The Expression family of products has new and greatly improved discussion forums:
The new forums have many new features including a tag cloud, user avatars, richer ux, and official forum moderators from each product team.
The previous discussion forums (http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.expression.webdesigner&cat=&lang=en&cr=US) will remain open and available while its threads are ported over to the new forums. But please use the NEW forums instead.
Anna Ullrich has launched her own blog, starting with a post on how to create a standards-based navigation menu using CSS in Expression Web.
Check it out:
Microsoft Expression Web Service Pack 1 (SP1) delivers important customer-requested stability and performance improvements for Expression Web 1.0, while incorporating further enhancements to user security. You can download the SP1 for Expression Web and get more details about it on this page:
Apple has released an update (version 3.0.4) for the Safari web browser for Windows, which fixes the problem we blogged about in the post Previewing Your Web Pages in Safari.
If you have version 3.0.4 or later of Safari for Windows, you can preview your web pages from Expression Web in Safari without pointing to the batch file provided in that earlier blog post. To add Safari to your list of browsers in Expression Web, do the following:
A few of us from the Expression Web team attended a talk by Steve Krug, usability consultant and author of Don't Make Me Think, at an event hosted by the Puget Sound Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) in Seattle.
Steve believes there is a short list of design conventions that make some web pages inherently more usable than others, and his talk presented two of these conventions:
Effective "You Are Here" indicators
Steve suggests that subtle design distinctions that some designers love to craft simply don't work in practice and are less effective than "louder" design choices that clearly establish where you are in a website. To demonstrate how quickly website visitors can plow through a website and overlook subtle design elements, he showed an interesting video of software that tracked his eye movements as he navigated a website in search of information. The software drew red lines all over the web pages, showing the paths of his eye movements, how fast his eyes scanned the page and where his eyes dwelled.
Steve is a big fan of tab-based site navigation, especially when the tab color blends into the page color. For good examples, he pulled up http://www.stumbleupon.com/ with this tabbed navigation:
and http://www.cnet.com/ with this navigation:
Based on usability studies he's reviewed, Steve contends that subtler global navigation menus that are placed on the edge of a web page, such as this:
are often overlooked by users, who will click around within the main content area of the page and not discover the main navigation menu until some time later.
Prominent and well-placed page titles
Steve's second recommendation to help improve the usability of your websites is to simply ensure each page has a primary heading that is bigger (although not necessarily the biggest) and bolder than other headings in the page, and clearly identifies the title or content of the page. He'll give you bonus usability points if your website supports "WYCIWYG" or "what you click is what you get" which means a hyperlink's label and the title of the destination page are the same or virtually the same.
[Updated 12/23/2008 - fixed the hyperlink to the topic's new online location]
You can now check spelling for multiple languages by using Expression Web Language Packs. The Expression Web Language Packs also enable displaying the Expression Web interface, including the Help topics, in the languages supported by the language pack. For more information, see How to check the spelling of different languages in Expression Web.
The Expression Web Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, is now available. The VPAT outlines how Expression Web meets key regulations of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
For more information on Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility and a list of available VPATs for Microsoft products, see Section 508 VPATs for Microsoft products.
We have a new Connect website setup for you to submit suggestions and bug reports about Expression Web or any other Expression product, including Expression Blend, Expression Design, Expression Media, and Expression Media Encoder: https://connect.microsoft.com/Expression
Up until now, the Expression Web team has used the Connect: Expression Web site to gather bug reports and suggestions from Expression Web users like you. The team behind Expression Web regularly reviewed these submissions – and you have sent us some excellent feedback, thank you! On Friday August 17th, 2007 we will take down the existing Expression Web program in Connect and transition over to the Connect website we have setup for all Expression Studio products.
The Connect website for Expression Studio provides a feedback form that allows you to submit feedback for any program in the Expression Studio line of products, including Expression Web. The feedback you submit for Expression Web continues to go directly to the Expression Web development team, and you can still vote on, validate, and comment on the feedback of others.
Although feedback you and others have submitted to the original Connect website for Expression Web is not available within the new Expression Studio Connect website, all previous feedback remains active in our internal database which we use to track issues and feature requests.
Thanks again for all of your feedback, please continue providing it, and we look forward to your participation in the new Connect: Expression Studio website!
The ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool lets you configure different aspects of your ASP.NET website through a simple interface in your web browser. You can use the ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool to setup users and passwords, create roles (groups of users), and create permissions for your website. (For more information about this tool, see Web Site Administration Tool Overview on the MSDN website.)
For example, you can restrict access to your website to the users you specify in the ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool and then use the Login controls in Expression Web to design your login and security pages:
Unfortunately, Expression Web 1.0 doesn’t provide a way to launch the ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool; in fact, if you attempt to launch the tool from Expression Web, a dialog appears stating “The ASP.NET Web site administration service is not supported.”
