[Moonlight-list] Is Moonlight dead?

Miguel de Icaza miguel at xamarin.com
Thu Dec 15 20:28:53 EST 2011


I see no activity in the mailing list and github; Silverlight 5 is
> already released, Moonlight is two versions behind; does it all mean
> that Moonlight is dead? Will there be any successor for moonlight or
> we may consider silverlight as dead platform for cross-platform
> webapplications?

None of the developers that used to work full time on Moonlight are working
full time on Moonlight anymore.

Some work for Xamarin now, some have gone on different paths.

Some of the work that we did for Moonlight improved Mono in many
significant ways (a stable IL verifier, a working sandbox, coreclr
security, error recovery and much more).   Some of the other work I believe
is a gold mine of technology, in particular our media pipeline, the
rendering/layout code and the animation framework.   Perhaps someone would
find a use for that code in the future, we currently do not have plans to
continue developing Moonlight.

There are several reasons.   From a community perspective, we never managed
to get much traction to get contributions to improve the stack and share
the development effort with.  This had the very negative side effect that
without a sponsored team, Moonlight development would quickly stop.

Although Microsoft released some key bits of the style and controls from
Silverlight 2 to use in Moonlight 2, the more advanced and complex
components for supporting 3 and 4 were not yet open sourced, so those areas
in Moonlight suffer as an effect.

The Silverlight vision was on a great path (despite some bloat making it
into its design, or some very complicated and over-engineered bits of
technology making it into the stack).   But key components that would have
allowed Silverlight to become a real cross-platform framework were cut from
the releases, like full File System Access which just doomed Silverlight to
be a web-only plugin.   Silverlight's fate was sealed when they started
supporting Windows-only features in the plugin.

I felt that Silverlight had a bright future, and that it could turn to fill
an important void, not only for web development, but for desktop
development in general.  And this was largely one of my motivators.   I am
very sad that Microsoft strategy cut the air supply to Silvelright.

Finally, Microsoft seems to be going back to a Windows-only vision of the
world.   They have a third reimplementation of the XAML/UI stack, this time
on top of WinRT.

I do not think that a full open source WinRT stack makes sense at this
point for two reasons:  (a) the world has changed and developers now
believe in writing the business logic once, and multiple UIs (for example,
a desktop UI and a web UI, or a desktop UI and a mobile UI) and (b) because
judging by previous experience, we would hardly get contributors, we would
be 12-24 months late to get some apps on Mac/Linux.

At this point, I just advise developers to write their apps by splitting
their UI from their engine code.   This ensures that you will have a great
UI experience on every platform (Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows and Web)
and that the only thing preventing you from shipping your code is not a
third party catching up to the latest Microsoft APIs, but yourself.

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