What is Expression Studio?

Posted on January 19, 2011


When we make our applications or websites, we usually have two groups working on it.  On one hand, we have the designers who creates the user interface to make our apps/websites more appealing.  On the other hand, we have developers, who put codes and logic to make our apps/websites useful.  However, the expected results are not achieved most of the time.

Looking more closely at the workflow, designers use graphics design tools as well as photo editing tools.  As such, files that are associated with them are the likes of .jpeg, .gif, .bmp, .psd, and .ai.  Developers code using different programming languages like C#, Java, HTML, PHP, etc.  We can see that there no common ground, as those image related files can not be represented by codes and programming languages can not be represented by images.

What if we put a common language that would connect this designer-developer gap?  XAML, or Extensible Application Markup Language, is a language created by Microsoft to bridge this gap.  If you look at a XAML file, it looks similar to an HTML file.  The example below is actually the XAML file generated for the image above.

What’s nice about XAML is that you don’t need to learn how to code it!  Microsoft Expression Studio is a suite of designer tools which actually generates XAML whenever you make content.  Its current version is 4.0 and consists of the following:

Expression Design is a raster and vector graphics design tool.  We can design our layouts, interfaces, buttons, etc. using this application.

Expression Blend is a graphical user interface builder for making Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight applications.  Here, we can add animations as well as put simple logic in our applications.

Expression Web is a WYSIWYG HTML editor.  A replacement to Microsoft FrontPage, it can also be used to edit PHP, CSS, XML and JavaScript files.

Expression Encoder is an video production tool.  We can use it to enhance our videos as well as encode it to other formats.

To learn more about Expression Studio, you can visit their official website.  There are lots of free resources available as well fora where you can ask for tips and tricks from other users.  My sister can attest to the usefulness of these fora, as she demonstrated to me a lot of things I didn’t know you can do particularly with Expression Design.  She actually uses Expression Design to put effects like borders and other effects in her photos.  🙂

I will also share the other things I know about Expression Studio in my next blog posts but for now, you can try Expression Studio on your own and play around with it.  Expression Studio 4 is a propriety software but there are lots of ways you can get it for FREE.  Expression Studio 4 is available to students whose schools are subscribed to MSDNAA as well as DreamSpark.  The trial version is also available at the Expression Studio website.

Here’s a preview of Expression Studio 4: