Thoughts on OneClick/Silverlight vs Flex/AIR
With the continued push by Adobe and Microsoft into the desktop RIA world, and Microsoft improvements in the Silverlight space, the question of OneClick vs AIR will become an important battle ground in which technology is chosen. Silverlight 3.0 will continue to chase down Flex, and in some areas exceed what Flex offers (e.g. IoC, modules, language features – LINQ).
The Silverlight vs Flex decision will soon be simply down to a decision on what software engineer skillset your company currently has. The feature set between the two technologies I suspect will be pretty much identical, with the release cycle determining the coolest UI features per platform as any point in time. Adobe Flash has the better install footprint, but over pretty soon I suspect you should expect to find Flash and Silverlight installed at any corporate that could be accessing your RIA.
Which leads us to the desktop runtime support. AIR vs OneClick. Now as far as I can see, to support AIR you need to compile your Flex code for AIR. So to offer you application within a browser, and on the desktop, you need both a Flash Flex build and a AIR Flex build – two separate binaries. Likewise, in the .NET world you’d essentially have to have your .NET Silverlight build and your WPF build. Now in .NET if you’re using something like Prism the multi target support provides a Visual Studio solution to build WPF and Silverlight applications using the same source files. So assuming the .NET runtime or the AIR runtime is installed on the desktop there is probably not much difference between the two from a perspective of having to build separate binaries.
What is clear from this posting is that the gloves are off between both companies, which can only help the end user and the software engineer 🙂
Currently I suspect Microsoft has more resources, more cash and more of a will to succeed than Adobe. Adobe has had a lead for a while now with Flex in the RIA space, but Silverlight is catching up fast. On a final note, Microsoft does have a better Virtual Machine, a better compile and a better development stack.