Thursday, January 22, 2009

RIA Applications for Python and Ruby Developers - with Silverlight 2

A while ago Cal Schrotenboer contacted me about an article on dynamic languages and Silverlight. He used chapter 13 of IronPython in Action for research, and its nice to finally see the article published:
If you're a Python or Ruby fan, you may feel you're missing out on all the latest developments in Rich Internet Applications. With support for Python and Ruby in Microsoft® Silverlight™ 2, dynamic language developers now have easy access to the latest RIA technologies.

Moreover, in my conversations with dynamic language developers, the rapid development cycle and the ability to see changes immediately without the need to recompile are the most commonly stated reasons for their preference for dynamic languages. This article will focus specifically on dynamic language support in the recently released Silverlight 2. This topic should be of potential interest to three categories of developers:

  1. Python or Ruby developers who would like to be able to use Python or Ruby in the browser.
  2. Classic C# and Visual Basic.NET developers who, based on my informal and non-scientific survey, most likely are not aware of the advantages that they might reap from using one of the dynamic languages in the right circumstances to supplement their normal development.
  3. Developers of any stripe who want to offer scripting capabilities to end users via a web application.

Currently, dynamic language support by Microsoft extends to three languages: Python, Ruby and JavaScript. Of these three Microsoft supported dynamic languages, the most advanced at this point is IronPython. Version 2.0, RC1 was released in October 2008. By contrast, IronRuby is still in Alpha for Release 1.0. (I am advised that for open source languages—which are continuously updated and not officially supported by Microsoft—there is not quite the same degree of significance associated with the terms Alpha and Beta.) The third language is Managed JScript, a Microsoft version of JavaScript.


  1. If you're a Python or Ruby fan, you may feel you're missing out on all the latest developments in Rich Internet Applications.

    No I don't, thank you. I don't want to use silverlight or the .NET, period. The lock-in not worth enough right now and won't be necessary later.

  2. Sure - use Flash instead. :-)

  3. Managed Javascript team is the most obscure team in this DLR landscape. I mean does anybody know if it is 1.0 or 0.xx?


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