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Acrylic and Avalon

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  • User profile image
    nukeation

    Some time back, I posted on my blog (and a follow up here) regarding my hunch that Acrylic (www.microsoft.com/products/expression/) will be made into designer for Avalon (with possible integration into Visual Studio).

    In the last .NET Rocks show, Microsofties hinted (and confirmed) this hunch. Microsoft will indeed push Acrylic as a design software suite, as well as use it for Avalon design. You heard it here first (well, on my blog, at least). Smiley

    I can't wait to have a visual designer for Avalon.

    Can anyone provide more info on this? Hopefully, someone from Microsoft.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    Interesting. I could definitely see it being useful to generate artwork for Avalon apps (ie: Save As XAML), but it seems it would need alot of work to become a general purpose Avalon UI builder.

    That definitely looks like a episode of .NET rocks to listen to.

  • User profile image
    nukeation

    It's not too difficult to imagine Microsoft turning the core functionality of Acrylic into a Designer for VS2005. The SAVE AS XAML is almost as good as confirmed - Microsoft dare not release a vector app without compatiblity with their premiere vector graphics technology.

    The person (I forget who) said on DNR that it would be used to create cool looking UI for software apps.

  • User profile image
    Deactivated User

    Comment removed at user's request.

  • User profile image
    The J

    Now, Avalon will be used to create effects for use within software applications, correct? So this has nothing to do with the theme engine that Longhorn will use (Aero?)? Has Microsoft given any reason to believe that the Windows shell theme will be customizable as well?

    I looked at your follow up and I do agree that Acrylic can't compete with more advanced programs. I use The GIMP and find it to have many more features. Acrylic, however, is easier to use and I love it's use of snapping windows. I think, though, that it's too advanced to replace Paint and not advanced enough to replace something like Photoshop or GIMP, making it difficult for Acrylic to find a niche to get in to.

    Do you think it'll be possible to use your choice of image editor to create effects for Avalon? I've never seen Avalon in action, but from what I've read, it's difficult for me to see how a static image editor can be used to create the animated effects that Avalon is supposed to offer. I'm probably way off when it comes to my understanding of Avalon, so someone please correct me if I talking nonsense here. I should note that I'm not a developer, but rather a curious user who has probably spent too much time messing with computers and Windows.

    PS: Sorry about the bad formatting. I still can't get carriage returns working in Opera. I don't get a posting GUI to use; I just get a basic text box to type in.

    EDIT:  corrected formatting problems by using Maxthon to edit post.  Still, if anyone knows how to get this working correctly in Opera, please let me know.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    I think we are all still learning what Longhorn will be but I can say that I think a few things are true:

    Aero is not part of Avalon.

    it is native code that is some part of the UI / presentation code in LH


    Avalon is a complex display manager that can bring together several kinds of visual elements.


    STatic Vs. Animated:  depends....

    some things will need models with compund strucure to animate - like a CD-Case that opens and closes.

    Other things may just need some effects:
    a button for example could have lighing, textures, opacity etc.. as dynamic attributes on a static form.
    just alter them and the button can "Look" different but has the same size and shape.
    you could design a button and then move a set of points / or set of shapes in the button to morph it to some degree -- like UP / Middle / DOWN
    visauls that could be based on 1 static mesh / object

    so Acrylic could work very well for some of the basic modeling of the UI w/o fancy animation tools.

    I bet some of the things I am describing become standrd effects to apply to things to make it simple to impliment....

    I think some of it is there now...

  • User profile image
    nukeation

    Avalon is not just for creating effects. It's a whole new rendering engine. It will use vector shapes to create the windows and every portion of the UI. Aero is just a design specific to Longhorn. Aero is based on Avalon.

    I believe Microsoft SHOULD (if they have not already planned to) create a Flash like Visual Studio designer that can help you create Avalon shapes and animate them on a timeline.

    That could come as a later stage. Right now, I believe them to give you a direct designer to create the UI with the inbuilt Avalon controls (most are analogous to existing WinForms controls) and use either code or property dialogs to set animation, etc.

    As I understand, Microsoft and 3rd party vendors will make import/export plugins for software like CorelDraw, Illustrator, Freehand, etc. to use XAML. You will NOT be able to use image editors (PhotoShop, PhotoPaint, PaintShop Pro, etc.) to create XAML/Avalon UI. It has to be vector based.

