Silverlight 1.1 opens doors for .Net developers, says Intergen

Technology allows server-side developers to move into building rich internet applications

IT solutions provider Intergen has developed an online video editor using Microsoft’s new Silverlight technology. The video editor lets users create their own trailers for a mountain biking DVD on the cycling website www.vorb.org.nz.

Intergen used the Silverlight 1.1 alpha release to build the video editing tool, which works inside the web browser, says Chris Auld, Intergen’s director of strategy and innovation. The web-based video editor lets people create their own trailer for the DVD, called How About It, without needing their own video editing software, he says.

The makers of the DVD, mountain bikers Tim Pierce and Chris Arnison from Wanaka and Dunedin, wanted to do something more exciting than just release a standard trailer for their DVD, says Auld.

The editor lets the public edit clips of the biking footage to create their own trailers, using drag and drop functionality. Trailers posted on the site are eligible to win a Microsoft Zune Player, says Auld. Entries for the competition close in the end of September.

People wanting to use the editor need to install the alpha plug-in of the second version of Silverlight, not the 1.0 version, which came out of beta last week, says Nigel Parker, UX development advisor at Microsoft New Zealand. It requires people to be quite curious to download the 1.1 version and use the editing tool, says Parker, because it is not the version which was released to the public last week.

Silverlight 1.1 will be available to the public in about a year, says Parker. So, the disadvantages of using the 1.1 alpha are the usual ones for adopting a technology early, says Auld, such as the occasional bug and no examples to follow.

Intergen chose to use the 1.1 alpha release because it supports the .Net languages, and those are the preferred languages for the team, he says. The 1.0 version does not support .Net.

The major benefit of Silverlight 1.1, for Intergen, is that the team can write all of the code for the video editor in C# and the same .Net languages the team uses for its other work, says Auld. This makes it easier for the company to move from being a traditional HTML, web browser, Ajax-type shop, into the new arena of rich browser-based applications, he says.

The technical person who built the editor is usually a server-side application developer, he says.

“We can use all of the skills that we have got in Visual Studio and C# and re-apply them in the browser-based applications. We don’t have to learn any new tools, [which] makes it much easier for us to make that transition,” he says.

Intergen could probably have used another technology, for example Adobe Flash, to build the tool, but Auld says neither he, nor his organisation, know enough about Flash.

“We are not primarily a design shop, and not a large user of Flash. The key benefit of Silverlight for us is that we could step across really, really easily, and start building this type of application. We didn’t have to learn a new tool. We may have been able to build it with Flash, but it would have taken a lot longer.”

Another advantage is that Silverlight can deal with video all the way up to HD quality, Auld says.

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Tags .netDevelopment IDIntergensilverlight 1.1

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