ASP.NET 3.x --- WPF --- Silverlight


Amir Tohidi


I am trying to get my head around where/how the above technologies fit in
the Microsoft world/roadmap.

For example, I read that WPF applications can be hosted in Browsers. Then I
read that Silverlight is basically the Web subset of WPF.

And there is of course ASP.NET!!!

Can any point me to a good site or document that explains the positioning of
these technologies?


Cowboy \(Gregory A. Beamer\)

I don't know of a single site, but here is the skinny.

ASP.NET is Microsoft's framework technology for web applications. Windows
forms has long been the technology for windows apps, but they came out with
the release of WPF last year, which is another windows desktop technology,
although the UI is expressed in XML (XAML), so there is complete separation
of UI and code.

When released, there was a rudimentary runtime that could run in browsers.
It was originally XBAP. This was refined to use a small runtime "plug in"
and called WPF/E. This has been rebranded Silverlight. This is a subset of
the full functionality of WPF, but it is a rather broad subset.

Silverlight 1.0 uses JavaScript to contact the server bits, so there is no
client side coding in .NET. Silverlight 2.0 (formerly 1.1) uses a mini-.NET
runtime, so you can code client side in any .NET language and have it run on
all supported platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, UNIX, ????).

You can then add AJAX, which is the natural extension of xmlhttp programming
of the late 90s (just took a lot of years to come to maturity, if one
considers it mature now). ASP.NET AJAX is an AJAX framework for ASP.NET.

Gregory A. Beamer

| Think outside the box!

bruce barker (

In general Silverlight is Microsofts answer to adobe's Flash/ Flex framework.

WPF is for .net windows apps, but if bundled right and follows rules can be
hosted by IE. This is not really recommended anymore, and can be ignored by
web applications.

you would use silverlight for the same reasons you would use flash/flex,
though you are restricted to fewer browsers and your user probably will need
to install silverlight (flash has a 99% installed base over the internet).

the main reasons for silverlight/flash use is video/audio support, game
writing, very complex ui, etc. I'd avoid use for simple buttons, menus etc,
as your users will pay a heaver page load cost for little benefit over an
ajax/dhtml solution.

a good flex example is browser hosted this image editing software (there are
several examples), and several games:

-- bruce (


The biggest key thing about 1.1 is this:

.. Silverlight (1.1) also includes a mini version of the CLR, complete
with an essential set of core classes, a garbage collector, a JIT compiler,
generics support, etc, etc. Developers can take code written for the
..NET CLR and use it in a Silverlight application with only moderate changes.

Again, that book is worth the few bucks if you're serious about doing some
silverlight experimenting.

But I think the "MS replacement/alternative to Flash" is a good and brief

Amir Tohidi


Thanks to everyone for replying with their very useful insights.

If I have understood everyone's points and the reading I did last night then
in summary:

- Silverlight = Microsoft's Flash/Flex basher!

- WPF = New Windows GUI platform / approach (replaces things like MFC
Document/View and .NET WinFroms

- ASP.NET (+AJAX) = Microsoft's web site development solution for generating
(D)HTML based web pages

Thanks again

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