Tag Archives: silverlight

Welcome #TypeScript – a.k.a. the Future is JavaScript

Disclaimer: It’s 4 am in the morning, and I have to get this out of my system. Apologies if I sound like I am rambling.

[Update October 2, 2012: If you want a ‘no-rumor’ Introduction to TypeScript head over to my post on www.devcurry.com]

What is TypeScript?

A few hours ago Anders Hejlsberg the father of C# and Microsoft Fellow launched to the world, via a Channel9 Video his latest baby – TypeScript, a type conformant superset of JavaScript that compiles down to JavaScript as of now. Nearly simultaneously Microsoft Developer Division’s head honcho Somasegar announced it on his blog as well. The site www.typescriptlang.org went live too.

Initial Reaction

My first initial reaction was knee-jerk and ‘why another Dart’ and ‘this is Java all over again’. Lots of .NET devs had the same reaction (refer to the first comment on the thread in the Channel 9 video) Smile.

After I watched the entire video, I would be lying if I said I don’t like TypeScript. As much as I hate to learn new syntax again, the pervasiveness of JavaScript has hit me over the last few years and grudgingly (at first, and out of a a necessity now) I have adopted JavaScript (rather JS Frameworks) as essential additions to my web development toolkit.

Good parts about TypeScript are

1. Follows the developing ECMAScript6 standard proposal and is going to keep updating itself till the proposal is adopted.

2. Will emit JavaScript making it truly write-once run anywhere.

3. Superb tooling support.

[Update]

4. How can I forget, it’s open source and code is on the next hippest thing to GitHub (Git on Codeplex).

[/Update]

Something like TypeScript is heaven sent for C# junkies like me. So in short am I interested in TypeScript? Hell yeah!

Conspiracy Theories

What’s Microsoft without a few conspiracy theories? My favorite MS gossip source is @MossyBlog from www.riagenic.com. Sometime ago he tweeted that MS is planning to kill .NET. No one took him seriously. But now let me conspire and cook up a few theories of my own, with tongue firmly planted in cheek here I go:

1. TypeScript is DevDiv’s revenge for killing of Silverlight. Silverlight was killed in Win8 in favor of JavaScript and HTML5 and WinJS was cooked up hastily. TypeScript is the comeback kid. It’s JavaScript, it works with the HTML5 story and as per Soma you can build Win8 apps using it. Woo hoo! Strike 1 DevDiv.

2. TypeScript is open source! BAM! Take that WinDiv! Strike 2 DevDiv.

2. Embrace evolution of .NET: Developers all over the world will have to embrace the evolution of .NET. In other words, soon there will be only C, C++, Assembly at low level and JavaScript at high level. Everything else will be JavaScript emitter. So by next release of Windows you will probably having a C# compiler that emits JavaScript (ECMAScript 6).

3. I will go out on a limb and say, the Windows Desktop as we know today is in it’s last iteration. Next version of Windows will boot to a ‘desktop replacement’ that runs on the IE engine. WinJS Apps already do this today. Tomorrow everything will be JS. Boot to the web! In your face ChromeBooks!

4. Don’t hate on the phrase ‘Application Scale’ it only means applications as rich as Silverlight/XAML and WinForms. Now for the biggest JavaScript fan will also admit that JavaScript wasn’t the best for these things.

5. TypeScript might just be the convergence point of DevDiv and WinDiv where they call a truce and live happily hereafter Winking smile.

Signing off

As someone who skipped the XAML/Silverlight bus, I never really got worked up with the so called death of Silverlight or WPF. Only now I have started using XAML and I say good riddance. WinRT may not be perfect, but a fresh start is fine.

But the nagging question for millions of Silverlight folks around the globe, why did MS have to kill SL, well they didn’t, they were busy building TypeScript, an eventual successor for it!

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Why are .NET Devs in knots after Windows 8 demo?

Okay, I had to throw my hat in the ring/shit storm/tornado that’s hit the .NET world after Microsoft demoed Windows 8. At the eye of the storm is the remark made during the demo implying HTML5 and Javascript tooling would be made available to developers to develop for Windows 8.

Now, if you take a bird’s eye view of this statement, you can look at it in all sorts of positive ways like

1. Javascript was finally becoming mainstream in MS world
2. We would have another ‘language’ in our repertoire to develop windows applications on.
3. IE engine was replacing the static desktop with dynamic desktop (fact that it’s been around since IE4 can be set aside for a moment) for Windows and heck they managed to put both (IE and classic desktop) side by.

Beyond this everything else is conjecture. However you put it, except for people working for MS in Windows and .NET team, no one knows any better. Then why this shit-storm and name calling and juvenile behavior from so many .NET devs?

