Xamlon has released to beta a new developer product (Xamlon Flash Edition) that will compile a .Net program down to a SWF runtime. Like most good ideas, it seems obvious only in retrospect. News stories , many blog postings, and even tutorials all seem pretty postitive so far. Most criticisms seem focussed on SWF as a deployment technology rather than Xamlon per se. The dubious buzzword AFLAX (AJAX with flash) is used to describe what is really a standard Flash application.
This is the latest example of a larger trend in software development: xml-based compilers that allow seperating the authoring language from the deployment platform. Laszlo and mfoundry are two examples of this trend.
The basic idea behind Xamlon is to let hard-core Microsoft developers leverage the ubiquitous flash runtime, rather than waiting ages for LongHorn to get released. This is actually a pretty big deal: for the first time, SWF-based RIA development will be possible using industry-standard programming languages. No offence to Laszlo or Macromedia, but nobody really WANTS to learn a new xml-based declarative programming language. Microsoft makes great developer tools, the problem has always been that the use of those tools locks you into developing only for Microsoft clients (be it OS or browser). Xamlon may solve this problem.
Since Xamlon compiles the SWF file from IL (intermediate language) code, any dot net language (XAML, C#, Visual Basic) can be compiled down into a SWF.
I’m no Microsoft hacker, so I’m not really in a position to evaluate or consider this technology. But any RIA developers who are already skilled in Microsoft technologies should at least consider Xamlon.