Expression Studio 3 detailed overview
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Expression Studio 3 now including Expression Blend 3, Web 3, Design 3 and Encoder 3 is available as of today for download. Number of improvements, targeting Silverlight 3 and rich designer experience are just some of the coolest additions. SketchFlow in Expression Blend 3, SuperPreview in Expression Web 3 – just to name a few…
I’m The Expression Junkie – there I said it. I’ve been that ever since Blend was called Interactive Designer / Sparkle and it was in some CTP stage. Ever since – I was falling in love with Expression suite of products. And today, with Expression Studio 3 being released, I’m just thrilled.
This release is big step for Microsoft, but more importantly it is huge step for all of us who are designing and developing solutions targeting WPF and Silverlight as technologies. For other creatives and designers and for others who are yet to become “one of us”… Joking aside…
I will cover this new release in details – you can expect number of Expression Blend tutorials, Silverlight 3 tutorials (and others)… But for now, here is brief overview of the newest and coolest in Expression Studio 3.
Expression Blend 3 + SketchFlow
This is, by far, my favourite application in the whole Expression Studio 3 suite. It was like that from the day one, and after this release – it will be even more so.
Expression Blend 3 brings in number of new features – SketchFlow, Behaviors, PSD / AI import, targeting Silverlight 3 – are just some of them. Not so long ago I’ve been blogging about new features in Expression Blend 3 as well as about new features in Silverlight 3 so take a look at those articles.
Expression Design 3
As a student I didn’t have enough money to buy Adobe Illustrator – and still I was dying for professional vector drawing tool. And I was looking for ability to save files in XAML or other format that would be good for Silverlight and WPF experiences I’ve been designing – and there was Expression Design 3.
Today, it is mature, professional, powerful tool. Some of the new features in Expression Design 3 are:
- significant improvements in UI customization (say hello to docking and really flexible workspace management),
- fully blown support for Photoshop PSD file import preserving the layers and other objects (no need for you to change your design habits and workflow – Design is not a competitor to Illustrator or Photoshop – it works side by side with them enabling you to reuse your assets as well as knowledge)
- support for Silverlight 3 and possibility to export WPF and Silverlight effects (DropShadow or Gaussian Blur, for example).
Expression Web 3
After Microsoft has decided to start from the scratch (think about Front Page) and learn from the experiences (again, think about Front page) and realizing the new realities in the market and standards – Expression Web was born. Now, in its third major release, Expression Web 3 is a professional, standards – oriented web development and design tool.
Supporting the HTML/XHTML, CSS, ASP.NET, ASP:NET Ajax, PHP and other technologies it makes sure you have great experience.
Some of the most important features in this new release include:
- SuperPreview – really awesome addition that helps you make sure your web site will work in different web browsers. You can even preview and compare pages at the same, simultaneously in multiple browsers – even in multiple versions of Internet Explorer (and yes – we all know how nasty and difficult it can get fixing all those discrepancies in renderings between different browsers). Sexiest thing around? Select any desired element within your page and get details about that element, find and fix cross browser layout and other errors. Truly a great time saver.
- Silverlight DeepZoom and Seadragon Ajax Deep Zoom Composer images now can be added to your page directly from a composition built in Deep Zoom Composer.
- FTP transfer improvements – including the ability for transferring several files at the same time, managing multiple sites and remote locations… Support for SFTP and FTPS standards…
- Silverlight videos and RIA solutions can be added directly within Expression Web 3
Expression Encoder 3
This application is probably the most pleasant surprise in whole Expression Studio 3 package. And reason is so simple – in this release it features a little addition that really makes me happy, and that will certainly find its place in my everyday design tasks (tutorial creating, design communication…) and even here on UXPassion.com. It’s a tool called Expression Encoder Screen Capture. But, first things first – let’s see what’s in the box for us in this release:
- support for VC-1 and H.264 encoding and direct connection with Silverlight 3, including the option to target number of H.264 profiles like Baseline, High and Main, prepare your content for multimedia players like Zune and iPods
- this cool can crunch and import number of video formats – AVI, QuickTime or MPEG – no problems. And support for DirectShow decoder is here as well
- adjust video clips by cropping them, scaling, adding watermarks… add rich metadata, markers and triggers related to them…
- capture all activities on your PC – yes – it’s a high quality screen capture tool (Expression Encoder Screen Capture) that is now part of Expression Encoder 3. After you capture your screen (or web cam or…) you can import those videos directly in Expression Encoder 3 application and keep working on them
- DVD style navigation, adding chapters
- new Silverlight players and templates support – including the integration with Expression Web 3
- IIS 7 Smooth Streaming is a killer feature – you can encode high quality multiple bitrate versions of your video ready for deployment to the Smooth Streaming feature of Internet Information Services 7 and depending on the connection your users are having, video quality will be automatically adjusted. That means that your users will have the best and optimized experience depending on their connection type. And if connection suddenly becomes better or worse – your video will be adjusted in no time – requiring no additional action from your users. I call that a great user experience!
Expression Studio 3 overview (video)
Make your vision real with the four professional tools in Microsoft® Expression Studio 3. Design for standards-based web sites, rich desktop experiences or Silverlight. Includes Expression Blend + SketchFlow, Expression Web, Expression Design and Expression Encoder.
If you are looking for really nice and simple video giving you Expression Studio 3 overview, look no further – take a look at this video:
Interested? The go and download complete Expression Studio 3 trial version.