Manuel Clement - Sparkle CTP Released (er, Expression Interactive Designer)

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Description

Manuel Clement called us over yesterday to see the latest build of Microsoft’s new Expression Interactive Designer (aka Sparkle). He had some interesting news for us. Today Microsoft is releasing a beta to the public! Here you get to see the latest version, understand how they build things in it, and get an in-depth demo.

Why should you care? This changes a LOT about how designers and developers will work together to build applications in the future. Watch the video to get a hint for how.

You can download the Community Technology Preview (CTP) here.

Don't miss the first Sparkle team video we did a few months back. It's one of our most popular videos here on Channel 9.

Oh, and wish Manuel happy birthday!

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    The Discussion

    • User profile image
      AdityaG
      Awesome video! and Happy Birthday Manuel! Smiley

      EDIT: Question to the sparkle guys, When adding TabControls, is the SelectedIndex routine to switch tabs just temporary now? I mean, it would probably get annoying if you had a lot of tabs. Can it just switch to that TabItem's panel when you click/double click on its tab like in visual studio?

      Cheers,
      Aditya

    • User profile image
      Saptak
      Just awesome technology! This technology will go a long way in improving trust and respect between UI designers and developers.Smiley
    • User profile image
      peterbl
      Robert had a question near the end of the video about whether the SmoothMove control is available-I originally posted it here and totally stole the idea from the Microsoft Max guys (though I have no idea how they did theirs). They have some serious design skills, I hope they don't mind.

      And the crash in the video that was blamed on me? Fundamentally impossible- every single line of code that I write is absolutely flawless without the slightest possibility of an error. It must have been one of those processor gnomes.
    • User profile image
      peterbl
      This is our first CTP of Sparkle but we're taking feedback, bugs and any crashes you happen to find seriously. Send feedback, hit the forums and submit any crash reports!
    • User profile image
      Dave_​Matthews
      Looks very nice, folks.  Sparkle imports/displays audio+video... Can a browser object be called for display of a regular web page or several within the vector based window?

        The reason i ask is because we were awarded a patent on the Flash based fly-through interface system at http://www.2Goto.com, but The player.swf can't import standard HTML pages, so we can't fly through real information...  Like 30,000 search returns at the same time.

        Would love to build a working demo-wanna help?

        Thanks,
      Dave_Matthews
    • User profile image
      mawcc
      Is that a picture of "Napoleon's March" from one of Edward Tufte's books on the wall behind Manuel?
      If so, I think you've selected a great source for determining the best way to "Envision Information".
    • User profile image
      amirkhella
      mawcc wrote:
      Is that a picture of "Napoleon's March" from one of Edward Tufte's books on the wall behind Manuel?
      If so, I think you've selected a great source for determining the best way to "Envision Information".

      Yes it is Smiley
      Napoleon's March is the best static information visualization piece to date.
    • User profile image
      bgmccollum
      Question: Is that a screenshot of Apple Motion on the wall in the background? I wonder what other forms of "inspiration" might lurk...
    • User profile image
      staceyw

      Very cool guys!  Installed winfx and Sparkle after vid with no issues.
      After about 15 minutes I have these:
      1) Love the splash screen.  Nice understated and interesting movement.  Can see we are in a different ball field here.
      2) Love the pen.  Did a cool little free form object and colored it and rotated it.  Looked like a cool little cell shaded graphic.
      3) Could not figure out how to drag the connectoids to change the shape around.  Could stretch and drag, but not move individual connectoids.
      4) No right click menus on surface seemed a bit odd.
      5) Could not see any tool menu besides the pin, pencil thing. Where are the controls?

      Great stuff.  Can't wait to see some interactive tutorial or something.  Cheers!
      --
      William

    • User profile image
      kevind
      good video.

      nice product!  can't wait to try it out.

      note to manuel - i really like the way you used the dual monitor in this video.

      the flow between the screen and the speaker is much easier.
    • User profile image
      mclement
      bgmccollum wrote:
      Question: Is that a screenshot of Apple Motion on the wall in the background? I wonder what other forms of "inspiration" might lurk...


