Expression Blend and Design

The team blog of the Expression Blend and Design products.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    What a Release PM Does

    • 7 Comments

    In my previous post, I introduced myself as a Release PM for the Expression Studio suite of products. Some of you may be wondering what a Release PM does. Before I get into that, to give you some background about me, I’ve been at Microsoft for over 13 years. I first started as a tester, then spent 8 years as a developer on Publisher and Movie Maker, and then spent 5 years as a Program Manager (PM). As a PM, I had the responsibility for designing the features that developers would then code. A large part of that involved managing the schedule and progress towards releasing the finished product. Towards the end of that role, I started doing release management, which is focused on integrating the various parts of products together (Windows Vista, in my case) and driving the team towards completion. This also involves completing all of the legal and corporate-mandated requirements necessary to ship a product to you!

    That is my job here in Expression land – working with the various teams to get all of our software releases out the door in a timely manner and communicating with the various teams: product development, test, program management, marketing, operations, website management, localization, international subsidiaries, etc. It’s a great job that permits me to work with lots of different people while drawing on my experience with actually shipping products for many years. More importantly, I also get to to learn new aspects of the business that I haven’t been exposed to before.

    Blend 2 December Preview
    So our most recent release was the Blend 2 December Preview. After the product team completed their work on the setup package (known as an MSI), they hand it off to me to get it released. That means coordinating with the editors to get the Microsoft Download Center website text written, getting the package through a gauntlet of automated tools for verifying the package is safe to release (virus checkers, etc.) and getting the Expression website content up to date.

    To give a more specific example in the context of the newly released Blend 2 December Preview, part of release management involves coordinating the web site content so that you all can actually download our latest preview. The coordination matters because the download center uses different servers than the Expression website. If we want them to go live at the same time we have to pull all of the levers together. Even then, propagation across the servers around the world takes time, and sometimes things can get a little out of sync. Knowing how to deal with some of these delays helps ensure everything related to the release goes smoothly.

    If you like doing different things every day, fighting fires, working with people, helping to shape processes and policy, Release Program Management may be the job for you! Hopefully this post gives you a brief idea of what a Release PM does, and feel free to comment below if you have any further questions.

    - Bret

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Blend Service Pack 1 Update

    • 8 Comments

    Hi, I’m Bret Ahlstrom, the new release program manager for the Expression Studio suite of products. I’ve only been in this job a few short weeks, and the first thing I get to report on is a problem with the Expression Blend Service Pack 1 that was released last month!

    It turns out that some people can’t get the patch to install on their systems. This is due to an incompatibility between the SP1 patch and some versions of Blend (Japanese, Korean and German for starters.)

    We think we have identified the problem and are building a new SP1 patch to address it, and this updated path should be ready to go in a few days. To clarify, only people who have had problems installing SP1 should need this patch. If you have already successfully installed SP1, then you won’t need to download and install it again.

    Thanks and stay tuned.

    - Bret

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Game Graphics Created in Expression Design

    • 7 Comments

    Today I wanted to share some game prototyping graphics created in Expression Design.   These are useful for would-be game developers who happen to be missing a set of quality graphics and/or people who want sample files that can help them understand basic vector drawing techniques.

    For example, the following is something I created using Design:

    You can download the files used for the above image here: PlanetCute.design (540k)

    Tips and Tricks Used to Create These Files

    Expression Design was built to be familiar to folks that already know how to use a vector drawing tool.  However, there are a couple of unique tricks that I use every day that make my life much easier.

    Always Work in Pixels
    I always set up my document units to be pixels (at 96 PPI to be exact!).  This dramatically reduces any confusion exporting to XAML. If you want more information on why that is done, read Joanna's blog post.

    Set your Grid to 10-pixels and Nudge Increment to 1-pixel
    All the tiles are built on a grid that is 10 px by 10 px.  When you set your nudge increment to 1 pixel a nice trick becomes possible.  If you hold down Shift while pressing an arrow key, the object will move 10X the nudge increment.  In this case, that happens to be 10 px, the exact size of the our grid.  Now, instead of manually dragging elements with grid snapping on, I can use Shift + my arrow keys to move elements around and I’ll be guaranteed that they’ll be aligned with my grid.  This is quite useful when making tile graphics for games.

