PDC 2005: Microsoft's Expression Sparkles

Today's Microsoft keynote address at the Professional Developer's Conference (PDC) blew away many attendees with the announcement of the Microsoft Expression Suite.

The new suite includes 3 programs along with extensions for Visual Studio 2005. The programs are:

  • Acrylic. This has been in beta but based on how it was demoed isn't so much of a Photoshop competitor but rather as a focused designer tool for software and web development.

  • Sparkle. A visual design tool that lets designers create interfaces without having to write any code.

  • Quartz. A web-oriented tool for more easily taking rich content and putting them on the web.

Microsoft blogger, Robert Scoble, has made it clear that Sparkle doesn't compete with Flash. Rather, Sparkle is a development environment. If anything, it competes with Visual Studio.

But Microsoft made it clear that the idea behind Expression is to allow software developers and graphic designers to be able to work together more seamlessly.

"Now, designers can create the full application interface and hand it over to the developer to work with directly," said a Microsoft spokesman. "Previously, developers would receive a mock-up of the application and then work to try to recreate the designer's intent. Now, the designer becomes part of the development process directly."

Expression appears to be part of a larger Microsoft strategy to help get Windows developers to create software that isn't just functional but more polished and easier to use. Expression aims to be the mechanism to accomplish this.

View: Brad's live PDC blogging

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