Silverlight Web Hosting Requirements
Silverlight is a cross-browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, etc.), cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc) plug-in that delivers ASP.NET-based media, such as music, videos and other streaming entertainment services. Similar to flash programs like Adobe Flash Player, Silverlight allows you to view these media applications directly in your browser in a streamed setting–that means you can watch videos and listen to music in near-real time. Silverlight can also be integrated with other web applications.
Microsoft is synonymous with technology, so it is no surprise that it is always looking into new ways to push Internet technology to its limits and capitalize on the success of its products and services by offering everything under one brand. Thus, when Microsoft launched Silverlight to compete with other online flash media applications, the industry took notice. Now, Silverlight is one of the lead competitors in the online media market.
- Silverlight 3 includes an increased number of controls – including but not limited to DataGrid, TreeView, various layout panels, DataForm for forms-driven applications and DataPager for viewing paginated data. Some of these controls are from the Silverlight Toolkit.
- In addition, Silverlight 3 includes a navigation framework to let Silverlight applications use the hyperlinked navigation model as well as enabling deep-linking (linking directly to specific pages) within Silverlight applications.
- On the media front, Silverlight 3 supports AAC audio decoding as well as hardware-accelerated H.264 video decoding.
- Silverlight 3 also offers 1080p smooth streaming. The native multimedia pipeline is also programmatically exposed, so that other formats can also be supported by third-parties using managed code decoders.
- Empowers Richer Experiences – Silverlight 3 includes new 3D graphics, animation features and text improvements that enable designers and developers to create next generation Web visual experiences. These include:
- Perspective 3D Graphics
- Pixel Shader effects
- Themed application support
- Animation Effects, like spring and bounce
- Improved text rendering & font support
- 60+ controls with source code – Silverlight 3 comes with 60+ fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls such as charting, autocomplete, treeview and datagrid.
- Deep Linking – Silverlight 3 includes support for deep linking, enabling bookmarking a page within your rich internet application.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Silverlight 3 enables users to solve the SEO-related challenges by utilizing business objects on the server, together with ASP.NET controls and site maps, to automatically mirror database-driven rich internet application (RIA) content into HTML that can be search engine indexed.
- Out of Browser Capabilities – Silverlight 3 enables users new out of browser experiences, that is the ability to place their favorite Silverlight applications directly onto their PC or Mac, with links on the desktop and start menu—all without the need to download an additional runtime or browser plug-in.
Requirements to View Silverlight
To view Silverlight applications on any web server in the world, install the Silverlight plugin on your computer. If you are on a website that uses Silverlight (your own site or any other site), view the applications just by installing the plugin. If you have not installed it, the website will prompt you to do so.
In essence, there are no requirements to view Silverlight applications except that you install the plugin. That means any computer in the world (whether Mac, PC or other) can view websites utilizing Silverlight technology.
Silverlight Hosting Requirements
Hosting Silverlight is an easy process, no real server requirements are necessary. Because Silverlight has the same requirements as any HTML pages might, you can run Silverlight on any Linux or Windows server.
You will, however, want to ensure you are hosting on a dedicated server or virtual private server for most Silverlight hosting. That is because Silverlight can be resource-heavy, especially if you are planning to host a large media or entertainment website. Discuss this with your chosen web hosting provider, as there be less expensive alternatives.
Tips and Tricks
While Silverlight can be hosted on any machine, you may run into some very normal problems loading the applications. If so, try one of these tips:
* If working in Windows IIS, register the MIME type for the XAP file extension. Occasionally, this is a good tip in Linux environments as well, though your web host may already have updated this if it claims to be a “Silverlight compatible host.”
* If you are looking to try a free service to see how Silverlight works, try Microsoft’s own Silverlight Streaming. It is a free Silverlight hosting alternative.
Having been a support technician for a web hosting company myself, I would recommend hosting your Silverlight website on a dedicated server. Because of the resource usage that Silverlight applications can often consume, it is always the best alternative to ensure your website is not sluggish and you are not dragging down a shared web hosting environment. Visit Microsoft’s website for more details, as they have an abundance of useful and easy-to-understand information and tutorials via the forums, FAQs, videos and more.