1Labs Gallery: Microsoft Expression Blend 3 RC Makes Great Strides in RIA Race
by Jim Rapoza
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.
Though SketchFlow prototypes appear to be primitive, they can still have complex workflows showing how the application will work.
SketchFlow prototypes can be shared over the Web, and collaborators can mark up and comment on the prototype directly from their browser.
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.
Several new controls in Expression Blend 3 and Silverlight 3 make it easy for developers to easily add ineractive elements to their projects.
Like other RIA platforms, Expression Blend 3 now lets developers easily add sample data to their projects to ease testing and prototyping of applications.
8Direct Import and Manipulation
Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator files can be directly imported and manipulated within Expression Blend 3.
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.
With the new Behaviors feature in Expression Blend 3, it is possible to build interactive applications by simply dragging behaviors to the project.
New effects features in Silverlight 3 include the ability to add a blur effect to projects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New 3D capabilities in Silverlight 3 make it possible to build content that users can control and adjust within a 3D plane.
17Silverlight 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.