The proliferation of rich interactive web applications across the cloud and mobile devices continues to create new opportunities for creative design and development. As these technologies evolve, Microsoft is committed to providing best-in-class tools for building modern applications. In support of these industry trends Microsoft is consolidating our lead design and development offerings — Expression and Visual Studio — to offer all of our customers a unified solution that brings together the best of Web and modern development patterns.
- Blend will continue to ship as a standalone tool with Visual Studio 2012, as part of a consolidated designer/developer offering. Blend for Visual Studio 2012 provides a rich design-centric environment for building Windows Store apps and Windows Phone apps. In addition, Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 and later adds support for Silverlight and WPF editing, as well as SketchFlow.
- Expression Studio 4 Ultimate and Expression Studio 4 Web Professional are no longer available for sale. For customers who previously purchased these products, all components within Ultimate and Web Professional will be supported through their support lifecycle.
- Expression Design 4 and Expression Web 4 are now available for download at no charge. Technical support will not be available for these free versions.
- Expression Encoder 4 Pro will be available for purchase through 2013. Expression Encoder 4 remains available for download at no charge.
SketchFlow, a feature in Expression Studio Ultimate, enables you to rapidly present ideas, user interface flows, screen layouts and application functionality to your clients with an effective prototype. Convey your ideas through informal drawings and ‘sketchy’ styled components that help your client focus on the functionality of the prototype rather than the detail, while the SketchFlow player gives your client the opportunity to test the prototype and give feedback, which can be viewed directly in-context on the design surface in Blend. SketchFlow prototypes are real WPF or Silverlight projects so once the design is finalized you have a simple choice. How much of the prototype do you want to reuse? Do you want to simply throw the prototype away, or use individual elements from the prototype such as a resource library or Behavior, or carry the complete prototype forward into production? The choice is yours.
Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator import — Utilize your traditional design assets
Expression Blend includes powerful importers for both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator enabling smooth integration with the workflow visual designers are using today. During import you have the freedom to view and import Photoshop files layer by layer. Layers can be easily regrouped and elements retain their original formats; layers, layer positions, editable text and vectors.
Behaviors — Enable interactivity without writing code
Behaviors are powerful building blocks of interactivity that bring a project to life by adding control of interactivity, animation and transitions to your applications. Developers can encapsulate complex interactions and ideas into reusable production ready Behaviors, which can then be refined visually through the property inspector without writing code. GoToStateAction, ChangePropertyAction, MultiTouch, conditional actions, adding physics and MouseDrag are perfect examples of Behaviors that can easily be shared amongst your design and development teams to ensure consistency, reduce duplication of effort and allow teams to maximize their innovation.
Design apps for Windows Phone 7
Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone provides the same streamlined development workflow for Windows Phone 7 that was previously only available for Silverlight and .NET applications. The ability to take your ideas all the way from concept to completion helps accelerate the delivery of innovative applications on Windows Phone. It has never been easier to create the user interface of your application; simply drag UI elements to the design surface where they can be quickly customized and styled, import assets from tools such as Adobe Photoshop and turn them into data driven UI elements before finalizing your UI with transitions and animation that bring your application to life users navigate from screen to screen.