Microsoft Expression 4 launched, what’s new and resources
Expression 4 was officially launched today at Internet Week New York. In this post you’ll find the main links to downloads, getting started and a concise overview of new features.
Trials & downloads
All the different versions of Expression Studio are available for download with 60-day trials. Download here.
Upgrading from Expression 3
If you have already installed Expression 3 on your machine and have a full license you will automatically have a registered version of Expression 4 when you install it on the same machine. More details can be found on the Expression site.
Side note on Windows Phone 7 tools compatibility: don’t install Expression Blend 4 if you’re currently doing WP7 development. The WP7 tools are not compatible with the RTM version, do expect an update soon.
Expression Blend adds support for Silverlight 4 and WPF 4 projects, still allowing you to continue developing your Silverlight 3 and WPF 3.5SP1 projects. Next to this multi-targeting support there are quite some new features of which I like to highlight the following:
- New behaviors like CallMethodAction, DataStateBehavior, InvokeCommandAction, etc and Conditional behaviors. Conditional behaviors allow you to set conditions on any Action you want to execute. Checkout Silverlight TV 30 where Adam Kinney shows you how to use the new behaviors.
- PathListbox, a feature that allows you to draw a path on the artboard and bind listbox elements to it.
- New shapes like arrows, stars, callouts and more.
- New pixel shader effects.
- Lots more, check out Christian Schormann’s post and session from MIX.
Expression Blend SketchFlow 4
SketchFlow gets its second iteration with this release. There are quite a few noteworthy new features, of which the integration with SharePoint is the most important. This feature allows for publishing the SketchFlow project directly to a SharePoint library. The stakeholders can then use this to browse the prototype, add feedback and also save the feedback directly to SharePoint. Expression Blend Feedback also connects to the SharePoint library to load the comments.
Some other new features in SketchFlow:
- Feedback into work items in Team Foundation Server
- General fixes like player artboad (scrolling)
- New shapes
- Default styles for controls when working with SketchFlow projects are Sketch Styles.
Expression Web 4 – SuperPreview
SuperPreview, part of Expression Web 4 allows you to debug your pages in multiple browsers on the same machine that you use for development. SuperPreview is a visual debugging tool that helps you visualize and understand how pages display on multiple browsers, including IE6 – 8, Macintosh Safari, and Windows Firefox. You can even overlay your page on top of your Photoshop comp to verify your coding. IE6 rendering engine is included in SuperPreview so you don’t to install it on your machine. In order to get IE7, 8, and FF, each of these must be installed on the machine.
A new addition in this version is support for rendering on Macintosh Safari, which is supported via a remote (cloud) service technology preview. This is a beta service and you will need to sign-up for this.
Expression Encoder 4 Pro has support for a brand new H.264 encoding engine from Main Concept, which is more performant.
Live Smooth Streaming: next to encoding for on-demand Smooth Streaming which was available in Expression Encode 3, the new version also has support for live stream encoding for from a range of video card and USB/Firewire devices.
Expression Encoder Screen Capture
The hidden feature I love in Expression Encoder is the Screen Capturing tool. Very easy to use and great for doing screencasts. New in this feature are zooming functions, capability to work with multiple clips in the new capture manager and registration of the codec on the host machine. In addition, free distribution of the codec allows for raw screen captures to be viewed outside of the application.
- .toolbox – This site does not yet have content that is specific to Expression 4 but it’s a great resource for learning how to take the most out of Expression Blend in several steps. Sign-up, create your avatar and go to school.
[Update - .toolbox does have new Expression Blend 4 content, thanks Adam Kinney for pointing this out]
- Project Rosetta – this learning resource has tutorials on how to go from Flash to Silverlight. Very useful if you are used to working on Flash and need to know how you can achieve the same things in Silverlight and Expression Blend.
- Expression Blend OnRamp training – Learn Expression Blend in 5 days