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Expression Web vs Visual Studio? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I've just learned about Microsoft's Dec 20 announcement that Expression Web had been deprecated. So the many bugs that I've been experiencing in EW will never go away.

    Microsoft apparently intends for us to switch to Visual Studio. I know that VS gives us a lot more tools on the development side, but how are its tools on the design side? Can we do everything in VS that we can do in EW? Does VS support DWTs and Include files? 

    Thanks!

    Charley


    Founder, ExcelUser.com

    Thursday, January 3, 2013 10:23 PM

All replies

  • VS is optimized for ASP.NET. You are talking apples and kumquats. Instead of DWTs, for example, the templating technology would be master pages. For front end development, the design surface in EW is far superior to VS.

    Basically, we cannot tell you whether VS would suit your purposes. Since they are free, I would advise you to download and try out either Visual Web Developer or Visual Studio Express, and see what they offer. Only you can determine whether they suit your workflow or not.

    I should also note that you can easily round-trip between the two, so there is no need to adopt one in preference to the other.

    cheers,
    scott


    Please remember to "Mark as Answer" the responses that resolved your issue. It is common courtesy to recognize those who have helped you, and it also makes it easier for visitors to find the resolution later.

    • Proposed as answer by Pokemon_RIZA Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:30 PM
    Thursday, January 3, 2013 11:11 PM
  • That's what I was afraid of. Because you provided the names of the tools, I could look them up online. Here's what I found:

    --"With Visual Studio Express tools, you can build the next great app for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and the web." (But I'm not interested in apps. I want to redesign and rebuild a web site originally created with FrontPage.)

    --"Visual Web Developer is a tool for creating and working with ASP.NET Web applications (called simply "Web sites") in a variety of configurations." (My web host uses Apache, and I don't intend to move. So ASP.NET is irrelevant. Also, I don't intend to become a web programmer.)

    --Both products may be free, but the time needed to learn them definitely isn't free. 

    When Microsoft dropped EW, they apparently left much of the FP/EW crowd with no place to go. So now I need to find a program with a front end development capability that rivals EW's, and a non-ASP templating technology.

    Any recommendations?

    Thanks, Scott.

    Charley


    Founder, ExcelUser.com

    Friday, January 4, 2013 12:51 AM
  • You can continue to use Expression Web for some time before it will become outdated. The only other professional level front end design tool that I know of is Dreamweaver.

    Free Expression Web Tutorials
    For an Expression Web forum with without the posting issues try expressionwebforum.com

    Friday, January 4, 2013 1:41 AM
  • I just helped a friend convert from FrontPage to an asp.net web site using MasterPages via VS 2012 Express. A great Free Tool for MS. You can also use Team Foundation Server for Free to add Source Control.

    There are many Windows Host companies at the same prices that you would pay for a Linux/Apache Server.

    My experience is Windows IIS is a better product than Apache, That and SQL Server give you a very robust scalable platform on which to build any website.

    You can maintain PHP sites using Visual Studio


    - Bill Win 8 Pro 64 bit, MS Expression 4 SP 2 Office 365 Home Premium Preview Visual Studio Professional 2012

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 2:44 AM
  • I stumbled on this article; and glad I did.

    Im VERY disappointed to hear that MS is pulling support for EW (same for the other ExpressionSuite programs?).

    can someone please direct me to more details.

    Im w/you, Charley; EW is far superior on the design side (the whole thing is more intuitive)- even if VS has more tools, the learning curve is too steep. And DW may as well be wordpress.

    Ive used both EW/VS (and Dreamweaver too)- and I LOVE EW; especially good for hand coding.

    Luckily, Ive not experienced many bugs so this shudnt impact me too much; and as Cheryl said, you can still keep using EW for a long while before its outdated. But I get it, seems like the best things always go away.

    A link to more info on the deprecation appreciated.

    Be Happy, R


    R

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 5:49 AM
  • The details of the announcement are at http://www.microsoft.com/expression/

    Although people think the learning curve for Visual Studio / Visual Web Developer Express is steep, it really isn't.

    The web tooling in VS2008 was built on Expression Web 1 and has gradually been updated. The CSS, JavaScript and HTML intellisense in the VS2012 editions is now better than EW (although the way it works is slightly different and less convenient).

    Whilst it doesn't allow you to create new DWTs or Include pages, it does allow you to use them, so working on a page created in EW that uses them isn't an issue.

