Microsoft Shows Why Expression Is a Standout

At an event in New York, Microsoft shows off its Expression design tools to an audience of design professionals, as Electric Rain releases its "Standout" application based on the tools.

NEW YORK—Microsoft has been touting the benefits of its design tools for a couple of years, but examples of those are just beginning to emerge with the advent of the companys Expression suite of design tools.

At the Jan. 30 event here dubbed ExpressionSession07, Microsoft showed off the intimate details of its Expression tools to an invite-only audience of design professionals. The New York event was the third of three, with the other two occurring in San Francisco and Chicago earlier in January.

"Great [user] experience requires designers, not programmers," said Eric Zocher, general manager of Microsofts Expression tools. "Platform plus craft plus tools equals user experience," Zocher said.

"The design community has changed Microsoft and were looking forward to working together" with the community, Zocher said.

Microsofts Expression tools represent the companys initial foray into providing tools for professional designers. The Expression Studio consists of four tools: Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design and Expression Media. These tools build on top of core Microsoft technology such as WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) and XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), among others.

Robby Ingebretsen, director of creative development at IdentityMine, a user experience consultancy in Tacoma, Wash., said at the event, said, "We started with WPF early on because our clients were looking for experience" and WPF laid the foundation for creating that user experience. Prior to joining IdentityMine, Ingebretsen was a program manager on the WPF team at Microsoft, where he helped build WPFs component and templating infrastructure.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read what the man behind Expression has to say.

Meanwhile, Mike Soucie, chief executive of Boulder, Colo., company Electric Rain, demonstrated his companys newly announced technology for creating presentations, known as Standout.

Standout is a Windows Vista-based application "built from the ground up using Expression Blend" on the design front and Microsofts Visual Studio for the back end, Soucie said.

"Our vision for the product is to change the way presentations are created and delivered," he said.

Though Electric Rain announced the product on Jan. 30, Soucie said the company came up with the concept for it in 2002, but it was not until they got hold of the .Net platform and Expression Blend—or "Sparkle" as it was previously known—that the technology actually came together.

"Standout is an example of the kind of applications that should be built with WPF," Zocher said.

Soucie said he recalls Microsofts Jim Allchin at the 2003 Microsoft Professional Developers Conference saying in effect, We build the platform, now you go build the applications. He said he took that as his own marching orders to bring the concept for Standout to a finished product.

"So now this [Standout] is the first incarnation of a product enabling businesses to deliver next-generation presentations," Soucie said.

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