The Silverlight UI that has been employed on sipsorcery.com and which replaces the AJAX UI on mysipswitch.com has caused some serious gnashing of teeth. The two reasons I have been able to distill for the frustration seem to be no Silverlight plugin for browser xyz or OS xyz, which is a fair point, or secondly a dislike of anything Microsoft and the hassle of downloading another plugin. Both those arguments and lots more about the pros and cons of different browser technologies are prolfigate all over the web so I won’t bore you with my own.

The purpose of this short post is instead to explain why the AJAX interface was replaced by Silverlight. There are two reasons:

  • I really really dislike javascript/DHTML programming. It’s incredibly frustrating to switch from a sophisticated IDE and compiled code language such as C# (or Java if you’re that way inclined) back to fiddly little HTML tags and a hodge podge of javascript libraries and browser hacks which is otherwise know as AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML). Some programmers thrive on AJAX, I’m not one of them.
  • Silverlight has this massive thing under the hood called the Common Language Runtime (CLR). The CLR is what runs the latest version of software developed on Microsoft’s .Net platform. The Silverlight CLR that runs in a browser is a cut down version of that runs on a desktop but it’s still suprisingly comparable. In contrast to AJAX development I find C# development to be the bee’s knees and makes programming fun rather than like putting hot pokers in my eyeballs. Because of the CLR a Silverlight application can also share code with non-Silverlight applications. In the case of sipsorcery the really big thing is that the SIP stack which drives all the servers can actually run in the browser. What that means is some very cool SIP applications can be developed.
  • In answer to a question about whether the sipsorcery UI could be targetted to the Silverlight 1.0 runtime so that it would run with Moonlight (the Linux port of Silverlight) the answer is unfortunately no. Version 2 of Silverlight is the first one that included the CLR and that’s the whole point of sipsorcery using Silverlight.

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