Silverlight 2.0 & 3.0
About a year ago now I witnessed my first Silverlight dashboard in a product Microsoft created called Microsoft Enterprise Cube (MEC). The dashboard was amazingly rich and interactive. I quickly became a fan boy of Silverlight dashboards and finally understood the important relationship between data and data visualization (a term until then I felt was a bit overhyped). A recent project I have been working on has given me the ability to exploit Microsoft Silverlight 2.0 for Business Intelligence purposes.
Basically, Silverlight (including the 2.0 release) is a lightweight, cross-browser plug-in developed by Microsoft that facilitates rich, interactive thin-client (browser) experiences. Silverlight applications are developed using eXtensible Application Markup Language (XAML).
The most noted advances in the 2.0 version are code behind CLR support, controls, and data binding features. Silverlight 2.0 applications can source their data from Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services (including ADO.Net Data Services), XML data via LINQ or the XML Reader, and Isolated Storage on the client.
Silverlight 3 is currently in beta and has several added features including an “offline browser feature”.
3rd Party Dashboard Silverlight Components
While the Silverlight 2.0 Toolkit March 2009 release has a nice charting control, to obtain truly elegant Silverlight dashboards I recommend considering a 3rd party product. These are the Silverlight 2.0 control software vendors I am aware of currently (some are free, some are not):
Codeplex’s SmartTools Project: http://smarttools.codeplex.com/Wiki/View.aspx?title=Charts
SoftwareFX: http://www.softwarefx.com/sfxNetProducts/ChartFX/silverlight/ http://visifire.com/ Visifire Opensource: http://visifire.com/silverlight_charts_gallery.php