    You can change your grid size and nudge increment with the following steps:

    1. Go to the Edit menu.
       
    2. Select Options, and from the menu that appears, select Units and Grids. 
       
    3. Set Document units to ‘Pixels’
       
    4. Type in '10 px' for Grid size
       
    5. Type in ‘1 px’ for Nudge increment
       
    6. Click OK to accept these changes.

    Shading with Gradients that use Transparent Stops
    Most of the 3D shading results are done using gradients that have transparent stops.  This simple feature, accessible through the Stop Alpha property on every gradient stop, dramatically increases the usefulness of the old reliable gradient.  Here’s an example of how I use gradients with transparent stops to create the tile based shadowing system used by the rest of the tiles.

    Download Large (more readable!) Version

    Can you make a game?

    This set of graphics is pretty flexible.  Be creative. Can you make a platform game?  Can you make a role playing game?  Or a puzzle game? The possibilities are endless.  If you find that the set doesn’t include the exact tiles you need for your rocking game design, it is easy enough to open up the .design file in Expression Design, change some colors, or add some shapes. Voila! New tiles and new characters.

    I just added the treasure chest graphic and I'm waiting for someone to bust out the first Silverlight Pirate game. Yarr.

    To see what other folks have done with these tiles, stop by my website.

    Best wishes,
    Danc.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Blend Service Pack 1 Released

    • 3 Comments

    Yesterday, we released the Expression Blend Service Pack 1, and you can download it from the following location. One of the major goals of this service pack was to make sure that Visual Studio 2008 was better supported, but we made other minor fixes and changes also.

    You can see a comprehensive list of the changes in the following document, and there is more coverage of this release on Soma's blog.

    Thanks,
    Expression Blend Team

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Silverlight 1.0 Fire Starter - Free Training

    • 4 Comments

    Microsoft will be hosting an free public training day for Silverlight 1.0 in Redmond. Everyone is welcome! This is great opportunity for designers and developers interested in learning how to start creating Silverlight 1.0 content using the Expression Design Tools and VS Developer tools.

    Silverlight 1.0 Fire Starter
    On November 29, 2007 Microsoft will be hosting Silverlight 1.0 Fire Starter on the Redmond, Washington campus. This daylong event is free to anyone who wants to learn about designing and developing with Microsoft Silverlight 1.0.

    Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 is a cross platform browser plug-in that enables for easy development of media rich web sites.  For more information, visit http://silverlight.net/.

    EVENT DETAILS:

    Date: November 29, 2007 

    Location: Microsoft Redmond Campus
    1 Microsoft Way
    Redmond, WA
    Building 33, Kodiak Room
    ** Please have a photo ID with you to register onsite and park

    Time: Check-in: 8:00 am
    Event: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

    Register: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032359153&Culture=en-US
    or by calling 1-877-673-8368 and referencing Event ID 1032359153

    AGENDA:

    Introduction to Silverlight- Mithun Dhar
    Getting Started with Silverlight- Laurence Moroney
    Microsoft Expression Design Tools- Arturo Toledo
    XAML Essentials for Silverlight- Laurence Moroney
    Developer Tools for Silverlight- Adam Kinney
    Media, Markers and More- Ernie Booth
    Popfly and Silverlight – Writing a Silverlight ‘Social’ app Popfly Team
    What will Silverlight look like in future versions?- Ernie Booth

    There will also be a post event in the evening with XBOX, networking and refreshments.

    This is a great opportunity! Don't miss out!

    -Janete

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Generating Data at Design Time

    • 4 Comments

    For most practical scenarios, the controls that you create (and are instantiated by Blend on its design surface) are bound to data structures that are populated at run-time. Unfortunately, these result in an experience on the design surface that is not friendly to designers – for example, how can you figure out the optimal font size for rendering a label when you can’t visualize the typical value that the label would display?

    Fortunately, Blend has a way to easily modify the behavior of controls when they are hosted inside the Blend design surface, as opposed to the actual application. This opens up a number of possibilities, including the ability to simulate data at design time. Let us use a simple example to describe how you can do this.

