former is a Novell me-too project which strives only to cling to coattails [1, 2].

The same type of mistake, calling Moonlight “a version for Linux,” is being repeated in InformationWeek:

Silverlight will run in Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer on Windows and Mac OS, and Novell is working on a version for Linux.

That’s incorrect. Developers might get the impression that Silverlight targets GNU/Linux users. It does not. Let’s repeat this again: GNU/Linux has no Silverlight and Microsoft has no plan to change this strategy.

Gavin Clarke, disappointingly enough (yes, again), wrote this article in The Register where he covers Flash but gets totally distracted by his showering with kisses for XAML, which is is trying to describe using terms like “open source”. It’s a gentle form of disinformation.

Microsoft wrapped the Silverlight 2.0 news with the announcement it’s funding a project at the open-source Eclipse Foundation to build open-source tools for Java. Also, Microsoft is releasing controls under its Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved open-source license and releasing its XAML documentation under the company’s Open-Specification Promise (OSP).

Oh, goodness! Not that OSP again [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Silverlight media

Picture contributed by a reader

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17 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Gravatar

    If people want to put up a different option to Silverlight, the lack of content creation tools needs to be addressed. Free software users are not passive consumers, and if it’s easiest to create Silverlight content on free platforms with Eclipse, I don’t see many people slaving away at command-line Flash or something.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:29 am

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    Who said anything about Flash? Is Ajax chopped liver now?

  3. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:35 am

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    Well, “Ajax” is ill-defined and not particularly informative – there is no one thing which is “Ajax”; you could describe any combination of HTML/Javascript/other stuff as that.

    But anyway, take your point – where are the Ajax content creation tools? As far as I can see, even with the likes of Dijit, people are still having to code up interfaces from scratch, test them in different browsers, work around different bugs.

    The closest other free software technology we have is probably XUL. But again, no tools for that either :(

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Gravatar

    There are quite a few user-friendly ‘Ajax’ frameworks that I am familiar with. Some are open source too.

    For content to be available through standards, as opposed to through a universal blob*, more work might be needed. The Web and the Free software movement were not built without some heavy lifting.

    __
    *Curl and JavaFX being a slight exception.

  5. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Gravatar

    I’m not talking about frameworks; there is code to do most things. The problem is that there are no content creation tools.

    It’s all very well to say that some “heavy lifting” is required: my point is that Microsoft are the ones currently doing it (as free software and in Java, no less). I don’t see anything equivalent even vaguely on the horizon for Ajax or any other system.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Gravatar

    You can achieve many of the same things with JS, SVG (which only Microsoft snubs), CSS3 (where Microsoft was lagging), and Ogg (which a former Microsoft employee fought out of HTML5).

  7. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Gravatar

    I know how it works (although I will disagree with you about the practicality of developing against e.g. SVG; it’s nothing like mature enough even if you’re willing to ignore IE).

    The point is that there are no tools for people to develop these things; you have to code them up from scratch/against frameworks in text editors. When you’re doing anything vaguely visual, it’s “tough” to say the least. So, take SVG: how would you animate a character in SVG? What tool would you use to do that, even a simple waving stick figure?

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 9:59 am

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    Developers who waste their time reinventing the wheel (Silverlight) might want to look into that.

  9. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 10:05 am

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    Um, the point is that they are looking into that, they’re developing a content creation tool for Eclipse :D

    It’s hardly wheel re-invention when there is nothing else out there doing that…

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Gravatar

    The output needs to be something standard though… as in Web standards.

  11. Dan O'Brian said,

    October 16, 2008 at 10:21 am

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    Then get crackin’ Roy, time’s a wastin’!

  12. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Gravatar

    Sure, but what?

    SVG + JS + bits is one possibility, but animation, sound and video support is terribly weak, and it’s not clear that many parts of the SVG standard are ever going to be implemented.

    Flash is another, but it’s not really a specified standard and doing a binary format in 2008 is a bit of a strange decision.

    There’s MPEG / SMIL, but eh, there are some _real_ patent problems.

    Potentially you could try to do something with “Ajax”, but the experience of OpenLaszlo is that it’s a. extremely difficult and b. error-prone. HTML just isn’t designed to do that kind of thing, it’s not a “pixel-perfect” format (and I’m not sure anyone really wants it to be?). It’s also not a standard – the solution would use standard technologies, but would have to exist at a much higher level. HTML is like OpenDocument, Flash/Silverlight is like PDF – very different systems.

    It’s very easy to say “there should be a standard” or something, but the free software community just hasn’t done anything in this area. We’re still trying to catch up to simply *play back* existing Flash content.

    I would quite happily use something like Silverlight, even if it wasn’t nearly as advanced and didn’t work in IE, if there were decent content tools. The market here is absolutely massive.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 10:45 am

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    Enjoy XAML. Just don’t use on GNU/Linux because you’ll be terribly disappointed.

  14. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Gravatar

    I doubt very much you have any idea what the support in Moonlight is actually like, but in any event I don’t use it.

  15. Ziggyfish said,

    October 16, 2008 at 4:16 pm

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    AlexH, I’m more worried about the viruses that Silverlight can spread.

  16. AlexH said,

    October 16, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Gravatar

    @Ziggyfish: it runs sandboxed and without the ability to access native code.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 16, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Using the European championship to spread malware
    http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/3509

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