As anyone who regularly reads this blog will know, I’ve been looking into Silverlight of late. Nothing commercial as yet, just to fulfill my own geeky interests (if anyone is looking for Silverlight development get in touch). Throughout this experimentation and research I’ve also discussed Silverlight with other developers and designers from various small and large agencies particularly at a recent MS web agencies dinner in London.

Through all this investigation and chatter, I’ve drawn a conclusion of a problem that MS still have to solve:

There are still no way near enough “creatives/designers” willing to to experiment with the tools available for creating Silverlight applications.

Maybe this is obvious and I’m sure MS are well aware of this but I’m not sure enough is being done. The reason being, I myself and others are getting frustrated by not having anyone available to work with in order to create good-looking Silverlight applications and experiments.

.Net developers are excited by Silverlight, MS partners are excited by Silverlight, MS is excited by Silverlight… Designers couldn’t give two hoots about Silverlight.

This is pretty frustrating because there are a lot of very skillful .Net coders waiting to work with someone using this amazing workflow that is available between Visual Studio and Blend but there’s no-one there on the Blend end! Blend is a good tool, I’ve played around with it and realised what could be done if I could work with someone who, unlike myself has even the slightest bit of artistic flair. Unfortunately this person doesn’t exist yet, or at least is very hard to come by.

Microsoft,

Get the Expression tools available for Mac ASAP.
Do whatever’s needed to get designers comfortable and happy with using Expression Design and Expression Blend.
Throw more resources and free training at creative decision makers.
Make integration with Photoshop and other design tools as seemless as possible.

The devs are sold on Silverlight, the appeal of being able to use CLR languages in a rich environment is huge. But it’s fruitless without designers. We need more designers picking up these tools if you want your massive .net community to do some amazing things with Silverlight.

Until then, Flash and Flex are here, available on both platforms and have a passionate and loyal user-base. I appreciate Silverlight and the tools are only at version 1, but if you’re out to compete (and let’s not kid ourselves, you are), you can’t measure success on version numbers.