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Microsoft Expressions

Anybody Using MS Expressions Yet?



2:09 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi folks,
I heard that the Frontpage replacement, Microsoft Expressions is designed to compete head to head with Dreamweaver.
I'm an MCP, and although I'm well aware of the shortomings of Frontpage, I do use it as a professional web development tool and have developed work-arounds for most of its shortcomings... I've built stuff with frontpage no one believes could be built on it (until they see the cluttered code ;-)

Now, I've got a project that needs cookies and other features Frontpage isn't well compatible for and will need to switch to Dreamweaver or the new MS Expressions...

So the question is: "1. Has anyone used Expressions. 2. Is the migration from FP to Expressions suitable to do in a live environment? 3. Is Expressions really on par with Dreamweaver?"



3:55 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I started a similar topic about three months ago but there was not much response. Looks like there are very few people using it so far.


5:14 pm on Oct 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think the lack of response was/is simply that it is so new. But I can give you one now.

First it should be pointed out that EW is not technically an upgrade to FP. Whether you download the 60 free trail from MS or outright but it, it will install along side FP so you do not have to worry about loosing FP. And if you already have FP, the "upgrade" to EW is only around $99 ($300 new I believe). That being said...

EW is far superior to FP in every respect. The only thing it does not have is the "preview pane" though it still has the design, code and split views.

It has about a dozen full CSS templates of common layouts to start from. Out of the box, I think it defaults to a XHTML strict doctype with utf-8, though it may be XHTML Transitional (can't remember off hand). Regardless, you can change that.

It publishes using either FP extensions of FTP and you can open any page live via FTP and edit it.

Most important, it does not either add useless code or alter existing code. You can also edit .asp and .php pages without any problems and it has more code color options for all these.

I like the fact it points out spelling errors in all codes and not just in content. And it will tell you when something is not compatible with the doctype you are using.

It has a basic built-in image editor which is good for quick edits, but nothing fancy.

Another nice feature, I think, is when you are working in the code view, in the CSS window it will show you the CSS being applied including font size, family, colors, etc. And, when you are working with multiple <div>, if you place your cursor at the end of a <div> tag or the beginning of a </div> tag, it will tell you what <div> you are in.

It has built-in controls for asp.net which I have not tried yet, but it does include a 2 hour dvd training video on using asp.net, though I do not know if the training video is available on the trail download. I tried the trial and then bought a hard copy which included the DVD disk.

I can go on, but I think you get the point. I have not really found a down side to it yet and would highly recommend it. In the end, I think the best thing to do is download the trial and play with it.



8:21 am on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sorry for the delay in responding Marshall but I have been on holiday.

I like the spelling thing. Dreamweaver's lack of a sitewide spelling check is a serious omission and one for which there can really be no excuse. It's a real PITA having to do spellchecks on a page by page basis on large sites.

Do you think that EW compares favourably with DW8 then?


2:47 pm on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had used FP for years so I was excited to get my hands on Expression Web. Unfortunatley it didn't live up to my hopes - the stability and akward CSS / code were my biggest complaints.

Below is an excerpt from a review of Expression Web I wrote for a publication. I moved all of my site development over to Dreamweaver CS3 and have loved it. There are some minor usability issues with CS3, but generally it's a great performer.

* Improved CSS handling over FrontPage
* Familiar interface makes transfer from FrontPage easy for novice users
* Significantly more opportunities to produce dynamic content through .NET 2.0 objects and RSS
* Real-time analysis of code standards compliance and automated correction
* Improved code view with context sensitive color coding of tags and variables
* Automatic detection and highlighting of broken tags
* Auto fill and tag suggestion drop downs expedite manual coding process
* Comprehensive find and replace functionality that is excellent at bulk find and replacements

* Seemingly random application crashes in addition to repeatable page specific crashes
* Unstable undo stepping at times reverts several steps
* Incredibly finicky resizing handles on design mode elements
* Improper methods of applying styles to form elements
* Often found abandoned, empty or unnecessary tags in code
* Impossible design mode table column width sizing without manual tweaking
* Help system that doesn't automatically address immediate window elements
* Generation of identical, redundant and unnecessary CSS classes
* Even with external style sheet specified continues to generate on-page style classes
* Having to save prior to previewing page design edits, and will not render PHP extension pages
* Quirky content selection makes selecting large areas of content tedious
* Tends to butcher the code of older pre-CSS based pages
* Occasional difficulty editing text in design mode without affect style of edited characters
* General bugs and quirks that disrupt general day to day productivity
* Would have liked to see the innovative Microsoft ribbon interface used


3:28 pm on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Sounds like some of your problems are more computer related than EW related. EW has never crashed on me or had any of some of the other problems you mentioned such as putting in redundant code.



3:44 pm on Oct 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Interesting. I went to great lengths fully removing and reinstalling the EW software numerous times, and various other methods to try and improve stability with no success. All the other applications installed on the same testing workstation, including ones such as Office 2007, Corel, or CS3 Web Premium work flawlessly. Even when FP was installed, FP certainly has it's share of minor bugs (more irritating than anything), but it was far more stable than EW.

As for the code, it really did generate lack luster code - there were dozens of times when building something in design mode, I would then sit in awe looking at the spaghetti code generated. Without significant cleanup there were tons of Firefox rendering issues, particularly with layout or table related code.

Anyone else have positive or negative EW stability and code experiences?

Corey Bryant

10:37 pm on Oct 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have been using it for about a year now. And actually I am a Visual Developer MVP. Expression Web is much better than Frontpage. I cannot say anything about Dreamweaver, I have never used it - I have always been a Microsoft supporter.

Expression Web has some shortcomings, but may be fixed in the next version. There is a 60-day trial that you can download to see if it is the right program for you



3:11 pm on Oct 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have been using it since beta1.

It is not really an upgrade to FP. It replaces FP, but it is not really the same kind of program.

I much prefer the CSS editing in EW over DW. EW is very good if you are working with asp.net sites, like I do. Maybe not so good for php right now,until the somewhat nebulous update late this year to include php stuff.

Of all the issues listed as CONS in a previous message, I have seen only a couple of those. I suspect that most are setup and options related.

[edited by: Wlauzon at 3:13 pm (utc) on Oct. 22, 2007]


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