Watching the video of yesterday’s Expression Web: No Platform Left Behind session. (Note, I couldn’t get sound in Internet Explorer 7 so I watched it in Firefox.) I am going to write this blog entry as I watch the video. One that reoccurred throughout the presentation I figured should be featured first in this commentary.
Steve Guttman’s Presentation
Steve Guttman (who did a very good & smooth presentation – must have been blessed by the demo gods) starts off talking about web standards as the foundation of what you can do on the web and the capabilities of the current version of Expression Web. Then went back to history of layouts crediting David Siegal as the father of table/transparent gif layout back in the 1990s. (So now we have a person to blame for the nested table nightmare many of have spent years cleaning up – okay, at the time nested table – slice & dice was the only way to have real layout control before CSS so it isn’t all his fault.)
Steve went on to talk about how the web has changed with web 2.0 technology which is giving way (thankfully) to web 3.0 with CSS 3 and HTML 5.
I have to admit that I like Steve’s image of a lazy coder but I don’t think it looks like him.
Okay back to the real Steve where he is showing how to use the Seadragon library in Expression Web (note he is using Expression Web 2 in this demo).
In addition to using the Seadragon Ajax, Steve also demonstrated using jQuery in the same page. His slide has the points of this part of the presentation.
(I followed the link http://livelabs.com/seadragon-ajax/ in that slide and discovered all sorts of useful tools. Including an app for iPhone/iPod touch - kewl)
View the presentation yourself to see the end result – quite attractive. In addition to the Seadragon Ajax above you will need Deep Zoom Composer [free] which isn’t in the slide.
Erik Saltwell – SupePreview
A more in-depth presentation of SuperPreview and comparing it to some of the alternatives like Browsercam
The image on the left is a screenshot from Erik’s presentation of the current work in progress version of Expression Web 3 with SuperPreview built-in. (It is not available to us mere mortals at this time but we can get the beta standalone version.)
This is the full screen version with Firefox and Safari as well as IE 6,7 & 8. (Erik showed his Mac Mini under the table to prove it was really the Mac version of Safari and cautioned that this is very early build so there will be performance issues.) Nice demonstration of onion skinning and flipping between browser displays. I’ve already talked a little about SuperPreview though you might want to watch to see the isolation of “problems” using the DOM tree.
The image on the left is when after testing Erik sent SuperPreview back to Expression Web v-next with a warning that this is probably not the way the release version will look.
How DOM tree to isolate elements and other improvements so that you won’t need to go open IE Developer Toolbar, Firebug or other browser specific tools have yet to be determined. It will be interesting to see what happens between now and release.
Back to Steve
The slide that appeared when when Steve took the podium back is one that I really appreciate. Too many people do not properly utilize inheritance. Steve says he doesn’t agree with Eric Meyer’s statement that CSS is easy to use. I agree with Eric. The problem isn’t so much in CSS but in two things – first, people over complicate their css by not using inheritance but by specifying everything in each style so that it over rides anything that might otherwise apply. Second, an insistence that every browser display pixel by pixel to perfection. People, especially print designers need to understand the medium they are working in – the web is not print, nor is it television.
I do appreciate the tools in Expression Web to troubleshoot badly designed stylesheets and sites. In this part of the presentation you will see much the same as what I show in my Basic Website tutorial with many more styles and using a slightly different view than I prefer.
Steve’s conclusion telling people to buy Expression Web from the MS online store (not available in all countries) for $99 competitive/companion upgrade since you only need any Office program, any Adobe program or “be a mammal” to qualify for the upgrade pricing. (I love that last one.)
Q & A
- Question: Integration with Visual Studio – disconnect – his primary tool Visual Studio (designers don’t like or want Visual Studio, sigh.)
- Answer: Moving towards better integration, said until ASP.NET MVC came out they weren’t particularly trying to put ASP.NET webforms integration.
- Follow-up Question: People using Visual Studio just for check-in check-out.
- Answer: Reference to working on Team System story.
- Question: HTML email problems, testing and pain of Outlook 2007 rendering of HTML email. Wants to put in his vote for one Microsoft rendering engine and have SuperPreview extend to email clients. (simple solution – don’t send html email which would suit me fine.)
- Answer: Thanks for the suggestion.
- Question: Ability to configure Expression Web to only use absolute references for ease of converting to html email.
- Answer: Erik gave his email for suggestions – firstname.lastname@example.org – Steve said awesome suggestion. (I would prefer root relative urls but I’m not an HTML email person. Better to use a dedicated program that supports multi-part mime if you are going to send HTML emails so those like me who read in plain text would still be able to read the mail instead of a list of image links with no real content.)
- Question: What browser does Expression use to render in design view.
- Answer: Their own and with SuperPreview will be able to embed in design view a specific browser for rendering. (Not quite sure I followed that.)
- Question: Will Expression support new HTML/CSS recommendations.
- Answer: Yes, already have schema based validation.
- Question: MSDN subscriptions where he works, does that give him access to Expression Web.
- Answer: Pro – no, Premium – yes.
- Question: When will Expression Web 3 be available for download?
- Answer: Sometime later this year.
- Question: Sprite maps to minimize http requests for images and css. Is there anything in Expression Web to help generate sprite maps.
- Answer: Asked if one of the team members was in the audience since they were talking about that just the night before. No real answer.
- Question: You said MVC got your attention, so what can you say?
- Answer: I know this is a totally crappy answer but there isn’t anything we can talk about right now.
Lots of information about SuperPreview which is all to the good but not much on the next version of Expression Web. Other than the brief glimpses we saw while Erik was demonstrating SuperPreview there was nothing new there.