Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform implementation of the .NET Framework for building and delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications (RIA) for the Web. You can also create Silverlight applications that run outside of the browser on your desktop. Finally, you use the Silverlight framework to create applications for Windows Phone. Silverlight uses the Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) to ease UI development (e.g. controls, animations, graphics, layout, etc.) while using managed code or dynamic languages for application logic.
This topic contains the following sections.
- What Is Silverlight?
- What Features Are in Silverlight?
- Running Silverlight Applications
- Creating Silverlight Applications
- In This Section
- Related Topics
What Is Silverlight?
Silverlight enables you to create a state-of-the-art application that has the following features:
It is a cross-browser, cross-platform technology. It runs in all popular Web browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and on Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X.
It enables you to create Windows Phone applications. To learn more about creating Windows Phone applications with Silverlight, see Windows Phone Development.
It is supported by a small download that installs in seconds.
It streams video and audio. It scales video quality to everything from mobile devices to desktop browsers to 720p HDTV video modes.
It includes compelling graphics that users can manipulate—drag, turn, and zoom—directly in the browser.
It reads data and updates the display, but it doesn't interrupt the user by refreshing the whole page.
The application can run in the Web browser or you can configure it so users can run it on their computer (out-of-browser). In addition, you can use your knowledge of the Silverlight framework to create Windows Phone applications.
You can create Silverlight applications in a variety of ways. You can use Silverlight markup to create media and graphics, and manipulate them with dynamic languages and managed code. Silverlight also enables you to use professional-quality tools like Visual Studio for coding and Microsoft Expression Blend for layout and graphic design.
What Features Are in Silverlight?
Silverlight combines multiple technologies into a single development platform that enables you to select the right tools and the right programming language for your needs. Silverlight offers the following features:
WPF and XAML. Silverlight includes a subset of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technology, which greatly extends the elements in the browser for creating UI. Silverlight lets you create immersive graphics, animation, media, and other rich client features, extending browser-based UI beyond what is available with HTML alone. XAML provides a declarative markup syntax for creating elements. For more information, see Layout, Input, and Printing, Graphics, Animation, and Media, and Controls.
Cross-browser, cross-platform support. Silverlight runs the same on all popular browsers (and on popular platforms). You can design and develop your application without having to worry about which browser or platform your users have. For more information, see Supported Operating Systems and Browsers.
Access to the .NET Framework programming model. You can create Silverlight applications using dynamic languages such as IronPython as well as languages such as C# and Visual Basic. For more information, see Managed API for Silverlight
Tools Support. You can use development tools, such as Visual Studio and Expression Blend, to quickly create Silverlight applications. For more information, see Silverlight Designer for Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend.
Networking support. Silverlight includes support for HTTP over TCP. You can connect to WCF, SOAP, or ASP.NET AJAX services and receive XML, JSON, or RSS data. For more information, see Networking and Web Services. In addition, you can build multicast clients with Silverlight. For more information, see Working with Multicast.
LINQ. Silverlight includes language-integrated query (LINQ), which enables you to program data access using intuitive native syntax and strongly typed objects in .NET Framework languages. For more information, see XML Data.
For more details on Silverlight features, see Silverlight Architecture.
Running Silverlight Applications
To run a Silverlight web application, users require a small plug-in in their browser. The plug-in is free. If users do not already have the plug-in, they are automatically prompted to install it. The download and installation take seconds and require no interaction from the user except permission to install.
Silverlight makes sure that you can run your applications in all modern browsers, without having to create browser-specific code. Silverlight applications can run in the browser or outside the browser. For more information, see Out-of-Browser Support.
Creating Silverlight Applications
In This Section
Silverlight Feature Introduction History Listed by Version
Introduces some of the new features in Silverlight 5.
Provides an introduction to the Silverlight features to help get you started developing Silverlight applications.
Describes the architecture of the Silverlight platform, the components of Silverlight, programming features, and related technologies and tools.
Supported Operating Systems and Browsers
Lists the operating systems and browsers that are supported by Silverlight.
About the Silverlight Documentation
Explains how to use this documentation.
Silverlight Versions and Version Compatibility
Describes how to ensure your application will work in different version of Silverlight.
Common Language Runtime
Describes the features of the managed execution environment (common language runtime) available in Silverlight.
Provides information for WPF developers on some of the key differences between Silverlight and WPF.
Silverlight Differences on Windows and Macintosh
Describes differences in behavior of .NET Framework class library types and methods on a computer running Windows compared to a Macintosh computer.