Live Meeting on MIX09

by cdwise 21. March 2009 13:36

Now that all of the presentations on Expression Web and SuperPreview have been made at MIX 09 let's get together and talk about them.
If you haven't seen the presentations form MIX check out the recording at http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX09/C03F

When: Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 10:00 AM CST
URL: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/mvp/join?id=9RJCC7&role=attend&pw=Z%5D%60zf8X%27h

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Expression Web | LiveMeeting

Expression Web at MIX09

by cdwise 21. March 2009 09:31

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. 

Steve talks about Web Standards platform of HTML & JavaScript as the most popular  RIA platform over Flash, Silverlight or whatever else you may consider a rich user experience platform. Next, Steve shows several examples of Web 2.0, Deep Zoom as shown last year and how you can do similar with

Seadragon Ajax from Microsoft Research without a plug-in, just JavaScript.

 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:  SuperPreview and JavaScript & DOM trouble shooting for non-static sites-dynamic content, client side.
Answer: Said that they are working on it, not yet addressing beyond onload javascript.
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 – eriksalt@microsoft.com – 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.

Conclusion

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.

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Expression Web

SuperPreview

by cdwise 20. March 2009 03:01

Quick SuperPreview version explanation - there are two versions of Super Preview. One available now is the beta of the standalone version released at MIX 09 which will let you preview multiple versions of IE without installing more than one version on your computer. That is what you can download now.

The second which is not available yet will be built into Expression Web v3 and will allow you to preview not only MS browsers but also Firefox, Opera and Safari including Mac versions via cloud services. So if you are a Windows user who only needs/wants a Mac for browser testing you will not need to buy a Mac but as the owner of Expression Web v3 will be able to preview and trouble shoot Mac versions using web services built into the program.

The best (and easiest to read since i doesn’t use gray text on a black background) explanations of Super Preview is from istartedsomething.com

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Expression Web

SuperPreview-CSS 3 and more

by cdwise 19. March 2009 00:06

Hate troubleshooting browser display issues? Check out Super Preview announced today http://blogs.msdn.com/xweb/archive/2009/03/18/Microsoft-Expression-Web-SuperPreview-for-Windows-Internet-Explorer.aspx I suspect that will be demoed during the Expression Web Session at MIX09 and may even make the keynote. Check http://mix09.visitmix.com if you want to catch the sessions online.

If you were at the MIX workshops yesterday I hope you checked out Molly’s session. If not, and you didn’t make it over to South by Southwest you can get the slides from the CSS 3 panel from her site at http://www.molly.com/2009/03/18/css3-panel-slides-from-sxswi/ 

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Expression Web | Web Design | CSS

MVP Summit 09

by cdwise 7. March 2009 02:02

Well I'm back from the MVP summit and had a good night's sleep so thought now might be a good time to do a sort of wrap-up of what I learned at the this year's MVP summit.

First, I learned that the economy has made things quieter. Some of my favorite MVPs were unable to attend for financial reasons - they were missed. The same with those who had other conflicts that prevented their attendance. Second, that the number of people on the Expression team has increased which has its pros and cons as always.

Meeting with members of the Expression products development (and yes, also marketing) teams meant a fair number of new faces but that's not why you are reading this blog post. What you want to know is what juicy tidbits of information did we find out and will I tell you what they are.   Well if you expect me to spill NDA beans you are going to be disappointed however I will tell you a few things.

  1. I tool the feedback that has appeared in this blog in such posts as the "good, bad & ugly" post a week or two back and responses that I received from that post. [aside: Why can't people post a comment on the blog for everyone to see instead of emailing me a long list?] Hopefully, at least some of that oft repeated bug list will make it into the next version. There wasn't anything on the list that the product team hadn't seen before, a lot of it being things I have filed connect bugs on and others you may have filed connect bugs on.
  2. The teams are busy getting ready for MIX so some of what we saw was work in progress on things that will be seen in just a couple of weeks at MIX. So if you can't be at MIX and it looks right now like I will be one of those not at MIX you should watch the session videos when they become available [usually within 12-48 hours after the session] which will let you see what those of us who attended the MVP summit saw and probably more since they were still working on those presentations.
  3. Going back to MIX there will be some announcements  on a variety of Microsoft products but I doubt that the idea of announcing changes/new products or whatever Microsoft wants us to know about at a Microsoft sponsored conference is going to surprise anyone. So I'll just repeat to watch MIX videos. For new or significant announcements, watch the keynotes not just the session videos.
  4. A lot of feedback was given to those responsible for the Expression, MSDN & TechNet forums over the, well, I'll be generous and just call it buggy/poor performance and usability of the MS forums. We have been promised that there will be updates to the forum applications soon that will improve performance. I'll believe them when I see them. Maybe at some date the forums will actually work well.
  5. More feedback was given to the MS executives on the last day during the Q&A session. Steve Ballmer took notes as usual. One thing I'll say about Steve is that he does follow-up on things when you get his attention and he does pay attention to issues brought up in Q&A venue, not just by MVPs but by partners and others where he's speaking. Steve may be a salesman but he does listen and follow through. I've seen changes made as a result of people pleading their case to him (including even in beta program feedback) but it usually has to do with a direction MS is taking that its customers may not like or would like to see more movement on.
  6. Speaking of Steve Ballmer, he can get more enthusiasm from a crowd than any other business executive I've seen but even Steve was calmer than I've ever seen him on stage. No "monkey boy" this year but still energetic (kind of like watching a caged tiger as he paces on the stage) and drew a good crowd response. I always enjoy watching Ballmer on stage whether it is at an MVP summit, Office 2003 launch or other event. Brings a smile to my face just thinking of his stage presence.
  7. Despite the fact that the Mac MVPs weren't at this year's MVP summit (had their own event not long ago) I saw more Macs not only on campus being used by MS employees (yes, there are people who use Macs at Microsoft besides the MAC Office folks - there is even a Mac native version of Expression Media, and a lot of IE-IIS guys have them) but there was a significant number of MVPs toting MacBooks around as well.

In the where was my camera when I needed it category, the picture I missed and should have taken even if just with my cellphone was the guy sitting in the Westin lobby wearing a black t-shirt imprinted with "I'm a PC" busily typing on his MacBook. When queried his response was "but I'm using Vista in bootcamp 90% of the time".

On that note, I'll get back to work since somehow I found a big pile of it sitting on my desk when I returned to it this morning.

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