    Consider that you are designing a form that visualizes stock data, with the actual data coming from a web-service.  The data structure that holds the data might look something like the following:

    public class StockWidgetModel

          {

                private ObservableCollection<Quote> quoteList = new ObservableCollection<Quote>();

                public ObservableCollection<Quote> QuoteList

                {

                      get { return quoteList; }

                }

     

                public StockWidgetModel()

                {

                      if (IsInDesignMode())

                      {

                            this.createDummyData();

                      }

                }

     

                private bool IsInDesignMode()

    {

    return (bool)DependencyPropertyDescriptor.FromProperty(DesignerProperties.IsInDesignModeProperty, typeof(FrameworkElement)).Metadata.DefaultValue;

    }

     

                private void createDummyData()

                {

                      this.QuoteList.Add(new Quote("MSFT", "Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA 98052", 25.4, +1.2));

                }

     

                private void RefreshQuotes() { }

                public static Quote GetQuote(string symbol) { }

          }

    The interesting bit is highlighted in Yellow. This function can be used to check, anywhere in your code, as to whether your control is running inside the Blend Design surface. In this case, we are conditionally executing some code that won’t execute in the actual running application to populate our Quotes data structure, so we could design the list box that is bound to this data structure better.

    See this in action by downloading the sample here.

    Unni

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Trick or Treat : Resolution = 96 PPI

    • 7 Comments

    Have you ever imported an image or Illustrator file into Expression Design or Expression Blend then noticed that it seems either bigger or smaller than your original image? In this post I will explain why this occurs as well as point out a few tips you can use to get your images and other assets imported into Design and Blend at the pixel size you expect.

    Expression Blend assumes a resolution of 96 pixels per inch (PPI). WPF, Expression Blend and Silverlight all assume one pixel is approximately 1/96th of an inch and therefore use a resolution of 96 PPI. You might be asking yourself why 96 PPI? I've been using 72 PPI for all of my web work. The short answer is that Microsoft has standardized to using 96 PPI. There are many web sites that describe why this decision was made and why the standard for Apple is 72 PPI. I encourage the reader who would like to learn more about this choice to search on 96 PPI in your favorite search engine.

    If you work with assets that were saved specifying a resolution other than 96 PPI, Design and Blend will scale the asset to be the same physical size at 96 PPI. For example, an image that is 72 PPI and has a width of 6.667 inches and height of 8.889 inches has a width in pixels of 480 and height of 640. If I wanted to display that same image at a resolution of 96 PPI, it would need to have a width and height in pixels of 640 and 853 respectively. Therefore, if you import a 480 X 640 image into Design or Blend that was originally created at 72 PPI, its actual size after import will be 640 X 853.

    The best way to ensure your assets come in at the same pixel size in Design or Blend as they are in your other content generation tools is to use 96 PPI throughout your workflow.

    When using Expression Design be sure to select 96 PPI in the File > New dialog.

    DesignNewFileDialog 

    In addition, you should set your zoom level to Actual Pixels in order to see your content at full size. For 96 PPI this is 133%.

    ActualPixels

    In Photoshop, you can change the stored resolution of an image in the Image Size dialog to 96 PPI. Be sure to uncheck Resample Image.

    PhotoshopImageSizeDialog

    Unfortunately, Illustrator files are 72 PPI and currently always scale when imported into Design when the document resolution is 96 PPI. In this case, you can get the object back to the desired pixel size by selecting Scale As Percentage from the Transform options popup menu in the Action Bar. Make sure width and height are linked and change either the width or height to 75% (72 / 96 = .75).

    DesignActionBar

     

    Hopefully these tips will help keep the import goblins at bay!

    Joanna Mason

  • Expression Blend and Design

    A/C Controls - Skinning the RotaryControl

    • 9 Comments

    Download the RotaryControl source code

    Download the ACControls source code

    As promised, in this post I’ll show how to customize the template of the RotaryControl. I wanted to model automobile A/C controls and the result is shown below.

    accontrols

    If you want to open and examine the project files as I describe the steps, download the source code and unzip it so that the RotaryControl and ACControls folders are siblings. Then open the ACControls solution in Blend 2 September Preview.

    For the button design work I went to see Sam Paye, one of our designers, and he used Expression Design to create the visuals. Knowing that the control template requires three specially-named parts, Sam separated out the graphics into three top-level layers, or groups, each named after a template part. We then exported the graphics as three XAML files and opened those directly in Blend. After drawing out three instances of RotaryControl on the artboard and then making a copy of the template for each, it was very easy to copy all three layers from each XAML file and paste them directly into a Grid at the root of the corresponding template. Because the layer names matched the part names, and the Expression Design graphics were the same size (in pixels) as the Grid at the root of the templates, everything worked like a charm. The control code automatically turned off mouse hit testing on the topmost 'shine' layer and allowed the middle 'dial' layer to rotate in response to mouse gestures.

