Microsoft posts new Acrylic design tool preview

Microsoft on Monday posted the second CTP (Community Technology Preview) of its Acrylic design tool, adding support for XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) to benefit users of the planned Windows Vista OS.

Microsoft is positioning Acrylic as a graphic design tool that can both compete with and complement offerings from companies such as Adobe Systems, Macromedia, and Corel. "Acrylic is particularly good at graphics that have a very artistic visual treatment, making images that look like they were drawn with paint or acrylic or chalk," said Forest Key, group product manager in the Microsoft developer tools division.

For example, an Acrylic file featuring organic chalk or water color illustrations could be used with a high-end printing product such as Adobe InDesign, Key said. Products such as Macromedia Fireworks, meanwhile, have some overlap with Acrylic.

XAML will be of particular benefit for developers working with the Windows Presentation Foundation technology, formerly called "Avalon" and planned for the upcoming Windows Vista platform, Key said. Vista had been codenamed "Longhorn."

"What [XAML] will allow is designers using Acrylic to mock up visuals for how they want an application to look," Key said, with a developer subsequently able to deploy the XAML code in Windows Presentation Foundation.

An "alpha transparency" function will enable developers using PowerPoint to describe the edge of an object without resorting to rectangular white borders, according to Key.

The CTP also features hundreds of new brushes, textures, and gradients for colors, Key said.

"I think [Acrylic is] going to give the Adobe products a run for their money," said Kerry Bodine, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "It's just got a lot of new features that we haven't seen before in [Adobe's] Photoshop or Illustrator."

Acrylic's ability to combine pixel- and vector-based images gives it an edge in flexibility, Bodine said. "Acrylic combines both of these in the same tool."

A CTP enables users at large to try out a specific technology. The initial CTP in June was downloaded 200,000 times, according to Microsoft, which has not yet announced final release dates for Acrylic.

Acrylic is based on the Creature House Expression technology, which Microsoft acquired in 2003. It can import the following formats: .tif, .psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif files. The technology can export these formats: tif, .psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .ai, .eps, .pdf, .xaml. There also is support for copying and pasting to Microsoft Office and exporting to HTML.

Also in the area of Microsoft development tools, Microsoft has released an August CTP for its Visual Studio 2005 platform that features a new implementation of the System.Nullable data type. A nullable type is a structure that combines a value of the underlying type with a Boolean null indicator, according to Microsoft.

The nullable type previously used only worked well in strongly typed scenarios, according to a Microsoft blog.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Krill

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?