New York Times proves out Silverlight integration in a native Mac application

by Jon Davis 24. May 2008 19:46

New York Times has migrated their popular WPF-based New York Times Reader to the Mac, using Silverlight and native Cocoa windowing and application logic, and using the Safari / WebKit API as a Silverlight wrapper. (Darn it, I knew it was both doable and legal!)

http://firstlook.nytimes.com/?p=49 

It doesn't have the text flow feature that WPF was so fantastically good at, but being as text flow is rumored as "coming soon", either for NY Times' reader or for Silverlight, I'm pretty excited about the future of that. 

I blogged about the feasability of this (native, non-web cross-platform apps with Silverlight rendering) just days ago, motivating myself to outright buy a Mac since I didn't see anyone bothering to try. Now that someone has not only tried but succeeded and released a significant product based on it, I feel a little mixed -- part bummed that I didn't get to post first-discoveries, but part excited that Silverlight has potential for an Adobe AIR-like wrapper, both technically and legally.

The NY Times Reader for Mac sure isn't running on WPF, though, and it shows. The user experience is clunky and the lack of text flow is painful (try resizing the window or scaling the text). The whole thing is nothing like the WPF version, except only for the initial screenshot appearance (without interacting) and, perhaps, the actual content.

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Microsoft Windows | Web Development | Mac OS X | WPF

Embeddable Cross-Platform Silverlight

by Jon Davis 15. May 2008 00:02

I've been wanting to start discovering cross-platform development with Mono, MonoDevelop, Gecko#, C++, XPCOM, XUL, XULRunner, WebKit, et al. I have a couple vaporware apps in mind and I have just purchased a Mac Mini and an iPhone mainly for this purpose. And meanwhile since Silverlight happens to be cross-platform as well, I was curious about its licensing. Theoretically, one can accomplish an Adobe AIR-like cross-platform application implementation using Silverlight and XUL or WebKit. Problem is, I had heard that Silverlight was explicitly written to disallow it from being used on anything but a standard HTML web browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer).

After spending an hour or so poking at the n00b tutorials on XUL and XPCOM, I went to the Silverlight site and spent several minutes looking everywhere for the darn EULA. (Sadly, after finding it, once I hopped on this blog editor I lost it and it took another 15 minutes to find it again.)

http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/resources/LicenseWin.aspx and http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/silverlight/cc307279.aspx

I didn't see any such limitation there, nothing about "thou shalt only use Silverlight in a 'standard web browser', namely Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari".  There are some limitations, of course, such as perhaps redistribution, which theoretically if the app is a XUL app can be deal with using HTML+JS+XUL+XPI, getting Silverlight into thinking it's downloading and installing itself through and onto Firefox. (All theory, of course.)

On a side topic, if anyone out there is reading this, can someone tell me why there are almost no open discussions correlating XUL and XAML/WPF? They seem to attempt to do the same basic function--create apps using XML and components--albeit WPF is far more powerful and versatile in itself as a tool in its niche, whereas XUL is Javascript/HTML friendly and is cross-platform.

UPDATE: After discussing with a buddy who's done cross-platform .NET programming with Mono, apparently Glade + GTK# has an XML markup language that also meets the same objective.

On second thought, maybe I just wasn't searching hard enough. I see a lot of hits here: http://www.google.com/search?q=xul+vs+xaml

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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