What? Why? Silverlight

What is Silverlight and why is it needed for MCM?

This is a question that is often on peoples mind when they are using MCM, so we thought about having a short non-techincal blog post to shed some light.

Silverlight is Application Frameworks by Microsoft Corp, that is used to create and run rich internet (browser-based) applications, such as MCM. These Frameworks have now been deprecated and are marked for sunset in 2020. Therefore, many internet applications that relied on Silverlight technology have been migrating to more advanced, and plugin free technology such as HTML5, Angular etc.

Silverlight is the underlying technology of the current MCM UI, which is featured in most, if not all the UI/Graphic based functionality, including the application display, login dialog, menu items etc. Silverlight, along with additional development code written in C#, allows our users to perform most of everything they do in MCM UI.

The current MCM UI would not work without Silverlight plugin as it is tightly integrated with the core functionality.  However, our Angular UI, when released, will have no reliance on Silverlight and no Silverlight plugins will be required.

Release v8.1

We have successfully deployed MCM v8.1 for most of our clients on September 15th 2017. This would be considered our final full release that relies on Silverlight technology. The latest release of MCM contains many functional enhancements, and a new feature that allows travelers to check-in while traveling or when back at home.

Migration from Silverlight to Angular

Having just released our latest version 8.1 (Silverlight), we are embarking on a new journey to take a major step into enhancing the underlying technology of MCM.

Privy to the fact that Silverlight is due to sunset in 2020, Charter had made an important decision earlier this year to actively evaluate other technologies to find a suitable replacement for Silverlight. The evaluation was strongly focused on the premise that a replacement option would not only have to support current functionality of the platform, but also provide ample flexibility to strengthen the platform in the future.

During the process, we evaluated quite a few technologies that could potentially support such migration plan, and came to a conclusion that ‘AngularJS’ would be the ideal replacement choice, and provide the most successful results.

We have therefore selected ‘Kendo UI for Angular’  as the technology of choice to replace Silverlight. The following represents some of the factors that aided in making the decision easier for us:

  • Kendo UI is provided by Telerik, therefore it supports many of the Telerik components that are already prevalent in our MCM User Interface (UI). We would predominantly use Kendo UI, but we would also write our own components when we don’t find an apt replacement .
  • Angular provides ability to use Javascript or Typescript, thereby allowing flexibility for application development.
  • All components of the Kendo UI frameworks are engineered for Angular, therefore all advancements in Angular frameworks are immediately realized with minimal code changes.
  • Angular is a specifically designed framework for dynamic Web Applications, and therefore provides the best performance for UI intensive platforms such as MCM. Since Angular is developed using Javascript, it is presumably compatible with all modern browsers.
  • Google continues to release routine version upgrades to the frameworks (v4.0 released in March ’17), which would enhance our ability in future releases, to introduce newer and innovative UI functionality to the platform.

Our CIO and Chief Architect of MCM, Thomas Pfeffer, has undertaken the responsibility to captain the migration project, and he along with his team have already taken huge successful steps to further this initiative, and speed past the checkpoints.