One of the new features that were just announced about Expression Blend SketchFlow 4 is the integration of SketchFlow projects with SharePoint. What does this mean? It allows you to publish SketchFlow prototypes to a SharePoint library and manage stakeholder feedback directly in the SharePoint library.
Knowing that hosting the prototype and having your stakeholders send e-mails back and forth with feedback is not always straightforward, I think this is a really nice and useful addition to SketchFlow. Let’s have a look at how this integration works.
For showing how this works I’m using one of the prototypes that comes with the Expression Blend 4 samples, in this case the "MockupDemonstration’ solution.
Once I’m ready to publish this SketchFlow prototype, I can choose “Publish to SharePoint…”
I’m using my personal SharePoint “My site” since I don’t have an external full SharePoint server available.
At this point the SketchFlow application is packaged and published in the “MockupDemonstration” folder on my site. After publishing the app I can open the library and and copy the link for distribution. When I browse to the SharePoint library I will get a new folder as requested, with a new sub-folder for this version of the project. Inside this folder you will find the .XAP file that contains the prototype as well as a TestPage.html.
As expected, opening the TestPage.html will load the associated .XAP file from the same folder. And that’s it: for hosting the prototype nothing more is needed.
SketchFlow’s SharePoint integration would only be half useful without the capability to integrate feedback.
Because the prototype is being accessed through the SharePoint library, uploading the feedback directly to SharePoint is also available as a choice in the player. After entering your initials, the feedback is uploaded to SharePoint. Several reviewers can give feedback which is all saved into the SharePoint library corresponding to the prototype version.
Content of the feedback folder:
The next step is getting that feedback into Expression Blend 4. To do this I activate the SketchFlow Feedback pane (if not visible, activate it by going to Window > SketchFlow Feedback). You will see in this pane that left to the + icon to load feedback files there is now a icon to refresh feedback from SharePoint. After synchronizing the latest feedback, Expression Blend will show you the details as you would get in Expression Blend 3, ordered by revision.
Further iterations will generate new versions on SharePoint and new revisions. This allows you to keep feedback linked to a certain version correctly structured in SharePoint.
Have fun with sketching and SharePoint collaboration!
Expression 4 was officially launched today at Internet Week New York. In this post you’ll find the main links to downloads, getting started and a concise overview of new features.
All the different versions of Expression Studio are available for download with 60-day trials. Download here.
Upgrading from Expression 3 If you have already installed Expression 3 on your machine and have a full license you will automatically have a registered version of Expression 4 when you install it on the same machine. More details can be found on the Expression site.
Side note on Windows Phone 7 tools compatibility: don’t install Expression Blend 4 if you’re currently doing WP7 development. The WP7 tools are not compatible with the RTM version, do expect an update soon.
Expression Blend adds support for Silverlight 4 and WPF 4 projects, still allowing you to continue developing your Silverlight 3 and WPF 3.5SP1 projects. Next to this multi-targeting support there are quite some new features of which I like to highlight the following:
SketchFlow gets its second iteration with this release. There are quite a few noteworthy new features, of which the integration with SharePoint is the most important. This feature allows for publishing the SketchFlow project directly to a SharePoint library. The stakeholders can then use this to browse the prototype, add feedback and also save the feedback directly to SharePoint. Expression Blend Feedback also connects to the SharePoint library to load the comments.
Some other new features in SketchFlow:
SuperPreview, part of Expression Web 4 allows you to debug your pages in multiple browsers on the same machine that you use for development. SuperPreview is a visual debugging tool that helps you visualize and understand how pages display on multiple browsers, including IE6 – 8, Macintosh Safari, and Windows Firefox. You can even overlay your page on top of your Photoshop comp to verify your coding. IE6 rendering engine is included in SuperPreview so you don’t to install it on your machine. In order to get IE7, 8, and FF, each of these must be installed on the machine. A new addition in this version is support for rendering on Macintosh Safari, which is supported via a remote (cloud) service technology preview. This is a beta service and you will need to sign-up for this.
Expression Encoder 4 Pro has support for a brand new H.264 encoding engine from Main Concept, which is more performant. Live Smooth Streaming: next to encoding for on-demand Smooth Streaming which was available in Expression Encode 3, the new version also has support for live stream encoding for from a range of video card and USB/Firewire devices.
Expression Encoder Screen Capture The hidden feature I love in Expression Encoder is the Screen Capturing tool. Very easy to use and great for doing screencasts. New in this feature are zooming functions, capability to work with multiple clips in the new capture manager and registration of the codec on the host machine. In addition, free distribution of the codec allows for raw screen captures to be viewed outside of the application.
The IIS Media team is moving fast. Last week the team announced the beta availability of the IIS Media Services 4.0. Media Services are an out-of-band release for IIS meaning you can install this as extensions to IIS without having to wait for a full OS upgrade.
I recommend you check out the blog post covering all the new stuff in this release: IIS Media Services 4.0 Beta is now available on Chris Knowlton's blog.
As a summary, here are main new features:
You can download the beta for x64 or x86.
Give it a try!
After the first preview shown and made available at MIX 2010 in March, Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview 3 is now available for download and testing. This is, as with the previous two versions, a preview build without any navigation functionality. It’s really made to let you test the rendering and performance. Read the full post by the IE team: HTML5, Native- Third IE9 Platform Preview Available for Developers.
We encourage you to try out this build and participate by giving your feedback.
Download, test your sites, give feedback and give the special Test Drive demos a spin!
Umbraco is an ASP.NET open source CMS that is getting more and more attention. No different in Belgium: the BUUG – Belgian Umbraco User Group is starting up and looking for participants.
If you’re interested in participating in this community, either because you’re an Umbraco wiz or a total newbie or somewhere in between, you’re very welcome. The next meeting will be organized at the Microsoft office in Zaventem on June 10th at 7PM.
Register and join the community!
If you’re new to Umbraco, get going by installing the CMS using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer – App Gallery.