Tim Sneath just blog’d that Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer (code name “Sparkle”) is available for download. You can find out all about it from his post at http://blogs.msdn.com/tims/archive/2006/01/24/516706.aspx. Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer is a tool designers will use to build the next generation Windows Presentation Foundation user interfaces. You may be asking yourself, “But I already saw that ‘Cider’ thing in the latest WinFX CTP.” “Cider” is a developer focused tool that lives inside Visual Studio. “Sparkle” is a completely new tool designed with at graphic artists and user interface designers in mind. It has a completely different feel. It reminds me of the graphic design tools I used in college. Man you should have seen some of the stuff I created. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body! That’s exactly why there are two tools. The tools share the same project system that you are familiar with in Visual Studio. Therefore, designers and developers can work together in a way I have personally never experienced on a software project. How many times have you received your UI designs and said “How the heck am I going to implement this?” Well now you don’t have to worry, because the UI design IS the actual UI. At this point you may be very skeptical or really excited. To really understand what Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer is all about, I would recommend running through the tutorial in the help file. That’s what caused the light bulb to turn on for me. So download it here and give the tutorial a whirl.
I almost forgot to mention… Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer is written using the Windows Presentation Foundation. The first thing everyone seems to do is move the “Workspace Zoom” slider left and right to see the whole UI scale accordingly. Pretty cool!