Expression Studio Components Ship

Microsoft’s Expression Studio suite grows as release candidate of Expression Blend and beta 2 of Expression Design ship.

Microsoft recently shipped two key deliverables in its growing Expression Studio suite-one as a release candidate (RC) and another in beta.

In mid-March, the company began shipping the RC for Expression Blend, its new design tool for building Windows user interfaces using the .NET Framework 3.0 Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). About a week later, it shipped beta 2 of Expression Design, a tool targeted at graphic design professionals working on elements for both Web and desktop application user interfaces.

A third tool -- Expression Web, for building Web sites -- shipped in version 1 form in December. The three are part of a suite of design tools the company is building named Expression Studio.

Microsoft says Blend and Design, as well as another product named Expression Media, which is designed to provide media asset management capabilities, will ship in the second quarter of this year.

RC is the final step after beta test before a Microsoft product is "released to manufacturing" (RTM). A release candidate is just that -- it's released to testers and if no one finds any show-stopping bugs, it goes RTM.

Expression Design supports the .NET Framework 3.0 and, as with Expression Blend, generates eXtensible Application Markup Language (XAML) code -- the XML dialect Microsoft has developed.

WPF is part of the .NET Framework 3.0 and provides the graphical subsystem for Windows going forward -- it comes as part of Vista but there are also versions for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003.

Expression Blend is built on WPF and can natively consume XAML files, according to statements on Microsoft's Web site.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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