My favorite Expression 4 features

S Somasegar


Today at Internet Week in New York, we launched Expression Studio 4.

Expression 4 is a suite of professional design tools for building immersive user experiences for the desktop, mobile devices and the web.  

There are a lot of new enhancements and exciting features in this release.  Here are some of my favorite features of Expression 4.

1. Publishing SketchFlow Prototypes to SharePoint

Publishing your SketchFlow projects that are Silverlight-based to SharePoint provides an easy way to share your prototypes with your team. And the best thing is, once a prototype is published, reviewers can post their feedback right back to SharePoint, making it visible not just to the designers, but also to all other reviewers. Designers can also see feedback from many reviewers concurrently. Collaborative reviews of working, interactive prototypes just got a whole lot better.

2. New Behaviors in Blend

Expression Blend 4 includes new Behaviors designed to enhance your application design process. The new Behaviors enable you to do a lot more while keeping you focused on the art of creating compelling UI designs. Using the new Behaviors, you can for example take advantage of multi-touch, specify fluid transitions between layout changes, define conditional logic or interact more easily with the components of an MVVM application. There are also new Behaviors specifically for SketchFlow, including ones to preserve screen state and to exert greater control over the playback of SketchFlow Animations.

3. Design a UI without writing Code

Expression Blend 4 now lets you design many complex layouts without writing any code.

An example: imagine you want to create a radial list box that arranges its content along a circle, like a carousel. In Blend 4, instead of writing complicated layout code, you can simply draw the desired “shape” of your layout with one or more paths and Blend will take care of arranging the content appropriately. Best of all, this is not just a design time feature, but it works with data-driven list boxes, and supports animation, letting you create incredibly complex, rich and creative layouts as easy as you can draw a path.  

4. Write Add-ins for Expression Web with HTML & JavaScript

As a web-savvy developer, you are probably comfortable with the languages of the web: JavaScript, HTML and CSS.  In Expression Web 4, we have provided a way to extend the app using only the languages you already know. You can now add your own menu items, toolbar buttons, panels and even dialog boxes using only HTML, CSS, JavaScript and a simple XML manifest file.  Do you have your own markup for creating online maps in pages?  How about a custom Twitter feed? Now you can easily extend Expression Web to make it simple to add this content to any site you are working with.


5. Improve your search rankings with SEO Diagnostics

Our new SEO analysis not only includes the usual checks for duplicate or missing titles, meta tags and headers, but it also checks the content of search sensitive text, like link text and page titles, to make sure they don’t have overly general values like “click here” or  “welcome”  which aren’t going to add any search value to your pages. 

We also include deep help topics that let you understand why these rules are important for getting a good search ranking.  This documentation makes our reports more than a simple checklist; it helps you learn and master the art of SEO.

6. Encoding and broadcasting live events

With Expression Encoder 4 you can now broadcast live video to the IIS Smooth Streaming format to ensure uninterrupted playback on Silverlight over HTTP. Select either H.264 or VC-1 output, configure the number and size of the streams then publish directly to servers running IIS Media Services. The redesigned user interface allows you to easily select from multiple live sources and file-based content to create high-quality broadcast output in real time.

We’ve also used this release as an opportunity to simplify the product line-up of Expression to more closely correspond to the Visual Studio 2010 product family.  These are the new Expression 4 products:

  • Expression Web 4 Professional
  • Expression Studio 4 Premium
  • Expression Studio 4 Ultimate

Current owners of Expression Studio 3 or Expression Web 3 can upgrade at no additional cost to corresponding version 4 products: Expression Studio 4 Ultimate and Expression Studio 4 Web Professional. Please visit the Expression site to learn more.


S Somasegar
S Somasegar

Senior Vice President, Visual Studio

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