Celso, a designer at MSFT, got to show off the best demos (though admittedly they were just the demos that ship with Expression).
I enjoyed seeing his demo of a page turning app, which I had just seen at Adobe’s Engage event using Flash not long ago.
He also showed off WPF/E, demo’ing emulated 3D by moving around some wireframes and creating an interactive Rubix Cube. He also showed the page turn demo using WPF/E, and the perf seemed par with the full WPF version. Both versions were faster than the Flash version, but it wasn’t rendering an embedded web control on each page like Flash was, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be able to do that.
WPF/E can do video and it seemed to do it very fast — he showed off multiple videos playing in relatively large sizes simultaneously without frame rate choking. It can also do full-screen, which is very interesting.
He also showed a cool step-by-step tutorial of creating a set of photos orbiting around a blue sphere.
Celso emphasized Microsoft’s separation between designers and developers. I was impressed by how easy Expression makes it to get to the animation, data binding, XML parsing, and other capabilities of the platform. Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft are clearly all innovating heavily in this space. I haven’t seen all the tooling behind Core Animation, but Flex and Expression seem neck-and-neck on the tooling front. Swing? When compared to these kinds of tools, it doesn’t even seem to be running in the same race.
Slightly less clear are the advantages that WPF/E hold, if any, over the Flash/Flex stack, but time and further investigations will tell the tale there.
I was very disappointed that MSFT didn’t make available engineers or PMs on the WPF or WPF/E teams. Celso couldn’t answer futures questions and technical questions. Ugh. It was also pretty lame that he gave his WPF/E demos on WinXP and not OS X (to reassure us that xplaf perf is there).