Focusing on setup and development using SQL Server products from 2000 to 2008 and beyond. Also about anything geeky that compels me to write a blog entry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Building My First Website Using Microsoft Expressions

In years past, I have used MS Front Page to develop several websites, both personal and as a consultant. In the last few years I have only built ASP.NET web apps until this last weekend. I dipped my toe back into the website design pool using a tool that was new to me, Microsoft Expressions.

Expressions has many similarities to Front Page, but it goes further in mixing the graphical design tools with a light layer of the .NET controls to extend your site's functionality. In my case I just needed to build a basic website without any data interaction, at least at this point. I found the templates, menus, and toolbars to be well laid out and fairly intuitive.

I was able to get up and running and finish the first draft of a full website in around ten hours never having seen the interface ahead of time. To me that is the best indication of a well designed product.

The dynamic web templates allowed me to easily manage the top banner, navigation menu, and side bar separately from the page content on each page throughout the site. I did discover some hangups with the template approach. After developing eight or nine pages, I realized I needed to add a new editable zone to the template. I quickly discovered that this is a major issue once you have already applied your template to one or more web page.

Overall I give Expressions Web a big thumbs up as an excellent web development tool, and I look forward to using more of the functionality over time.

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