Today I attended an event here in London, organized by Microsoft and Computer Arts, titled “Designing Next Generation User Experiences”. It was a mixed experience, probably due to the fact that the attendees were very diverse in their backgrounds. In the end it provided good insight into the new Microsoft Expression tools and their role in next generation WPF applications.
Most of these tools I had known already because their CTPs have been available for a while, but this was the first time I saw the Expression Web Designer in action, and the CTP version of that (which they gave to all of us) was apparently the first released to any public group.
One of the main features of the Web Designer seems to be its ability to work with CSS styles a lot more intelligently than FrontPage ever managed, hence the title of this post. But other features that were shown also seemed like great ideas – for example, the designer can create and customize an XSLT stylesheet automatically based on a visual design created for a block of XML data. I was rather impressed, I must say – even though, or perhaps because, I don’t normally do that much web design or ASP.NET development myself.
Anyway, if this is interesting to you, be sure to look out for the CTP in the usual places. They mentioned no timescale, but I seem to remember that the CTP should be generally available in the future.