Support for XBAP in Mozilla Firefox is coming

Support for XBAP in Mozilla Firefox is coming

Summary: At an event today on Microsoft's campus, Ian Ellison-Tayler, the WPF Product Unit Manager mentioned that XBAP support is coming to Mozilla Firefox as part of the .NET Framework 3.5 update that will ship with Visual Studio "Orcas". This means that RIA developers can deploy browser based WPF applications to both IE and Firefox. WPF just got a big boost as a browser technology.

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TOPICS: Browser
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At an event today on Microsoft's campus, Ian Ellison-Tayler, the WPF Product Unit Manager mentioned that XBAP support is coming to Mozilla Firefox as part of the .NET Framework 3.5 update that will ship with Visual Studio "Orcas". I've covered XBAPs in the past, but for those who aren't familiar, XBAP stands for XAML Browser Application and they are essentially Windows Presentation Foundation applications that are deployed as browser applications. Up to now, they've only been supported with IE7 but this news means they'll be available to a wider audience.

I think this is huge for RIA developers. While most of you know my affinity for rich internet applications on the desktop, I realize that the browser is still a platform of choice for many people. It's convenient and universal. For most of the people who see the browser that way, Firefox is really the only game in town. So while you could create an XBAP application and have full WPF functionality in your browser, most people wouldn't use it. Now however, the WPF browser experience can be used in both Firefox and IE7 which makes the potential audience for that type of deployment much greater. It makes WPF a very rich browser technology and a viable Rich Internet Application solution for Windows users.

Therein lies the kicker. The .NET 3.0 runtime is huge, and the .NET 3.5 runtime (which is what will support XBAPs in Firefox) will be even larger. It comes installed with Vista, and while Vista seems to be doing well, there are still a lot of Windows XP machines that won't have the .NET runtime installed. Trying to deploy a browser application that requires a 50 meg download on top of the actual application isn't viable. The .NET runtime just doesn't have the reach right now, but Windows is still a huge chunk of the market, and as Vista penetration grows and/or more people bite the bullet and download the .NET Framework, XBAPs may become a powerful way to deliver RIAs in the browser.

Topic: Browser

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13 comments
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  • deploy, deploy, deploy!

    This is exactly the right stuff from MS. Every time XBAP deployment improves in new directions be it: getting it to run in some other browser; getting the runtime size down; coming up with novel ways to reduce sandbox restrictions; reining out the UI across the web; making it easier for developers to write C# against WPF; improving ClickOnce multi folder deployment; making XBAP deployment modes switchable - then we'll begin to see the new UI dominate the web space. Adobe just won't be in the right RIA ball park, so I say to MS, work like stink on improving XBAP deployment all the way to the Orcas RTM and we'll deploy, deploy, deploy!
    rmac_z
    • RE: deploy, deploy, deploy!

      I really hope they show a demo of this at MIX. It does make things interesting.
      ryanstewart
  • How about defining *all* your acronyms...

    Since probably 10% of those who read the article know what the heck they stand for. And maybe some links to explanations of each.

    XAML? RIA?
    Techboy_z
    • RE: How about defining *all* your acronyms...

      I always struggle with that a bit, because I'm so used to throwing them around. I'll try and be better. Thanks for the tip.

      RIA - Rich Internet Application
      XAML - Extensible Application Markup Language
      ryanstewart
    • That's right!

      ... XBAP? .... WTHIS (means "what the hell is this")?
      RIA? Is that some sort of laughing in Spanish or Portguese?
      XAML - a new SUV from Daimler?
      trial.manager@...
      • RE: That's right!

        Dude, I defined XBAP in the first paragraph.

        And RIA? This entire blog is about Rich Internet Applications, so I use that acronym all the time.
        ryanstewart
  • Dot Net 3.5 acceptance??

    I have a question that just begs asking. How many people don't have at least dot net framework 1.1 or 2.0 already installed on their older XP or 2000 box??

    So many things require it, and most of the time the runtime gets installed transparently when you install software requiring it. I am positive the question posed about size of the runtime is a valid one as it gets somewhat bigger.

    The reality of this is that even though a lot of people don't know what dot net is, they are probably already using a version of it. The reality of it also is Dot Net really is the core framework of the Windows OS.

    So will people use it? I'd say yes, they probably already downloaded it on Windows update and didn't even know it. I don't even think there is a question about penetration numbers or machines not equiped to run it.

    It's cool they are supporting Mozilla. That's mighty open of them and probably accepting of the reality that IE probably is the #2 browser right now. That also might all just be a customer perception issue. We'll see as they track IE7 penetration numbers over the haul.
    DonBurnett
    • RE: Dot Net 3.5 acceptance??

      Hey Don, did .NET 2.0 come with XP? I don't buy that IE is number 2, I just think that in Tech, Firefox reigns supreme. This opens up XBAPs to that tech crowd.
      ryanstewart
  • .Net Framework deployments a little dumb

    If I am on a client PC why would I need the ASP.Net framework dlls of some of the other server-side only services. Each .Net application dll carries a rich amount of metadata about what framework libraries it needs to properly function. So why not just dynamiclly download only the needed dlls based on my applications metadata.

    Scott Guthrie mentioned <a href="http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=271984">here</a> that they are working on this, not sure if it will show up by the release of .Net framework 3.5.
    MarlonSmith
    • RE: .Net Framework deployments a little dumb

      Ohhhh, I hadn't seen that ScottGu info Marlon, thanks. I'll have to see if I can dig something up.
      ryanstewart
  • Cross-platform, not !

    "I think this is huge for RIA developers."
    Unless you want your app to run everywhere*.
    That's why no one cares, on top of the huge download size (only
    a problem the first time, for home users).
    chivertont
    • RE: Cross-platform, not !

      "Unless you want your app to run everywhere*."

      Nope, that's very true. But Windows is still a big market, so if you want to tap into that, having Mozilla supported for XBAPs is significant.
      ryanstewart
  • acronyms

    Some of us spend a lot of time working and haven't kept up with everything that is going on. When we do try to catch up, it's disappointing to encounter unexplained acronyms that we never saw before OR just forgot what they mean. Personally, when it gets too deep, I shovel off to other pursuits.
    James008