Silverlight is the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis of WPF/e. The e always stood for everywhere, so we have known for a while that a ligthwieght CLR was being delivered, but the extent of the support seems to have caught a few people by suprise. It will be interesting to figure out the delivery sweetspots for ASP.NET now between AJAX, Silverlight, and good old server-side code; however, I think the answer depends a lot on who your market is.
Personally I was a little more excited by the DLR services annoucement. The DLR enhancements, shipping initially in Silverlight, make dynamic language features easier to implement in .NET – and lead to the promise of an Iron Ruby. I’ve targeted Ruby as my ‘learn a new language every year’ so I’m jazzed that it is going to get support in the .NET framework. But the VBx announcement is also a positive development. IMO VB has languished as a ‘me too’ language that seems to compete 1-on-1 with C# for its feature set, without any clear sense of identity. VB used to be the high-productivity tool for delivering on the MS platform, but in the .NET world little differentiates it from C#; apart from syntax and easier COM interop. VBx puts it into competition with the scripting languages like Ruby and Python that have been winning converts in recent years and pitches it as a competitor by supporting it in and out of the .NET framework. If I was a VB developer I would be pleased at these developments, which seem to give the language a renewed sense of purpose.
And speaking indirectly of the competition from Rails, Jasper, a convention over confguration data layer sounds interesting – but I have not had a chance to download it and take a look. Still Rails has an Active Record pattern that hits high productivity due to its convention over configuration mantra, so it will be interesting to see how Jasper evolves. What’s doubly interesting is that it is built atop the Entity Framework – which I was slamming the other week – perhaps there is life in that dog yet.
Like Jasper, Astoria got less publicity but looks equally interesting, especially bearing in mind Tim Ewald’s recent conversion to REST. Astoria looks very RESTful so it may be interesting to see how this pans out as an alternative to SOAP based RPC style web services. Again Astoria is built atop the Entity Framework – so it looks like that dog is wagging his tail happily.