By Kevin Yank

Microsoft releases second Acrylic preview

By Kevin Yank

Microsoft has posted the second pre-release version of Acrylic, the powerful but difficult-to-use vector/raster drawing application that is the successor to Creature House Expression.

In addition to significant performance improvements and a few new features such as XAML export (XAML is Microsoft’s new language for describing user interfaces that includes support for vector graphics), Microsoft has done some work on the user interface in an effort to improve usability. After playing with this update for a few minutes, however, I’d have to say the UI remains this product’s single biggest weakness.

Ars Technica has reported that the XAML export feature signals a retargeting of the software for use in Windows Vista UI development, and has been renamed with this release to Windows Presentation Foundation User Experience Design Tool, but I’ve been unable to find anything to corroborate this seemingly improbable claim. As far as I can see, the codename Acrylic is still the only official name for the product, and it continues to be pitched as an application for combined vector/raster illustration.

  • On the Acrylic page you link to, it says

    With Windows Vista, designers and developers can work together to build applications that deliver a superior user experience, and enhance user productivity and satisfaction.

    Acrylic supports the creation of graphic designs for export to the XAML file format, the declarative markup language used to describe application user interface elements and rich content (such as 2-D, 3-D, text, animation, video, etc.) for the Windows Presentation Foundation.

    which seems to suggest that Ars Technica is correct because of the above quote’s reference to building applications and Windows Presentation Foundation. I don’t know much about Vista or WPF but to me, the inference is there.

  • KObserver

    I found this other tool on the web tool that generates XAML: Aurora. It’s free to download at

  • An added export feature is one thing–Acrylic will indeed be capable of producing design elements for Windows Vista user interfaces–but a complete repurposing and renaming of the product is another. I have no idea where Ars Technica is getting that.

  • Etnu

    The coolest part about this is that by the time Vista actually ships, they’ll have at LEAST 5 or 10 years of experience in this market.

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