Windows 8, native apps, and HTML5: Facts and conjecture

In this programming news roundup, read about AMP, WinC++, Delphi certification, jQuery, the Eclipse Development Survey results, BUILD, and more.

There is an absolute firestorm around HTML5-based apps in Windows 8 and where it leaves native app technologies like WPF, Silverlight, and WinForms. I have no idea what is happening for sure, and I guarantee you that all of my Microsoft contacts either do not know or would not tell me if they did, and I respect that. Here is what I do know:

  • Windows 8 appears to have an application building engine based on HTML5 technologies (I'm including JavaScript and CSS3 in that umbrella).
  • Microsoft stopped pushing Silverlight as a Web app add-in a while ago, and said it was for "out of browser," cross-platform, and special purposes (like WP7 development).
  • WinForms got backburnered with the release of WPF.
  • The pace of Silverlight development has slowed significantly as the technology matures.
  • Silverlight has been a big success in writing internal applications, and Silverlight is not the pain point in writing WP7 apps (the APIs and their lack of support for many scenarios are).
  • Microsoft has displayed a worrisome habit of dropping technologies just as they seem to be fulfilling their potential.
  • Silverlight has been increasing its capability for quite some time, heading towards convergence with WPF. The big barrier has been the size of the download; the Silverlight team stated a while back that the installer should never be bigger than Flash's.

Based on what I know and the current trends, I do not think Silverlight is going away any time soon, but I do think Microsoft is seeing HTML5 as "Silverlight Lite." Since Silverlight is already "WPF Lite," It's conceivable that WPF and Silverlight will merge, basically putting the out-of-browser capability onto WPF, and either taking out the stuff that doesn't go across platforms or just having two WPF profiles (just as Silverlight has a phone profile that is less capable than the full Silverlight platform). Then, Microsoft can feel free to push its HTML5 apps to folks that like the Silverlight idea but don't feel comfortable with the technology. This is 100% pure conjecture on my part though. Mary Jo Foley has some interesting information as well, and Laila Lotfi has a good analysis of the situation.

Language/library updates

Visual C++ and GPU processing

Microsoft announced a new technology called AMP, which lets Visual C++ developers more easily harness the processing power of GPUs across different GPUs.

WinC++ to replace Visual C++

On the topic of Visual C++, Mary Jo Foley writes about the next generation of Visual C++, called WinC++.

Tools and products

Visual Studio Web Standards Update

The Visual Studio team released the Visual Studio Web Standards Update, which improves the support in Visual Studio for HTML5 and CSS3.

Appcelerator updates offerings

Appcelerator released Titanium Studio and Titanium Mobile 1.7. Titanium Studio lets developers create mobile, Web, and desktop apps, while Titanium Mobile is aimed at mobile app developers.

Delphi certification

Embarcadero is now offering certification of Delphi developers. The fees look quite reasonable.

iBuildApp's Android Builder

iBuildApp announced a new free product called Android Builder, which makes it easy to create Android apps. There is also an iPhone version.

Debugger Canvas for Visual Studio

Microsoft's Dev Labs released Debugger Canvas, an innovative add-in to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate that shows the relationship between the items in the call stack.

Eucalyptus teams with RightScale

RightScale (which makes a cloud management platform) and Eucalyptus (which offers on-premise infrastructure-as-a-service technology) have partnered so that the Eucalyptus platform is available from within the RightScale myCloud platform.

Editorial and commentary

Why is everyone always getting hacked?

Jeff Blankenburg has a fantastic piece about the security breaches lately, and how companies are really screwing up around them.

Why move to jQuery from the Ajax Control Toolkit?

Joe Stagner wrote a very good analysis of why you should be using jQuery, not the Ajax Control Toolkit, for your development.

Eclipse Development Survey results

The Eclipse Foundation released its annual Development Survey (PDF), which shows what is happening in the world of Eclipse.

Tips and tricks

Custom ASP.NET MVC project templates

Phil Haack has a tutorial on making your own ASP.NET MVC project templates for Visual Studio.

Deploying applications to IIS with SQL Server CE 4.0

The Visual Web Developer Team posted an article showing how to deploy Web apps to IIS servers that use SQL Server CE 4.0 databases.

Google now supports authorship

Google is now supporting tags to show who wrote an HTML page. This is great news for sites that publish content.

jQuery HTML editor in an ASP.NET page

Joe Stagner shows how to use a equerry HTML editor in an ASP.NET page.

Mapping Android apps to WP7

Microsoft has extended its Mapping Tool to help Android apps get moved to WP7.


BUILD to show Windows 8 development

On September 13 in Anaheim, CA, Microsoft is holding a new event called BUILD. It looks like the details of Windows 8 development (see above) will be gone into there in detail.