we are about to start on a Web Development project (the planning starts early 2011).

Do we choose HTML5/JS over Silverlight?

Are there any applications which now run on HTML5? Samples?

A simple Google Search led me here. Those look great (especially the Star Wars one!), but they are not what you call proper applications as such.

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  • 1
    It really depends on what you're trying to acheive. I would add one of my past projects, mugtug.com/darkroom as a very good example of what HTML5 can accomplish. – andre Dec 26 '10 at 0:51
  • What skill sets does the team have? – user1249 Dec 26 '10 at 1:01
  • Bear in mind that HTML5 isn’t one thing. At the application design level, you’re really just talking about a collection of JavaScript APIs - <canvas>, geolocation and localStorage are the main ones that spring to mind. As @andre said, it depends what you’re building. – Paul D. Waite Dec 26 '10 at 1:24

If you are going to write most of your app from scratch and have developers with very good skills and motivation to mess with unstable specifications and browser quirks in exchange for doing cool things that nobody did before - go HTML5.

If on the other hand you prefer to build on top of what others build, use advanced tools and ready-made widgets and prefer getting things done sooner rather than later, no matter if a little ugly, and want to have a wide choice of developers be available to you - you may want to go with more established technologies, like Flash or Silverlight.

It also depends on if there are some existing tools and libraries in the area you are targeting or you are opening an entirely new topic.


You have a notebook or desktop machine with Windows, am I right? But there are some other sort of machines:

  • netbooks, wich runs non-Windows operating sytem, see Chrome OS,
  • Android or iOS tablets,
  • smartphones (iPhone, Android, Palm webOS).

If you choose SilverLight, your program will never run on these machines.

  • True. Some of our clients have just gone full out and bought iPad (despite our suggestion that they wait for iPad2) – Kanini Dec 26 '10 at 15:57

Definitely HTML5. HTML5 all the way. The amount of users is much, much larger. Plus, compatibility is not that big of a problem with HTML5. Some good HTMl5 examples can be found here:



That depends on what user platforms you're targetting. Do you want to limit your users to only Windows and Mac? If so, Silverlight might be one answer, as Silverlight is only supported for Windows and Mac.

If you want a broader audience, HTML5 is the way to go. However, you need to consider the fact that all browsers are not HTML5 compliant/compatible yet.

Therefore, to play safe, I suggest coding using HTML4 and gathering your userbase statistics and once enough have started using browsers supporting HTML5, then start upgrading your design to HTML5.

Also, did you consider if some of your users will be browsing your site from a mobile phone?

  • Actually, no browsers are HTML5 compliant yet, and the difference between browsers is marked. HTML5 today is like HTML in 1997. – Craig Dec 26 '10 at 3:16

A simple Google Search led me here. Those look great (especially the Star Wars one!), but they are not what you call proper applications as such.

What would you call "proper applications?"

That is what you need to ask yourself before you commit to a language set.

Notice: I've never done work with Silverlight. Plus I might be a bit HTML5 biased.


Flash-like Microsoft product. Requires a plug-in. Might require other Microsoft tools for development.


HTML5 is a buzzword for a suite of new technologies that encourage fast, involved, web based applications. There is easy feature detection available as well as libraries to help split the difference between older browsers and newer ones.

  • Enterprise applications? Products? Say for example, if I am talking about Rails, I can point to a host of solutions including Twitter/Teuxdeux. That is what I would call as "proper applications". Hope this makes it clear. – Kanini Dec 26 '10 at 16:00
  • @Kanini: Twitter removed Rails from their backend due to technical issues. ;) Enterprise applications? Have you looked at Google Docs? – Josh K Dec 26 '10 at 16:16
  • Google Docs? I use it daily and I did not even realise it is re-written in HTML5! – Kanini Dec 27 '10 at 2:41

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