November 8, 2009

Silverlight vs XUL for standalone applications

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexezh @ 7:28 pm

After a month of playing with XUL as a possible platform for standalone cross platform application XUL I am thinking of going back to Silverlight. Even so XUL (being a jscript based) provides unique abilities for customizing application at runtime, several things make Silverlight a better choice.

First of all – documentation. XUL documentation almost does not exist. There are some pages on the MDC site, but a lot of them are placeholders which do not explain anything. The best documentation is source code itself but reading code requires a lot of time at least on initial stages. In some cases documentation and source code is out of sync plus there are differences between firefox and base implementation.

Second is debugging. Nothing in XUL world come even remotely close by the functionality to the Visual studio debugger. The amount of time which VS debugger saves makes it worth to spend time digging into SL or C#. I am not a big fan of VS in general; for C++ development I am using WinDbg but even VS is infinitely better than Firebug.

Another great factor speaking for Silverlight is designer tools. The only way to edit XUL files is notepad which again is not very productive. In Blend one can create a UI for an application in a fraction of time required to implement the same in XUL.

Platform wise Silverlight runs on Windows and Mac which is sufficient for reaching the majority of audience.


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