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Microsoft Previews 'Sparkle' and 'Acrylic'

Microsoft has released Community Technology Previews (CTP) of two tools it is readying to help Web page and Windows applications designers more easily perform those tasks.

This is the first public CTP for Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer, formerly code-named “Sparkle.” This is the second public preview of Microsoft Expression Graphic Designer, which was previously code-named “Acrylic.”

The company announced the Expression family of products at its Professional Developers Conference 2005 in Los Angeles last September. Microsoft acquired developer Creature House and its Expression 3 graphic design and illustration package in 2003.

Expression Interactive Designer provides tools to enable a designer to create and manage the visual presentation and behavior of controls and user interface layout, 2D and 3D animation, a wide variety of media elements include 2D vectors, bitmaps, 3D geometry, media and rich text, according to a blog post by S. "Soma" Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Developer Division.

The Expression Graphic Designer adds expanded XAML export capabilities, allowing graphic designs to be saved as XAML code for inclusion in other design and development tools, such as Visual Studio and Expression Interactive Designer.

Extensible Application Markup Language, or XAML, is the XML dialect that is used to describe application user interface elements and rich content for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), coming in Vista later in the year. (See “Microsoft Ships New WinFX Preview -- Issues 'Go Live' Licenses")

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.