    Again I must say, as I have said so many times before, that Avalon is being really underestimated by people (partly because of the way Microsoft is publicizing it). It's not just for animated effects and shaped controls. It's a whole new UI system that will be the successor of Windows Forms in the next few years. And it's flexibility will totally change the way how UI traditionally worked.

    In fact, I think it will prove to be a major blow to Apple, whose UI has been (arguably) better looking than Windows. It will be like the UI you see in Sci-Fi flicks like Final Fantasy or Star Wars or Doom3. Not to mention the new jobs for designers it will create in the developer industry.

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    The J wrote:

    I looked at your follow up and I do agree that Acrylic can't compete with more advanced programs. I use The GIMP and find it to have many more features. Acrylic, however, is easier to use and I love it's use of snapping windows. I think, though, that it's too advanced to replace Paint and not advanced enough to replace something like Photoshop or GIMP, making it difficult for Acrylic to find a niche to get in to.

    Do you think it'll be possible to use your choice of image editor to create effects for Avalon? I've never seen Avalon in action, but from what I've read, it's difficult for me to see how a static image editor can be used to create the animated effects that Avalon is supposed to offer. I'm probably way off when it comes to my understanding of Avalon, so someone please correct me if I talking nonsense here. I should note that I'm not a developer, but rather a curious user who has probably spent too much time messing with computers and Windows.


    You're missing the point that Acrylic (I believe it used to be called Creature House Expressions) is being used to create VECTOR graphics. It's not an "image editor" like Photoshop (or even GIMP which I find amateurish and clunky). It's more like Illustrator or Corel Draw or even Flash.

    Don't get bitmap (pixel based) and vector (structured/curves) mixed up. They're quite different.

    What I like about this is that you can make a UI that scales well on low resolution displays and on super-high displays like Bill Hill uses.
    At the moment, when you run at something like 1600X1200 or higher everything gets really small because the UI elements were designed for displays from around 2000/2001 which where most likely 1024X768 or even 800x600.

    With a vector based UI you will be able to take advantage of high PPI displays at their native resolutions and still keep everything at a usable size because it will all scale up smoothly instead of all chunky like bitmap images.

    Then there's the whole 3D element of Avalon that would require a whole other set of tools.

    Being a graphics guy, this is the stuff the excites me. I know nothing of programing but XAML interests me allot.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    Paint Shop Pro V8 has a native vector and layer file format.

    so IMHO it could build a xaml file with some conversion plugin / app to pull out the data and save it in xaml format.

    as a long time user of PSP I'd hope someone does this to save me and other PSP users some time learning yet another program...

    I like some of Acrylic but have not yet found out how to do some things that are easy in PSP for me to do.

    but this is beta so ....

  • User profile image
    nukeation

    I doubt you'd be able to take full (or even barely significant) advantage of XAML with PSP.

    In fact, I think anyone who is planning on creating their own UI with Avalon should try and learn at least the basics of CorelDRAW (www.corel.com) or Illustrator (www.adobe.com) or even Flash - believe me, this is the BEST thing you can do. It's not too hard to learn. In fact, the editability of Vector is far better than bitmaps.

    Acrylic is weird for me. I've worked on CorelDRAW since v1.0, almost 15 years ago. But it's nice to know you won't have to rely on third party tools to create cool stuff on Avalon. I doubt anyone except Microsoft could create a tool that fully realizes the potential of Avalon.

    What I wish is that this Acrylic beta would be an ALPHA! There's a LOT of stuff it really needs - especially when you look to CorelDRAW or Illustrator.

    Anyone with Flash experience will have no trouble with Avalon. The overall physics are the same. And sometimes, when you want some really cool 3D game like effects, you can always use transparent PNGs and push them as layers in Avalon - like what many people do in Flash. I can't wait to try something like this Flash site (www.kotor2.com) with Avalon.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    Yeah... like I wish there was a save-as xaml in it already....

    I have just by playing found that I could make some nice "organic" shapes with some of the tools.

    but with having used several other programs over the years the current UI / tool box is just not right...

    some where in the tools - how they work - and a lack of any "How to make xxx" info I can see it has power but I still am lost on what buttons to push to unlock that power...

    in PSP I can do some nice stuff...

    I know the tools, how to get from a to b.

    in this one I'm stumbling still....

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