      The design process includes competitive analysis. You research the market, users, tools. It is healthy to be aware of the existing solutions to problems your target user.
    • User profile image
      TommyCarlier
      I loved the video, immediately downloaded the bits, and tried it out. I'm really impressed with what I saw. The zoomable UI is great. I do have some remarks:
      - the zoom-function doesn't affect palettes that are undocked
      - the docking of undocked palettes doesn't always work smoothly
      - I don't really like the way palettes collapse when you resize them and they become too large

      But still, very impressive for a first demo version!
      staceyw wrote:
      Very cool guys!  Installed winfx and Sparkle after vid with no issues.
      After about 15 minutes I have these:
      1) Love the splash screen.  Nice understated and interesting movement.  Can see we are in a different ball field here.
      2) Love the pen.  Did a cool little free form object and colored it and rotated it.  Looked like a cool little cell shaded graphic.
      3) Could not figure out how to drag the connectoids to change the shape around.  Could stretch and drag, but not move individual connectoids.
      4) No right click menus on surface seemed a bit odd.
      5) Could not see any tool menu besides the pin, pencil thing. Where are the controls?

      You can find the controls on the Library palette.
    • User profile image
      littleguru
      Showing data in design time is somehow sold here as it would be something that wasn't available before Sparkle. You can do that too when creating standard winform controls now.... It's nothing new!

      Great video and great tool Smiley
    • User profile image
      Khamul
      It's unforetunate that when using a non-default theme such as Royale XAML controls default to the 'Windows Classic' theme.
    • User profile image
      Sven Groot
      The CTP download page says only XPSP2 is supported, so I gotta ask: are XP x64 and Vista (5270) not supported?
    • User profile image
      bgmccollum
      mclement wrote:
      The design process includes competitive analysis. You research the market, users, tools. It is healthy to be aware of the existing solutions to problems your target user.
      How is Motion part of your competitive space? It is a motion graphics package, where Sparkle is for building UIs for application. Unless your true intentions for Sparkle have yet to be announced...?
    • User profile image
      Minh
      WPF/E spotted in the wild

      Edit: I just thought of something -- and I'm being totally serious here -- but isn't WPF/E best implement in Flash?

      nessie?

      Seriously... great technologies... But as Robert pointed out, deployment is going to be a problem. $29 / copy for Vista would help.
    • User profile image
      footballism
      Internal Server Error - Read The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

      Reference #3.476c0d2.1138199707.250f214


      What's the deal?

      Sheva
    • User profile image
      mclement
      bgmccollum wrote:
      mclement said:
      The design process includes competitive analysis. You research the market, users, tools. It is healthy to be aware of the existing solutions to problems your target user.
      How is Motion part of your competitive space? It is a motion graphics package, where Sparkle is for building UIs for application. Unless your true intentions for Sparkle have yet to be announced...?



      Well first of all we have been working on Expression Interactive Designer for more than 4 years - way before this particular tool was released. We just keep up to date on what's out there.

      The team is passionate about AUTHORING TOOLS, period. We love them. We live and breath authoring tools, we use them all the time to do tons of things (beside sitting down and making Expression tools).

      Designers do what they do because they have to: it is like breathing.

      I compare it to making music - you do it and you can't stop Smiley

      SO ... We have authoring tools all around us - regardless of whether or not they are tools to create "Application User Interfaces".

      Smiley
    • User profile image
      mclement
      Sven Groot wrote:
      The CTP download page says only XPSP2 is supported, so I gotta ask: are XP x64 and Vista (5270) not supported?



      I believe this specific version of WPF / WinFX has some known issues with some CPUs - please look at the readme.

      As for Vista 5270, I have it running on the laptop I am using now, and it seems to work fine.

      -mano
    • User profile image
      Jonas Beckeman
      Avalon has been exciting me for a long while now, but lately I've become a little bit worried about a few things regarding WPF and the workflow: 1) 3D performance - There seems to be some speed performance issues with 3D rendering. Is it going to get significantly better in the final release? Right now it seems to be outperformed even by old technology such as Shockwave3D when it comes to pushing polygons. 2) Graphic designer workflow - I really don't like that you have to *export* as XAML. That kinda goes against the whole workflow foundation concept IMO. I should be able to save my design, edit some things with an external editor, and just continue within the graphic designer. Exporting/importing each time is not a very nice solution. What's the plan here? 3) Interop with today's major graphic design file formats (PSD, SWF, AI etc). Why aren't there any converters to XAML? That really is key to winning over the design industry. And from what I can understand there aren't even any plans on releasing such tools. Also see my comments regarding this at: http://blogs.msdn.com/mswanson/archive/2006/01/05/509566.aspx#comments It'd be very interesting to hear your thoughts.
    • User profile image
      Jonas Beckeman
      Hm, seems the code on this forum doesn't like Opera browsers too much... All my formatting was apparently lost.
    • User profile image
      mike963
      Really nice beta - any news when we might see a beta of Quartz

      Thanks

      Mike
    • User profile image
      amirkhella
      peterbl wrote:

      And the crash in the video that was blamed on me? Fundamentally impossible- every single line of code that I write is absolutely flawless without the slightest possibility of an error. It must have been one of those processor gnomes.

