Enter the Flash Killer?

“Sparkle” is a series of tools recently showcased as part of MS’s Windows Longhorn technology platform.

It will allow developers to make Flash-like effects from within Windows programs via Avalon’s vector-based graphical API. When you minimize a program in Mac OSX to the dock, it actually looks as if it gets sucked right into the dock. I think that’s the kind of effect we’re talking about.

But it also looks an awful lot like another vector-based animation tool – Macromedia Flash. Which is why some pundits are calling it the “Flashkiller”.

Right now it looks more like a rudimentary programmer’s SDK than something artsies will want to use to make their Christmas e-cards, but it should be interesting.

Macromedia – to be frank, their tools are overpriced, non-intuitive and haven’t really improved in the last three iterations. Their only real competition came from Adobe and maybe Java. I know, I’ve used them. But the work dang well, is all.

XAML is basically MS’s ripoff of Mozilla’s XUL (pronounced “Zool”), although it includes a few interesting new features. XUL is based on the XML metalanguage set. It is what makes Mozilla/Netscape 7 incredibly flexible; for example, you can even program games into Mozilla. Unlike XML it will be proprietary/closed source and closed platform. Again in a copycat case, the next-gen IE will run on XAML.