Microsoft Releases Expression Web Designer Preview

The software giant offers the first CTP version of its much-anticipated Microsoft Expression Web Designer tool.

Microsoft has released the first preview version of its much-anticipated Microsoft Expression Web Designer product.

On May 15, Microsoft announced the first CTP (Community Technology Preview) of its Expression Web Designer, formerly known by its code name of Quartz.

Microsoft offered CTP releases of the Expression Web Designers companion products in the Expression suite—Expression Graphic Designer, code-named Acrylic, and Expression Interactive Designer, code-named Sparkle—but developers were left waiting for Quartz. The Expression suite is Microsofts tool set aimed at designers.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about "Sparkle."

The company had showed the Expression Web Designer technology at various stages of its development at both its Professional Developers Conference in October and at its Mix 06 conference in March.

Wayne Smith, Microsofts product manager for Expression Web Designer, said the main focus of this CTP is to demonstrate compliance with popular Web standards such as XHTML, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and XML, or "all the standards people are using on the Web."

Indeed, one of the key new features is "the rich support for CSS," Smith said. Expression Web Designer enables developers to "use CSS correctly and manage the styles."

Moreover, Smith said Expression Web Designer is Microsofts first visual design tool to support ASP .Net.

Despite companion Expression tools going out to preview earlier, Smith said Expression Web Designer is tracking in its own time.

/zimages/5/28571.gifGuru Jakob Nielsen offers advice on designing applications for usability. Click here to watch the video.

"We didnt say it would be released any earlier," he said. "We said wed get it [the CTP] out by June, and we did."

Smith said he believes the Expression Web Designer technology is more mature than its siblings. Yet, Microsoft did not issue a "Go Live" license with the CTP as it has with other preview or beta technology.

"People are going to see that with the Graphic and Interactive designers, they are works in progress; this [Expression Web Designer] is a more complete release," Smith said. "Its a fully featured release."

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