After downloading sparkle when it was released a few hours ago I spent most of this evening playing around with it. Here were my first impressions:
- Doing UI with it is great, I much prefer to use it that Cider. I’ve hardly used the Cider designer since it arrived last month (mostly just editing XAML), but in Sparkle I didn’t feel the need to dig down into the XAML as much.
- The performance of the designer was slightly better than VS 2005/Cider in my VPC environment. Fast enough, and much more fully featured at this stage.
- The “gradients on everything” looked a little cheesy (especially the timeline stuff at the bottom when nothing is loaded), even for me - a programmer with the aesthetic sensibilities of a cardboard box.
- I found the UI fairly intuitive. It is weird to use an app that doesn’t have a tool-bar, but I was able to find almost everything I was looking for via the “View” menu (which revealed appropriate tool-windows of stuff). I have watched the channel nine video a few months ago of sparkle in action, so maybe I remembered a few things from there. I don’t have any experience with any Macromedia or Adobe tools, I can’t quite get the hang of the Mac OS. I have learned a few tricks in the gimp, but spend 97% of my time in VS or SQL text editors. I figure I’m the mort or even pre-mort of graphic designers.
- The documentation is quite good. I found browsing the help quite interesting.
- The code editor was interesting, but quite limited. It has intellisense but it was pretty slow. It can show different fonts in the same document (something VS 2005 cannot do AFAIK), but couldn’t see any way to change the font and colour settings and the syntax hilighting scheme, or add breakpoints.
- The ability to right-click on a control and extract a copy of the control template for that control is very cool.
- Creating simple animations was quite easy - I “got“ the timeline and creation of keyframe stuff at the bottom of the screen on my first attempt.
- No unexplaind lock-ups, crashes, vanishing, freezes, “needing to close“ or anything like that while I was using it.
Thus far I’ve only scratched the surface of Sparkle, but my first impressions have been very positive. During the course of my experimentation I made a number of extremely ugly UIs, the worst of which is shown below. As this application starts up the rectangle with the rounded corners and psychadelic background gradient and the combo box fly around the form before coming to rest at the locations shown. The dropdown portion of the combo and the checkbox have both had fairly ghastly custom templates applied to them. I’m sure in the hands of somebody with some sense of aesthetics Sparkle would be a great tool. A very credible effort for a first beta I thought.