      The crash at the end was totally my fault Smiley. I should have waited for the first search to end in order to execute another one! And it's true guys: Peter Blois writes the best code I have seen[H]
      By the way, I uploaded the Flickr Browser project at www.elementsofpassion.com.

      Generic Comment Image

      Make sure you get a free Flickr API key and paste it in the file called FlickrKey.txt in order for the sample to run correctly.
      You can get a key from http://www.flickr.com/services/api/key.gne

      -Amir
    • User profile image
      amirkhella
      kevind wrote:
      good video.

      nice product!  can't wait to try it out.

      note to manuel - i really like the way you used the dual monitor in this video.

      the flow between the screen and the speaker is much easier.


      A little clarification on who's who in this video
      The dude with the black sweater: Manuel Clement - Product Designer
      The dude with the yellow/Grey sweater: Amir Khella - Program Manager
      The dude with the cool striped shirt: Brad Becker - Senior Product Manager.
    • User profile image
      JParrish
      To the 9 team and the "sparkle" whatever you want to call it team... I am pleased so far.. yet.. this video was not a "WINFX Tutorial".. which is completly cool... Wink

      I have a few friends that are upset that Macromedia beat you guys to the punch.. what is your commitment to the MS crowd to accept WinFX and the interactive framework? Why are we still living on mock office UI's????? wtf?? MS Office is setting the pace yet again??

      I don't think MS has "earned" it yet.. but if you go forth to get the UI tools done... it will become a non-issue. Please accept that as a challenge. Rock on MS devs =)

      I will give you some actionble feedback soon.  =D



    • User profile image
      blowery
      Wow, the product looks fantastic!  Nice work so far.  One thing I was wondering about as I was watching the team create different UI elements was internationalization.  For example, when creating a button, you just enter in the value directly.  For an app that has to be internationalized, of course this wouldn't really work.  How does Sparkle handle creating internationalized UIs?

      Thanks!
    • User profile image
      balupton
      For the stackview (well the thing down the bottom left which you put other things into it).
      How come it there were no anchoring for the child controls?

      Also for the controls, you have your anchors, and box to stretch the controls, but are there shortcuts to fill?
      So heres the stretch box around my button:
      o-----o-----o
      |                |
      o               o
      |                |
      o-----o-----o
      Now what would be good, is so when you double click a 'o', it will stretch or fill to the border(s) of where that 'o' was.

      So heres my panel:
      ---------------------------------------------------------------
      |  o-----o-----o                                                        |
      |  |                |                                                        |
      |  o               o                                                        |
      |  |                |                                                        |
      |  o-----o-----o                                                        |
      ---------------------------------------------------------------

      So now i click the middle right 'o' and it will do this:

      ---------------------------------------------------------------
      |  o---------------------------o---------------------------o |
      |  |                                                                       | |
      |  o                                                                      o |
      |  |                                                                       | |
      |  o---------------------------o---------------------------o |
      ---------------------------------------------------------------

      So when that panel is resized the left position is fixed, but the right side adjusts to the size of the panel.


      Anyway great work ill try out the ctp in a week or so...
      There was other stuff i wanted to say but i forgot...
      And with all the microsoft beta programs i find that trying to submit feedback is hard, because i can never find where i am meant to submit it or talk about it.
      Could u post some links to where you want us to talk/submit feedback about it.
      Cheers
    • User profile image
      balupton
      amirkhella wrote:
      peterbl wrote:
      And the crash in the video that was blamed on me? Fundamentally impossible- every single line of code that I write is absolutely flawless without the slightest possibility of an error. It must have been one of those processor gnomes.

      The crash at the end was totally my fault . I should have waited for the first search to end in order to execute another one! And it's true guys: Peter Blois writes the best code I have seen


      Ok well i found a problem with the smoothslide thing, a grey box goes where the selected item should go.

      Plus when i click a image, then use the keyboard i get a grey dotted border around the image, i think the above is related to that as i never got the above problem before i used the keyboard.

      Heres a screenshot: http://dev.balupton.nghosting.org/ProblemFlickr.jpg
    • User profile image
      barlo_mung

      Arg! 
      Please do not call it "Expression Interactive Designer" or some other boring name.  I swear it seems like there's a Dilbertesque department deep in the bowels of MS (probably manned by trolls) where cool project names are turned into lame product names.
      Why not leave the name Sparkle?  It's sooo much better than "Expression Interactive Designer".
      In all seriousness this is a real problem that MS needs to address if it wants to compete with Apple, Google etc.

