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Silverlight vs Flash. Part 1

Though Flash has the advantage of being more well known, Microsoft Silverlight has got some nifty advantages, that many Flash users have always wanted to see, such as search engine optimisation.  It is features like this that have kept Microsoft Silverlight in the running, and now RIA designers, do have a choice to make when choosing the right RIA for their needs.  Hopefully, this article Silverlight Vs Flash, will help you in making that choice.

Animation.  Both Flash and Silverlight are capable of creating quality animation.  The end product is always one of quality.  So which one is better to use?

Silverlight uses the WPF animation model.  The beginning and end conditions are specified, and it figures out how to do the rest.  This is different to the frame based conditions, Flash uses.

Flash, on the other hand, uses the Frame based animation model.  An object is created for each frame of the animation, so in effect it uses frame by frame animation.  Timing can be an issue, unless an embedded blank audio track is used to maintain a constant frame rate.

File size.  This can be an important factor, especially as RIAs’ tend not to be the smallest of files, and can effect how fast a page loads quite drastically.

Silverlight’s XAML is non compressed, and so its description language tends to be larger than Flash’s compressed file format.

Flash’s compressed file format, produces relatively small files, with images and texts being embedded in the movie.
Scripting.  The scripting for Flash and Silverlight, are quite different.

Silverlight can be scripted in a number of languages including Visualbasic.net, and Visual C#.net.

Javascript, C# and VB.Net can be used for client side scripting that runs on the Microsoft’s .NET framework, utilising all of its enhancements.

Flash’s Action Script, is an object orientated language that can use other back-end technologies, that use other languages and frame works such as Ruby on the rails, ASP, and PHP.  It has a powerful class library for developing desktop, and online browser applications.  It has a full range of controls for designing user interfaces.

Video and Audio.  Both can utilise these features to their full potential, and here is how they do it, and the formats they use.

With Silverlight, it is about the standard windows formats, as it uses WMA and WMV, together with VC-1 Codec for video.  Silverlight does provide a free SDK encoder, in case someone does not have movie maker.  The SDK encode does provide the opportunity for the developer to encode manually, if he wants to.

Flash uses multiple video formats, and to this end the latest codec has a good bandwidth, and it is of very high quality.

Sound Processing.

Silverlight has little support from .Net for playback, and as a result writing audio applications in the browser, using low level audio API’s cannot be done.  Incidentally, Silverlight does not support playback of WAV files.

Flash’s Actionscript on the other hand, allows sounds to be added to a movie while the movie is playing.  It is possible to control the sound for a whole movie, and has a good library of sounds to choose from.

We hope that our article Silverlight vs Flash.  Part 1 has peaked your interest in RIA development, and that you are currently seeing the strengths and advantages of both Silverlight, and Flash.

The next article, Silverlight vs Flash.  Part 2, we will be looking at accessibility, platform compatibility, and how text, or more specifically search engine optimisation, is utilised.

It is our wish, that by the end of our Silverlight vs Flash articles, you will have chosen the right RIA application for your needs.

2 Responses to “Silverlight vs Flash. Part 1”
  1. godsmustbecrazy

    Well, I think it all depends on the function you’re trying to maximize. There are advantages of using Flash over Silverlight and there are also advantages of using Silverlight over Flash. If you’re a good web designer, you’ll know how to compensate one with the other.

  2. Web Design Expert

    As always, Flash still has a greater advantage over Silverlight. It’s more useful and really effective. I’ve tried the new Silverlight 3 and I still won’t trade Flash for it.

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