On Blend and MSDN

Who’s seen these slides before?

I’d think anyone that’s been to a Microsoft presentation featuring WPF would have.  I’ve seen it at least 5 times in the last year or so.

So why am I sticking them on my blog?  Well look at them, what are they saying? I think they are meant to represent the journey from the creation of an ‘old school’ UI – where the designer is given carte blanche and the developer makes do with approximation because there just isn’t enough time – to the future of UI where developer and designer work in unison, using common project files and tools that are interoperable.

I personally think this is an excellent idea and I’ve had the privilege of being part of a team where the designers, UX guys and developers working so closely and so well together were the sole reason the project was completed on time and was as great a product as it was.  I think that Microsoft getting the whole ‘software lifecycle’ thing is great too and that the ‘designer <-> XAML <-> developer’ paradigm is just an extension of the Visual Studio 2005/Team Suite/Team Foundation Server concept that they’ve been heavily pushing for the last year or so.

This is why, during the geek dinner, whilst I was talking to Jon Harris and Phillip Stears about Microsoft’s decision not to include the Expression suite in any of the MSDN subscription packages, I was a little taken aback.  The decision kind of makes sense when you think that MSDN is meant for developers and the Expression suite is about designers, but given what I’ve just said, and having looked again at the slide deck above it really, really, doesn’t.

As anyone who has done a large project using WPF will tell you; as a developer you cannot make do with just Visual Studio and ‘Cider’.  The tool just isn’t mature enough yet, and even when it’s released (around August) I still don’t think it will cut it for anything sizeable.  I firmly believe that just as designers will need Expression Design (or Photoshop or Fireworks) alongside Expression Blend to do their best job, developers will need Expression Blend alongside Visual Studio so they can do their best job. 

Basically what I’m saying is that Expression Blend is essential to WPF development and if to get it there’s an extra $400 per head on top of the already expensive MSDN subscription costs, well, it’s going to put a lot of small businesses off.

The simple fact of the matter is that to ensure the wider uptake of WPF as a serious development technology the Expression suite somehow needs to be ‘blended’ into MSDN.

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Posted in IT, WPF. 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “On Blend and MSDN”

  1. Philip Stears Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said, and there is actually one further pain which I think will affect all businesses regardless of size – the lack of source control integration (especially Team System) in the current Expression suite.

    This particular omission is utterly astonishing when Microsoft are talking about life cycle technologies – you simply can’t take part in the development lifecycle if you don’t have first class source control support.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Expression suite is a fantastic set of tools, and has a lot of great features that continually amaze me, but unless the basics are in place, life is going to be very hard indeed.

  2. Simon Middlemiss Says:

    Phillip,

    I hadn’t thought of that actually, I suppose because the only WPF I’ve done is where I was dev & designer; although I was using source control it was never an issue as I was working on my own.

  3. Expression Blend Beta 2 – or are we not going to use it anyway? – olisturm Says:

    […] let’s just hope Microsoft doesn’t repeat the Expression Web blunder with this. Posts I’ve read lately point to the possibility that they haven’t learnt anything in this regard, and I’m […]


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