Monday, 3 October 2011

Daily Review #13: Someone on the internet is wrong...

The Daily Review - 3rd October 2011
Photo © Shawn Hempel |

And the biggest story of the weekend is ....

A bunch of Microsoft MVPs got renewed.

Of course, when I say 'biggest' story of the weekend I'm basing this on the percentage of congratulatory posts dominating my Twitter stream. In the year since I left Twitter because of the echo chamber 'noise' vs signal it seems nothing much has changed :-(

Anyway, moving swiftly on...

HTML5 is HTML4 with extra stuff

Someone on the internet is wrong....

Late on Friday a very ignorant post about Silverlight and Silverlight developers appeared on Google+, seemingly in response to Jeremy Likness' post Top 10 over-engineering mistakes in Silverlight.

The post was from Kevin Darty who apparently works for a Department of Defence contractor (shouldn't they be a bit more informed?!) and displayed unbelievable naivety, bordering on downright malicious untruths, about the technology and developers who've been using it.

Unfortunately, it displays all the sorts of ignorance that is all too common in this 'get the traffic up, whatever you have to do' journalistic world we live in.

Here are some of the more annoying statements he makes in his post:

Silverlight is on the scene and all the .NET Developers jumped on it like it was some amazingly new technology.... something revolutionary

Hardly "all"!

Talk to any recruitment agency and you'll soon discover that heck, HARDLY ANY .NET developers jumped on Silverlight for ANY REASON AT ALL.

Just because a small, but influential, vocal group of MVPs keep 'talking up' Silverlight doesn't make this statement about all .NET developers knowing it fact. Kevin, do the research. Ask recruitment agencies what percentage of .NET developers have Silverlight skills. You will find it's nothing like 'most', not even close to 'half', and far less than you've implied in your ridiculous post.

Last year I worked on a 3 month prototype for a large application intended for roll-out in 2013 to retail showrooms across the land. The prototype was a success on all the goals that had been set for it, but the decision was still taken to abandon Silverlight and go 'traditional ASP.NET/HTML/Javascript etc'. Admittedly, there were several reasons for this (mostly around perceived risk because of Microsoft's contradictory and confusing statements about whether it really was their 'strategic UI' or not - how prescient was that?!), but key amongst them was the lack of Silverlight developers in the .NET marketplace. As the hiring manager put it to me in my last week "'It took us 3 months to find you, Ian, and if this went ahead we'd need 8 of you. What chance do we have?"

Now Silverlight Developers are a dime a dozen

I'm going to quote that hiring manager again: "Quite aside from the fact that if we do find a Silverlight developer [because there are so few around] he's invariably more expensive than his ASP.NET, HTML, CSS, JavaScript counterpart!'. But, heh! Kevin says they're 'a dime a dozen'.

The situation hasn't changed in the last year. If anything it's got worse. There just aren't the developers out there. It's become a self-perpetuating tragedy that the lack of developers causes a reduction in the number of Silverlight projects undertaken, leading to a reduction in available contracts, leading to even less .NET developers wanting to waste time on Silverlight when there are far too many demands on their time already.

But heh, Kevin, let's not let any facts get in the way of a good article on engineering mistakes!

For Silverlight developers their scope goes no further than Internet Explorer

Dang! I must have imagined the support and testing I had to do in Google and Firefox, and Safari on a Mac. How stupid am I?!

Even if you took Darty's ridiculous 'intranet' accusation at face value his 'standard set of tools' that he berates Silverlight developers for not using (apparently they're trying to put a square peg into a round hole) work differently from one version of IE to the next, requiring multiple hacks and fixes that waste developer time and have real negative cost to the project. But again, why let facts get in the way of a good argument?

Microsoft has been telling Silverlight Developers for the last 2 years that they should focus on HTML5

Utter rot!

One year ago when I first started talking about how Microsoft were abandoning Silverlight and appeared to be pushing HTML5 (ONE year ago, not TWO Mr Darty), two weeks before the infamous Scott Barnes tweet that started the whole initial "Silverlight is dead!" shitstorm, I was laughed off the planet as being "malicious" or "too negative" or just plain "dumb for thinking Microsoft would even consider that"". Even as recently as a year ago Microsoft were NOT telling anybody about HTML5 (that happened first with the unveiling of the first platform preview of Internet Explorer 10, and then got real emphasis just a few months ago when they gave first previews of Windows 8). I only sensed HTML5 was the new favoured child because of a chance encounter with someone from inside MSFT who talked about how "internally, everybody seems to be reading HTML5 books and the Silverlight team have been loaned out to Phone or PRISM". If Mr Darty thinks Microsoft has been telling Silverlight developers for the last two years that they should focus on HTML5, he should provide just ONE link proving his ridiculous claim.

The disappointing thing is that even today Microsoft won't give advice one way or the other, consistently saying 'It's your choice', while senior staff make jokes about the 'promises' of JavaScript vs the guarantees of C# and XAML.

What's really sad about Mr Darty's piece is all he can apparently do is equate Silverlight with some sort of web page ad Flash clone - something for showing a bit of video or advertising on a web page. In my experience, that is NOT what Silverlight is being used for predominantly today, nor has that been the case since Silverlight 2 launched. The point that Silverlight gives .NET developers a way to write .NET code that will run inside the browser seems to have escaped Mr Darty. He's probably been far too busy hacking stuff together in HTML, JavaScript and CSS to have the time to do even the most basic research!