    When you select a RotaryControl, a number of custom properties are listed in the Miscellaneous category of the property inspector. None of the controls are meant to spin freely through 360 degrees: all are constrained, so for each I set RotationIsConstrained to true and CounterClockwiseMostAngle and ClockwiseMostAngle to suitable values. For the leftmost control, the mode control, I set SnapToSnapAngle to true and SnapAngle to 40. For the other two controls I set SnapToSnapAngle to false so that they roll smoothly. When SnapToSnapAngle is false, both SnapAngle and RotationIsAnimated are ignored.

    The mode control has five positions, and therefore five values, so I used Blend’s collection editor in the property inspector to enter five strings in the SnapValues property – one to describe each position in clockwise order. I then bound a TextBlock’s Text property to the mode control’s SnapValue property so that the current position is always translated into some meaningful string value beneath the mode control.

    I hope you find the RotaryControl, and the example templates given here, of use.

    Steve White

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Design Service Pack 1 is now available!

    • 7 Comments

    This service pack addresses critical issues and expands the XAML export feature to better support the 1.0 release of Silverlight. You can download and install the service pack from the Expression Design web site or the Download Center.

    What's new in the Service Pack?

    Highlights of XAML Export improvements and fixes

    • The XAML Export UI has been updated to make it easier and more intuitive to select the desired export settings.
    • Text can now be exported as TextBlocks for Silverlight applications.
    • In the release version of Expression Design, all objects were given default names. Naming objects is now optional. When the "Always name objects on export" option is not selected, only objects you have explicitly named in Expression Design are given a name on export.
    • Gradient midpoints are now exported.
    • Since the release of Expression Design, the direction of the slashes in filenames for Silverlight applications has changed. Expression Design now writes out forward slashes in filenames and paths for Silverlight and WPF XAML. 

    Highlights of other issues fixed

    • Anti-aliasing can now be applied on export to large images.
    • The quality of image export has been improved.

    To see a full list of the contents of the service pack and issues fixed see the Knowledge Base article.

     

    Thanks,

    The Expression Design team

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Rotary custom control

    • 4 Comments

    Download the source code

    The RotaryControl is a sample WPF custom control in a class library project that you can open and build in the Blend 2 September Preview. You can use the control along with your own template and property settings as a base to make many different types of rotary dials and knobs and selectors. Once you’ve built the control, create a new WPF Application in Blend, add a reference to the built dll, then use the Asset Library to add an instance of the control to your scene.

    The control comes with a default template which you can copy using the breadcrumb bar:

    There are three parts to the template. PART_Background isn’t strictly a part because the control doesn’t actually look for this part. But it’s in the default template so you know where to put your background in correct z order. PART_Dial is important however. If you don’t have an element in your template named PART_Dial then the control won’t know which part of the template you want to be the part that rotates in response to the mouse . The dial part needs to sit in front of the background part in order to get mouse hits. PART_Foreground is optional and it’s the name of any element you wish to sit in front of the dial in z order but not to get mouse hits. In the default template I’ve placed a shiny highlight in the foreground layer but I haven’t bothered to set it to IsHitTestVisible = false. The code in the control will do that for me.

    Select your control and look at the custom properties in the Miscellaneous category of the property inspector. If you want the dial to snap to certain angles then set SnapToSnapAngle to true and SnapAngle to the angle increments you want to snap to. By default the dial will rotate without constraint. If you want it to only rotate in the range between 0 and 90 degrees then set RotationIsConstrained to true, CounterClockwiseMostAngle to 0 and ClockwiseMostAngle to 90. You can set any of these latter two values to any positive or negative value but they will be stored internally in the range 0 to 360. RotationIsAnimated only really has an effect when you’re snapping; it controls whether or not the snapping is animated in a spring motion. You can use the Angle property to query the angle at any time.

    If you are building a rotary selector such as an automobile air-con knob then you will want to associate some semantic value with each angle at which the dial can be oriented. For instance, MAX A/C is a more useful indication of where the dial is than, say, 270. Use the Values property to define a collection of strings. The Value property will then be set to the first string in Values when Angle is equal to CounterClockwiseMostAngle and it will be set to subsequent strings from the collection as the dial is moved clockwise by each increment of SnapAngle.

    CursorAttractsNearestSnap has a useful function if your template is such that the values are shown on the dial itself and the indicator is on the background. In this situation it’s useful for the nearest value to spring to the mouse pointer when the mouse is clicked and while the dial rotates.

    Next time I’ll show some fresh templates and property settings for the control to illustrate what it can do.

