Sparkle Functionality Examined?

What is vector-based and weighs 800 lbs? Stumped? It’s called Sparkle, and this gorilla is Microsoft’s supposed answer to the sweeping success Macromedia’s Flash software has enjoyed over the past 8 or 9 years. Sparkle, which is a code-name, doesn’t exist yet, and may be years away, but meanwhile Microsoft is hard at work on ‘Longhorn,’ (due in 2006) the next full-scale update to Windows. Longhorn will also introduce the ‘Avalon presentation layer,’ which defines the way applications appear and are controlled in the Windows environment. Now, what does this have to do with broadcast Flash animation, you ask? Well, this Avalon user-interface tool is vector-based, ala Flash. This is not news by any means, but after snooping around the Longhorn Software Developer Kit (SDK) today, I was reminded of the 2003 hub-bub surrounding ‘Sparkle.’ Articles posted back in 2003 hinted at Longhorn’s potential, and below is exactly what they were talking about.

Here’s some screengrabs from reference documention from the Longhorn SDK site, starting with some general graphics information…


…and some graphics and animation functionality (looking familiar yet)….


…and finally, some graphics transformation functionality.


It’s not exactly the Sparkle software manual, but it sure is starting to look like one. I’d like to think that competition is good for all parties, and this looming challenge to Flash should bring along significant advancements to vector-based animation.

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