Over the years, FrontPage has developed a really bad name in Professional Web Design Circles. Not because there is something diabolically wrong with the product, but because it used to be shipped with Microsoft Office so everyone & their secretary had a copy. As a result, most of the badly designed web sites on the www, were designed with FrontPage. If only all those CEO’s had hired real web design companies instead of sending their talentless minions on FrontPage courses…A designer with talent can design on anything. They don’t blame their tools or state that Dreamweaver is the only professional application. Dreamweaver has never been freely available in the average office, so less rubbish has been produced using it.
With that said, Microsoft won’t be releasing a FrontPage 2007, but rather is launching Microsoft Expression Studio which consists of Expression Web, Expression Design, Expression Blend & Expression Media
Expression Web is a program that allows you to create XHTML compliant websites (doubtful unless you are hand coding in code view, in which case you could use notepad). It ships with a two hour “getting started” training video, a printed Getting Started and CSS Selector Reference guide, and has online help and tutorials. It is apparently “browser agnostic” meaning it works on all browsers (very doubtful). It also comes with accessibility support to help build the most accessible, standards-conformant websites possible. FrontPage has never been big on support for standards based web design, or given a hoot about the British Disability Discrimination Act, so this news comes as a breath of fresh air, but then again if you hand code like a proper designer, it doesn’t matter. The product is a combination of both FrontPage and Visual Studio technologies and has immense support for ASP.NET 2.0. Not a word of PHP mentioned…but then I can’t really see Microsoft supporting anything Open Source.
Expression Design is an illustration and graphic design tool that lets you build elements for both Web and desktop application user interfaces. Expression Design Beta 1 can import the following formats: .tif, .psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif and .wdp (photon) files, and can export the following formats: .tif, .psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .ai, .eps, wdp, .pdf, and .xaml. Additionally there is support for copy/paste to Microsoft Office, and export to XAML for incorporation into Windows Vista. Sounds like this could possibly be Microsoft’s attempt at a CorelDraw or Photoshop?
Expression Blend is a design tool to create engaging, Web-connected, user experiences for Windows. In English, I believe it means that it is used to create Windows Applications.
Expression Media is an asset management tool to visually catalogue and organize all your digital assets for retrieval and presentation. Apparently, one can import, organize, search, annotate, re-purpose and archive digital files. This sounds like a glorified ACDSee to me.
Trial versions of Microsoft Expression Studio are available. If anyone has had any hands on experience with one of the applications in the suite, feel free to comment…