    For ASP.Net work it's very similar to EW with the added benefit, if you need it, that it will work with 'code behind' pages. It's way of selecting and initially using Masterpages is also more logical (something I've complained about for every version of EW).


    Ian Haynes

    EW - V4 Add-Ins
    EW - Resources, hints and tips
    EW - Design for the Mobile Complete Web
    expression(web.blog)


    • Edited by Ian Haynes Thursday, January 10, 2013 1:17 PM
    Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:32 AM
  • IMO, Visual Studio is far superior in asp.net code development than EW. I developed a site originally in EW. With on page asp.net code. I now enhance and do further development using VS. In hind sight I wish I had use code behind AN MAsterPAges. Code behind, I find much easier to develop and maintain.

    http://nausetnewcomers.org


    - Bill Win 8 Pro 64 bit, MS Expression 4 SP 2 Office 365 Home Premium Preview Visual Studio Professional 2012

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 12:25 PM
  • Im VERY disappointed to hear that MS is pulling support for EW (same for the other ExpressionSuite programs?).

    FYI, support is not being pulled for Expression Web. Expression Web 4 and Expression Design 4 will still be supported until August of 2015.


    Jim Cheshire | Microsoft

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 12:48 PM
    Moderator
  • I'm going to disagree with Ian. If you are a front end web designer Visual Studio is a completely foreign way of working and does have a steep learning curve. If you are a back end developer then Visual Studio is something you should learn anyway.

    As for Bill_G, Visual Studio is and always has been a superior asp.net code development IDE than Expression Web. Expression Web is not and never was intended to be a server side code development tool. It has limited support for asp.net and for php so that you can work on the presentation of server side code without breaking the code behind or php. If you are primarily an asp.net developer then the Visual Studio family of tools has far more to offer you. However, the asp.net DEVELOPER was never the target market of Expression Web.

    I've tried to like Visual Studio but frankly as a front-end person it simply doesn't have the workflow I need and it is overly complex. Its like using Photoshop when all you want to do is crop and print pictures. Sure you can do that with Photoshop but Live Photo Gallery will do that, red eye correction and color balancing with 1-3 clicks.

    I do very little asp.net and do less and less of it as time has gone by. Frankly, I preferred Classic ASP and now use PHP more than any other server side language. Visual Studio does nothing for me except make me frustrated and I've even taken a class in an attempt to learn how to use it. I can use it but hate every minute that I'm in the program so why in the world should I switch from something that fits the way I work and does almost everything I need for something that would force me to completely change my workflow and spend months learning plus makes me miserable?

    I'll continue to use EW but will be gradually shifting more of my work back to Dreamweaver.


    Free Expression Web Tutorials
    For an Expression Web forum with without the posting issues try expressionwebforum.com

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:38 PM
  • Why do you say it's a completely foreign way of working? You can move the tool panels around so that it's nigh on identical. The toolbars are very similar although you can't create a custom one.

    The main downsides at the moment are that it doesn't allow you to add DWTs or use include pages, (although it does support them if they are on used with a page already) and I miss the type of snippets EW uses.


    Ian Haynes

    EW - V4 Add-Ins
    EW - Resources, hints and tips
    EW - Design for the Mobile Complete Web
    expression(web.blog)

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:07 PM
  • I don't have it installed on the computer I'm currently working on but I mean things like how projects are created, F5 and other commands. I'll admit I've never used Visual Studio for a plain Jane website without server side coding but why should I?

    Free Expression Web Tutorials
    For an Expression Web forum with without the posting issues try expressionwebforum.com

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:49 PM
  • FYI, support is not being pulled for Expression Web. Expression Web 4 and Expression Design 4 will still be supported until August of 2015.

    Thanks, Jim, for the update; as i said, Ive not encountered much in the way of bugs but thgen I dont use some of the more sophisticated tools.

    PS: I use EDesign alot; and I love it too.

    Be Happy,R


    R

    Friday, January 11, 2013 6:46 AM
  • Here!Here! - Your name befits your eloquence.

    except that I'll ride EW into the ground - then I'll hitch a team of mules to it!-R


    R

    Friday, January 11, 2013 6:54 AM
  • It has been some years since Ive had VS installed (as You say, why bother?) but maybe its time to take another look; a lot may have changed since VS2003? You are ABSOLUTELY correct when you talk about public facing work, the "clutter" and unneeded tools where overwhelming.

    Like you, I dont do much backend/ASP work-I also dont care for template design(too restrictive)-so EW is it for me.

    At my age, itll probably outlast my need. HA!

