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What do you get with MS Expression Web that you wouldn't with MS Visual Studio?

Posted on 2009-05-19
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If our firm is purchasing Visual Studio 2008, is there any need for MS Expression Web?  Does Expression Web provide a better WYSIWYG for non-programmers/designers?
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Question by:phpatnode
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by:Bembi
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Visual Studio is more a real development platform for all kinds of applications, esp. based on Dot.Net. Expression Web is simply a Web-Development tool as replacement for Frontpage with support for ASP pages and cascading style sheets, so typical web components and development.  

So it depends on, what you intend to do.
Expression Web may be a little bit easier for somebody, who is experienced in general web technology, but not a real application developer. With the exception of a few bugs the application still have.

If you want to develop just public web sites, Expression Web may be the tool you get faster results (lesser options, less complex). If you intend to develop more internal sites with additionally functionality like using assemblies, or i.e. developing content for Sharepoint etc., Visual Studio will offer you more possiblilities, but is the more general tool for all kinds of development task, therefore may be more complex.

I'm not sure, if you really can compare these two tool, this depends on your experience either in older VS editions or frontpage. For beginners, expression web may be easier to handle in my mind.

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by:phpatnode
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Thanks for the quick response.

To clarify:
1. Is the quality of the WYSIWYG editor in Expressions better than what you get in VS 2008?
2. Does it make any sense to use them together on one project, with a designer using Expression and a developer using VS2008?
3. MS states that VS 2008 integrates with Expressions Web.  What does this mean?  How does that work?
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Bembi earned 125 total points
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1.) Expressions uses a the Browser for preview (you can choose the browser), VS has its own (which seems to be correct so far).

The development view is wrong in both tools (here esp. for floats). So the real brwoser preview is really what the browser will show. In VS, you have to verify the result al the time also within the browser, as firefox and IE bahaves different.  And all the IE versions anyway.

2.) This is more a question of your current experience. If you are common with older versions of InterDev, you may feel that you are more common with the GUI of VS. If your experience comes more from frontpage, you may find, that Expressions is more common to the older frontpage version. The look and feel is different, but you can use both to get the same results. As Expression Web is more web specific, you have a more direct way to typical web functions, where InterDev (VS) is more generic.

You may download a demo for expression just to have your own impression, if you feel better with VS or Expression.

Both tools can do nearly everything, the way is different. From my perspective, the handling of cascading style sheets is better in Expression, i.e. you can see resulting styles coming from different stylesheets. VS has a structured view of HTML, which may make div tags handling a little bit easier (but also integrated in some development tools for firefox or in IE8).

3.) I assume, that the "integration" is more related to internal web development. As VS comes from the developer side, you have straight away some more options for integration of scripting, activex objects and other more windows related stuff, as well as directly debugging options for scripting. Expression focuses a little bit more to public web development. So as far as you debug some components, Expression start the InterDev debugger for some components (if both are installed).

So, you can not really say, which one is the better tool at all, some advantages and disadvantages on both sides. Therefore I make the difference between internal and public websites, internal --> VS (better client server and componet integration), public sites --> Expression. Just from the perspective, that Expression do not directly offer all the options, which will not run in other browsers or be available only on windows / IIS platforms. There are also available, but not so quite side by side as shown in VS.

You do not really need both tools. Both tools can do the work. I think the effort for unexperienced users to learn to handle the tool is easier for Expression than for VS as VS can more than Expression. But this is just my personal feeling.

Of course you can use both tool sside by side, it is HTML (and additions) and both tools can handle that. Most of the lacks of frontpage are gone (MS specific definitions and frontpage extensions). In the past, InterDev was used to avoid the MS specific issues esp. on Apache or Linux based web servers. Expression is now more conform with common specifications.
 
let me try to define:
VS is a full developer tool with the ability of creating web sites
EX is a web development tool with the ability also addressing scripting, activex, asp etc.

And EX still has a few (minor) bugs. Ie. EX crashes, if the code is not conform to the page layout definition (HTML / XHTML DOCTYPE) and you try to save this.
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