“Expression Design is a tool for creative professionals and developers who want to build graphics for application user interfaces, the web, or any other medium. Expression Design offers powerful features to help you express your creativity.” – this is how Microsoft is describing Expression Design 2.
Expression Design is an attempt from Microsoft to fight on the design software market against Adobe. It is not clear what product is the target, because Expression Design 2 has both vector and bitmap features. But for comparison and because there are many vector tools and features, I will say Adobe Illustrator.
The first thing that is shocking to user’s eyes is the user interface (UI). We don’t have the same old Word look. This time Microsoft made a clean dark fluid interface. I would say that it is the best interface from Microsoft so far. On the UI are displayed only the main tools and the color and layers panel. This is a big win for Expression Design compared to the not so friendly Adobe Illustrator. Also you can dock, float, minimize or hide your panels in order to be more productive.
Another big win is that Microsoft’s application comes with a good pack of templates and effects. At least the stroke presets are numerous and with various style. You can select from several categories the fill type that is suitable for your project. Compared to other applications (Photoshop), I was impressed by the time used to apply a filter. In Photoshop you wait and wait, but in Expression Design is very fast.
The work with layers is a little bit unproductive but, the application is responding well when dealing with documents composed of many layers. You should not expect the variety of tools and options from Illustrator. This is, for now, a lighter software which happens to make the vector creation activity more pleasant and less complicated.
I salute Microsoft’s initiative and I wish Expression Design to be more competitive and productive.
Kudos for the development team and keep up the good work.
User Interface [rating:4.5]
Ease of use [rating:4.5]