Microsoft Expression Web Gives Dreamweaver A Run For Its Money - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

Microsoft Expression Web Gives Dreamweaver A Run For Its Money

Die-hard Dreamweaver fans aren't likely to switch to Microsoft's Expression Web, but some serious coders who aren't wedded to the longtime market leader are finding a lot to like in the FrontPage replacement.

It's often said that Microsoft doesn't perfect its major software apps until they reach version 3.0. In building an HTML editor, the developer appears to have needed even more versions than that.

Microsoft Expression Web

•  Out With FrontPage

•  Getting Control fo CSS

•   Your Own ASP.NET Server

•  PHP / JSP Need Not Apply

•  Personal Taste Is The Key

•  Image Gallery

Expression Web is a new site-development tool, now in public beta, that Microsoft is promoting as a replacement for its under-appreciated FrontPage application. If you count upwards from Vermeer FrontPage 1.0 -- the original HTML editor that Microsoft acquired in 1996 and turned into FrontPage 97, 98, 2000, 2002, and 2003 -- Expression Web must count as something like version 7.0.

The new application looks very much like FP03 when it's first started up. A user of the older application will find many familiar-looking (or even identical) menus and dialog boxes to put together Web pages.

But even bleeding-edge XHTML 1.1 developers will notice that Expression Web is a grown-up coding environment.

In fact, in conversations with coders who've used both products, I found a surprising level of respect for the maturity of Expression Web, even among people with years invested in the market-leading Macromedia Dreamweaver. (Macromedia is now a division of Adobe Systems after a late 2005 acquisition.)

"I think there will be creative professional designers who will want to use Expression Web," said David Blatner, coauthor of Real World Photoshop. "It's a very impressive 1.0. If you already know Dreamweaver, there's not a compelling reason to switch to Expression Web, but if you're not using either of them, Expression Web will be easier to use."

Some naming confusion exists because Expression Web (formerly known as Expression Web Designer) is only one of three applications that Microsoft is branding with the catch-all label "Expression Products." The other two are Expression Graphic Designer, a program similar to Adobe Illustrator, and Expression Interactive Designer, a tool for creating Windows applications. For this review, I tested only Expression Web.

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