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Friday, May 2, 2008

Expression Studio 2 Ships and How to do SEO with Silverlight Pages

by Don Burnett

Well it's been a bit since I posted I had been working really hard and somehow I ended up getting pneumonia. So I have been taking a break, but several exciting things happened that I figure I should tell you about. Expression Studio Version 2 has shipped.  If you are interested in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) I recommend you check out Michael S. Scherotter's blog where he has two great articles on doing SEO in Silverlight with ASP.NET as a server..


Expression Studio Version 2 has shipped

Some folks have suggested that "Expression Studio was released about a year and a half ago as a partial answer to Adobe’s Creative Suite". I wouldn't characterize this quite this way, I think that's basically calling it a ME too product. I don't see it that way, Expression Studio is squarely framed at supporting Microsoft's web based initiatives. It reinvents much of the designer developer work flow that frankly the "Creative Suite" hasn't addressed for developers centered on Microsoft developer solutions.

If you are are an ASP.NET designer or developer a product like Dream Weaver never really totally addressed ASP.NET version 2.0, when it came to things like data binding they used a few of their own custom ASP.NET controls, a couple used the same name as the Microsoft versions, but were not completely compatible. It only supported ASP.NET 1.0 correctly. Expression Web 1.0 and now 2.0 goes way beyond that, not to mention Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer Express. When Visual Web Developer shipped a few years ago it was the end of my love affair with DreamWeaver as a tool.

When I started moving from bitmap to vector art, Illustrator and Photoshop never totally provided the complete integrated solution because each supported different markets and capabilities. We needed a tool that did both. One third party tool did both, that was Fractal Design Painter and later Creature House Expression 3. Microsoft updated and transformed this into Expression Design. Considering that bitmaps are really only used in photography today, but most people need their vector/structured graphics today, that are nicely up-sizable to different resolutions, aspect, and color modes, that are used by most GUI systems today. Photoshop doesn't really do that. The XAML integration with Expression Blend and other Expression Studio products and Visual Studio make great end-to-end work possible, whether you are making a Desktop, Web, or Mobile application.

Expression Media is great if you have to catalog multimedia assets for your project or handle version control with that as well..

I have heard Adobe's been working on something called "Thermo" which I hear tries to do this with Photoshop type files. If it is indeed working with bitmaps I will be kind of disappointed, because bitmaps aren't really a mainstay of UI graphics under Windows (even if supplies them).  Expression Design doesn't try to be a professional photograph tool. It leaves cataloging and fixing up photos and bitmaps to Expression Media. Both products are  focused on what they do best..Photoshop is a tool used by many more markets, and has to try to be all things to all people.  For this reason saying it's a "partial answer" doesn't work for me because there are many different market differentiations between "the Suite " and "The Studio".  You can't get one to do the work of the other. I believe that makes room for both of them and they are less competition for each other than you might expect.

All of the Expression Studio products were very much winners in their own markets before Microsoft put them together as Expression Studio. To me it's like coming home to an old friend who just got a new lease on life..