Getting Started with Microsoft Expression

If you have ever created images or designed graphics and graphical web sites, you must be familiar with Fireworks, Photoshop and other graphics designer tools. Recently, Microsoft launched a new product called Microsoft Expression, which allows developers to create interactive graphics and much more.

Now you may be wondering, how come I have stopped coding and started working with a graphics tool? Well, the best part of Microsoft Expression is it supports XAML. What does that mean? It means, I can create my graphics using the designer and in the background, the designer generates XAML code for me. Neat. Huh?

Download and Installation

You can download a free community version of Expression tools from the following site:

Microsoft Expression Versions

Microsoft Expression comes in three flavors - Graphics Designer, Interactive Designer, and Web Designer.


Figure 1. Microsoft Expression Versions

Here are the definitions of these versions with their differences:

Microsoft Expression Graphic Designer brings together the best of vector and pixel-based capabilities, letting you explore new creative and cutting edge possibilities.

Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer helps you create streamlined, innovative and just plain beautiful applications. Users experience increased satisfaction, while you develop in a flexible, productive environment.

Microsoft Expression Web Designer gives you all the powerful tools you'll need to produce high-quality, standard-based Web sites the way you want them. Take advantage of the best of dynamic Web site design, enabling you to design, develop, and maintain exceptional standards-based Web sites.

Put it to Work

I downloaded the Interactive Designer and after installing, when you launch the tool, you will see Figure 2, where you can select from installed samples, click on User Guilde, Tutorials, and Online Community.


Figure 2.

Clicking on Tutorials launches the help document. As you can see from Figure 3, you direct goes to the tutorials galary.


Figure 3.

So now you can drag drawing objects from the Tools to the Design area and change colors and so on. See Figure 4.


Figure 4.

Now here comes the good part. If you click on XAML Code tab, you willsee Figure 5. As you can see, here is our XAML code. Now you can even take this XAML code and use in your Avalon applications.


Figure 5.  

The editor is still missing the color coding, auto intellisense and other features but I am sure these will be added in the next versions ofthe product.


This article was an introduction to Microsoft Expression tools. The article discussed where to download the tool, it's versions, and how to create simple graphics in it. If you do not have Visual Studio 2005, youmay want to try this tool to learn XAML programming.

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