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The Silverlight Guru

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If you've got questions about streaming with Silverlight-or anything related to Windows media video or audio-you've come to the right place. Ben Waggoner is Microsoft's principal video strategist for Silverlight and he's well-known to those who frequent industry conferences and forums. He's the source, and he's happy to address Silverlight questions large or small.

Ben WaggonerFor this series, we'll be fielding Silverlight questions from Streaming Media's readers and from the Streaming Media forums for Ben to answer. If you've got something you'd like help with, post to the forum or, even better, drop us a note at tdreier@streamingmedia.com, so we can keep surprising Ben with questions he hasn't seen before.

Our first question was e-mailed from Steve H.:

I would really like to use a Microsoft solution to stream live RTSP.

The RTSP in question is from an AXIS IP camera. The RTSP stream plays fine from VLC but Windows Media Player won't play the file.

Do you know if Silverlight can decode/encode RTSP streams?

I've tried some of the suggestions such as changing the "RTSP" prefix to "MMS," but this did not work.

I've also tried Microsoft Expression Encoder 4, but this did not recognize the RTSP stream.

This isn't a built-in feature of Silverlight, so Waggoner recommends you try SilverSuite, created by Streamcoders, an RTSP client for Silverlight. He hasn't tried it, but the client has been around since May, 2009. Here's a demo of SilverSuite. Try pasting in the URL from your camera and see if it works.

You can also look to the Microsoft Silverlight Media Framework, the complete source code for extensible media playback in Silverlight. It's under the Microsoft Public License, so anyone can do a commercial implementation based on it without a license fee. While it doesn't have RTSP support in its current version, Waggoner notes, it would be easier to add RTSP support as a module than to build a whole new media player from scratch.

Our second questions was e-mailed from Terry B.:

Will Windows Mobile run Windows Media Encoder?

There's no Windows Media Encoder app for Windows Mobile. Phones rarely have the processing power to run a software encoder of any complexity, Waggoner notes. The slowest netbook you can buy is more powerful than the most powerful smartphone.

By the way, Windows Media Encoder is no longer supported by Microsoft. Give the free version of Expression Encoder 4 a try, instead.

Finally, our third question was e-mailed from Aaron T.:

I want to use the Windows Media Player 12 and Windows Server 2008 together and have client-side searches for content on the server that will connect through an external database API connection and populate the content to the media player in the same fashion it would on a local box.

Is this possible?

Yes, says Waggoner. You can install Windows Media Player on top of Windows Server using the Desktop Experience Pack. If you're using Windows Server 2008 R2, that will give you WMP 12. The details will vary depending on your configuration. There are several media discoverability APIs that can be tied into a remote database or a local SQL Server database, such as DLNA and the native Windows Media content sharing protocol. The code to build and sync the database, however, would need to be built if the native database API doesn't offer the needed functionality.

Submit your Silverlight questions to Streaming Media's Formats, Codecs, and Players forum, or send them directly to the author at tdreier@streamingmedia.com.

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