    Steve White

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Use SimpleStyles to Easily Style System Controls

    • 3 Comments

    While Blend makes it easy for you to create your own controls, creating your own control may not always be the best solution. In many cases, especially when you want to change how a control looks, styling an existing control may be a better choice. While you can style any control by using Blend's UI, modifying system controls can be time consuming if you are new to WPF and not sure what the consequences of modifying a particular property may be. To make it easier on you, Blend includes a resource dictionary called Simple Styles.xaml that applies an easily-modifiable style to your commonly used system controls.

    To use these simple style controls, go to your Asset Library and select Simple Styles under the Controls tab:

     simpleStyles

    You will see the simplified versions of your system controls, and they are just like your system controls...except much easier to style.

    The User Guide provides great coverage of how to use simple style controls, so if you need any further information, hit F1 or go to Help | User Guide. In the User Guide, you can find Simple Styles listed under Home | Controls | Working with simple styles, or you can do what I did and just search the User Guide for "simple styles" instead!

    Cheers!
    Kirupa Chinnathambi

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Brush Transforms and Keyboard Modifiers

    • 4 Comments

    You probably already know that you can use the Brush Transform tool to transform the fill, stroke, opacity mask, or any other brush that is applied to an object. When you click on the Brush Transform tool with an object with, let's say, a gradient brush applied, a brush transform arrow will appear. You can select the brush transform arrow and easily use your mouse cursor to move, scale, and rotate the brush transform arrow to modify your object's gradient fill:

    brushTransformDefault

    While using your mouse is straightforward, you do not have a lot of precision. There are transforms that you may want to do such as set the gradient rotation to exactly 45 degrees, scale the brush transform arrow equally, and more.

    Luckily, such transforms are possible using your mouse cursor and the Alt and Shift keys on your keyboard. Those two keys, among a few others, are known as keyboard modifiers because you use them in conjunction with other keys or mouse clicks. In this post, I will briefly describe common transforms that you can perform to your brush transform arrow using those keyboard modifiers and your mouse cursor.

    Scaling Perfectly Outward/Inward

    When you are scaling your transform arrow, unless you have perfect mouse control, your scaling will usually be accompanied by some rotation. To scale perfectly outward/inward with no rotation, hold down your Shift key while clicking and dragging your brush transform arrow endpoint:

    scalePerfectlyOutward

    Notice that even though our brush transform arrow was originally in a rotated state, when scaling up with the Shift key pressed, the scaling grew perfectly outward.

    Rotating in Fixed Intervals

    When you rotate your brush transform arrow, you are free to set any rotation angle you want. There will be times, though, where you would like to rotate your brush transform to a common fixed value such as 45 degrees, 90 degrees, etc. In those cases, hold down your Shift key while rotating:

    rotation_fixedIntervals

    When holding down your shift key while rotating, you rotate in fixed intervals of 15 degrees. Be sure to note that it is not fixed intervals of 15 degrees relative to your original rotation angle. It is an absolute 15 degrees in a Cartesian plane starting at 0 degrees and ending at 360. If your transform originally had a rotation of 80 degrees, when increasing your rotation angle, your first interval will occur at 90 degrees and then increase by 15 degrees afterwards.

     

    Transforming Both Endpoints Symmetrically

    Any alteration you make to your brush transform's endpoint using your mouse cursor affects only that particular endpoint. If you want to symmetrically move both of the end points, you can do that by holding down your Alt key while manipulating any single end point:

    transformBeforeAfter

    This time, notice that even though you scaled out only one of the endpoints, both of the end points grew outward.

    Wrap Up

    As you can see, a combination of the Alt and Shift modifier keys along with your mouse cursor allows you to more precisely control how you can transform your brushes. With radial gradients, the behavior is also the same, so don't feel as if you are limited to applying these tips to linear gradients only.

    While this post focused primarily on the brush transform arrow, the above techniques apply to more general transforms also. For example, scaling an object by holding down both your Shift and Alt keys allows you to evenly scale an object outward without adding any rotation. Exploring some of those scenarios will be saved for another post!

    Cheers!
    Kirupa Chinnathambi

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Two new Expression Design tutorials available

    • 2 Comments

    Two new tutorials for Expression Design have been added to the Samples and Tutorials Gallery - Expression Design section. Follow the step by step instructions and learn how easy it is to Blend Photos and Remove Backgrounds from Photos.

    You can download a 60 day trial version of Expression Design from the Expression web site. Need help with Expression Design? Consider joining our Expression Design discussion group.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Blend 2 September Preview is now available!

