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Microsoft Expression Blend + Design Updated

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A couple of new updates were released for the Microsoft Expression suite last week – Microsoft Expression "Blend" Release Candidate (formerly known as Expression Interactive) – and Expression "Design" Beta 2.

Microsoft have also announced "Microsoft Expression Studio" – which gives you all 4 of the Expression products in one package (Blend, Design, Web and Media). No pricing details have been released on this as yet.

I’ve spent a bit of time with Blend of late (and have delivered projects/prototypes with Beta1 and Beta2 versions) – and it’s good to see the incramental usabilty improvements between releases.  The new RC1 release however doesn’t seem to add any noticable changes/enhancements to UI itself – and instead offers a swag of brand new (and nice looking) demo/tutorial projects – and is worth a download just to see these.

I’m still stuck in two minds as to whether it’s easier/faster to edit XAML code using this product (and other visual designers) – or to just use the XAML Intellisense system which are provided from within VS2005 for raw editing (although a number of things cant ever be done with a visual designer). I guess I’m also pretty disappointed that Intellisense XAML editing didn’t make it’s way into the Blend product – something which I always assumed would be there for the final product (however given it didn’t make an appearence in the Release Candidate – its now looking unlikely).

Another thing that seems to be missing from Blend is the ability to work with XBAP projects (and although a ‘Page’ item template is provided) – you can’t seem to create an XBAP project file without VS2005. To get around this – I ended up creating a WPF Windows application – where the main Window hosted a core Page element – and then migrated the solution into an VS2005 created XBAP Solution once I was done (and this core Page element became the actual host page for the XBAP). Something I haven’t tried yet however is to initially create the XBAP solution in VS2005 and then try to open it in Blend for editing (so it’s possible this is a potential workaround – altough the versioning/clickonce layer might have issues).

These couple of omissions from Blend mean that it’s unlikely this product (or Expression suite) can be used as a ‘one stop shop’ for development for WPF – and any serious apps will still need VS2005 installed to do the hard(er) work. (unless you like coding in Notepad.exe that is).

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Written by mobilewares

March 17, 2007 at 11:35 pm

Posted in .NETv3

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