MIX’09 – Reviewing – Future of Expression Blend

Douglas Olson – General Manager

Christian Schormann – Director, Program Manager

Expression Mission

  • Enable professional designers to create great UX with better productivity at lower costs.
  • Help integrate design and designers into the process of software creation

Expression Blend 3 Goals

  • Enable early-stage design & prototyping (SketchFlow)
    • Created to address issues felt at the start of the software design process:
      • Top-down & bottom-ups design lets you experiments with ideas
      • SketchFlow Player lets you try your design at any time
      • Facilitate communication of design ideas
      • Easy to gather, evaluate and use stakeholders feedback
    • Blend Elements
      • SketchFlow Application Flow
        • Important to think on pages like whiteboards to sketch, insert elements, and all what you normally do.
    • Usage of SketchStyles that will allow us to maintain the Sketchy style of the Design proposal, that is very important.
    • Export to Word
      • Dumps all the SketckFlow elements like Application Flow, Pages, Comments and so on.
  • Make visual design easier for designer
    • Embrace the Design Ecosystem
      • Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator file format import with extensive support for layers
        • Preview of Photoshop in Windows Explorer even without PhotoShop installed
        • Possibility to choose what to do with each layer
        • Blend informs if the font is default or not and gives the possibility to choose other font or even the same font by specifying the path of the font
        • All content will be fully editable
        • Layer Groups are also maintained
        • By selecting an object we can make “Make into Control”
          • We choose the type of control we want to create
          • What’s done is:
            • A style is created in order for the control to became what was defined when we selected the elements to generate the control.
            • The control created will replace the selected element and gain the same properties that the original element had.
            • The style is associates to the control
            • Note: There’s now a problem when the controls have different parts, like the Slider, and this will generate all but we need to wire-up the style to the correct parts
      • Fast and Easy Control Skinning
      • Enhanced editing of visual States
      • Richer state transitions
    • Focus On Your Art
      • Redefined artboard interaction
      • Better gradient editing
  • Design with Data (Data Generation / Sampling inside Blend)
    • In the Data Tab we will have the possibility to define the DataSource structure that we want, and then just generate the data, and there are some templates like Phone Numbers, Strings, Dates, and so on.
    • Make it easy to build a data-driven applications:
      • Sample Data:
        • Design applications without access to live data source
        • Create sample data on the fly
        • Populate with configurable random data
      • Drag and Drop Master-Detail creation
      • Better user experience for data binding
      • Design-time support for Silverlight 3 controls
    • There’s a Master and a Details Mode in the Data Tab that will make it easier to perform the Master-Details view
      • in this version of Blend we need to wire-up the Master and Detail elements, and this will not be needed in the last version of Blend
  • Build interactivity without code (Behaviors)
    • Introduction to Behaviors:
      • Production-quality interactivity applied with Drag & Drop ease
      • A design pattern for reusable interactivity
      • Example: MouseGestureBehavior
        • You can define the gesture that will be used and make changes to the elements based on that gesture
  • Enable Source Code Control (Integration with Source Safe and TFS by default) – This is available also inside Expression Web
    • Design for Developers
      • Source Control
        • Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Support
        • New editor with Intellisense for code & XAML
  • Support for Silverlight 3


The same features are available for WPF and Silverlight in Blend 3.

It’s important to avoid having final or high-definition elements in the Sketch design because customers will start looking in the direction of the rendering instead of the functionality.

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