Alas, I think this pitiful attempt at explaining the history of Silverlight is just one of many incompetent analyses we're likely to see in the month's ahead, as the realisation of what Metro and Windows 8 really means hits the mainstream and gives the JavaScript kiddies and Microsoft bashers a chance to say 'Told you so'! :-(

24 hours with WinRT, Javascript and HTML is like car sickness

Today's "News" Links

Good read! Bloomberg: IBM Tops Microsoft for first time since 1996 (Sarah Frier and Dina Bass, Bloomberg)
Microsoft loses second place after Apple to IBM.
Good read! Expression Design (September Preview) has been released by Microsoft (Microsoft)
More software preview versions from the Expression team, but where's a version of Blend 5 for XAML?!?!.
Good read! ORM Profiler 1.0 Has Been Released (Frans Bouma)
The folks behind LLBLGen Pro release an ORM profiler that works with all the big ORM players. Very reasonable pricing for the initial offering too!
Good read! Microsoft Security Tools Nuking Google Chrome Browser (Ryan Narraine, Ziff-Davies)
So this is what Microsoft meant by 'no chrome' on Windows 7! Nasty!
Good read! Windows 8/IE9 has 20% of worldwide market, more in USA. Ie6 Drops to About 9% worldwide. (Netmarketshare)
Latest browser stats with story indicating that Ie9 and Windows 8 story are helping stop the decline of IE browser market share.

Today's "Opinion" Links

Must read! 11 Hard Truths about HTML5 (Peter Wayner, MacWorld)
The HTML5 boat has already sailed, but Peter rightly points out there can be nothing but choppy waters ahead.
Must read! What's wrong with Microsoft (Joe Stagner, Mozilla)
Former Microsoft employee Joe Stagner explains what's wrong with the company, whilst insisting he's not sharing any 'inside' information. Hard to disagree with anything stated here.
Good read! Windows 8 Anti-Virus Has a Long Way To Go (Chester Wisniewski, Sophos)
Well they would say that, wouldn't they?! Nevertheless highlights some serious shortcomings.
Good read! Windows 8 Security: Stronger but Gentler (Robert Lemos, InfoWorld)
Good news all round, by all accounts.
OK read! Windows 8 Animations Library Creates Better User Experiences (John Papa, Visual Studio magazine)
Quick overview of what's in the Windows 8 Animations Library.
OK read! Redmond on Reading: Digital Book Design Ideas from Windows 8 (Peter Myers, My Kind of Book)
If you haven't got time to watch the video of the Build '8 Traits of Metro' talk, or read our transcript, this blog article gives a nice condensed summary of the main ports as they apply to digital books.
Oh dear read! Over-Engineering and Picking the Right Rule for the Job (Kevin Darty, Google+)
Don't you love it when 'experts' give opinion on technologies they haven't done even the most basic research about? Me neither. See today's editorial.

Today's "Technical" Links

Good Read! Microsoft Windows Simulator Touch Emulation (Mynor Ivan Muralles, Visual Studio Team)
More on the recently released Simulator Preview for Visual Studio 11, this time it's all about touch emulation.
Good Read! Metro Controls - The JumpViewer Control (Richard Griffiths, XAML Ninja)
Nice walk-through of the JumpViewer control in the Metro controls for Windows 8.
Good Read! Windows 8 Metro Style Application Manifest (Andrej Tozon)
Walk-through of the Visual Studio GUI for the application manifest.
Good Read! SpinPaint for Windows 8 (Charles Petzold)
Cool stuff with Metro and porting the SpinPaint application.
Good Read! Windows 8 Migration Tips and Tricks (Brendan Forster)
Good technical post on the problems Brendan had porting an app to Windows 8 Metro.
Meh Read! Windows 8 Weather App Tidbits (meraTechPort)
Not so much tidbits as an explanation of what you see when you run the app!

Today's "HTML5" Links

Good Read! Ten Online Tools to Simplify HTML5 Coding (Jean-Baptise Jung, Cats Who Code Doctor)
Thar be gold in this here blog article.
Good Read! 38 Websites Coded in HTML5 for your Inspiration (Wabbaly)
Silverlight developers, be afraid! Be very afraid!

Today's "Fun" Links

Good Read! The Talking Mug (Christmas Present for annoying co-workers) (Presents For Men)
Hot sunny day and already the stores are full of Christmas gifts. Presents for Men have some fun stuff. As well as this talking mug they do talking loo-roll holders too. Very reasonable prices.


  1. "For Silverlight developers their scope goes no further than Internet Explorer" wtf?? Number one reason to choose Silverlight (at least for LOB apps) is to go behind IE/Windows. Man I was so happy when my boss asked me for OSX support and Silverlight came to the rescue.

  2. I've been following Silverlight vs MVC jobs on for some time now and I must admit that Silverlight jobs declined (by at least 30%) after this last Microsoft event... And MVC still rises steadily. Although I think there are many jobs that simply advertise while they should add MVC. Recruitment agents most likely can't tell the difference.

  3. @Robert Yup My agent told me that while Silverlight jobs had been kind of ticking along ok they suddenly dried up and literally died overnight 3 weeks ago - just after the Build conference, but still the MS shills keep burying their heads in the sand, insisting there's lots of demand, nothing's changed etc just like they did when I first highlighted what was coming over a year ago. The double-standards and hypocrisy are unbelieveable as those who keep insisting Silverlight isn't dead on the one hand also blog/talk about looking at HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript on the other. It sticks in the craw when these are the very people who a year ago insisted that nobody, and certainly not them, would ever switch to something as crude and basic as HTML5 and JavaScript. The continual bitching about multi-version HTML5 support in different browsers, completely ignoring the fact that there are now something like six different ported versions of XAML (Surface WPF, Desktop WPF, Silverlight, Xbox Silverlight aka "LakeView", WP7 Silverlight, Win 8 Metro) also shows the cant and hypocrisy in this space. The double-standards these guys keep displaying justifies my use of the term "shill" rather than "valued professional" I think ;-)


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