A business web site implemented entirely in Silverlight

Ever wondered what the web would look like if Silverlight or Flash were used for everything? The other day I came across a business site implemented entirely in Silverlight – well, apart from the forums, which seem to be HTML and JavaScript. ForefrontSecurity.org is a third-party resource site for Microsoft’s firewall and server security products. It is mostly documents and videos.

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On the plus side, the site looks good, provided you can run Silverlight; and given the target readership that’s not too much of a stretch in this instance. Playing the embedded screencasts is very smooth, and they feel seamlessly integrated with the site, more so than with HTML plus a video plug-in.

That said, I found the site infuriating. Without thinking, I tried to scroll a document using the mouse wheel; nothing happened. The page up and down keys do not work either. Copying text works with Ctrl-C, but if you select and right-click, you just get the Silverlight “about” menu. I also found that the graphic effects – screens typically fade in as they change – made the site seem slow. Some things, like hyperlinks in full-screen mode, did not work as expected.

An interesting experiment; but for a site like this which is mainly about finding and reading documents, its hard to see a good reason not to use HTML.

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12 comments to A business web site implemented entirely in Silverlight

  • asf

    OH NOES! Its Flash from the late 90′s all over again, except I had flash (by default) but I’m NEVER installing silverlight!

  • gmk

    Sucky. I had to install aplugin before being able to view or read anything. So i just left to come back here and suggest whoever built this is a f**king idiot.

    Have a nice day

  • File this one under “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.

    Alot of times Microsoft outsource the marketing sites to agencies and not a lot of thought goes into the site other that how it comes together from messaging and positioning – outbound marketing in Microsoft has a lot to answer for and is in dire need of reform.

    I highly doubt much thought went into this site, I highly doubt much qualitative analysis is done on the site other than quantative metrics (track hits don’t ask why they hit or what they are after). I also expect funding dries up pretty fast so agencies often don’t finish out the site in a manner that it should be.

    Bottom line if a tech journo like yourself sees the immediate flaws then how many others espec the target audience In question see it?

    Like I said outbound marketing needs reform badly

  • Joel

    This site is done use Silverlight 2 ,the actual version of Silverlight is 4, much has changed!!
    You hare trying to compare the Windows 95 which Windows XP !!! in no compaction possible .

  • Dreadful. Added to the fact that mouse-wheel scrolling doesn’t work, the scrollbars have be over-styled to the extent that they don’t resemble scrollbars at all. So when you do want to scroll you’re not sure how to do it. Also, the back button doesn’t work.

  • I don’t think you could really call ForefrontSecurity.org – a BUSINESS website in anything other than the most general version of the term business. Its brochureware and doesn’t see to be that great.[I guess someone might define Yahoo.com as a business site].

    Go to http://www.zignals.com and use the apps there to see what a LoB site designed for financial markets can be. This may be different since we’re trying to deliver dealing room quality experience over the web and it we’re not focussed on aimles browsing. This is about realtime functionality and HTML just can’t do it. Of course YOU COULD deploy Java apps, but for the 60% of the web who have Silverlight, there’s nothing to do but log in. For those they don’t they need to find less than a minute to install SL first.

    Whats not to like?

  • tim

    @Pat actually it’s not just brochureware, if you happen to be working with Forefront there are some excellent resources there.

    The immediate conclusion for me is that while Flash/Silverlight may make sense for applications (as in your link), especially where there is data visualisation involved, it does not make sense for a document-oriented web site – though no doubt with enough effort you could it make a decent experience.

    Tim

  • nostradamnit

    It doesn’t work in moonlight either. All I see is “Moonlight was compiled with 1.0 support. This page requires 2.0 support”, which I couldn’t even copy. I do get an “Install Microsoft Media Pack” option in the right click menu, but won’t be trying that with Ubuntu. I can save the source as a .xap file, which is just a zip file with a bunch of .dlls and some manifest.

    Anyway, that’s my experience…

  • Ive decided to make my first website in SL3, it isn`t finished yet but If You want to take a look at this piece and comment I can send images. My opinion about SL/Flash website is quite simple, if You`re running tatoo studio probably the best choice is SL or Flash but if you have transportation company where database records of weights and numbers are most important You can choose between simple-oldfashionable solution or RIA.

    Here is another one in Silverlight: http://technologyopinion.com/Default.aspx

  • Malcolm

    Silverlight based websites are the future, it’s time to move on from 20 year old HTML.

  • Malcolm, you’re right. Screw standards! :-/

  • Anonymous

    The “Patient Journey” Silverlight demo from MS is still the best Line-of-business app demo I know of for SL:

    http://www.mscui.net/patientjourneydemonstrator/

    Apparently it was done by an MS group based in the UK. I would love to hear the detailed “back story” behind that group’s experiences with SL, both good and bad, and what the honest opinion of the devs in that group is about where SL is going. Tim, you are a guy who might be able to dig that up :).