Microsoft Unveils Expression Family of Designer Tools

LOS ANGELES — Sept. 14, 2005 — Today at the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference 2005 (PDC05), Eric Rudder, senior vice president, Servers and Tools at Microsoft Corp., introduced Microsoft® Expression, a family of professional tools for the design and production of enhanced user experiences and rich content for the Web and Windows Vista™ platform. The announced products and their code names are Expression code-named “Acrylic Graphic Designer,” a painting, illustration and effects tool for creating graphic designs; Expression code-named “Sparkle Interactive Designer,” a user-interface design tool for modern application development using the Windows® Presentation Foundation; and Expression code-named “Quartz Web Designer,” a layout and design tool for creating Web sites.

Rudder stressed that the new tools portfolio, paired with the Windows Presentation Foundation, a powerful platform-level presentation and display engine, will help drive down the cost and effort associated with building richer, more compelling and exciting applications with unique differentiated capabilities.

“Our goal is to redefine what is considered a ‘good enough’ user experience today through integrated development and design capability,” Rudder said. “Ultimately this is about enabling mainstream adoption of user experience within both business and end-user applications, resulting in richer differentiated experiences on the Web and the smart client that promote business opportunity and productivity.”

The need to align design and development capabilities was reiterated by Kerry Bodine in a Forrester Research report titled “Microsoft’s New Expression Tools Target Designers,” Forrester Research Inc., Sept. 14, 2005: “Software programmers have to make conscious trade-offs between timeliness, scope, and quality — and the complexity of coordinating with designers puts an enormous strain on that balancing act. The net result is that user experience just isn’t a priority in the development of everyday applications and Web sites. New tools that make it easier to integrate design into the development process can help correct this problem, making it easier for development teams to create richer, more usable user interfaces.

Increased Developer and Designer Workflow

Incorporating design concepts into the development process has typically been difficult due to communication and technical gaps between design and development teams. With its Expression family of products, Microsoft bridges these gaps by leveraging common file types and languages such as Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), HTML and ASP.NET and through seamless integration with Microsoft Visual Studio®, which greatly simplifies development processes and maximizes the creative solutions that teams can deliver. These tools enable designers to explore a wide range of creative options using vector and bitmaps graphics, 3-D content, rich text, media, animation and interactivity, and then to integrate those designs seamlessly with developer code and functionality created using the Visual Studio family of professional development tools.

Introducing the Microsoft Expression Family

The Microsoft Expression products provide designers with a complete tool set to build rich user experiences optimized for the Web, on-screen presentation or the Windows platform.

Throughout product development Microsoft has engaged with leading design firms to ensure that the quality of the tools and platform meet and exceed expectations. “Microsoft’s new presentation platform will simplify, streamline and democratize user experience development and enrich the way users experience these applications,” said Nathan Moody, director of interactive media at Fluid Inc. of San Francisco. “The innovative expression design tools paired with Microsoft Presentation Foundation together remove principal barriers to creating rich user experiences on the Web and on the client, paving the way for more inspired applications limited only by our imagination.”

“Acrylic Graphic Designer” Key Features and Benefits

  • Dynamic visual effects. Designers can explore their creativity with innovative styles and graphic properties such as textures, fringes and dimensionality. New image effects such as blurs, drop shadows, color correction and filters can be accomplished by using nondestructive, editable Live Effects. “Acrylic Graphic Designer” also includes advanced features such as PhotoMontage.

  • Flexible hybrid graphics environment. Built-in flexibility enables designers to alternate between vector-based and pixel-based elements within a hybrid graphics environment.

  • Easy hand-over from design to development. Users can easily incorporate graphics into a variety of other software tools and industry formats, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio and XAML.

“Sparkle Interactive Designer” Key Benefits and Features

  • Rich visual design environment. The design environment of “Sparkle Interactive Designer” enables the combination of multiple media elements such as vectors, pixel images, 3-D content, video, high-quality text, and animation for rich, cinematic user interfaces. Content can be contextualized by applying custom styles and layout to assist end-user interaction and comprehension.

  • Custom styles and adaptive layout. With the inclusion of adaptive layout for various screen resolutions and form factors, customers can combine visual styles into compelling new interface elements.

  • Easy hand-over from design to development. XAML enables the translation of the graphic user interface into the code environment, fostering seamless collaboration between developers and designers. Prototype, design and development stages within the software development process are optimized through the sharing of a common platform and integration with Visual Studio.

“Quartz Web Designer” Key Benefits and Features

  • Advanced Web site design. “Quartz Web Designer” enables the direct manipulation of positioning, sizing and padding with CSS page layouts. The flexible, designer-focused work space provides easy access to task panes, toolbars and features. In addition, the rich design-time experience combined with integrated design and code views helps to deliver differentiated Web sites.

  • Standards-based design. Web designers can create accessible, standards-based Web sites by default and configure flexible schema settings to support all combinations of HTML, XHTML and CSS standards as well as browser schemas. Built-in compatibility and accessibility checkers ensure that Web sites render properly in any browser.

  • Easy hand-over from design to development. Support for XML, ASP.NET and XHTML offers easy integration between Web design and development teams with “Quartz Web Designer” and Visual Studio.

More information about the Microsoft Expression family can be found at

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