    • User profile image
      clintsinger
      Hi,

      I was wondering how close the relationship is with XAML and Sparkle.  In other words, will there still be a need at some point to drop into XAML and hand edit it or can Sparkle handle everything that XAML offers?

      Update: Within minutes of writing this post as I continued to watch the video they covered a scenario where they had to drop down to XAML.  So that answers my question.

      Cheers,
      Clint
    • User profile image
      dotnetmatt
      Robert - great video, but seriously, PLEASE stop interrupting people while they're answering questions. The number of times I've watched videos where people say things like "There are two main cool things. The first one is x. The second one is..." and then you interrupt with a question or comment...

      It'd be great if you could let the interviewee carry their own weight instead of jumping in. Smiley
    • User profile image
      nesher
      Will there be a Sparkle CTP Refresh for a WinFX CTP Feb.?
      I have 4 computers, but none of them is Pentium 4 Sad So I get every time exceptions.Perplexed
    • User profile image
      kettch
      clintsinger wrote:
      Hi,

      I was wondering how close the relationship is with XAML and Sparkle.  In other words, will there still be a need at some point to drop into XAML and hand edit it or can Sparkle handle everything that XAML offers?

      Update: Within minutes of writing this post as I continued to watch the video they covered a scenario where they had to drop down to XAML.  So that answers my question.

      Cheers,
      Clint



      Actually that example didn't answer your question. He specifically stated that it was something that hadn't been implemented in sparkle yet.

      They keep saying that one of the basic premises of sparkle is that the designers don't have to know anything about xaml if they don't want to.
    • User profile image
      BenDi
      First of all: I love Sparkle!

      But I had some trouble with the demo, mainly because it took a minute every time I changed something for sparkle to refill the list of thumbnails. crappy connection. Or so I though until I had a closer look at FlickrFX.dll. Turns out they dont use piping and that makes loading thumbs from Australia really slow.

      So for all of you who want to test the sample with the fastest download possible here is a recompiled FlickrFX.dll that does piping.

      Great work anyways Smiley,

      B.
    • User profile image
      mclement
      Cool! Smiley
    • User profile image
      reinux

      Thank you so much, everyone on the Sparkle team.

      I've been wanting to work with my designer friend for a long time, but it's just never been practical. I'd have work that'd really benefit from having a designer, and he'd have work that required plumbing.

      As much as we'd like to share our work, most of the time we'd just have to decline because it'd get too messy, and the requests we'd get would be doable but absolutely impractical, even with all the rest of the .NET framework. That won't be true anymore.

      People often think Vista's all about fancy GUIs and all that, but even if that were true, UI dev is the biggest problem for a lot of tasks.

      The design and software consulting businesses are going to be booming; people are going to be getting so much more. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that you've saved my dying job.

      Thanks again.

      By the way, try to keep the name Sparkle if you can Smiley

    • User profile image
      CoLD FiRe

      Hello guys,
      I’m just starting to become a developer and I can’t think of a better time for me to get into this industry Smiley With cool tools like sparkle I can finally start turning dreams into reality!  Great work guys.
      Microsoft have got it dead right with Avalon (WPF).

      Anyway this is just a side topic that I’m concerned about. It’s to do with the “smooth move” animation. We first saw this animation in the Aero Rock Video at PDC 2003, where Windows Explorer had image files in it being animated around. Then I saw it again in Microsoft Max. I herd that this particular animation “smooth move” was actually imbedded in Avalon (WPF) framework. So why did you have to import this effect in to apply it to the wrapping behavior? Isn’t it meant to be apart of WPF?

       

    • User profile image
      Aleksey Nagoga
      This video inspired me to download Sparkle and play with it a bit. I attempted to create a simple project where a main company logo pops up and upon a click the other 5 smaller logos come out of the main one. Simple, yet I encountered one error that I can't seem to work around. Once I add a timeline for at least one logo I can't open my project in Design mode in VS2005. VS2005 complains with the following message:

      A value of type 'String' cannot be added to a collection or dictionary of type {1}

      where {1} is  either  Point3DCollection, Vector3DCollection or PointCollection.

      I'm sure I'm not the first one who seen that error, so can someone please suggest a workaround?

      Btw, the project is compiling and running without a problem in both Sparkle and VS2005, only Design mode in VS2005 isn't happy.

      Version info:
         VS2005 - 8.0.50727.363 (SP.050727-3600)
         Sparkle -  September 2006 CTP, 0.1.2665.0
    • User profile image
      mschweisguth

      [deleted]

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