Microsoft have hinted that there is a “big announcement” forthcoming at Mix regarding Silverlight (see #10 on Tim Sneath’s list). I think everyone is kind of expecting that expression blend will be officially released then, but that isn’t going to be a huge surprise now is it. Then the other day I came across this blog entry by John Lam. Now for those who don’t know John Lam is the guy who was working on the Ruby to CLR bridge which Microsoft hired about 18 months ago (John has been actively involved in the Microsoft community for ages on various things - AOP in the CLR, code generation etc you don’t get a domain name like iunknown.com by coming to the party late).
John says in his blog post entitled “Silverlight” that “This was a major reason why I moved my family to the other side of the continent…”. WHAT? Up until now the only publicly known reason for John joining the CLR team has been to work on the Ruby bridge. John also has a little bit of flair on his blog saying he’ll be speaking at Mix, but interestingly enough he doesn’t appear on the session list. Microsoft have done this in the past - obfuscating conference session schedules to prevent news of things leaking out.
Maybe John just copied the wrong piece of flair to his blog….or maybe he really is speaking. Assuming he is which session is he co-presenting? There are a number of sessions that touch on Silverlight, but my pick is the session “Developing Data Driven Applications Using the New Dynamic Data Controls in ASP.NET” with Polita Paulus and Mahesh Prakriya. This one specifically mentions dynamic languages, Mahesh is (AFAIK) one of the “dynamic languages on CLR” PMs and John has presented with him before. The third person in this (fictitious) trio is Polita Paulus AKA BLINQ. So Silverlight + RubyCLR + BLINQ = RoR/AJAX killer? (althought this is pushing my tea-leaf reading abilities to the limits).
The other question I have is Ruby going to be on the server, or on the client? On the server Ruby joins a pretty crowded room filled with C#, VB.NET, JScript.NET, Iron Python which all have or are getting much more “dynamic” features in their next incarnation (plus a host of third-party languages). On the client we have jscript and vbscript. Getting a new language down to the client is a very big deal, and the current Ruby redistributable is 5MB which is pretty heavy-weight for Silverlight. On the server the same Ruby stuff could probably be shared by ASP.NET etc and not be a “Silverlight-only” thing. My bet is on the client, but maybe that is just wishful thinking.
Update: It looks like I was mostly correct. John did not speak with Polita and Mahesh, but many other bits were pretty much correct. Interestingly John has removed the post in question that started my speculation.
Update 2: It seems that Jon didn’t “take down” that post, his whole blogging engine died. I guess I can put those conspiracy theories to rest then.