Light at the end of the tunnel: Your options for migrating from Silverlight

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Date published
July 8, 2020

For companies still using Microsoft Silverlight, you may be concerned that a migration will put your teams way out of their depth. But there are several paths forward for your Silverlight application, and the options open to you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the current expertise of your staff, or your legacy codebase.

Let’s start where you are in your decision journey.

Silverlight reaches end-of-support on October 12, 2021. That gives companies approximately 16 months to complete their migration to a new platform, which can be ample time if you make some key decisions up front. First, you know that Silverlight is only compatible with Internet Explorer versions 10 & 11, limiting your potential user base. Ideally, your application would be accessible on any desktop or mobile device, to increase your users and expand your reach. Opening up to new users could have far-reaching implications for your business and bottom line. What are your business goals for 2021 and beyond? You can tie those goals to your migration to give it weight and greater impact across the company.

Identifying larger business goals that a migration can help to achieve will make the process an exciting challenge for your teams, rather than a mad scramble not to get left behind. The potential for reinvigorating your people shouldn’t be ignored.

Next, it’s difficult to find Silverlight developers, and so you might consider a migration to a JavaScript-based platform, such as Angular or React. This decision will include considerations on retraining your existing staff, or hiring new developers to operate in the new environment. Alternately, you may want to retain your experienced C# developers, and consider Blazor WebAssembly as your platform of choice.

Let’s do a classic compare and contrast.

First off, whether you choose a JavaScript platform or Blazor WebAssembly for your migration, they both have some strong benefits compared to your existing Silverlight application. Both will work in all modern browsers, including on mobile, and can be used on all types of devices. These platforms have excellent support for your development teams. What’s more, it’s easy to find development talent who can work in these coding languages.

You may have heard of Microsoft’s new open-source front end framework, Blazor. One of the key benefits of using this system is that you can potentially reuse parts of your existing codebase—a major consideration for many companies with legacy systems. The program is .NET running on WebAssembly, so you can re-use code and libraries from server-side parts of your application. Using WebAssembly will also ensure that your current developers who are experienced with .NET will be able to work in the new environment without extensive retraining.

For those curious about a JavaScript migration, the greatest benefits will be to the end user. You can create an immersive, fully customer-centric experience, with fast initial page load times and the ability for end users to use any browser to consume your site experience. If you already have developers who are experienced in JavaScript on your teams, they may feel strongly that a JavaScript migration is your best option. Moreover, there is a large talent pool of developers who work with JavaScript frameworks, so you can be sure you will find new developers who are comfortable writing the front end from scratch for your experiences.

If your leadership team or development teams are concerned about migrating to JavaScript because of the reusability of your existing code in other applications, there is also a hybrid method: Parts of the application may be compiled to WASM for portability, then ported into your JavaScript codebase.

As you can see, your business can chart a new path that works for your unique considerations. There’s no one-size-fits-all with a migration, and your overall business goals will dictate the solution that works best for you. Whether you need help from Step 1 in identifying those business goals, or you know that you’re ready to migrate to Blazor WebAssembly or a JavaScript platform, Rangle is uniquely prepared to help you. We’ve done dozens of migrations in our 7-year history, and we can work in the platform of your choice. Want to hear more about your options? Get in touch with us.

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