What's cooking for Silverlight 3.0?

silverlight3Beta Even though Silverlight 2.0 has yet to see the "official" light of day, we know that the beta introduced at MIX08 represents a "feature complete" version for this release cycle. Between beta 1 and the RTM expected towards the end of summer, Microsoft will not add any major new features to the Silverlight platform. Instead, they'll focus on performance improvements, platform stability, and a number of other "polish" issues like ClientBin security.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I completed a short survey sent to attendees of MIX08 asking for input on how we'd like Microsoft to improve Silverlight. Clearly, we're talking about a version of Silverlight beyond 2.0, but nonetheless I found it interesting to see the questions on Microsoft's mind when it comes to talking about the future of their infant platform. There were plenty of questions you'd expect- Are you using Flash? Have you heard of Air? What do features do think are important in Silverlight 2?- but most interesting to me was a list of features Microsoft asked survey takers to rank.

A list of 20 possible "new features" in Silverlight was presented and we were asked to rank each as a "Must [have]", "Nice [to have]", or "Not [needed]" (I've extended the cryptic ranking descriptions for clarity). Here is the complete list of features presented:

  • Richer text control                
  • Support for spell checking                
  • Support for inline tables                
  • Support for PDF                
  • HTML rendering                
  • Printing                
  • Offline storage                
  • Local database storage                
  • Database synchronization                
  • Can install Silverlight application on desktop                
  • Access to local hard drive limited to MyDocuments                
  • Access to all of hard drive                
  • Can drag & drop from desktop to Silverlight                
  • Ability to create new Silverlight windows                
  • Support for device access such as USB                
  • Hardware accelerated graphical effects                
  • Blend modes                
  • Frame based animation                
  • Inverse kinematics / bones                
  • 3D

What makes this list very interesting is that it is from Microsoft, which means these are the features on the minds of the Silverlight development team. Some of the ideas seem inevitable, like offline storage, a richer text control, and printing support, while others really surprised me, like access to all of a hard drive and hardware accelerated graphical effects. This survey wasn't sent on April 1st (it's been sitting in my Inbox for a while), so none of these are April Fools, including access to all of a hard drive!

In fact, almost half of the features deal with adding more interaction with and access to the local computer. I know many people would love more local system access in Silverlight, but that has generally been regarded as an impossibility if Silverlight has any hopes of remaining a secure and trustable plug-in. That makes me wonder if this list represents features Microsoft really thinks it can implement or simply a collection of the most often requested features. My hope is for the prior, though I have no idea (and I'm sure MS doesn't either) how some of these features could be implemented securely.

Also interesting are the features absent on the list. Where's the interest in full .NET support? Where's the requests for easier data binding? Or how about just improved text rendering? (Or am I the only one that thinks Silverlight renders text a little blurry vs. the browser?)

So what do you think of this list? Are the features you want in the next version of Silverlight represented? If not, now's the time to start sounding-off and letting your requests be heard. Before you know it, Silverlight 2 will be official and the feature set for Silverlight 3 will already be well underway.


  • One thing i would like for them to implement in Silverlight 3.0 is an updated WMA Audio codec that competes or is better than the AAC+ audio codec.... I'd be happy if they implemented Full Spec Windows Media Audio 10 Professional Codec in Silverlight ( i encode to WMA Pro 10 - I really enjoy the audio quality of that codec).... So if they can improve their audio codecs (especially at lower bit rates - lower than 96kbps) - I'd be a really happy camper! What do you think?

  • Support for device access such as USB is what I would like. Enforce trusted certificates for doing so (of course).

    This might be pie in the sky, but I can do this through Java applets now. If Microsoft won't do this, then it will find it hard to defeat the Java Plug-in (which is highly supported on Apple, Windows, Linux already).

  • >Or am I the only one that thinks Silverlight renders text a little blurry vs. the browser?

    I agree; take, for example, the DataGrid Demo example on http://community.netikatech.com/demos/ and comparison with Flex/Flash. The quality of the font rendering in Silverlight is poor. Hope this will be improved soon.

  • It would be great if we get access the printing and access to local systems ports and usb drives.

  • Access to hardware acceleration will provide new render engines to Game develop. Great interesting.
    And another feature that i want request it's access a perifericals ass usb, cameras and microphone. We want develop conference applications etc.

    Regards from barcelona, spain.

  • Hardware accelerated graphics and full 3D support (as in WPF) are definetely on my wish list.

  • I just want them to bring WPF/Silverlight EDI/development in parity with WinForms - which is freaking lightening.

    As long as WPF/Silverlight development remains 2,3X WinForms (or even WebForms) they should ignore all other feature requests.

    I mean, seriously. The cart shouldn't pull the horse in my opinion. But what do I know?

    Until it's a developer's friend, developers won't be pushing the technology - the grass roots push the really platform needs.

    To too many developers this is still a toy that "someday" they will learn. Those who dabble know - it's not a treat to work with. Not yet.

  • Why RIAs does not implement basic web features first?

    Okay, rich features are quite nice, extreme bindings, incredible animations, .net power... Great but, what about the basic features?

    -Text is unreadable for most eyes and is not selectable.
    -No full text search, no real printing support.
    -No native mouse wheel support...

    I think RIAs can replace html web pages in most occasions if they can provide those simple features.

  • My importance ranking for the list

    1- Richer text control
    2- HTML rendering
    3- Printing
    4- Hardware accelerated graphical effects
    5- 3D
    6- Support for spell checking
    7- Support for PDF

    Rest, is not important for me.

  • Remove limitations on HTTP verbs, such as PUT, PROPFIND, PROPPATCH, LOCK. It is required to support WebDAV.

  • the new features seem to be good but what about database synchronization and offline storage i can not find any information concerning them,
    can any one assist me

  • @Mahmoud- This was a pre-beta "wish list," so unfortunately not all features have made it to SL3. Among the missing features is an offline data source (beyond isolated storage). Guess that goes on the SL4 wish list. :)


Comments have been disabled for this content.