Let’s delve a little deeper but continue with the positive stream of thought. Microsoft has been giving mixed signals about Silverlight and I would consider ONLY Bob Muglia’s comment to Mary Jo Foley (here) regarding what MS thinks of SL’s placement as a development platform – LoB and Mobile. Anything outside this, like posts, by Scott Barnes (@Mossyblog) or Mary Jo Foley (@maryjofoley) proclaiming death of SL or WPF is still conjecture. They may have ‘inside sources’ but unless MS officially declares ‘End of life’ for any of the products/tools in debate, it’s nothing but hot air.

However, it’s not hard to imagine in a huge bureaucratic company like MS (again that’s my assumption, I don’t know anyone personally in MS who could tell me so) there will be power struggles and duplication of work and more power struggle. So let’s for a minute assume Windows 8 team didn’t like the existing client development tools and decided to roll a new platform, I would say SO WHAT! They are still Microsoft, if one team gets an upperhand in a power-struggle then the other team will have to fall in line sooner or later. What does that mean? Well that means if HTML5 and Javascript is the new mantra, the developer tools will follow.

That brings us to the arguments – ‘what happens to my investment in SL/WPF/.NET’? I find this question silly, and here are the reasons why:

1. If you made an investment in SL/WPF/.NET stick with it, MS didn’t say they are pulling plug on SL or WPF or .NET in Windows 8 or anytime soon. Now let’s see what type of investment you made:

  • You built an enterprise app on SL that works great, it will work for the next 10 years probably but I doubt your business will need the same app for 10 years.
  • You built 5 Windows Phone apps, great, keep them in SL till a mature HTML 5/JS platform appears that can do more that what your SL app can do.
  • You built a LoB app, great, keep it around till Business doesn’t need it anymore.
  • I really don’t see where your investment is going! Much less going down the drain!

2. Software Development has always ‘evolved’ and software developers have evolved with it. Crying about why SL/WPF is not a ‘first class’ platform in a future OS falls in the ‘spoilt-brat’ or ‘lazy-ass’ category. GROW UP and improve your skills as and when required!

3. What makes you think Microsoft’s development products division won’t come up with creative ways to continue to use all your existing front end/UI and .NET knowledge to serve up native Windows 8 apps (that are actually HTML and JS)?  In fact today there is a mono compiler that converts IL to JS (https://github.com/kevingadd/JSIL).

4. Are we cribbing just because it’s HTML and javascript? That’s snobbish behavior best left to ‘others’. OMG JavaScript! is just not an argument and one who is making it doesn’t know javascript, period!

A lot of us (so called loyal MS fans) have often cribbed how MS always rolls it’s own, never follows standards and acts like a bully! If that’s true, then hey, this time they got it bang on target right? Then why this hullaboo?

Personally, I started my career as a VB6 developer (mind you all VB6 and rich client and no ASP). Three years down I moved on to C#, since then I’ve tried Java and VB.NET for ‘non UI’ development. But sometime around 5 years ago I realized Rich Client platform wasn’t going to ‘cut-it’ and started on ASP.NET skills, rolled my own MVC framework using ASP.NET Webforms and didn’t feel a bit dis-concerting when MS came out with MVC framework themselves. In fact I couldn’t be happier. Did I throw out my work overnight? No, the app still works on the custom framework I built for it, but when I need it to do something that’s much easier or already handled in the new framework I’ll move to the new one. I have done very little work on WPF (only a couple of prototypes, one of which is available for download on this site) and minimal work with SL (built a multiple file upload and preview control in the above web app). I have been leaning towards learning/using Javascript better and using some of the existing javascript libraries, because just like I felt ‘Rich-client’ wasn’t cutting it, I can now see the ‘server-side’ event model and post-backs on web apps aren’t cutting it. Partial postback and async is the name of the game. Doing it without plugins is an added bonus. If MS just upped the ante on that front, by enabling windows applications using HTML/javascript, I would go for it… Just don’t forget to ‘show me the dev-tools baby’ because I don’t want to work with any other dev tools…

To conclude, the .NET devs should just quit being juvenile or just quit. They are making a mockery out of not just themselves but the entire .NET community. I was initially confused at @Pete_Brown’s comments on twitter till he pointed us to the silverlight forum where I found a long list of comments that he had to moderate. Feel sorry for you Pete, indeed your employers have put you between a rock and a hard place. Don’t worry there are plenty of us, eagerly waiting to see what comes out of //Build/

Finally to MS, keep your in-fighting to yourselves just show us a happy face everytime and we’ll continue put faith in your OS and Dev tools. Last but not least, super awesome demo of Windows8. Let’s kick some competitors’ butts with it.

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