Do you recommend Expression Blend?

8 Jan 2008 - 5:13am
6 years ago
3 replies
1135 reads
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Hi,

We're starting an implementation project for a Windows application
that we've already designed (form, content and behavior is done). The
design involves some eye-candy and transitions that would be trivial
to implement with WPF, but not so trivial with Windows Forms.

To help the coders concentrate on coding, were considering to re-draw
our Photoshop+OmniGraffle originals with the shining new MS Expression
Designer+Blend toolset, hoping that the output is directly useful WPF/
XAML/C# input for Visual Studio. We also hope that, using the new
tools, we could fine-tune the UI directly in the Visual Studio project
during the development.

MS Expression Blend promises that this is possible, so I've tried the
60-day product, read some manuals and watched some seminars and
tutorials. My personal impression is that the drawing tools are easy
to pick up, but the storyboard/timeline concepts and Visual Studio
integration require learning and practice - maybe 2-4 weeks to get a
hang of it.

Our likely alternative is to use the traditional Windows Forms
approach, but I've got questions for anyone who has used Expression
Blend to do some Real Work(tm):

1) Did you find the product complete and stable enough for your
production environment? What kind of difficulties have you encountered?

--> In this podcast four out of four presentations suffered from demo
effects, related or not:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/6/c/76c2736f-b307-4625-bc49-724b25216c2f/KYN003.wmv

("Designing Windows Experiences by Robby Ingebretsen (Identity Mine)
and Beau Ambur (Metaliq) ... Join two top designers as they show how
they created next generation experiences using Expression Blend and
Expression Design. Learn best practices for creating experiences that
are anything but lowest-common-denominator.")

2) Did it help the team to come up with better results in the end? Did
you save time?

3) Do you recommend Expression Blend? Why?

Thank you for your time,

- Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated."
- Tim Peters

Comments

8 Jan 2008 - 1:07pm
Pawson, Mark
2007

Hi Petteri,

There are two good threads on this.
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=15063
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=15578
The first I started some time ago and I think you will find that the
responses by David Malouf answers your questions.
Based on your thread question and David's thread responses I'll
give a guarded "it sounds like the thing to use for you". My own
personal experience after struggling with it for about nine months
pouring through the Lynda.com videos and reading the Expression Blend
bible, is that its a tool for a developer turned designer. I do not
have a developer background. If it wasn't for my stubborn geek side
and my former employer's MS direction, I would have given up on it
after a couple of weeks. For protoyping an idea Axure was far easier.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24290

8 Jan 2008 - 10:01pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I understand a lot of the pain that Mark is feeling. I'm in the
middle of a big .NET3 project myself.

If the look & feel and detail of the presentation is important to
your overall project, then I really suggest staying away from
WinForms and using Expression Blend.

At Motorola with the guidance of our contractor x-coders.com (highly
recommend them; Another recommendation would be Donald Burnett) we
have created a workflow that is really optimized to take advantage of
the split between Expression Blend and Visual Studio. You need to work
tightly with your UI Integrators to make the most of the tool, but if
done correctly with good object management and good development of
resource dictions and templates, the UX Designer can really control
the full production presentation layer.

Won't won't you be able to do at all or easily:
1) Databind - the books make it seem easy, but reality it is a bear

2) create a click through. The folks at frog say you can do this, but
I really can't see how w/o going into code in VS and this is the land
for the integrator

3) create a datagrid (you know, a simple tabular spreadsheet of
data). The included controls of WPF SUCK!!! for what I would call THE
most important and valuable pattern in our toolkit. I mean really guys
and I know you are listening. Man! be prepared at the conference, b/c
I'm definitely going to give you a mouthful on this HUGE f'-up

4) get your transitions as tight as you would want for production. It
requires code to do this.

If you have a lot of dynamism going on in your forms (conditional
states and what not) this will require VS code.

The HUGE advantages of Blend and the WPF environment is around the
flexibility of structure. a Grid will be your friend for life. Stack
Panels are sheer heaven. The layout tools are just to die for. I
can't understate. This is the real prize of Blend and completely
makes up for that list view mess they created.

