Microsoft is moving into Macromedia and Adobe territory with a set of new products aimed at web designers and illustrators. Preview versions of Microsoft’s Expression Interactive Designer (for web application development) and Expression Graphic Designer (for creating web graphics) are available for download.
According to Microsoft, as reported by Martin LaMonica of CNET News.com in Microsoft offers early peek at designer tools, the company wants to simplify the coordination between software developers who write code and the graphics art people who create the visual elements.
Designer is a visual tool for designing the look of an application — it generates code in the Microsoft-specific XAML markup language for the Windows Presentation Foundation (a.k.a. “Avalon”) subsystem in Vista. Many web developers are suspicious that XAML is another way of locking people into using Internet Explorer (IE). Here’s one succinct view, from Dave Shea of mezzoblue:
The past couple of years of IE security problems have raised a lot of awareness about browser lock-in, and the problems that tying your application into a specific browser/operating system can later cause. Like ActiveX, in-browser XAML/Avalon appears to be a method of continuing that trend.
Some question whether XAML is really appropriate for web applications when it is clearly a language that ties into WinFX and the presentation subsystem. Others question whether web development in XAML will really work with other browsers. I question Microsoft’s intentions on maintaining interoperability since it has clearly begun a pattern of control as far back as 2000 in regards to XML by seeking and receiving a patent on it’s XML. More recently Microsoft shrugged off the standard OpenDocument format to push its own “enhanced” XML format.