Silverlight Support in Chrome and other Browsers - Geocortex

Silverlight Support in Chrome and other Browsers

Dave Stevenson
Dave Stevenson
CTO
October 11, 2013

Google recently announced they are removing support for Chrome plugins that use an old standard called NPAPI that goes back to the days of Netscape. This affects a lot of commonly used plugins, including Silverlight and Java. In fact at the time of the announcement, it was revealed that 15% of Chrome users have Silverlight installed. Google’s reasons for this are pretty valid — the old NPAPI architecture is the cause of many stability and security concerns.

So, how will this affect Geocortex customers? First, if you’re not using the Geocortex Viewer for Silverlight, then none of this applies to you. Similarly, if you control the browsers that Silverlight will be deployed to, then it’s probably not a problem either — this is common for internal facing applications.  If you don’t fall into one of these two categories, then the question becomes: what browsers are important to you? Microsoft has indicated support for Silverlight in IE through to 2021. None of us will be using Silverlight in 2021 so we’re safe there. Firefox has announced that they are changing the default behavior for how certain plugins are loaded, but appear to be maintaining NPAPI support. Finally, Chrome will continue to support Silverlight through 2014 and have indicated an intention to completely drop NPAPI support, and thus Silverlight, around the end of 2014. Although, in their announcement they mention this is subject to user input and might change.

We’ve delayed blogging on this topic because we were hopeful that Microsoft would provide some insight into if and how they will respond. As it stands, we’re assuming Silverlight will no longer run in Chrome browsers by the end of 2014. It’s possible that Microsoft could rewrite their Silverlight plugin with a more modern approach that Chrome supports, and it’s possible that Google will extend the white-list period, or reverse their decision all together.  We’ll have to wait and see what the official word is.

Ideally, Silverlight would continue to work in all browsers up until the time when the very last Silverlight application was decommissioned. But the march of technology change would never allow that. It was three years ago that the tide changed on Silverlight when HTML5 emerged as the future cross-platform approach for Microsoft and the rest of the industry. In those three years, we’ve aggressively grown our HTML/JavaScript offerings, while simultaneously continuing to build on our Silverlight viewer and help deliver myriad successful web mapping solutions built on Geocortex. Geocortex never has been and never will be about a specific technology. In fact, we work hard to be the antithesis of this; we engineer Geocortex to be the investment that lets you focus on solving your business problems while minimizing viewer specific technology headaches. So that when an announcement about Chrome dropping support for Silverlight is made, you can take some comfort in knowing that your technology investment in Geocortex already includes many thousands of hours of development in HTML5, JavaScript, native applications, technology agnostic workflows, that will jumpstart you building the next generation solution for your users.

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