I do like working in the tool over all.

Blend is NOT a prototyping tool. It is a production tool. I would
never design in it. people might want to design in the Graphic Design
tool first, but I don't see that happening any time soon, except for
those MS partners that are invested in it so that they can get on the
stage at some MIX venue.

the reason it doesn't work to do graphics there and then interaction
and final layout in Blend is that you need to create user controls.
Popping out user controls can be done, but you really need to have a
sense of the entire context and when making controls you loose the
context of the parent view. Another big F'up, but not as big as the
list view.

(Chris? Sean? Am I being fair?)

BTW, Microsoft is a Platinum Sponsor at Interaction08. If you are
going they would love to talk to you about the tool, but also talk to
developers that have had experience with it already. They are VERY
open to listening to us. It's why they are coming.

AND! they are bring the Halo3 ... NO MERCY! And Rock Band ... Long
Live Rock!!!

-- dave

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24290

8 Jan 2008 - 10:42pm
Chris Bernard
2007

I think you're being more than fair and we're eager to listen, learn, show and give examples of how our tools can benefit interaction designers in specific scenarios both on the Web and on the desktop. In fact, we'll be fully prepared to get any interaction agency or design department up to speed with self-paced learning as quickly as possible.

Those of you that aren't going to be at Interaction08 are welcome to contact me directly as well.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
630.530.4208 Office
312.925.4095 Mobile

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression
Community: http://www.visitmix.com

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William Gibson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of dave malouf
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:01 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Do you recommend Expression Blend?

I understand a lot of the pain that Mark is feeling. I'm in the
middle of a big .NET3 project myself.

If the look & feel and detail of the presentation is important to
your overall project, then I really suggest staying away from
WinForms and using Expression Blend.

At Motorola with the guidance of our contractor x-coders.com (highly
recommend them; Another recommendation would be Donald Burnett) we
have created a workflow that is really optimized to take advantage of
the split between Expression Blend and Visual Studio. You need to work
tightly with your UI Integrators to make the most of the tool, but if
done correctly with good object management and good development of
resource dictions and templates, the UX Designer can really control
the full production presentation layer.

Won't won't you be able to do at all or easily:
1) Databind - the books make it seem easy, but reality it is a bear

2) create a click through. The folks at frog say you can do this, but
I really can't see how w/o going into code in VS and this is the land
for the integrator

3) create a datagrid (you know, a simple tabular spreadsheet of
data). The included controls of WPF SUCK!!! for what I would call THE
most important and valuable pattern in our toolkit. I mean really guys
and I know you are listening. Man! be prepared at the conference, b/c
I'm definitely going to give you a mouthful on this HUGE f'-up

4) get your transitions as tight as you would want for production. It
requires code to do this.

If you have a lot of dynamism going on in your forms (conditional
states and what not) this will require VS code.

The HUGE advantages of Blend and the WPF environment is around the
flexibility of structure. a Grid will be your friend for life. Stack
Panels are sheer heaven. The layout tools are just to die for. I
can't understate. This is the real prize of Blend and completely
makes up for that list view mess they created.

I do like working in the tool over all.

Blend is NOT a prototyping tool. It is a production tool. I would
never design in it. people might want to design in the Graphic Design
tool first, but I don't see that happening any time soon, except for
those MS partners that are invested in it so that they can get on the
stage at some MIX venue.

the reason it doesn't work to do graphics there and then interaction
and final layout in Blend is that you need to create user controls.
Popping out user controls can be done, but you really need to have a
sense of the entire context and when making controls you loose the
context of the parent view. Another big F'up, but not as big as the
list view.

(Chris? Sean? Am I being fair?)

BTW, Microsoft is a Platinum Sponsor at Interaction08. If you are
going they would love to talk to you about the tool, but also talk to
developers that have had experience with it already. They are VERY
open to listening to us. It's why they are coming.

AND! they are bring the Halo3 ... NO MERCY! And Rock Band ... Long
Live Rock!!!

-- dave

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24290

________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

Syndicate content Get the feed