Clear interface. Flexible preview functions help target pages to browsers. Cons Lacks Dreamweaver's built-in support for building for phones, tablets, and desktops. Bottom Line Web design app Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional costs than half the price of Dreamweaver CS6, yet it offers most of its features of its more muscular competitor, in a clearer, more efficient interface.
But, for me, Expression Web is still the app I choose for editing websites. Laptop Friendly I don't design enterprise-level sites, the kind that Dreamweaver is ideal for—and that Expression Web can also build—but I want a flexible and straightforward set of tools for working with current Web technologies, and Expression Web offers exactly that.
With all its strengths, Dreamweaver sometimes seems sprawling and muscle-bound, and it works well only when you give it more screen space than you have on a laptop. Expression Web feels at home on both a desktop monitor and a cramped laptop. I also like the fact that Expression Web costs less than half the price of Dreamweaver. The Best Laptops for Expression Web 4 is one of three components in a package called Expression Studio 4 Web Professional , which also includes Expression Encoder also available as a free download , a limited tool for encoding AVI and QuickTime video into Windows Media format, and Expression Design, a vector-graphics program that can import Photoshop assets.
This review covers Expression Web 4 only. Features I sometimes think Expression Web is Microsoft's best-kept secret. Its feature set is smaller than Dreamweaver's, but everything is easy to find and intuitively easy to use. The main editing screen, as in Dreamweaver, can display a code view or editable WYSIWYG view of your page, or it can split to show both views side by side.
A separate, uneditable "snapshot" view displays the current page as it will appear in a browser. A terrific fine-tuning feature is the SuperPreview window that lets you preview your site in multiple browsers at once, including any browsers on your disk and multiple browser versions hosted at Microsoft. SuperPreview includes an optional tree-style view of the elements in your page, so you can navigate through the page elements to find the one that causes layout problems in specific browsers.
This feature outclasses the similar BrowserLab in Dreamweaver. Like Dreamweaver, Expression Web surrounds the main editing window with tabbed controls for selecting files, applying CSS styles, inserting tags and form controls, and other features. All these panels make clever use of limited screen space—for example, the Folder List tab displays a tiny thumbnail of the selected image file, making it easy to select the right asset to insert on a page.
Expression Web's menu system is mostly spare and easily navigable, compared with the cascade of choices in Dreamweaver, which has 35 items on its View menu. The first release of Expression Web 4 came out two years ago, but both Service Pack 1 and the recent Service Pack 2 add enough features and conveniences that Microsoft would have been justified in promoting each one as a new release.
The latest version like Dreamweaver includes surprisingly flexible and intuitive IntelliSense support for jQuery scripts, making it easy to create custom-styled lightbox-style images and other modern design features. A new customizable Snippets panel comes preloaded with Doctypes, CSS effects, jQuery widgets and other tools that can be dropped directly into a page.
Silverlight Just as Dreamweaver has the best available tools for adding Flash movies and animations to a website, so Expression Web has the best available tools for adding Microsoft's rival rich-media framework called Silverlight. If you've never heard of Silverlight, you're not alone, and you probably don't want to start learning it now.
Fortunately, Expression Web does a good enough job of inserting Flash media into Web pages—but it doesn't give you the options that Dreamweaver offers for adding built-in sliders and pause buttons for Flash videos. Dreamweaver and Expression Web are neck-and-neck in many functions. Both have a powerful and flexible find-and-replace feature that lets you modify the contents of multiple HTML tags on multiple pages with a single click.
Both have an easy-to-use site-publishing feature with support for the latest secure file transfer protocols. Adobe provides plenty of on-line tips for Search Engine Optimization SEO , but Expression Web has an SEO-reporting tool that lists everything on your site that may get in the way of high search-engine rankings.
Like Dreamweaver, Expression Web can build dynamic data views, so that for example the current contents of an RSS feed can display inside a Web page, and the contents of the page will update when the RSS feed is updated. For me, Expression Web's interface for applying CSS styles to a data view is more intuitive than Dreamweaver's, but Expression Web lags behind in one significant way: For that reason, I used Dreamweaver to build a page containing a dynamic data view, although I built the rest of the same site in Expression Web.
Ideal for Beginners If you've already developed a website in Dreamweaver, you probably won't be tempted to switch to Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional, but if you're getting started in advanced Web design, you owe it to yourself to try Microsoft's offering. It's easier to learn than Dreamweaver, and in many ways easier to use. Unlike Dreamweaver, it runs under Windows only, not OS X, a major drawback for multiplatform offices. On the other hand, if you're a registered student, Microsoft gives you the full set of Expression apps free—including a professional-level video encoder and other design tools—when you sign in with your student ID at www.
As for me, I admire Dreamweaver's vast power, and its ability to create almost anything that runs on the Web, but the tool I prefer to work in is still Expression Web. More Web Publishing Software Reviews:
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There are many reasons to use a tool like Expression Web. It can make web design a much easier affair for the right business. You can access the best in technology for your site. The needs of a site can change over time.