Microsoft has announced the launch of Microsoft Expression Studio 4.

The Expression Studio 4 suite consists of four modules. Expression Blend is a visual UI builder for XAML-based WPF and Silverlight apps, and includes the SketchFlow app prototyping module. Expression Web is a site designer and HTML editor, while Expression Design is a graphics design application. Expression Encoder is a digital video encoding application.

Of these, Expression Blend 4 is of greatest interest to Visual Studio developers, enabling you to manipulate working XAML code using rich, visual interfaces.

The lines of development and design are becoming increasingly blurred, demanding a toolset that effectively blends the two disciplines into one seamless workflow. For ISVs, this means that great design takes passion, skill and inspiration. It also takes tools that enable you to transform your ideas into that perfect vision.

Microsoft Expression Studio is a suite of professional design tools that enable designers and developers to create and deliver amazing user experiences for the desktop, mobile devices and Web.

New Features of Expression Studio 4

The new features in Expression Studio 4 enable better customer engagement, greater flexibility, and faster time-to-market for yoru roducts.

  • Create interactivity without programming, translating complex interaction models and ideas into easy-to-use production-ready behaviors without writing code.
  • Convey ideas through informal drawings, and carry your prototype design from inception to production.
  • Debug pages on the same machine you use for development, encode a wide array of file formats, and make your Website more relevant and search-engine friendly.

SketchFlow – a more streamlined workflow with your clients

Publish to SharePoint provides an easy way to share your prototypes and also enhances their feedback mechanism, as before you can view client’s feedback in context on the design surface within Expression Blend and in addition clients can now view shared feedback when they review prototypes via the SketchFlow player.

Behaviors – accelerate your UI designs

Expression Blend 4 includes new Behaviors designed to enhance your application design process; multi-touch, the ability to preserve screen state from screen to screen, easily drag-able items between listboxes plus many more designed to keep you focused on the art of creating compelling UI designs.

Visual State Manager – bring you application to life one transition at a time

Bring your application to life with effective transitions. Add subtlety and texture to your UIs by taking advantage of the new pixel shader effects. Whether you want to manipulate color, add a drop shadow or animate a ripple transition or swirls, the extensible range of pixel effects gives you total control so you can create the transition you want through the Visual State Manager.

Team Foundation Server Integration

Share your Expression Studio project files with those of your colleagues by using check in and check out functionality with Microsoft Team Foundation Server integration. The feedback you receive via SketchFlow can now be converted into Team Foundation Server work items.

SEO Diagnostics

Expression Web uses the IIS Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit to improve your Web site’s relevance in search results by recommending how to make the site content more search engine-friendly.

Create Expression Web add-ins

Now you can extend Expression Web’s functionality with HTML and JavaScript. Add panels, menu commands, and tools to the toolbox. Share your add-ins with the Expression Community.

How to Get Started

Expression Studio 4 is available today for trial download at www.microsoft.com/expression. Owners of v3 Expression Studio or Expression Web can upgrade at no additional cost to their corresponding v4 counterparts: Expression Studio 4 Ultimate and Expression Studio 4 Web Professional.

See Think Like a Developer & Designer Series on MSDEV. Available in June and July.

 

Bruce D. Kyle
ISV Architect Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation

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