    • 13 Comments

    We are pleased to announce a new preview build in the Expression Blend 2 train – our September Preview. The September Preview has a slew of new features, many of them made possible based on your feedback!. We have also made available some videos that highlight the new features in this build. Visit the Expression Blend 2 September Preview page for viewing these, and to download and install the latest build.

     

    As usual, we look forward to your feedback!

    Many thanks,

    The Expression Blend team

     

    What is new in this release?

     

    Visual Studio 2008 Support

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview can open and work with Microsoft Visual Studio® 2008 (formerly known as Microsoft Visual Studio code name "Orcas") Beta 2 projects and solutions. By default, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) projects that are created in the Expression Blend 2 September Preview are now Visual Studio 2008 projects, if Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 is installed and such projects cannot be edited in Visual Studio 2005. The Expression Blend 2 September Preview can still open projects that were created with earlier versions of Expression Blend or Visual Studio 2005.

     

    Making Controls from Existing Objects

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality that lets you refactor  (in other words, convert) existing content into a control that can be reused (instantiated). Selected elements, their referenced resources, and referenced animations are refactored into the new control. You must build the project to be able to see and instantiate the new control.

     

    Split View and XAML Editor Improvements

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview lets you view an open document in both Design view and XAML view at the same time by selecting the new Split tab on the right side of the artboard. Additionally, you can specify font size, font family, tab size, and word-wrap for the XAML editor (XAML tab) by modifying the Code Editor settings under Options in the Tools menu.

     

    Storyboard Picker

    The Storyboard Picker replaces the old Storyboard box. The picker consists of a label to indicate the name of the selected Storyboard (if a Storyboard is selected), a shortcut menu (available when you right-click the label), a pop-up button (and resulting pop-up menu), and a Close button to close all Storyboards and exit recording mode. Both the shortcut menu and the pop-up menu let you create a New Storyboard, and if a Storyboard is already selected, you can now Duplicate, Reverse, or Delete the selected Storyboard. The shortcut menu also lets you Rename the selected Storyboard. The pop-up menu contains all Storyboards in scope in a multicolumn layout. The pop-up menu can be resized, and its list filtered according to a text box at the top of the list. The Storyboard label serves as the Storyboard selector when you want to modify properties on a Storyboard.

     

    Storyboard and Keyframe Properties

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality for setting properties on Storyboards and on keyframes in the Properties panel. When you have a Storyboard selected, you can change the direction of the animation and change the repeat behavior. When you have one or more keyframes selected, you can change the easing behavior between keyframes by modifying the related key splines graphically, or by setting specific values.

     

    Vertex Animation

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality for animating individual vertices (points and tangents) on a line. Previously, if you modified a vertex when in animation recording mode, the original shape of the object was permanently modified.

     

    Breadcrumb Bar

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview now displays a breadcrumb bar above the artboard, which helps you quickly switch editing scopes while you are editing templates and styles in WPF projects. The breadcrumb specifies the object that is selected. If a template can be applied to the object (such as a button), you can click a drop-down arrow in the breadcrumb item to view the actions that can be performed on the object (such as editing a button template). If you have already edited a style or template on the object, the breadcrumb will include additional items that represent the style and template items that you edited earlier. This makes it easy to see which style or template has already been edited on an object, to quickly switch the scope in which you are editing, and to understand exactly where you are as you make changes.

     

    Font Embedding and Subsetting

    The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality for embedding and subsetting fonts in your project. Embedding makes sure that the font that you select for your application is the font that users will see when they run your application. Subsetting lets you create a custom font file that only contains a subset of the glyphs that you are interested in, and thereby reduce the size of your re-distributable. Typically, users will already have most of the fonts that you can select in Expression Blend, and therefore you do not have to embed them. If the user does not have your chosen font, a default system font will appear. If you do decide to embed, subset, or otherwise redistribute fonts in your application, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have the required license rights for those fonts. For the fonts that come with Expression Blend, see the Microsoft Software License Terms (EULA.language.rtf) file for full license terms. For other commercial fonts, see the Microsoft Typography web site for information that can help you locate a particular font vendor or find a font vendor for custom work. To embed fonts in an Expression Blend application, you can use the new Font Embedding manager available in the Tools menu and available in the Advanced Properties section under Text in the Properties panel when you select a text control. For more information about how to embed fonts in WPF applications, see Packaging Fonts with Applications on MSDN.

