Microsoft formally unveiled the Expression family of design tools at last September’s Professional Developers Conference and late yesterday released Community Technology Previews of two of them: Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer (“Sparkle”) and Expression Graphic Designer “Acrylic”). There was no word on Expression Web Designer (“Quartz”).
If, at first glance, all of these products seem confusing, the new Expression Team Blog puts them in their place:
Microsoft Expression is a suite consisting of three products each intended for use mainly by the professional designer community. Expression Graphic Designer [Acrylic - ed.] is a visual arts package equally at home with vector or with bitmap graphics. Expression Interactive Designer [Sparkle - ed.] gives interaction designers the environment in which to build Windows applications for the Windows Presentation Foundation platform – in other words, to build the new Vista-wave generation of Windows user experiences. Expression Web Designer [Quartz - ed.] is the product which offers all the tools you’ll need to produce high-quality, standards-based Web sites.
For lots more information, videos and downloads about Expression, please see the Microsoft Expression product website.
They are all based on the Windows Presentation Framework (“Avalon”) coming in WinFX with Vista and to be available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 as well. Finally, note that there is a separate design tool for developers codenamed “Cider” coming in the future “Orcas” release of Visual Studio.