Introduction to Microsoft Expression Web

Posted by: Minal Agarwal , on 3/5/2007, in Category Expression Web
Views: 28884
Abstract: Microsoft® Expression® Web is a proficient design tool to create contemporary, standards-based websites that not only deliver superior quality but also encourages creativity. In this article we will explore the need of a new web development tool as well as the new features provided in Expression® Web.
Introduction to Microsoft Expression Web
Microsoft® Expression® Web is a proficient design tool to create contemporary, standards-based websites that not only deliver superior quality but also encourages creativity.
Microsoft® Expression® Web is a ’WYSIWYG’ HTML editor as well as a graphical web design program by Microsoft that has today replaced the legacy program Microsoft® FrontPage. Expression® Web is a part of the Expression Studio suite.
Expression® Web provides support for integrating XML, XHTML, XSLT, CSS 2.1, ASP.NET 2.0 and other standard Web technologies into the websites.
What was the need of a new Web development tool?
Microsoft required a Web design tool that would conform to current web standards as well as makecreating and maintaining a standard driven website easy. Apart from this they felt it necessary to develop a Web design tool to support ASP NET 2.0 from designer’s perspective.
Creating websites that conform to the internationally recognized standards was never felt that important over the past. But over the last year the term Web 2.0 has come to represent the new era of Web Technologies offered to designers, developers and web designers. This new age is built on standards. Expression Web contains all the tools you need to achieve that endeavor. There are design standards, such as Cascading Style Sheets; metadata standards; data transfer standards, such; and accessibility standards for visually impaired. XHTML builds upon HTML standards to provide the mechanism that allows browsers to properly encode and display your web pages. Expression® Web can write fully compliant XHTML code. Design tools for the Web artist are needed to support these standards.
You can not only be able to create dynamic standards-compliant websites with Microsoft Expression Web, but also be able to do so in a way that allows you to take advantage of your creativity.
There are a number of WYSIWYG code generators and editors that offer speed and ease of use.
Microsoft offers:
1.            Microsoft FrontPage ( Now replaced by Microsoft Expression® Web)
2.            Microsoft Visual Web Developer
3.            Microsoft Visual Studio/ASP.NET Web Matrix
4.            Microsoft SharePoint Designer
Other offerings by 3rd parties in the same category:
1.            Adobe Contribute
2.            Adobe Dreamweaver
3.            Adobe GoLive
4.            Amaya
5.            Blockstar
6.            Bluevoda
7.            HotDog
8.            iWeb
9.            Mozilla Composer
10.         NetObjects Fusion
11.         Quanta Plus
12.         RapidWeaver
13.         Sandvox
14.         SoftpressFreeway
15.         WorldWideWeb 
Out of the above tools available, Microsoft family developers often use Microsoft FrontPage or Microsoft Visual Studio. Now Expression® Web offers the best of both FrontPage and Visual Studio Technologies in a new user interface for creating XHTML, CSS, XSLT and ASP.NET 2.0.
Standards based Websites
1.    XHTML Compliance
XHTML is the latest standard in Web Design. Microsoft® Expression® Web generates XHTML 1.1/1.0 compliant code in order to design websites according to the present web standards.
2.    Full Schema Support
Expression® Web lets you choose the schema you want, as it creates appropriate code and checks for any non-conformances.
3.    Real-time Standards Validation
Expression® Web instantly responds to any standard violations or errors in the web page as you code or design the page. This facilitates instant corrections and saves time and effort at a later stage.
4.    Accessibility Checking
By using the accessibility checker on web pages you create or edit in Microsoft® Expression® Web, you discover issues that are identified as being in conflict with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) or the accessibility guidelines for Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. WCAG outlines priorities for making websites accessible to people with disabilities.
CSS based Layout and Formatting
1.    Professional Design Surface
Microsoft® Expression® Web’s interface is designed specifically to make it convenient and easy for the professional designers to access the tools, allowing direct manipulation while designing their webpage.
2.    Intelligent CSS Style Creation
Microsoft® Expression® Web automatically creates or modifies CSS Styles whenever you format any item in the web page.
3.    High-quality CSS Rendering Engine
Microsoft® Expression® Web provides a powerful CSS rendering engine which produces a true representation of the look of final browser-rendered page.
4.    Standard or Quirks Rendering
Microsoft® Expression® Web renders pages in Standard or Quirks mode depending upon the DocType setting of the page.
5.    Intelligent Style Renaming
This intelligent feature allows you to rename the styles and simultaneously update all references to the style.
6.    Site and Page Templates
You can create templates which make designing multiple pages with similar layout in the website a simple task and saves time.
7.    CSS Reporting
Provide details of the styles used in the website or aid in cleaning up the unused CSS to avoid discrepancies in the code.
8.    Tag Property Grid
This feature enables to quickly view and set tag properties for the web pages.
9.    CSS Design Time Preferences
Expression® Web lets you focus on the designing process and takes care of CSS style creation, It is smart enough to avoid recurring style creation throughout your site.
Rich Data Presentation
1.    Customized Views of XML Data
Expression® Web is able to add XML Files to your website and then convert the XML appropriately as HTML without knowing technologies like XSLT (XSL Transform Support).
2.    XSL Transform Support
Any changes made to the Data View when you integrate XML data into HTML through Data View, generates an Extensible Style sheet Language Transformations (XSLT) in an ‘external.xsl’ file. It is possible to edit the XSLT directly in this file; you can use the formatting tools which don’t require any knowledge of XSLT.
3.    Powerful Data Manipulation
Use of drag and drop tools and controls make data manipulation flexible. 
4.    RSS Feeds
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Feed consists of an XML file in a specific format that provides news of information summaries and is kept updated. You can easily include RSS feeds on your web pages in Microsoft ®Expression® Web and can use CSS formatting tools to match or stand out from the content in the rest of the pages of website.
Powerful Server Technology
1.    ASP.NET Pages and Master Pages
You can write ASP.NET markup quickly with IntelliSense and tag completion in the design and code view, and update your site more proficiently with the control of ASP.NET Master Pages.
2.    ASP.NET Controls
Expression® Web embeds ASP.Net controls. Use of these controls is made easy due to the toolbox, properties grid, and more to quickly insert and configure ASP.NET controls.
3.    ASP.NET Development Server
You can view ASP.NET pages on your system without the need for a separate Web server.
4.    No Code Data Binding
With the power of ASP.NET 2.0 and no code data binding, it is still easy to transform your sites into dynamic, interactive Web applications.
In this article we explored the need of new web development tool as well as looked into the features of Expression® Web. In our next article we will walk through the Expression® Web Interface.

This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.

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Minal Agarwal, Expression Web MVP, MCDST, works as a freelance web designer (SaffronStroke) working on Expression Web, Photoshop and other Graphical tools. As a hobby, she also runs a famous Food site called Follow her on twitter @ saffronstroke

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