In December 2006, Microsoft released the first component of its Expression Studio environment, a set of designer tools intended to enable graphics and media professionals to design, create, manage, and deliver rich interactive media Web sites and applications. The complete suite includes four components:
- Expression Web, a design tool for creating standards-based, visually appealing Web sites;
- Expression Design, an illustration and graphic design tool for constructing detailed and compelling visual elements for Web and desktop application UIs;
- Expression Blend: a design/development tool for creating attractive, Web-connected, user environments for Windows platforms, and
- Expression Media: a digital content management to for cataloging and organizing digital information to facilitate easy retrieval and delivery.
The first component to be released was Expression Web and the RTM for the complete suite followed on April 23, 2007. The entire Expression Studio suite has been for sale for about three months as this story is written.
On July 27, another very interesting chapter in the Expression Studio story opened with the release of Expression Blend 2 and Expression Media Encoder Preview updates. These latest releases interoperate with the Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 RC, an environment designed to deliver rich media and interactive content experiences through Web sites or desktop applications.
There's some very interesting synergy emerging here between what Microsoft lets designers do to create and define such environments with Expression Studio and what Silverlight 1.0 does to permit developers to implement and deliver such things to users.
Though Silverlight 1.0 won't be ready for commercial release until early 2008, these latest previews, along with a promised general beta release for Silverlight "any day now," promises to enable some astonishing user experiences from those developers and designers willing to dig into, learn about, and make the most of these tools for the upcoming generations of code built around Visual Studio 2008, the .NET Framework 3.5, Silverlight 1.0, and Expression Studio. As far as we know a killer app has yet to emerge from this killer combination, but we have to think that's just a matter of time…
Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!