Expression Blend -- What Is That?

Expression Blend is an authoring system for professional designers to build user experiences that target the .NET 3.0 platform, and more specifically, WPF, or Windows Presentation Foundation.

WPF provides the platform to bring rich, animated, skin-able, UX envelope-pushing applications to the desktop. Applications that blend content, media and user interface into real user experiences. WPF provides sophisticated vector graphics and blurs the distinction between user interface and content. You can create applications with custom looks, and you’ll have more flexibility and ease than ever before. You are able to animate pretty much anything, and you can use data binding to create user interfaces from data. You can integrate images, video and 3D, and you get a set of text layout features well beyond what you would expect from a user interface platform. And WPF scales: Blend itself is not only entirely written in managed code, but it also is a WPF application head to toe.

We strongly believe that designers will have a dominant role in creating these envelope-pushing user experiences we are targeting with WPF. Alas, WPF is an SDK, a software development kit, and not particularly designer friendly. And this is where Expression Blend comes into play. Blend is a visual design tool for WPF, providing a designer-friendly look at all the power of WPF. You can draw and animate like in media authoring tools, but you also have access to components, controls and layout, data binding and all the other features of WPF that make user experiences come alive.

Rich client applications tend to have a lot of code and functionality. Because code is such an essential part of application development, we believe that Blend will often be used in teams of developers and designers. Blend plays very nicely in environments where design and coding are important – collaboration and interchange with Visual Studio is a big part of the solution.

If you are developing or designing WPF-based applications, we hope the Expression Blend will blend right in and allow your designers to take much more control and responsibility in the overall process!