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Is Microsoft's Sparkle the New Flash?

Article Description

Anyone who spends any time on the Web is familiar with Flash presentations. They're practically inescapable, they're usually fast, and they're easy to create. And now, they're in danger of being replaced—that is, if you’re buying what Microsoft has to sell you. Matthew David previews Microsoft's answer to the ubiquitous Flash: a new product whose beta name is "Sparkle."

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The Flash Effect

When you look at the new applications created with Sparkle, you can't help but be reminded of Macromedia's Flash. The controls, layout, and use of vector paths for the design all look like a Flash application.

Microsoft's Sparkle takes the designer to a new level of creativity. Many of the tools built into Sparkle will be recognizable to Flash designers from Macromedia's Flash 8: animation timelines, vector and bitmap image support, drawing tools, event-driven interactivity, support for video and audio, and so on. What separates Sparkle from Flash is real support for 3D. Flash has loosely supported 3D through complex and program-bogging scripts, or sequences of animation tools created with products such as eRain's Swift 3D, but it doesn't have the capability to directly support 3D models. Sparkle provides this ability.

Flash has become well known for the cool effects written in Macromedia's programming language, ActionScript. Sparkle gives developers the full breadth of programming languages, such as C#, to add interactivity to their tools. In addition, Sparkle provides strong support for development tools such as IntelliSense and debugging.

Finally, Sparkle finally delivers a tool to the interactive design community that adequately links the designer and the software engineer. Through a common language, XAML, software will have the ability to look and feel significantly more engaging than it does today.

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