Silverlight 3 Features

Silverlight 3 introduces major media enhancements, out of browser support allowing Web applications to work on the desktop; significant graphics improvements including perspective 3D graphics support, GPU acceleration and H.264 video support; and many features to improve RIA development productivity. To fully integrate all the .NET developer tools, Visual Studio 2008, Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Web Developer Express support a fully editable and interactive designer for Silverlight.

New features in Silverlight 3 include:

Support for Higher Quality Video & Audio

With support for native H.264/Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) Audio, live and on-demand IIS7 Smooth Streaming, full HD (720p+) playback, and an extensible decoder pipeline, Silverlight 3 brings rich, full-screen, stutter-free media experiences to the desktop. New and enhanced media features in Silverlight 3 include:

  • Live and on-demand true HD (720p+) Smooth Streaming. IIS Media Services (formerly IIS Media Pack), an integrated HTTP media delivery platform, features Smooth Streaming which dynamically detects and seamlessly switches, in real time, the video quality of a media file delivered to Silverlight based on local bandwidth and CPU conditions.
  • More format choice. In addition to native support for VC-1/WMA, Silverlight 3 now offers users native support for MPEG-4-based H.264/AAC Audio, enabling content distributors to deliver high-quality content to a wide variety of computers and devices.
  • True HD playback in full-screen. Leveraging graphics processor unit (GPU) hardware acceleration, Silverlight experiences can now be delivered in true full-screen HD (720p+).
  • Extensible media format support. With the new Raw AV pipeline, Silverlight can easily support a wide variety of third-party codecs. Audio and video can be decoded outside the runtime and rendered in Silverlight, extending format support beyond the native codecs.
  • Industry leading content protection Silverlight DRM, Powered by PlayReady Content Protection enables protected in- browser experiences using AES encryption or Windows Media DRM

Empowering Richer Experiences

Silverlight 3 contains new 3D graphics, animation features, hardware accelerated effects and text improvements that enable designers and developers to create next generation Web visuals.

  • Perspective 3D Graphics. Silverlight 3 allows developers and designers to apply content to a 3D plane. Users can rotate or scale live content in space without writing any additional code. Other effects include creating a queue in 3D and transitions.
  • Pixel Shader Effects. These software based effects include blur and drop shadow. In addition, you can also write your own effect. Effects can be applied to any graphical content. For example, you can make a button appear depressed on the rollover state by using a drop-shadow effect on the pressed visual state.
  • Bitmap Caching. Dramatically improves the rendering performance of applications by allowing users to cache vector content, text, and control into bitmaps. This feature is useful for background content and for content which needs to scale without making changes to its internal appearance.
  • New Bitmap API. Developers can write pixels to a bitmap. Thus, they can build a photo editor to do red-eye correction, perform edits on scanned documents or create specials effects for cached bitmaps from elements on the screen.
  • Themed application support. Now, developers can theme applications by applying styles to their Silverlight 3 applications and change them at runtime. Additionally, developers can cascade styles by basing them on each other.
  • Animation Effects. Silverlight 3 Beta provides new effects such as spring and bounce. These make animation more natural. Developers can also create their own mathematical functions to describe an animation.
  • Enhanced control skinning. Provides easier skinning capabilities by keeping a common set of controls external from an application. This allows the sharing of styles and control skins between different applications.
  • Improved text rendering & font support. Render and speed up the animation of text. Applications also load faster by enabling the use of local fonts.

Improving Rich Internet Application Productivity

  • 60+ controls with source code. Packed with over 60 high-quality, fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls: charting and media, new layout containers including dock and viewbox, and autocomplete, treeview, and datagrid are a few highlights. The controls come with nine professional designed themes. The source code can be modified/recompiled or utilized as-is. Other additions include multiple selection in listbox controls, file save dialog (making it easier to write files), and support for multiple page applications with navigation.
  • Deep Linking. Includes support for deep linking, which enables bookmarking a page within a RIA.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Enables users to solve the SEO-related challenges posed by RIAs. By utilizing business objects on the server, together with ASP.NET controls and site maps, users can automatically mirror database-driven RIA content into HTML that is easily indexed by the leading search engines.

Enhanced Data Support

  • Element to Element binding : UI designers use binding between two UI properties to create compelling UI experiences. Silverlight now enables property binding to CLR objects and other UI components via XAML, for instance binding a slider value to the volume control of a media player.
  • Data Forms. Control provides support for layout of fields, validation, updating and paging through data.
  • New features for data validation. Automatically catch incorrect input and warn the user with built-in validation controls.
  • Support for business objects. Easily load, sort, filter, and page data with added support (on both client and server with n-Tier data support). Includes a new built-in CollectionView to perform a set of complex operations against server side data. A new set of .NET RIA services supports these features on the server.

Improved performance

  • Application library caching reduces the size of applications by caching framework on the client in order to improve rendering performance.
  • Enhanced Deep Zoom, allows users to fluidly navigate through larger image collections by zooming.
  • Binary XML allows communication with the server to be compressed, greatly increasing the speed at which data can be exchanged.
  • Local Connection This feature allows communication between two Silverlight applications on the client-side without incurring a server roundtrip: for instance, a chart in one control can communicate with a datagrid in another.

Out of Browser Capabilities

Silverlight 3 offers a new set of features for building light-weight, sandboxed companion experiences for the Web that run on the desktop. Silverlight out of browser allows websites to build even closer, persistent relationships with customers. It enables the application to be placed in a restricted store on the user’s machine; and then provide a link directly to it from the user’s desktop or start menu. This is all enabled within Silverlight 3 without any additional download of runtime or the need to write applications in a different way. An application can now be easily found on the user’s desktop or start menu, and launched with a single click. In addition, it can test if the network is connected, it can update itself, and can also have access to Isolated Storage. Taken together, these features represent a radical upgrade to the web experience:

  • Desktop shortcuts and start menu support. Place an application on the desktop and be one click away from your customer.
  • Run outside of browser. You no longer need the distraction of the browser chrome.
  • Safer, more secure, sandboxed. An application can be trusted without security warnings, keeping your customers safer.
  • Consumer friendly non-administrator install. Applications are held in a cache and do not require any privileges to run.
  • Built in auto-update. An application will check for new versions on the server and update on launch.
  • Connectivity detection (in browser, out of browser) – can detect a loss of connection and then chose to cache users work until the reconnect

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/overview/top-features/all-features.aspx

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