     

    Build Options

    When building inside the Expression Blend 2 September Preview, the property $(BuildingInsideExpressionBlend) is set to true. You can use this property in your project or .targets files to change how the project builds when in Expression Blend. For more information about how Visual Studio supports this scenario, see the Visual Studio Integration documentation.

     

    Object Manipulation

    We’ve added the ability to uniformly resize, scale, and rotate multiple selected elements by using resizing handles on the artboard. In addition, we made a number of usability improvements – for example, you now easily duplicate elements by dragging them with the Ctrl key pressed.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Blend 2 August Preview has been refreshed

    • 0 Comments

    Based on your feedback, we have published a new build of Expression Blend 2 August Preview that addresses two issues:

    a) Expression Blend 2 August Preview will not require a license key to work. The software is designed to stop working on January 1st, 2008, no matter when you install it. If you had issues with the trial licenses expiring, you should un-install the previous August Preview build and install our refreshed bits.

    b) You can create Silverlight 1.1 projects inside Expression Blend 2 August Preview again. This functionality was broken with the update to the Silverlight 1.1 Alpha Refresh bits.

    You should un-install the previous August Preview build, before installing the refreshed bits. Instructions for downloading and installing the refreshed Expression Blend 2 August Preview build can be found here.

    Thanks,
    The Expression Blend team

     

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Blend 2 August Preview Live!

    • 1 Comments

    You can get to the preview either through the Expression website or the Download Center:

     

    Expression site: http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/download.aspx?key=blend2preview

     

    Download Center: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=69540337-B619-4A47-AC27-52D8AF3A7830&displaylang=en

     

    Also available is the Update for the Expression Media Encoder Preview…this update ensures templates work properly with the latest Silverlight bits: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=3A3C901C-C23D-4567-A76F-CC46CB113D1E&displaylang=en

     

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Blend and Studio: problem installing Visual Studio from included DVD

    • 1 Comments

    The Expression team has become aware of a problem with the Visual Studio 2005 Standard DVD included in the packaging of the Expression Blend and Expression Studio products (specifically, setup repeatedly prompts for the DVD). Please accept our sincere apologies for our mistake and, if you're affected by this issue, here is a temporary remedial solution. We will follow up this post with a more official solution very soon.

     

    To work around the issue:

     

    1. Create a new folder on a hard drive on your system that has at least 3 GB of free space. Name the folder "VS2005STD" without the quotes.

     

    2. Open a command prompt by clicking on the Start button, click Run and type "Cmd" (without the quotes), and then click OK.

     

    3. Type the drive letter of the source drive. For example, if the DVD-ROM drive is drive R, type "R:" (without the quotation marks). Press ENTER.

     

    4. With the DVD disc in the drive, type the following command:

     

    XCopy *.* X:\VS2005STD\ /h /v /s

     

    where X: is the drive letter where you created the folder in Step 1.

     

    7. Press ENTER.

     

    8. Once the file copy is finished, close the CMD window and navigate to the VS2005STD folder you created and then to the VS subfolder. Double click Setup.exe to start the installation.

     

    Note: The folder you created in Step 1 can be deleted after the installation is complete.

     

    Again, we apologize for any inconvenience and we will get back to you very soon with an improved solution. If you have any further questions/comments please use the Expression Blend public newsgroup: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.expression.interactivedesigner&lang=en&cr=US

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Creating a Vista Style Button Template Tutorial

    • 4 Comments

    A new tutorial by Rick Engle shows you how to create a Vista-style button template using Expression Design. Be sure to check it out by clicking here!

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Glassy Feed Buttons in Expression Design

    • 6 Comments

    Annie Ford explains how to create glassy buttons in Design. Click here to read more about it!

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Working with Visual Studio Code Name "Orcas" and Expression Blend

    • 17 Comments

    If you are working with a CTP or Beta of Visual Studio Code Name “Orcas”, you will notice that projects and solutions that are created or edited in Visual Studio Orcas cannot be successfully reloaded inside Expression Blend.

    To make it easier to work around this issue, we are making available a utility tool that you can use to configure Expression Blend for Visual Studio Code Name “Orcas”. This tool can also be used with the Expression Blend 2 May Preview.

    a)      Download and unzip the attachment – BlendConfigurator.zip

    b)      Run the executable – BlendConfigurator.exe

    c)       Accept the EULA.

    d)      Choose the installed location of the version of “Blend.exe” that you want to configure. For example, if you are trying to configure the Blend 2 May Preview, you will find it in the (ProgramFiles)\Microsoft Expression\Blend 1.1 folder.

    e)      Click on the “Visual Studio Code Name ‘Orcas’” button to configure Expression Blend for Visual Studio “Orcas”.

