Prototyping: Microsoft Blend and Adobe Catalyst


Blend and Catalyst are competing products. As with most things in life, people have preferences. What I seem to be hearing is that Catalyst is “better” than Blend. It’s however unclear what “better” means. Maybe “better” is that the designers are more familiar with the Adobe software suite, or it could be that Catalyst does have some features that are superior to Blend. Adobe have obviously got the best track record for providing the User Experience world with design tools. If “better” can be solved by training and education of the toolset, then that’s an easy fix e.g. QuantumBlack. Below is some feedback from a Blend perspective:

  • More output options in Sketchflow. Having the ability to export individual screens or the entire solution to PDF or JPEG. Output to a Word in Blend 3 produces a document that is a mess and not suitable for client presentations.
  • Downloadable Stencils for Sketchflow. Stencils in Omnigraffle is one of the reasons why UX Architects love this product so much. Something similar for sketchflow would go a long way. Building a community of people creating/sharing these stencils similar to Graffletopia. Making it easy to add these stencils to Blend is key.
  • More control over animations without having to dive into the code. Triggers and Behaviours in Blend 3 went a long way to solving this problem and Blend 4 improves on this, but its an area that needs to be enhanced.

~ by mdavey on March 26, 2010.

3 Responses to “Prototyping: Microsoft Blend and Adobe Catalyst”

  1. It seems to me like Adobe started from a designers world, whereas Microsoft started from a developers world. Catalyst works like the rest of the tools designers use, and if you want designers to use them, this is a good thing!

    Most of the complaints I’ve heard about blend (from designers) is that its too difficult to use or too much like programming…

  2. Designers feel that Catalyst is ‘better’ because Adobe streamlined the workflow and integrated Catalyst very easily. I’ve never used Blend, but I would imagine that it doesn’t support psd or ai files natively, but I could be wrong.

    • Hi, I’m a Microsoft Employee who works on the Expression Studio / Blend team. Without coming off too much as a shameless plug, I’d like to anwer the quesiton concerning ai and psd support. We appreciate that designers will likely use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for their static artwork creation. I am not sure what “support … natively” means exactly, but starting in version 3, and improved somewhat in version 4, Expression Blend has built-in functionality to import ai and psd files and preserve the layer structure, text as text, vectors as vectors, masks, effects, adjustment layers, and blend modes to the full extent that those constructs are supported by the underlying WPF, Sliverlight, and Windows Phone 7 platforms.

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