Labs Gallery: Microsoft Expression Blend 3 RC Makes Great Strides in RIA Race

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Labs Gallery: Microsoft Expression Blend 3 RC Makes Great Strides in RIA Race

by Jim Rapoza

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The new SketchFlow feature in Expression Blend 3 makes it possible to prototype application projects in a way that approximates rough sketches, a model that some have found to be more effective than polished prototypes.

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SketchFlow Prototypes

Though SketchFlow prototypes appear to be primitive, they can still have complex workflows showing how the application will work.

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Prototype Sharing

SketchFlow prototypes can be shared over the Web, and collaborators can mark up and comment on the prototype directly from their browser.

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Code Editor

The much-improved code editor in Expression Blend 3 provides classic Intellisense interactivity when editing XAML code, as well as C# and Visual Basic code.

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Control Elements

Several new controls in Expression Blend 3 and Silverlight 3 make it easy for developers to easily add ineractive elements to their projects.

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Sample Data

Like other RIA platforms, Expression Blend 3 now lets developers easily add sample data to their projects to ease testing and prototyping of applications.

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Direct Import and Manipulation

Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator files can be directly imported and manipulated within Expression Blend 3.

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Annotation Notes

In Expression Blend 3, it is possible for project teams to add pop-up annotation notes that display both in the design view and in the code view.

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With the new Behaviors feature in Expression Blend 3, it is possible to build interactive applications by simply dragging behaviors to the project.

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Blur Effects

New effects features in Silverlight 3 include the ability to add a blur effect to projects.

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Smooth Streaming

Smooth Streaming, which is enabled through an extension to Microsoft's Internet Information Services 7, makes it possible to deliver Silverlight content that adjusts to changes in the user's network connection.

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When IIS Smooth Streaming is enabled for a Silverlight 3 application, the content will automatically adjust its quality and bandwidth usage based on network conditions.

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Offline Capabilities

Enabling an application in Expression Blend 3 to take advantage of the new offline and out-of-browser capabilities is as simple as choosing Enable Applications Outside of Browser.

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Desktop Utilization

If a Silverlight 3 application has been enabled for out-of-browser use, users can choose to run that application from the desktop and start menu to utilize offline capabilities.

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3D Capabilities

New 3D capabilities in Silverlight 3 make it possible to build content that users can control and adjust within a 3D plane.

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Silverlight 3 Player

With the new Silverlight 3 player, users can experience the new capabilities of the Microsoft platform, though its reach lags far behind that of Adobe Flash.

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