    Please note that uninstalling Orcas after configuring Blend for Orcas will result in Blend not working unless reconfigured for Visual Studio 2005 using this tool. 

    Content is provided "AS IS" with no warranties and confers no rights.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    License Your Expression Programs

    • 1 Comments

    After you buy and install any Expression program, you should immediately license your software to avoid future interruption of the programs. If you don’t license them, the programs will stop running after 60 days or possibly sooner if you have used a trial product key. When you start any unlicensed Expression program, a dialog box may prompt you to enter your product key to license the program. If you’ve closed that dialog without licensing your software or the dialog doesn’t appear, use the following steps to license your software instead:

     

    ·          To license Expression Blend, Expression Design, or Expression Media, start the program, choose Help > Enter Product Key, and then enter your product key which appears on a sticker on your software box; if you bought Expression Studio, licensing just one of these programs will also license the other two.

    ·          To license Expression Web, enter your product key when prompted during the installation process. If you installed Expression Web with a trial product key, you can license the installed trial program by doing the following: Close Expression Web and open your Control Panel in Windows. Double-click Programs and Features (Windows Vista) or Add or Remove Programs (Windows XP), select Microsoft Expression Web Trial in the list of installed programs, and click Change. In the installer dialog, select Convert and click Continue, and then follow the onscreen instructions to enter your product key.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Expression Studio RTM & Silverlight news!

    That’s right, we're very pleased to announce that version 1 of our team's suite of end-to-end tools for creative designers is done! The process is now underway to manufacture and distribute the product. For more details on the suite and how you will be able to purchase it, see the Expression Web Site [1].

    The Expression Studio suite consists of four products – Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design and Expression Media.

    There’s yet more exciting news today regarding Silverlight [2], Microsoft’s cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web. Silverlight was announced recently at the at the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters conference (NAB2007). Today, at the MIX07 [3] conference, Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie placed Silverlight in its longer-term context as part of the .NET platform and tools story. And Blend fits into the Silverlight tools story, too – today we have made available the Expression Blend 2 May Preview [4] which allows you to create Silverlight-based applications (either JavaScript or .NET).

    [1] http://www.microsoft.com/expression

    [2] http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/

    [3] http://visitmix.com/

    [4] http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/download.aspx?key=blend2maypreview

     

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Somasegar on Expression Products & MSDN

    • 5 Comments

    As of early this morning, the Expression team has announced that Microsoft Expression Web and Blend will be included as part of the MSDN Premium subscription. This decision reflects the large amount of feedback that we have heard from you following last December's ship of Expression Web and through the beta cycle of Expression Blend.  For more details, follow this link.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Blend 1.0 Survey- Win a Free Zune!

    • 2 Comments

    Hello,

    The Microsoft Expression Blend Program Management team is currently working  on planning features for future versions of Expression Blend. We encourage all newsgroup participants to take our Blend 1.0 Survey and send us your feedback. All participants will be eligible to enter a drawing to win a free Zune!

    The deadline for submitting a survey response is Tuesday, April 3, 2007.


    The Blend Connect homepage is:
    https://connect.microsoft.com/site/sitehome.aspx?SiteID=32 

    Survey Link:  https://connect.microsoft.com/Survey/Survey.aspx?SurveyID=3761&SiteID=32

    (Note: Make sure to be signed into Connect by clicking on the "Sign in" button on the top right.)

    The survey contains various areas, feel free to provide feedback on the areas you feel most relevant to your experience with Blend.

      


    Thanks!

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Samples and Tutorials for Expression Blend have been updated to match the Release Candidate!

    • 1 Comments

    The Samples and Tutorials for Expression Blend have been updated with the following changes:

    • The samples and tutorials now reflect the Release Candidate (RC) build of Expression Blend. 
    • Additional sources of tutorials and samples were added to the bottom of Samples and Tutorials Gallery - Expression Blend.
    • Each of the tutorials appears much longer than they were before because they have been edited to include more details for each step to help you understand where you might use the information again.
    • The Fabrikam Fast Track tutorial was removed because it is very similar to Fabrikam Catalog Part 2 - Control Templates.
    • The Welcome Screen tutorial and sample were removed because they do not reflect the new Welcome Screen in Expression Blend.

    Thank you.

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