It’s nigh-on impossible to keep track of all the varied products and announcements from Microsoft even as an employee, let alone as a customer! It took someone external (thanks Damir!) to alert me to Microsoft Expression, a vector-based illustration and graphics tool we acquired last year from Creative House and have now released for no charge on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. This application looks pretty cool, although at 60MB it’s probably not something to check out from a dial-up connection. Handy as an adjunct to ASP.NET or for creating cool owner-draw graphics in smart client applications, that’s for sure.
This isn’t our first product in this space. For the first release of Visual InterDev (an ASP web development tool that was part of the first ever release of Visual Studio), we included a great liittle utility called Image Composer that I used to use almost as much as VID itself; it was particularly useful for producing smoothed text as an image for headings – a technique that was very common particularly before DHTML became commonplace. Then we released PhotoDraw as a standalone product simultaneously with Office, although this always felt more bloated and unwieldy than the utility it superseded. Expression looks vastly more sophisticated, judging by this product tour: it will be interesting to see how it develops now it’s part of the Microsoft stable.