Module 1 MS Expression Web 4 curriculum

by cdwise 14. January 2011 06:51

After this thread http://social.expression.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/web/thread/e648bb8b-47e0-4a9d-8241-d0a0e025116b on teaching Expression Web to students I figured I’d download and look at the curriculum Lori Dirks referenced. After all I hadn’t looked at the MS educational resources for v4.

My first issue was how many steps it took to download the files. Each module was a separate download link and from there it was another 3+ clicks before your download actually started. In addition, after the first few downloads I could only download one set of resources at a time despite being on a 20mps connection. It seemed to be a server issue waiting for the MS server to respond.

Starting with the overview pdf I noticed the same links were in there over and over after each module summary. I’m not sure why someone thought it was necessary. The way it was presented and the length of the links caused me to think each link was related to the module it followed not to the same two pages over and over.

They syllabus looked pretty good but my initially favorable impression went away when I opened Module 1, Day 1 to discover Photo Story 3 for Windows as the first lesson. My disappoint stemmed not from the use of Photo Story for storyboarding a website (which might after all be a reasonable thing to do) but because it starts off with import your photos, remove the black border, add titles & music.  I have no clue what the relevance of creating a slide show to playback on your computer has to do with the stated topic of Module 1 History and Future of the Web. I can only conclude, particularly from other references within the file that this was included by mistake or at least I would have if the Word doc didn’t start with that exact title followed by Day 1.

Upon opening more pages in module 1 I see that the assignment was to create a multimedia presentation using Photo Story about wikis, blogs, podcasts & webcast with the option to include Web 2.0 topics.

The PowerPoint presentation used to actually provide the lesson material seems to me to be very out of date for an application that was released summer 2010. The latest browser statistics given were for 2003. Market share is shown for Netscape (3.7%), IE 95.9% and “others” (0.4%) which is so completely out of date as to be worse than useless. Browsers such as Firefox (depending on your site topic & location 20-55% market share), Safari, Opera and Chrome each have more market share than the total “other” browsers listed. IE 7 & 8 which have considerably different rendering characteristics from IE 6 weren’t even a gleam on the horizon back in 2003. The site used as a reference for those statistics “onstat.com” leads me now to a page full of advertising that looks like a domain placeholder page. Looking at the W3Schools browser stats page I see a different picture for 2003 with IE having 84.6%, Mozilla 7.2%, Netscape 2.6% and Opera 1.9%. For 2002 the IE percentage is about the same but Netscape was 8.0% and AOL (which depending on exactly when used a custom version of Netscape or IE) at 3-5%.

On the whole though the PowerPoint presentation did contain useful information if someone just removes or updates the browser stats slide. Though using blue links on a blue background is simply idiotic. Sorry but even on my color calibrated monitor there is such low contrast as to make the links virtually invisible. Putting it up on a projector would be even worse. Web 2.0 is of the same vintage as the browser information and has been superseded by “social media” in the Facebook & Twitter mode which is quite different than Web 2.0 social media. I also had to look up what “Freemium Business Model” means since it wasn’t a term I had really heard before. I’d always known that model as “advertising supported” and/or tiered services.

The only other comment I have on the slide deck is that the person using it really needs to be able to flesh out the bullet points with actual knowledge and discussion of what those bullets mean.

Day 2 & Day 3 do contain useful information, particularly the section on copyright. Too many classes don’t adequately address that everything you see on the internet is copyrighted by the site holder or whoever it is that is credit with the article/content. Permission is always needed though in a few cases the article or site itself will grant you permission to use it. So I am glad to see that covered.

Day 4 concentrates on MS Live services, something that I do not think is appropriate at this stage for students. While I have no objection to using Live services like Live Writer or Calendar why services like Live Agent or Windows Live Share (Live Sync?) are included I have no clue. Frankly, I don’t see the benefit to students or even to MS at this point in the curriculum. Ironically, the most useful thing in the Day 4 PowerPoint is the “Practice” instruction to Complete the Web Services tutorial at the W3Schools site but even that is premature. You shouldn’t be concerned about web services until you can actually create a website nor should they be concerned about creating a podcast at this stage of their learning either, especially one with background music nor if the idea is to learn about creating websites is creating a Live blog the thing to do at this time.

Day 5 seems to be somewhat of an overview of the week with the activity set to narrow searches. This week of lessons leaves me very confused about what it is the person is supposed to be learning.

Module 2 review coming up soon.

Tags:

Expression Web | Training

IE 9 Beta

by cdwise 17. September 2010 21:02

On Weds the latest version of the new IE 9 beta was released. Unfortunately, I haven’t really seen it because you cannot install this version side by side with IE 8 so I will need to set up a VPC for testing function.

