Expression Development Team Please Listen - Blend Stinks RRS feed

  • Question

  • I hate to rant.  I am a huge Microsoft supporter.  As a professional developer for 30 years I have seen just about every IDE there has ever been.  I use VS daily.  Developing applications for industrial, healthcare, and banking for Fortune companies as lead architect and designer in most cases.  With all this said, I do have some credibility, in short I recommend my customers to buy your products.

    I don't want to hurt your feelings.  But truthfully I have given Expression Blend every chance a person can since Expression version 1.  It simply is not useful.  I have personally spent many, many hours trying to make it a viable tool in my business. It just TOO different for all other Microsoft products to be usable on a day to day basis.  If you are a serious Visual Studio developer blend will drive you nuts.  There are none of the visual ques for building applications.  I find Expression Blend like a throw back to the old Microsoft Windows 2 (yes that is a 2) Ventura Publisher.  If I were "setting" print and laying out catalogs as I once did as a part-time job using PageMaker then I would feel at home.
    So as a application development tool it is simply not the right tool.  Either you should start re-branding Expression and focus on advanced development of complex screens or you should merge it with Visual Studio.
    I can't see Expression every being a serious developer tool and only a minor player in the designer area.

    I do like Expression Web and Design but Expression Blend is worse than useless - wastes my time and effort.

    Sorry for the bad press but I don't know how else to communicate this to you. (I have given feedback a dozen times).

    Larry Aultman
    Saturday, January 30, 2010 12:30 AM

All replies

  • I like Expression Blend. I like expresison blend because i can make an full functioning program that looks great and does exactly in my phototype phase. As old programming, i would have to spend days of modifications on a control to make it what i want.

    I dont see a huge issue with expression blend even with your rants. In Expression blend use alot of MVVM but it does what i want.

    As for your 30 years of programming: Through your programming years, im sure you had to upgrade because of new technology that came out? Ever since computers got more advanced so will other things will too!

    You could go the java way and ignore silverlight completely. You only know what you are taught or a famous dr phil quote “You can't change what you don't acknowledge.”

    Remember, expression blend, expression studio, etc is very new. I'm sure when visual studio came out, people hated it too! It is all about changes; We(human beings) like how it worked in the past and we exact that to happen in the future.
    Saturday, January 30, 2010 9:37 AM
  • @Owen:

    I appreciate your comments.  I am not one to shy away from challenges and Expression is a challenge that I continue to purse.  I do try to balance "new" technologies with business requirements and goals.  I have invested many hours in Expression with every intent in making better products and economically viable solutions.

    So far Expression has not attained economic viability for MY clients.  That does not mean that it is not useful elsewhere.  I have used it enough to know that it can allow you to do fantastic things with WPF/Silverlight.  That doesn’t then make it a useful tool for project development.


    I suppose that my “rant” is to spark discussion and push refinement of Expression so that it will be viable asset alongside Visual Studio as I think they envision.  If that is the case then they must create similarities in usage patterns that translate well.  I understand the argument of “design vs develop” completely.  If my budgets would allow I would hire pure design teams.  In reality user acceptance testing comes down to: Can the average worker trained for about two hours actually enter data into a screen and have that information acted upon.  Management doesn’t care how it looks or really if the user has “pleasant” experience.  Money is only there to make it work – not pretty.


    Granted – a consumer product must be dripping with glitz and have a plethora of features.  Given that then a designer is necessary. 


    Visual Studio is a truck, a utility vehicle that anybody can drive.  The ride isn’t necessarily great and it won’t win a drag race.  Expression is actually a high performance sport car really suited for the track.  But they are selling it like it is a cheap kit-car knock-off.  Raise the price, fix it to run on a race track and quit trying to put street tires on it.


    As for Visual Studio – I 100% agree with your comment.  At VS 1.52 it was a “Windows” development tool that only worked in a DOS environment. You couldn’t even see what your were building (WYSIWUG).  I opted for Borland Turbo C way back then.  I only used VS for my final builds.  VS has come a long way.  Expression is now a good four years old and it still hasn’t progressed at a pace to keep up with even VS.


    I work with many developers in different companies and in government agencies every day.  Very few can work with Expression and they can’t hire a designer.  So where does Expression fit in that stack?  They only have VS to work with in their development departments.  Thus the specification for new software generally specifies the development environment is Visual Studio.  To make it worse, the shocker is that usually the Visual Studio version is 2005 (nothing higher than .NET 2.0).  I have exactly ONE customer that is above 2.0 and that is an experimental project.  By the time we actually get a “project” funded we will be up to 3.0.


    So maybe I should recant and say Expression is ahead of its time.  The trouble is that it will die of old age before anyone accepts it to a degree that will support it.  Microsoft’s marketing machine sometimes baffles me.  If they give away enough copies or keep the price artificially low then maybe they will get enough followers to sustain it.  Microsoft could do with Expression what they have done with VS and create a “designer” version to follow the VS Team model (Architect, Database, Professional, etc. editions).  Microsoft has the means and the resources to do whatever they want with it.  I simply council them to make it more like VS in some areas.


    I am trying to raise the level of expertise, craftsmanship, quality and hopefully the moral of the workers by introducing new technologies in the workplace.  Expression Blend just isn’t there.  Expression Design and Expression Web are both acceptable tools now in their defined niches.


    Larry Aultman

    Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:42 PM