Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer ("Sparkle") Is Here!!!

It's gone midnight Pacific time, so it's safe for me to write a post that I've been wanting to write for many months.

Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer (the product formerly known as "Sparkle") is finally available in the form of its first CTP! This build runs on the December 05 and January 06 CTPs. We finally have preview tools available for both developers ("Cider") and designers ("Sparkle") to start to build integrated application projects. We first showed Expression publicly at the PDC, and it was the most popular hands-on lab there. Here's a quick set of steps to show off one nice feature of Expression very quickly:

  1. Create a new scene 
  2. Make sure the Data tool window is open (View / Data)
  3. Select Add XML Data Source...
  4. For the URL, add (or a blog RSS feed of your choice)
  5. Now drill down the treeview in the data window: rss -> channel -> item[n]
  6. Drag item[n] to the main window and choose ListBox as the style
  7. Use ItemsSource as the binding
  8. In the dialog that appears, choose to create a new data template and deselect everything except item[n] and title
  9. Click OK
  10. You've created a data-bound listbox that connects to a live RSS feed without writing a line of code!

At any time you can check out the XAML code tab to see or edit the generated code. The projects that Expression creates are standard MSBuild .proj files, so you can simply double-click on one to open it in Visual Studio and do additional work with it.

Experiment and have fun! Just two points to remember:

  • Firstly, this is an early build of Expression - there are known bugs that could cause the app to crash. Save often and make backups if you're doing anything beyond basic experimentation;
  • Secondly, this is a designer tool, not a developer tool - as such, this isn't intended to look or feel like Visual Studio. If you have colleagues that are in to graphical design, share it with them and get their verdict too - perhaps you can rope some new colleagues into your latest coding project!

Expression Interactive Designer is just one of a suite of design tools that we're working on right now. Expression Graphic Designer is a companion tool that enables creation of vector graphics. Once you're done, simply choose File / Export to XAML to create a XAML rendering that can be imported directly into Expression Interactive Designer or any other WPF project.

Lastly, here are a few additional resources to check out:

[Update: Note that this build Expression Interactive Designer does not execute successfully on 64-bit editions of Windows. There are also some issues on non-Pentium architectures - please check the notes on the download page before installing.]

Have fun!

Comments (21)

  1. Damir Tomicic says:

    Hi Tim,

    remember this one? 😉



  2. Tim Sneath says:

    Hi Damir, only just barely – it’s been eighteen months since I wrote that post 🙂 Thanks for adding the link back – it’s a good reminder of the historical context.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does this build work on an x64 Dual core XP Pro 64-bit machine? Survey says… NO (total disappointment..) It comes up with the user interface then a dialog comes up saying

    "Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvienience. If you were in the middle of something, the information you were working on might be lost." Debug or Close

    I guess I will just have to make due with Cider.. But this is really disappointing..

    (this is an XP Pro x64 dual core machine with all the other requirements installed)..

  4. Tim Sneath says:

    Don, I’d like to take this offline and work out what’s going on, rather than trying to do a technical diagnosis in a blog comments section 🙂 Would you mind sending me a mail via the contacts section of the blog, and we’ll see if we can track down what’s going on here?

    Thanks, Tim

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cool, thanks.

    Has anyone posted anything on how to use Video with Sparkle?

    R u guys planning a video codec designed specifically to work with WPF Applications etc? (sort of like Flash 8 Video where it can emit cuepoints events, support alpha channels etc etc)?


  6. Anonymous says:

    Only Pentium 4 support in this preview. I’ve got lots of AMD machines but NO pentium 4s. I’m heartbroken.

  7. Anonymous says:


    It looked great in the demos, but trying out this stuff yourself.. Almsot wet my pants 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hello, my name is Damian Galletini and i am from Argentina. Sorry for my english, that is quite precarious. I have a question, i must develop a gadget for the sidebar of Windows Vista with avalon, but not where to look for information about to the subject. Can you help me please??

  9. Tim Sneath says:

    All the gadgets information is at, but I don’t know that there’s anything available about Windows Sidebar yet.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello there,

    I am Divy~

    Can anyone help me about why the installation felt after I downlaod its trial version from Microsoft site?~ Please help us to check steps: great thanks!


    We tried to install from this link:

    ———————————————–While installing, a dialog box indicate that we need to install Window Presentation Foundation version 6.0.5257.51106 first.

    I couldn’t find this WPF 6.0.5257.51106 ? Where can I get it?

    Then I found WPF Hands On Lab here

    and download it.

    Still, the WPF 6.0.5257.51106 installation felt too. Another dialog box appears when installing , and says ‘’ is currupt….

    Meanwhile, an anyone help us to complete the installation? We really like to try on the Sparkle.

    We really appreciate your help. ^^

  11. Tim Sneath says:

    Divy, you need the Jan CTP of WinFX Runtime Components, available from here:

    Hope that helps, Tim

  12. Anonymous says:

    I see that the standard Microsoft practice of taking something with a cool name and calling it something absolutely unmemorable and unattractive continues :).

  13. Tim Sneath says:

    To look at this problem obliquely, perhaps we should start giving our products less cool codenames, and then the final release names won’t be such a disappointment.

    Coming soon to a machine near you, Microsoft "Tepid"… 🙂

  14. Anonymous says:

    Comme nous l’a déjà dit notre confrère Pierrick sur son blog.

    Enfin,… "Sparkle" Interactive Designer…

  15. Anonymous says:

    I can’t use the produce because of the menus…

    How do you change the font rendering (I assume its vista presentation) ’cause it looks terrible on my CRT?

  16. Anonymous says:

    can anyone find this download?

    Windows Presentation Foundation version 6.0.5257.51106

  17. Anonymous says:

    Why does Microsoft recommend to download the February CTP of WinFX at the download page of Interactive Designer when it does not run with this release but need the January CTP????

  18. Anonymous says:

    Last weekend I tried out the Expression suite of products and was pretty impressed … well VERY impressed…

  19. Anonymous says:

    Is there an expression build that yet works properly on x64 without crashing?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Tim Sneath just blog’d that Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer (code name "Sparkle") is available…

  21. Anonymous says:

    MS re-org: This link goes to a CNET story about Microsoft getting out of the online music store biz… the Sept04 press release doesn’t mention the project targeted at the existing audience of Apple’s iTunes Music store, but that’s what many pundits believed

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