By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-01-30 Print this article Print

Indeed, the focus of the product is to enable designers and business professionals to come together "to deliver a rich-media, cinematic kind of experience," he said.

Prior to tapping into the .Net platform, Electric Rain experimented with C++, Adobes Flash and some other ancillary technologies, Soucie said. But through the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program, or TAP, which Electric Rain got into through its Zam 3D technology, the company was able to see early versions of the Microsoft Expression tools. But Electric Rain kept its own product plans to itself so as not to tip its hand, Soucie said.

Before WPF, "we had to license software to go do things that we get now from the .Net Framework by simply tapping into an API," Soucie said. "We actually doubled productivity with the .Net technology."

eWEEK Labs finds Expression Blend to be an interesting option for design-oriented staff. Click here to read more. Standout—which was created by designers—allows designers to build custom presentation templates that are dynamic, feature amazingly crisp motion graphics, and exceed the visual impact and quality of traditional slideshow applications, Electric Rain officials said. Moreover, Standout enables business professionals to easily edit and personalize these broadcast-quality presentation templates within an intuitive interface that exemplifies the next-generation user experience possible with Windows Vista, officials said.

Electric Rains Standout Presentation Solution is comprised of two software applications—Standout Designer Edition and Standout Presenter Edition. Standout Designer Edition uses Microsoft Expression Studio design tools to allow design firms, ad agencies and in-house design departments to build presentation templates, called Design Kits, for business clients, Soucie said. These Design Kits are delivered to the clients, who can use Standout Presenter Edition to edit and personalize the content.

Soucie said he and his brother started Electric Rain in their basement in Boulder in 1995.

"We watched movies like Star Wars and others and we loved special effects," he said. So the team created a 3D program called Font Effects, he said. In 1998 they came across Flash and built a Flash-based product called Swift 3D and sold more than 70,000 units, he said.

Then at a Flashforward conference in 2001, the annual congregation for Flash users, Soucie had a revelation. He was a presenter in a panel of three, and both the presenter before and the one following him used Flash to help animate their presentations. But Soucie used a plain-vanilla presentation of bullet points and static graphics.

"I sunk down into my chair and said I was going to have our Flash designer create all my presentations from then on," he said. But he also said that experience gave him the idea that Electric Rain needed to come up with a better way of doing presentations.

Like Microsoft, Soucie said Electric rain realized design is the answer.

"Design is definitely becoming a differentiator," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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