How Silverlight Works

Silverlight Applications
The Echo myPlace application uses Silverlight to tie news stories to geographic locations.
The Echo myPlace application uses Silverlight to tie news stories to geographic locations.
(HSW Screenshot -- no credit)

The applications of Silverlight are nearly limitless. Silverlight's tools allow developers to create Web-based programs that range from utilitarian devices to challenging video games. Even though Silverlight is still a relatively young programming platform, there are dozens of applications already available on the Web.

It's not surprising that developers are using Silverlight to create streaming media players. The media players are similar to Flash media players -- the kind of applications used by Web sites like YouTube. These programs stream video and music from the Internet to a user's browser. Silverlight lets developers create themed video players that provide specific content. For example, the Futbol Mexicano Silverlight application streams video of Mexican soccer games to users. But Silverlight can do more than play videos.

Silverlight applications can be relatively simple, like hero bars. Hero bars are Web banners that feature blurbs and links to content found deeper in the Web site. Developers can use Silverlight to create a hero bar that can pull information and links from an RSS feed. The hero bar updates itself as the webmaster adds new content to the site.

Programmers can also use Silverlight to interact with other Web services. Twitterlight is a Silverlight application that taps into the Twitter microblog service. With Twitterlight, users can access their individual Twitter feeds and post new messages.

Buzzoggi uses Silverlight to gather hot topic key words from several news RSS feeds and display them in a cloud.
(HSW Screenshot -- no credit)

The TeamLive online productivity software application lets Silverlight users work together on projects. TeamLive gives users the ability to take screenshots of applications or Web sites and share them with other users. This makes collaboration among team members in different locations easier. The team can work together in real time to fix problems or streamline designs.

Games running on Silverlight can range from the simplistic to immersive adventures. For example, you can find traditional games like Hangman in Silverlight form, but you can also find arcade-style games such as Zero Gravity, a space-themed adventure game. Like Flash, Silverlight gives developers the resources necessary to create robust gaming experiences that users can access through a Web browser.

These applications are just the tip of the iceberg. As the Web becomes more sophisticated and people get access to more bandwidth, users will demand more from their browsing experiences. An increasing number of people are turning to the Internet for news, entertainment and productivity applications. Developers will have to use tools like Silverlight to meet consumer demand.

Silverlight has already made a big splash through a few strategic partnerships with more traditional media. We'll take a closer look at these relationships in the next section.