Silverlight adoption hampered by economic crisis

Designers and developers say adoption of Microsoft's Silverlight technology has been hampered by tightening budgets.

In general, the addition of new technologies to IT projects also falls off in a faltering economy, others said.

"When there is a lot of money, there is a lot more freedom to do projects that are completely new," said Glenn Phillips, president of Forte, a consulting firm and custom development and design shop in Birmingham, Alabama. "That is where the new technologies get introduced."

However, "when the economy is tough, that's when people say, 'Let's just take care of what we've got built. That's not the point where you would go and change out your technologies," he said.

Still, it's not all bad news for Silverlight and UI design technologies in general. Forrester's West noted that some system integrators lately have added UI designers to teams that historically would not have included one. He said the economic slowdown may be allowing them to explore how they can use new technologies even if they aren't currently deploying them in projects.

"People have more time on their hands so they're looking at new technology and roles, or whether there is a desire by their customers to [use those technologies]," West said.

Having a UI designer on a project that involves Silverlight is key to unlocking the potential for the technology, twentysix New York's Dewey said. He said while it was clever of Microsoft to integrate .NET into Silverlight, it also makes it easy for developers who have no creative talent to do UI design.

The end result may be the development of applications with clunky UIs built by inexperienced designers, which could turn people off of Silverlight and not realize what can really be done with the technology, he said.

"There's nothing to stop developers from sending out applications [with] no real aesthetics work," Dewey said. "People will start releasing stuff in Silverlight that when compared side by side in Flash" doesn't look as good, he said, which could give Silverlight a poor reputation.

Serenity Software's Peterson, who specializes in explaining to businesses how better human interaction with computer UIs could save them money and make their businesses run more efficiently, said some of his clients are using Silverlight to improve their UIs. However, this use has been limited to adding more creative UIs to applications that already run on the .NET platform, he said.

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