Today we are announcing a new set of products under a new brand called Microsoft Expression.  Microsoft Expression is a suite of tools targeted at creative professionals including Web designers, UI designers and graphic artists.  At PDC 2005, we will demo professional designers using Expression working together with developers using Visual Studio.  With Microsoft’s platform and Microsoft Expression, designers and developers can work together to build applications that deliver superior user experience, and that will enhance user productivity and satisfaction.

Why are we building Microsoft Expression?

Ease of use and richness of the experience are the two key pillars for User Experience.  Delivering a superior user experience is increasingly important to the success of many types of applications, for both consumer and enterprise users, on both the client and the web.  However, a principal challenge for delivering great user experiences has been the complexity of designer and developer collaboration.  Today, designers must often communicate their vision for a user interface or application experience using approximations such as graphic storyboards, wire-frames, rough prototypes, and written and spoken notes.  While these may provide a varying degree of clarity regarding the objective of the design, in most cases the developer must then consider how to “re-create” the look and behavior of the design using a completely different set of technologies.  Where a designer may have shared bitmaps and a video animation of the prototype, a developer is likely required to implement using a combination of code and different application programming interfaces. This complexity leads to tradeoffs of time, functionality and cost that end up compromising the experience in the final application.

To address the above challenges, we are announcing three new products:

  1. Microsoft Expression “Acrylic Graphic Designer” – an advanced environment for creating professional graphic designs for onscreen, web, and smart client applications.  Key features include Office/Powerpoint clipboard integration to speed design of elements for incorporation into .ppt, ability to save designs as XAML code, and a series of killer graphic capabilities (including several derived from Microsoft Research).  The Acrylic August 2005 Community Technology Preview is now available for you to download and try out.

  1. Microsoft Expression “Sparkle Interactive Designer” – a rich interface and layout design tool for designing Windows Presentation Foundation (“Avalon”) user interfaces and content.  Key features: support for 2d, 3d, media, user controls, animation, and interactivity together with .NET and XAML language coding, with project level integration with Visual Studio for improved designer/developer collaboration.

  1. Microsoft Expression “Quartz Web Designer” – a professional design tool for creating standards based web content.  This product is aimed at Web designers.  Key features include: a designer friendly presentation of a compelling design surface for creating and applying CSS, series of capabilities for connecting and styling data sources and ASP.NET controls and coding with Visual Studio integration.