Microsoft unveils set of design tools

Microsoft Wednesday unveiled a suite of Web site and graphics software similar to those from Adobe and Macromedia.

Microsoft has unveiled a suite of Web site design and graphics software that gives .NET developers a set of tools similar to those that have been available for years from Adobe Systems and Macromedia.

As expected, Sparkle Interactive Designer, a new tool for building 3D animation and graphics, is a part of the suite, called Microsoft Expression. Eric Rudder, senior vice president of the Server and Tools division at Microsoft, unveiled a pre-release version of Expression in his keynote at Microsoft's Professional developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles.

In addition to Sparkle, Expression includes Acrylic Graphic Designer, a painting and illustration tool, and Quartz Web Designer, a layout and design tool for building Web sites. All of the current names for the individual tools are Microsoft code names.

Microsoft Expression is now available as a Community Technology Preview (CTP), and the suite is expected to ship in 2006. Microsoft plans to make several more CTPs available before a full production version of the suite is released.

While Expression gives designers an alternative to using tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Dreamweaver, it's not likely they will begin migrating in droves from those tools to Microsoft Expression anytime soon, said one analyst attending the PDC.

Macromedia's tools are most widely used on Apple Computer's Macintosh hardware, which is still the platform of choice for graphics and Web site designers, said Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst for Zapthink, a research firm in Massachusetts.

"Macromedia and Adobe aren't that threatened because they have a Macintosh installed base," he said. "Most designers prefer the Macintosh [as a platform], and I don't see Microsoft offering Expression for the Mac anytime soon."

Instead, Microsoft Expression fills in a gap in Microsoft's own tools portfolio, he said. Microsoft has not previously had a compelling set of tools for graphics designers, so developers building applications for .NET now will have design tools that are closely integrated with Visual Studio, Microsoft core tool set for building .NET applications.

In fact, by using Expression in conjunction with Visual Studio, developers writing server code can work more seamlessly with designers to create rich user interfaces for .NET applications, Rudder said. Microsoft developers demonstrated this functionality during Rudder's keynote Wednesday morning.

This kind of capability is similar to what Macromedia offers to Java developers with its Macromedia Flex tool, which enables programmers writing server-side Java code to work with GUI (graphical user interface) designers to create rich Internet applications, according to Macromedia.

The San Francisco-based Web tools company recently released Studio 8, a suite of its core design and development tools, including Dreamweaver, Flash Professional and Fireworks.

"We continue to watch all competitive and complementary technologies very closely, including this one," Jim Guerard, vice president of product management and product marketing for Macromedia, said Wednesday of Microsoft Expression.

Adobe is currently in the process of acquiring Macromedia, a deal that was approved by shareholders but is still awaiting regulatory approval.

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.

Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?