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Bad choice for France Télévision web platform

July 21, 2008

It’s sad to see France Télévision chose a proprietary platform (MS Silverlight) to develop its web platform for video delivery … They developed this “thing” with public money; the content should at least be available to all the public eyes (even the “without Silverlight” link requires to have Windows Media Player 11 which even recent MS-Windows PCs do not have).

No silverlight

Here are some general reasons why it’s a bad idea to develop something with Silverlight:

  1. The Silverlight runtime is only available for MS-Windows and recent MacOS machines. This leaves out other operating systems (i.e. Linux, older Windows or MacOS versions, …). Even if these OSes market shares are minimal (compared to Windows XP and MacOS X), Curl and Adobe developed players for altervative platforms. For the end-user, it means (s)he will be able to keep her/his favourite computer to run your application.
  2. Javascript-enabled browsers are already available since a long time, on nearly all operating systems (e.g. Firefox is available for Linux, Windows, MacOS and xBSD). For the end-user, it means (s)he will be able to keep her/his favourite browser to run your application if you use standard technologies like AJAX, DHTML, etc.
  3. If you, as a developer, you really want to develop your web application with OpenLaszlo or Flex, the Flash player is already available on the computer of more than 95% of your potential clients. Although this is mainly due to historical reasons (Flash is available since the 1990s), I can’t see why Silverlight can win over Flash/Flex/Air since Silverlight is a competitor without added value. For the end-user, it means (s)he will most probably be able to run your Flash-based application out-of-the-box and it won’t be the case with Silverlight.
  4. From a developer point of view, writing code for Silverlight requires to download and master 4 packages: Visual Studio, Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio, Expression Blend and Deep Zoom Composer (although real web designers will probably prefer other tools than the two last ones). Compare with this: if you develop for AJAX, you might need to download and master 1 kit (your AJAX toolkit) ; developing for OpenLazslo or Flex: 1 SDK each. Moreover, all developer kits (except Silverlight) are open source, giving more durability to your developments and investments.
  5. Finally, still from a developer point of view, your Silverlight application will not be seen in any of the major search engines. No SEO possible.

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