    I have enjoyed this thread, thanks for letting me in - didnt realize id "respark' the convo - just wanted more info.

    So Ill say, Be Happy.R


    R

    Friday, January 11, 2013 7:09 AM
  • I wonder where WebMatrix fits into the scheme of things. I've found it a wonderful program to get simple server-side programming done with ASP.NET Web Pages. It doesn't have all the neat CSS helps that are in EW, but it is a much simpler environment to work in and is the only other alternative from Microsoft for web site development. What I fear is that it, too, will be dropped at some point and Visual Studio will be the only remaining web site creation tool left at Microsoft.
    Monday, January 21, 2013 1:59 AM
  • WebMatrix is a good web application development tool I use it sometimes when working with blogs and cms systems but that is a very small portion of what I do. Take the recent update of http://by-expression.com I migrated the site from BlogEngine.NET 1.x (don't remember exactly which) to BlogEngine.NET 2.7. I used the Microsoft Web Application installer to install and configure IIS Express (previously used the full version of IIS on Win 7 but this is a new system with Win 8 on it) and to set up instances of BlogEngine.NET and WordPress. I use WordPress as the blog portion on many of my client sites. Launched WebMatrix to run WordPress on localhost and did a theme for both it and BlogEngine.NET in Expression Web for local testing. Decided that for my current needs staying on BlogEngine.NET with the much improved pages from the older version was best. Though at some point I may still migrate the whole site over to WordPress.

    Frankly, I love the ease of installing and configuring local versions of programs  and applications using WebMatrix but I still prefer either Expression Web or Dreamweaver for my actual front end design, UI and UX work.


    Free Expression Web Tutorials
    For an Expression Web forum without the posting issues try expressionwebforum.com

    Monday, January 21, 2013 2:22 AM
  • Im VERY disappointed to hear that MS is pulling support for EW (same for the other ExpressionSuite programs?).

    FYI, support is not being pulled for Expression Web. Expression Web 4 and Expression Design 4 will still be supported until August of 2015.


    Jim Cheshire | Microsoft

    Almost.

    "What’s the difference between the free and paid versions of Expression Web and Design?

    The features and functionality are the same between the free download and paid versions. The key difference is that the free versions are not supported, meaning they come as-is and no Microsoft technical support is available (these products are supported via the community)."

    Thursday, February 21, 2013 8:26 PM
  • Keep in mind that there's a difference between not offering support for a free product an pulling support for a product purchased via a retail channel. We are not pulling support. For anyone who downloads the free version and who has not ever purchased the product, there is no support.

    Thanks.


    Jim Cheshire | Microsoft

    Thursday, February 21, 2013 8:31 PM
    Moderator
  • I've just learned about Microsoft's Dec 20 announcement that Expression Web had been deprecated. So the many bugs that I've been experiencing in EW will never go away.

    Microsoft apparently intends for us to switch to Visual Studio. I know that VS gives us a lot more tools on the development side, but how are its tools on the design side? Can we do everything in VS that we can do in EW?

    I've been using Expression Web 4 for several years now (including Expression Design 4, don't forget about that one either!) and recently purchases a license for Visual Studio 2012 Professional (only after having discovered the new theme editor; I hate VS2012 in its pristine state) and although I'm not a professional web designer my experience on the matter might help you.

    Personally I think that at the time of writing your best option is using both programs together. The beauty of VS2012 is that it can easily import existing setups (projects, websites, etc) within an (existing) solution. So I basically started building a website using EW4 and eventually when it got time to start working on the site backend logic I simply imported it into VS2012 and started enhancing on it (currently using ASP Forms; so I started adding code-behind classes and such).

    My main gripes with VS2012 on the design side are that its not as easy to use as EW4. For example; when you setup several CSS IDs then these ID's will be shown using intellisense whenever you're setting up a <div> block. VS2012 otoh doesn't provide that functionality as of yet.

    Using layers in a website (using those same div blocks) shows the same limitations. I have a nice layers panel in EW4, but VS2012 doesn't know about this. Mainly because, in my opinion of course, the main aspect of VS2012 is website development, and not so much website design.

    What to think about the links panel?  In EW4 the program can give me a solid list of links which it deems broken; that makes website checks very easy. I haven't been able to find this in VS2012 as of yet. Heck; even the graphical overview of the whole website can sometimes be very helpful.

    Other important features for me are the site manager and browser. When working on multiple sites then EW4 makes it a lot easier to maintain those and keep track of them, and although VS2012 also provides options to copy site contents (using a pre-defined connection), its not as easy as in EW4 IMO; where you basically setup connections on a per-site basis.

