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Microsoft Promotes Tools for Silverlight on Mac

Microsoft's attempts to plug in to cross-platform got more convincing last week when development on the Macintosh became a reality with Silverlight 3.

The company has partnered with Paris-based software developers Soyatec to deliver an Eclipse4SL plugin for the Mac. The technology preview of Eclipse4SL for Mac, available now on SourceForge.net, follows Eclipse4SL for Windows, announced last October in conjunction with Silverlight 2 and released in January under the Eclipse Public License 1.0.

The open source project, which works with the Eclipse IDE and RCP, has been submitted to the Eclipse Foundation. Soyatec is an Eclipse Foundation member, and created eFace, a XAML/WPF editor for Java developers.

The Windows and Mac plugins will offer comparable feature sets, according to Vijay Rajagopalan, the principal architect on the Microsoft Interoperability Strategy team who is heading the project in Redmond. Rajagopalan joined Yves Yang of Soyatec to host a session on Eclipse4SL at this week's EclipseCon in Santa Clara, Calif.

The project developers are working on adding debugging capabilities and collocation support to Eclipse4SL in the summer timeframe, Rajagopalan said. Version 1 of the Mac plugin is expected around August.

"[J]ava developers use middleware for enterprise applications. When it comes to RIA, they typically use PHP or other tools," Rajagopalan said. "They don't necessarily use Java. And we thought, why don't we enable rich Internet applications for Java developers? What is the best means of accomplishing that? And Eclipse is their platform."

Rajagopalan also pointed to feedback from Silverlight customers about the interoperability issues between the cross-browser plugin and Java Web Services that use SOAP, REST and JSON. "We thought this project will not only solve the RIA challenge but also solve the interop challenge that exists between Java applications and Silverlight," he said.

Eclipse4SL provides a project system, a C# and XAML editor and preview, and a compiler for packaging Silverlight applications. The Eclipse-based SDLT uses a similar structure to the project system in Visual Studio. XAML and Silverlight applications can use Eclipse or Visual Studio project resources. The apps will also be supported in Expression Blend, according to Microsoft.

At MIX 09, Microsoft also announced support for Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop files in Expression Blend 3, made available as a technology preview last week.

"[O]ne of the things we're doing is enabling designers using Macs to be able to create assets that we can then import within Blend, and use to build great Silverlight applications," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie during the keynote.

Developers will also be able to build Silverlight 3 applications that run outside of the browser, on both Windows and the Mac, according to Guthrie.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the senior editor of Redmond Developer News and Application Development Trends, online at ADTmag.com. You can contact Kathleen at krichards@1105media.com.

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