But don't believe everything you read in a dialog box! The ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool can be supported in Expression Web with a little help from John Dixon, a test lead on the Expression Web team, who documented a way for you to launch and use the ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool from Expression Web. He’s blogged about it on his blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/jdixon/archive/2007/08/08/expression-web-and-the-asp-net-web-admin-tool.aspx. Check it out! Thanks John!
( If you don't want to use John's work-around, you can download and install the free program Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/downloads/ and launch the ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool from that program.)
The Expression Web team is conducting a survey on hosting and publishing to learn more about how web professionals publish and host websites. The survey is anonymous and does not collect any personal information.
All feedback is used to help improve future versions of Expression Web.
The survey is located on Microsoft Connect:
We appreciate your time and feedback. Thank you for helping us make Expression Web a better product.
Web designers now have one more web browser to test their websites in: Safari for Windows.
[[UPDATE 11/21/2007: The 3.0.4 release of Safari for Windows fixes the problem described in the rest of this blog post. If you have version 3.0.4 or later of Safari for Windows, you can preview your web pages from Expression Web in Safari without pointing to the batch file provided in this blog post. To add Safari to your list of browsers in Expression Web, go to File > Preview in Browser > Edit Browser List. In the Edit Browser List dialog box, click Add and select the Safari.exe file on your computer.]]
You can setup the Preview in Browser feature in Expression Web to include Safari 3 Beta, but you’ll discover that instead of displaying the page you try to preview, Safari 3.0.3 will display your browser homepage.
To get around this, you could start Safari and manually open your page by using the browser’s File > Open File command. But the quickest and most convenient way to get around this Safari 3 Beta flaw is to point the Expression Web Preview in Browser feature to a batch file that forces Safari to display the web page you specify. To do that, follow these instructions:
When you use File > Preview in Browser > Safari Beta, a command window quickly opens and closes, and then Safari opens and displays your web page.
Expression Web is available starting today to all MSDN Premium subscribers. Expression Blend will also be available shortly after the Expression Studio release.
For more information, see Listening to your feedback - Expression and MSDN. For more on MSDN Premium, see the MSDN Premium Subscription home page.
The Expression Web team has published a white paper to help FrontPage users make the leap not only to Expression Web but also into the world of Web standards, this white paper:
This whitepaper will be available for download from the Expression website very soon; until then, here's the direct URL: http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/f/2/ff2d736a-9ec6-4e3b-b094-d782aa7cda72/Microsoft_FrontPage_to_Expression_Web.doc
UPDATE - 8/6/07
The survey had ended. Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to this survey!
Microsoft Expression Web team
END UPDATE - 8/6/07
Members of the Expression Web team have created a survey about the Expression Web Help and the printed guides that were provided in boxed copies of Expression Web. Please fill out this survey to help us provide you with the documentation you need to use Expression Web.
You can access the survey here: https://connect.microsoft.com/ExpressionWeb/Survey/Survey.aspx?SurveyID=3457
You can remain anonymous, or if you want us to know who you are, make sure you click Sign In at the top of the page before you fill out the survey.
In order to help us understand web designers better, the team has created a very short (15 questions) anonymous survey about web designers. If you fall into that category, and would like to help influence the future direction of Expression Web please take a minute and go fill it out. It can be found at http://connect.microsoft.com/ExpressionWeb/Survey/Survey.aspx?SurveyID=3456.
Expression Web is now for sale! You can view the latest pricing information and other product announcements at the beautiful new Expression website:
One of the features of Expression Web is the ability to add xml files to your website and then to style that xml appropriately as html without needing to learn messy technologies like xslt. One of the things we have received feedback about in the product is that it can be hard to figure out how to use this feature with remote xml files - like rss feeds. One of our Program Managers, Andrew Jewsbury, has written a post in his blog about how to do just this. It's pretty neat, you should check it out.
Development Manager - Expression Web
In order to help everyone get the answers and information they need as quickly as possible, we’ve removed the Email feature from this blog. Instead, please use the following two resources to communicate with the Expression Web team and with the entire community of web designers that are using Expression Web:
There has been quite a bit of discussion about our last blog post, so I wanted to take a few minutes to respond to some of the persistent themes found in people’s comments. Specifically, I wanted to address the following two concerns:
First, let’s talk about Includes. When we first planned to remove bots, we knew that customers would find some pieces of functionality missing that they would want put back into the product (though not necessarily in the same form). Our plan has been that some of these components (for example Includes and the Photo Gallery) would be seen again in future releases of the product, though after redesigns that gave them additional functionality and/or made them more designer-friendly (in other words, fixing the issues that caused us to remove the features in the first place.
We agree, though, that this may not be enough in the case of Includes, since:
For this reason, we will be providing an Add-In after RTM that re-enables the ability to insert new Includes in Expression Web. In the mean time you can use Cheryl Wise’s snippet-based workaround for adding Includes, which can be found at http://by-expression.com/quick-bits/includes/index.aspx. Finally, in a future release you should expect to see a version of Include-like functionality re-integrated directly into the product.
Now, let’s turn to Page Transitions. It was our original intent to remove page transitions, but for technical reasons we decided that removing this feature was too risky this late in the release cycle. Please note, though, that we very well may remove this feature from one of our next releases.