    Finally, but this is also purely a personal issue, is that doing both design and development in VS2012 makes the whole interface too crowded for my liking. Because I'm so used to EW4 I need several more panels besides the ones I normally use which fills up the screen. While in fact you don't want (too) much pollution when setting up a design.

    Now, I know there's a new VS2012 update coming out soon so maybe that will change some of the aspects I addressed here. But untill then my advice is to use programs together and simply try to seperate the design from the development cycle.

    Hope this can give you some ideas.


    With kind regards, Peter

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 4:42 PM
  • I will agree wholeheartedly that, for those to whom development is as important as design, the use of both EW and VS/VWD is the solution. Each has strengths that the other does not, which is why I recommended way back on Jan. 3 in this thread that the OP round-trip between them. If you also install the EnableFileWatcher registry key, from Steve Guttman's post in this thread, you can even have the same file open simultaneously in both VS/VWD and EW, and be notified when the file is changed by one or the other. That said, about this...

    Using layers in a website (using those same div blocks) shows the same limitations. I have a nice layers panel in EW4, but VS2012 doesn't know about this. Mainly because, in my opinion of course, the main aspect of VS2012 is website development, and not so much website design.

    Using layers is a very, very bad idea. If you are using layers, I would wager that your site is inaccessible, and will be broken badly when a vision-impaired user increases the text size in their browser. Try this: View your site in Firefox, then click "View|Zoom|Zoom Text Only." Now, press Ctrl-+ repeatedly to increase text size and see what happens to your layout.

    And not only vision-impaired users will experience this. Many vendors of small, very high-res devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.) are shipping their devices with text size increased by default, so that text is readable on them even at their high pixel densities. This is from a review of the new Windows Surface Pro tablet:

    What makes the Surface Pro different from other Windows 8 hybrids and Ultrabooks?

    The screen resolution is one obvious differentiator. Most devices in this size and price point (especially those with touchscreens) include 1366x768 screens. Windows 8 adapts the resolution of the Start screen and modern/Metro apps to keep tiles and fonts similar in size to those lower-resolution devices. On the desktop, the DPI is set by default to 150% of normal, making menus and onscreen fonts larger than they would normally appear at such a high resolution. The result is a much crisper display than you would expect.

    They are not the only ones that do so, so you need to test your sites for accessibility—what it looks like at various text sizes other than the one that you specify—just as you do your business logic and database operations, because both users and vendors may specify such sizes regardless of your wishes in the matter; you have no control over that.

    cheers,
    scott


    Please remember to "Mark as Answer" the responses that resolved your issue. It is common courtesy to recognize those who have helped you, and it also makes it easier for visitors to find the resolution later.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 9:13 PM
  • Using layers is a very, very bad idea. If you are using layers, I would wager that your site is inaccessible, and will be broken badly when a vision-impaired user increases the text size in their browser. Try this: View your site in Firefox, then click "View|Zoom|Zoom Text Only." Now, press Ctrl-+ repeatedly to increase text size and see what happens to your layout.

    When setup right then a layout can even be maintained when people zoom all the way in. There is a reason why you can utilize relative sizes and such ;-)

    So thanks for the warning, but in this case its not applicable.


    With kind regards, Peter

    Friday, March 1, 2013 6:11 PM
  • I didn't say anything about zooming, which creates horizontal scroll bars, but increasing text size only, which does not. Most people, myself included, prefer not to have to play visual ping-pong, scrolling back and forth, back and forth, to view page content. Furthermore, on those systems which come preset to larger-than-normal text sizes, due to their extremely high pixel density, Zoom Text Only is the effect produced, which is completely outside both your and the viewer's control. Did you actually try the procedure I suggested, using Firefox to view your pages at increased text sizes (not "zoomed in," with horizontal scrolling required)? What did you find?

    cheers,
    scott


    Please remember to "Mark as Answer" the responses that resolved your issue. It is common courtesy to recognize those who have helped you, and it also makes it easier for visitors to find the resolution later.

    Friday, March 1, 2013 8:54 PM
  • People with high res screens often have default font settings that make text as much as 2x larger than OS "standard" default. My new Sony came with 180% set as the default and the Windows RT system we have came with 150% set.

    Free Expression Web Tutorials
    For an Expression Web forum without the posting issues try expressionwebforum.com

    Friday, March 1, 2013 11:20 PM