In our last article, Silverlight vs Flash. Part 1, we looked at how Silverlight and Flash, compared in the realms of video and audio, sound processing, scripting, file size, and animation.
The aim of this article and all the articles on Silverlight vs Flash, is to help you as a developer of RIAs, to make an informed choice on which is the best RIA for a particular project.
This article will compare more elements, that RIAs such as Silverlight and Flash, utilise to create their applications.
Accessibility. Always a crucial point, here is how the two development tools compare.
Silverlight 3 can provide access to all system colors, which means that the operating system controls can be accessed by partially sighted people to make them more readable.
This is the only browser plug-in of its kind that can do this.
Flash’s rich accessibility features, allow a range of controls for people with disabilities. Video captions are very useful for people with poor or no hearing, while its compatibility with screen readers and other devices of that ilk, are enhanced by making it fully functional with keyboard shortcuts. This allows standard playback controls such as play, rewind, etc, to be fully utilised on the keyboard. Flash takes this one step forward by allowing these functions to be tabbed, and therefore making this much easier to use for a lot of people. To make this an even more accessible, they also have built in volume adjustment via the number keys, and the “Home”, and “End” keys can be used to skip to the beginning or an end of a range.
Platform compatibility. What operating systems do the two development tools run on?
Silverlight supports Windows Vista/XP/2000, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows Mobile 6, Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (PowerPC) and Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (Intel). It does not support Linux, or Solaris, so the Silverlight experience will not run on these operating systems.
Flash supports Windows Vista/XP/2000, Windows Server 2003/2008, Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (PowerPC), Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (Intel), Linux 5, openSUSE 11, Ubuntu 7.10 or later and Solaris 10.
Text and SEO. Does Silverlight get the nod over Flash?
Silverlight treats text as a separate entity on a web server, and subsequently applications are fully searchable and indexed by search engines. User interfaces are declared in XAML and programmed in the .NET framework. Annimation and vector graphics can be marked up using XAML.
Though Flash has traditionally not been very SEO friendly, Adobe working in conjunction with Google and Yahoo, have had some success in making Flash more friendly to search engines. Currently Google has made progress in indexing Flash applications. As MSN tend to work on Silverlight, it probably wont be hurrying to make its own search engines, more Flash friendly.
The problem with Flash, is that it does not recognise TTF, and recognises fonts as shape deffinitions. So the text cannot be layered, and therefore searchable.
Supported image formats. What files do they support?
Silverlight supports maily JPEG, and PNG file formats. Other formats are supported, but generally with limitations.
Flash supports almost all file formats.
Providing a security policy file is in place, Silverlight supports a cross domain socket communications between a Silverlight applications and any server. Silverlight supports sockets programming through the System.Net.Sockets namespace, and supports sending data back and forth across a socket over ports ranging from 4502 to 4534.
Flash on the other hand uses a different method. The XMLSocket object implements client sockets that allow computers running Flash, to communicate with a server computer identified by an IP address, or domain name.
To use the XMLSocket object, the server computer runs a daemon that understands the protocol used by the XMLSocket object. Shown below:
• XML messages are sent over a full-duplex TCP/IP stream socket connection.
• Each XML message is a complete XML document, terminated by a zero byte.
• An unlimited number of XML messages can be sent and received over a single XMLSocket connection.
We hope Silverlight vs Flash. Part 2, is proves useful to helping you decide which is the better development tool for your project.
Silverlight vs Flash. Part 3, will detail webcam support, deployment, and media streaming capabilities of both.