Before Silverlight had a name and WPF had been released we heard about an application called StandOut by Electric Rain (gallery eye candy here) that was going to push WPF to the limits and really show off what a great UI and expressiveness could do for a presentation application. Well they finally released a public beta last night. I had played with this application way back in January at Expression Session in San Francisco. I love the premise of StandOut; better, more engaging presentations. And if you take a look at the demos, I think they largely accomplish it. Touches of animation that flow with the presentation definitely add a level of polish that will increase the shelf life of PowerPoint.
The application was actually kind of complicated for me when I loaded it up. There are two parts, the designer and the presenter. The presenter is meant as a way for the people creating the content to quickly change wording or make small adjustments. The presenter is pretty straight forward and has a cool "flypaper" feature that lets you drag things (including files) onto a canvas for use later. It's kind of a visual brainstorming/idea board. The second part, the designer, is where the magic happens. It's also where I got totally lost. The UI looks a lot like Blend, which makes perfect sense because the link between StandOut and Blend is strong. You can use Blend to create assets and media which then directly imports to StandOut. The design view has a time line, asset gallery and allows you to really dig in and tweak the animations. I can't tell if they built this from scratch or actually used some Blend code, but it's impressive the level of detail that has gone into the application. It's also why I got a bit overwhelmed. I'm hoping Don Burnett will have his in depth review later.
All in all the application looks like it should see some success. It's a good example of what WPF can do and I think it also brings up some interesting questions about software. When I looked at the system requirements I was surprised:
- Windows Vista or Windows XP with .NET 3.0 Framework
- 2.0 GHz Processor or equivalent
- 256 MB Video card (512 recommended)
- 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended)
- 100 MB of available hard-disk space
- 1024 x 768 Monitor resolution
- Microsoft Expressions Blend(only for creating Design Kits)
I'm not saying it's wrong, because I firmly believe that it's important to take advantage of the desktop, but 512 megs of video RAM for a presentation application seems odd. Part of that is Vista and WPF, and the application is impressive, but it makes me wonder if applications this intensive are before their time. [Screenshots in the Gallery]