Expression Web 4.0

On December 20, 2012, Microsoft announced that Expression Studio 4 Ultimate and Expression Studio 4 Web Professional are no longer available for sale. Expression Design 4 and Expression Web 4 are now available for download at no charge. Technical support will NOT be available for these free versions.

NOTE: Microsoft is referring folks to the Expression Web Community forum for tech support on the free version (paid version too in many cases.) PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE FOLKS THERE ARE ALL VOLUNTEERS AND HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPPORT DOCUMENTS.  They are all users of the program, the same as you or I.

The free version is the SP2a version, which includes 3 previously undocumented fixes:

  • Nested object tags are now supported
  • Editing with external tools is supported (e.g., edit in Notepad) and files are saved to the website folder rather than the temp folder
  • You can now see editable regions outlined with an orange border in Design View which did not work on Expression Web 4 SP2.

You can read more about this announcement at Microsoft Expression Changes. There are many of us who will continue to us Expression Web as long as it will do what we need it to do. It is still an excellent web editor even though MS has abandoned it.

For those of you who are still using earlier versions of EW, now might be a good time to upgrade to the newest version since it is free. The program will install alongside the earlier versions with the exception of EW4 which it will replace.

Prerequisites for Using Microsoft Expression Web

Expression Web is NOT FrontPage! Expression Web is a professional-level Web design tool, used for developing cross browser and standards compliant web sitesExpression Web is NOT a WYSIWYG editor! To use the program successfully requires you have at least a basic understanding of writing HTML and CSS. Read Prerequisites for Using Microsoft Expression Web.

Expression Web Service Pack 2 was released July 8th - Expression Web 4 SP2 applies significant fixes and improvements to publishing, SuperPreview, file management, extensibility, and other areas of the programs. There are also two new videos from Microsoft:

  • Expression Web 4 SP2 Workspaces Demo - Expression Web 4 SP2 includes new features that help users configure and customize their workspace. This demo shows the enhanced workspaces feature, custom toolbars, image thumbnails and an interactive Snapshot panel.
  • Expression Web 4 SP2 Code Editing Demo - Expression Web 4 SP2 helps streamline your code editing experience via a number of new tools and features including jQuery IntelliSense, a universal comment/uncomment feature and the new Snippets panel.
  • Some of the Improvements include:
    • jQuery IntelliSense
    • Thumbnails in Folder View (Vista & Win7 only) - You can now view a preview thumbnail of the file you have selected in the folder list panel. You can view both the dimensions of the image as well as the file size. The two links under the image which can be difficult to see allow you to copy the <img> tag to the clipboard or the css properties to the clipboard. You can then paste either one into your markup. The preview area  is resizeable. Just above the top folder you will see 5 tiny gray dots that you can grab and drag down. View Screenshot
      If you highlight a CSS file from the folder list, you will see clickable links that allow you to copy an @import tag or <link> rule to the clipboard to paste into your markup. If you select a javascript file, you can click and copy a <script> tag to the clipboard to paste in your markup. View Screenshot.
    • New Snippets Panel -  SP 2 has enhanced the Snippets Panel so that you can now store and access your snippets in a folder-based hierarchy. Lots of useful snippets in a variety of languages are included by default. EW will also automatically convert and load any existing custom snippets you have already built. View Screenshot
    • Universal comment/uncomment - This feature will allow you to comment or uncomment code with Ctrl-J or Ctrl-Shift-J. This works from within whatever language you’re working with at the time - PHP, JS, CSS, or HTML.
    • Workspaces -  Expression Web now supports any of your custom workspaces. Workspaces are just collections of panel configurations. EW allows you to save, restore and/or reset workspaces. View Screenshot
    • Custom toolbars - With Expression Web 4 SP2, the ability to build custom toolbars is BACK. This feature allows you to create any number of custom toolbars using any of the built-in (internal) Expression Web commands. The new feature does not have the same customization ability as did the earlier version but it is a step forward. The Custom Toolbars feature is found under the View menu. View Screenshot.
    • Interactive Snapshot - The Snapshot Panel was introduced in Expression Web 3. It used the SuperPreview rendering engine to allow you to preview your pages as you authored them in IE and FF. This did NOT allow for any interactivity with the various elements of the page. Interactive mode added in SP2, puts Internet Explorer (current installed version) in a panel, and allows you to see and interact with web pages during the authoring process. Any mouse-overs, lightboxes and animations all work. Firefox is also available in the interactive Mode. View Screenshot.
    • Code View  - Code now uses the popular Consolas font by default. Color and syntax highlighting in Code view have also been improved.

Steven Guttman who was the  Director of Product Management for Expression Web, has written about the newest features of Expression Web 4 SP2.

Upgrading from Expression Web 3.0 to 4.0

If you had purchased Expression Studio 3.0 or Expression Web 3.0 you were entitled to a FREE upgrade to version 4.0! Since Expression Web 4.0 is now free, the upgrade is no longer available.

What's New in Expression Web 4.0

Some areas of work and improvement include:

  • SuperPreview online service is a beta service that extends the capability of SuperPreview to include support for additional browsers and operating systems. You will be able to see how your site displays on a Mac running Safari without owning a Mac. SuperPreview now includes Internet Explorer 7 as a rendering option. You will need to register to use this service.
    NOTE: Expression SuperPreview Remote Beta will continue running as a service through June 30, 2013.
  • A new extensibility model  that allows you to create add-ins much more easily using html, css, javascript and a manifest file (xml). 
    Anna Ulrich has an article on how to create add-ins for Expression Web 4 at Easily create an Add-in for Expression Web 4 with the Add-in Builder.
  • A new Search Engine Optimization reporting tool that scans your site and warns you about any SEO-related issues (See Help for the SEO rules). You can choose SEO options, display an SEO report, filter the results in the SEO report, and step forward and back through the list of results in the SEO report to see more detail for individual list items. You can choose to do this for one page or the entire site.
    Screenshot SEO Panel.
    Fig 1: SEO Panel - Click for larger image
  • Improvements to Publishing UI (Publish All, Publish Changed, and Publish Current File on on the Site menu) and fixes for "Publish Selected Files."
    Screenshot Publishing Options.
    Fig 2: Publishing Options - click for larger image
  • Limited customization of toolbars. While you will NOT be able to customize any of the current toolbars, you can create your own "Favorites" toolbar by using an Expression Web add-in.
  • Many bugs reported by customers via Microsoft Connect have been fixed.

Which Version Should I Get?

NOTE: You can no longer purchase either of these programs through Microsoft. If you are using an earlier version of Expression Web, download Expression Web 4 (free version).

Expression Design 4 and is also now available for download at no charge.

Expression Encoder 4 Pro will be available for purchase through 2013. Expression Encoder 4 remains available for download at no charge.

Additional Resources

Expression Web 4 Books and Videos

Expression Web 4.0 Tutorials

Free Expression Web 4 Tutorials EBook 2nd edition by Pat Geary Microsoft MVP Expression Web

The EBook is in format and zipped for easier download. You will need the free Adobe Reader to view the EBook.

The title says it all Expression Web 4 Tutorials from Install to Publish and More. I'll take you through installing Expression Web and setting up the program, to creating your first site and page right through to publishing. At the end I throw in some extras. Updated to include SP1 and SP2 and the Free version EW4 SP2a

Next Step: Installing Expression Web 4.0 Next - Installing Expression Web 4.