Typically, when Microsoft develops a product, it releases a collection of Community Technology Previews (CTPs) and betas to allow customers to see what kinds of features have been added to the product over the course of the development cycle. Expression Web, previously called Expression Web Designer, is no exception to this, and we recently released the first beta for our product. Unlike other releases though, you will see that one of the big differences between this beta and our previous CTP is that we have been busy removing, rather than adding features. We know that this is not the usual path for a product team, and it is often the case that when you see features pulled from a release, it is because the product team is running behind schedule. In this case, though, we are removing these features because you, our customers, have provided us feedback that some of our features were not appropriate for a high-end, standards compliant web design tool. I know that this is not something you typically expect from Microsoft, so I wanted to take the opportunity to explain.
So, what is being removed? Basically, we are removing features that rely on the presence of Front Page Server Extensions (FPSE) for rendering your website correctly.
FPSE actually plays two distinct roles for Microsoft’s HTML editors. The first is the role you may already be familiar with: FPSE communicates with your web server to download and upload files. This part of FPSE also makes link fix-up work. This is not the feature we are removing. Expression Web will continue to support the ability to use FPSE as a way to connect to your web server and perform link fix-up.
What we are removing from Expression Web is the second FPSE role: those features known as “bots” that use FPSE as a server-side scripting system. These bots, which we carried over into Expression Web from FrontPage, include things like Themes, Shared Borders, the Photo Gallery and the Hit Counter. In this role, FPSE takes web pages that have special markup in them - HTML comments that have a well-defined format - and uses the markup to generate a more complex set of HTML.
Note: Even though there are bots that don’t require FPSE on your server (because FrontPage and Expression Web contained an embedded version of FPSE), bots as a whole have significant issues and, for reasons that will be explained below, we are deprecating them.
Why did we do this, and what does mean for existing FrontPage customers that use bots? Let me explain...
When the Expression Web team at Microsoft first started planning, we had a dilemma. On one hand, we wanted Expression Web to be a modern web design tool taking advantage of the latest standards and targeting professional web designers. On the other hand, we knew that with FrontPage going away, Expression Web would be the primary web design tool from Microsoft. While the FrontPage market consisted mainly of consumers, hobbyists and small businesses rather than professional designers, we have a responsibility to these customers and we didn’t want to leave them high and dry.
This left us with a number of questions: How similar should we make the user interfaces? How much of FrontPage's feature set should we support? Some of these questions were easy to answer, and we quickly settled on an approach that would achieve the following goals:
This was a good start, but even after setting these ground rules, we were left with the following question: How much of the old FrontPage feature set, particularly bots like Navigation, Shared Borders and Themes, should Expression Web support? On one hand supporting these features would help users with existing FrontPage sites move over to Expression Web. On the other hand, these features were not necessarily attractive to professional designers. Some of the problems with these features include:
Our initial solution to this issue – the one you saw in our CTP – can be thought of as the 'layering approach'. In this solution we would incorporate nearly all of the existing FrontPage features into Expression Web for maximum compatibility. On top of this, we would add new features which were more focused on the professional designer, things like rich support for Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) and great design-time visualizations. This approach was nice because it would allow us to move our focus toward professional designers while still leaving room for the existing FrontPage customer base. However, this solution was not the best option based on feedback from designers who worked with our CTP, and because these features could leave you with a website that only rendered correctly on a web server that had FPSE installed.
As a part of creating Expression Web, we wanted to show professional designers more respect. We believe professional designers are folks who feel that the design experience – how something looks and how you interact with it matters. Our ultimate goal is to build the kind of interface designers love to use, an interface that inspires creativity. FrontPage might have worked best with FPSE, but we wanted to be sure Expression Web provided an excellent experience whether you use FPSE or not. Ultimately this issue is not about technology or about functionality, it’s about trust. One of the reasons I joined the Expression team was to help Microsoft build trust with the designer community, and part of that is letting you make the decisions on how to build your sites or where to deploy them. This is why we are deprecating bots and investing heavily (and will continue to invest) in our support for using FTP and other non-proprietary protocols for communicating with web servers.
We went back to the drawing board and came up with the 'upgrade' approach, which you will see in our next CTP release. It consists of three main tenets:
This approach has two benefits: If you are an existing FrontPage user who is interested in moving into the world of modern, standards-based web design, then you should find Expression Web to be a familiar environment in which you can be productive very quickly. On the other hand, if you are a new customer to Microsoft (with respect to web design tools) then you should find that Expression Web is a design-oriented, professionally focused web editor that is uncompromising in its support for creating standards-based web sites.
We are aware, though, that this will cause pain for those existing FrontPage users that do not fall into these groups. Ultimately, we believe that your best solution may well be moving into a more managed web environment like SharePoint, where the vagaries of html and standards compliance will not impact you. If you are one of the people in this situation, I hope that you understand why we made this decision. If not, well, my email address is Erik.Saltwell@microsoft.com
Erik Saltwell - Development Manager, Expression Web