Thursday, November 19, 2009

Adventures while building a Silverlight Enterprise application part #29

Silverlight 4 Beta is out and it has some cool features that could help our development, but we must wait. This article is about how new versions of a platform like Silverlight impact our current and ongoing development and why sometimes you need to wait and sometimes you need to push forward.

Project status
At this point in time we are working against the clock. We have a tight schedule and we can't afford any delays whatsoever. Obviously now is not the time to switch Silverlight versions, right? Well, it's not that simple. It's not so much that we couldn't make the time. It's more that the benefits should always outweigh the costs. At this point in time, for us, it doesn't.

Pros and cons
Basically what we would benefit from right now:
  • Printing support
  • The new datagrid
  • Improved performance
The printing support is a must have later on, but at this stage of development it just isn't that important for us. The new datagrid is a nice to have, because the one that's in there is doing the job just fine. Improved performance is nice, but right now performance is good. It will most likely drop off later, which is why I do feel we need to switch to Silverlight 4 later on.

The major downsides of switching right now are time and that four letter word 'Beta'. We'd be spending several days on first setting up a decent testing environment, doing a test upgrade, testing a lot of behavior, fixing bugs and then getting VS2010 Beta 2 rolled out to our development environments, including a TFS client. We would have these days if we could reduce the time on at least one of our functionalities needed for the first release, but there just isn't one right now.

I've always loved working with cutting (or should I say bleeding) edge technology and working with Microsoft beta's has improved a lot over the past years, however... times you must ask yourself if it's worth the risks. In this case for example, our software is dealing with peoples paychecks. Now, I don't know about you, but a lot of people tend to get emotional when their paycheck was calculated in the wrong way, is to late, taxes were all wrong or some other mishap occurred.
One thing managers in my company don't like to hear is 'Yeah, we know about that problem that messed up thousands of paychecks. It was a problem with the beta of technology x'. Shouting would have to occur and rightfully so.

"So I shouldn't make the switch?"
It all depends. Let me start by saying I am excited about Silverlight 4 and Visual Studio 2010, but as long as they are in beta they wouldn't work for me. If you are working on code that is still a long way from release, or you are working on software you can take a little risk with, or if there is that one thing in Silverlight 4 you had been waiting on for the past year, then you should make the switch.

Be happy you're on the cutting edge.

No comments:

Post a Comment