If you just want to see how your page will render in IE 9 beta and you have Expression Web 4 you can use SuperPreview remote to view your page. IE 9 is not available in the free SuperPreview for IE version at this time. (I do not know if MS has any intention of adding it or not.) Here’s this site shown in SuperPreview with IE 8 on the left and IE 9 on the right.

image

There is also no preconfigured VPC for IE 9 beta available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyId=21EABB90-958F-4B64-B5F1-73D0A413C8EF&displaylang=en but there are Vista IE 8 vpcs available that you should be able to update to IE 9 beta. Just remember that these are time bombed for 90days after first launched but since you would be using it to test a beta browser that should be more than adequate.

Unfortunately, Adobe Browserlab hasn’t updated their browser list to include IE 9 beta (or Safari 5) yet. However, I still appreciate having Browserlabs because it includes Chrome and older versions of Firefox & Safari than I have installed on my computer. There are benefits to using multiple testing tools.

Tags:

Web Browsers

SuperPreview 4

by cdwise 15. September 2010 02:01

If you have the Expression Web 4 version of SuperPreview it has been updated to add support for Safari 5 (Mac) so now you can choose either Safari 4 or Safari 5 for previewing through the  cloud.

I just used it to check http://expressionwebforum.com/ and could see no differences between the Safari (either version) and IE 8 that aren’t attributable to  the fact that I’m logged in automatically with IE 8 locally and not with remote preview so the login panel is open in Safari & not in IE 8.

Now that they have updated Safari’s remote preview options maybe they’ll add some other browser. I’d like to see IE 9 beta, Firefox 4 and Chrome. What would you like to see added?

Tags:

Expression Web | v4 | Web Browsers

Web Developer vs Web Designer

by cdwise 9. September 2010 19:25

I have a Google alert set up for when Expression Web & web design. Today I received an interesting blurb and link that I followed to the blog it originated in. While the blog post turned out to be interlaced with spam links (so I won’t link to it) it did have some commentary that I felt needed to be addressed on the topic of what is a web developer and what is a web designer.

I basically agree with the definition presented of a web developer:

Quite simply, a web developer is a kind of software engineer, one that conceives, develops and runs applications that support the operation of the World Wide Web. Generally speaking, these types of programs deliver a particular server’s content to a client or end-user through a web browser.

Though I do not agree with the part of the author’s definition that claims that web developers have major industry certifications from from Novell, Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle. Since the vast majority of web developers I know do not have such certifications and certainly not from Novell or Cisco which are primarily network infrastructure certifications. You will find a very small minority of web developers are Microsoft Certified Solution Developers, MS SQL, Oracle DBA or MySQL DBA but that you really don’t see too many DBA (Database Administrators) actually working as web developers.

The author did have a good definition of web designer but he omitted the graphics skills that go along with his definition:

Web designers need to understand the behavior of the various pieces that go into a page, site and domain, not from an infrastructure level, but the perceptual level. A designer needs to put herself in the place of Internet surfers and understand how they “see” and navigate their way around the web. This understanding will inform her choices as to how she puts together the pages, links them to others and creates the overall environment, making disparate parts into one coherent whole.

Which is part of what was in the blurb Google sent me that made me follow the original link.

Web developers are not designers, as pointed out previously, but often are familiar with the high-end web design software programs like Front Page, Adobe Dreamweaver and Expression Web 2. Web designers, of course, are not only familiar with these, but have the full range of creative applications in their toolboxes-Photoshop, paint programs, Illustrator, word processors, the whole chi straightening irons collection. They need to manipulate images, colors, text and other elements to create the look, feel and actions that web visitors expect on the Internet.

Dreamweaver & Expression Web 4 are tools not web development tools even though each has some limited amount of back-end coding support. In the case of Dreamweaver that is PHP & ColdFusion while for Expression Web that is ASP.NET and PHP. No real web developer would use either one for web development on the back-end. Instead they would use a PHP IDE, Eclipse or PHP (depending on their preferred language).

Dreamweaver & Expression Web are used by web designers who need to understand how browsers work and work with front-end code by which I mean HTML, CSS & JavaScript. The web designer has to work with the visual elements of the page which means they also have to understand graphics, design and usability. This is what differentiates a web designer from a graphics designer who needs many of the same graphics skills but also needs the skills for print which is a completely different media.

Tags:

Dreamweaver | Expression Web | Web Design

Comments Disabled

by cdwise 9. September 2010 08:30

Anti-spam measures are only so effective and lately I've been getting a show of manually entered spam comments. I'm relatively certain that this is happening because of our change of web applications and I don't have time right now to research and implement a different anti-spam solution besides moderator] each comment individually. As a result I'm disables comments until I have more time.

Tags:

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