Microsoft is "very interested" in the Ruby programming language and also plans to expand its Expression design tools line, a Microsoft official said this week.
During an Internet chat with InfoWorld, Forest Key, Microsoft director of Web and client user experience marketing for the company's developer division, acknowledged Ruby is on the company's radar screen. Asked if the company would accommodate the Ruby on Rails Web framework, which is based on Ruby, in Expression, Key said, "Ruby is currently more of a 'developer' concept for us."
"We are very interested in Ruby and have lots of thinking going on," but nothing to announce at this time, Key said. He advised chatters to "stay tuned."
Key added he was not the Microsoft person to comment in detail on this subject because he did not know the company’s plans. One chatter expressed wishes for an IDE for Ruby on Rails from Microsoft.
SapphireSteel, meanwhile, has shipped Ruby in Steel Developer, a Ruby environment for Visual Studio.
Commenting on the future of the new Expression line, Key said the company was "just getting started with V1 (version 1) of the Expression Studio," which includes the suite of Expression tools.
One area targeted for expansion is interaction design, which pertains to designing the actual interaction or structure of an experience rather than just designing the onscreen pieces. A goal is to better tie Visio, the company's diagram drawing software used by many interaction designers, to Expression and the company's Visual Studio software development platform.
While Expression is for application designers and Visual Studio is geared toward the coding side of software development, Key said some features of Expression would turn up in Visual Studio. Software developers would want to use Expression, he said.
The planned "Orcas" version of Visual Studio, for example, includes the same design surface for Cascading Style Sheets rendering as the Expression Web product, Key said. Orcas also has XAML capabilities, which are featured in the Expression Blend product.
"There are some features that are only in Expression and vice versa, but we are really focused on giving all features to both audiences, just doing it in a role-specific way where everyone can be more comfortable and successful with the solution they are using," Key said.
Microsoft believes in collaboration between designers and developers to build user experience-based applications and content, Key said.
"If by Web 2.0 we are talking about great experiences that combine Web technologies, social computing components, services, the browser and components of the desktop such as richer graphics an integration with local data, etc, then you could say Expression is all about Web 2.0," Key said.
Microsoft also plans more community-accessible content for both XAML and the Expression tools. Key said.