Expression Web and MSDN, learn more

Robert McLaws started an interesting discussion on his blog about Expression Web and MSDN.  I gave Robert some feedback that the Expression team provided and it has spurred a very interesting discussion. 

Sometimes it is hard to truly understand how these decisions pan out without tons of context.  However, Chris Treadaway, the business manager for the Expression team recently posted his thoughts and information that should be informative.  We've seen some positive private comments from his blog, so I encourage you all to check it out. Of course, feel free to provide your candid feedback here, with Chris, or any of us directly.  Rest assured, we hear you and are listening.

Comments (14)

  1. Digital Wired says:

    I agree with Robert. There seems to be an erosion of features from MS – Vista now MSDN or should it be Microsoft Not For Developers Network.

  2. Philip says:

    The issue is that people like Chris Treadaway are making comments like

    "First, let me say that I’m thrilled that developers want to use Expression Web." (not designers, developers – implying we can’t be both)


    "include Sharepoint Designer in MSDN subscriptions because it most closely matches the needs of MSDN subscribers" (we’ll tell you what you do)

    When what he really means is :

    "We are a business, and we mean to make money.  We think this will help us make money in both the short term and long term."

    The first two comments are just irritating.  I am a developer and a designer. And many developers don’t choose, but are forced to be both.  I wear many hats, and I never know what hat I’ll wear – that’s why I pay a lot of money for a MSDN subscription, and have for years now.  I pay for it myself (yes, I claim it as a non-reimbursed business expense).  

    Recently, I was told by MS that developers needed to either pay more than double each year, or wear just one hat while using VS2005.  This was a bitter pill, but I swallowed it.  Apparently a code developer can’t be a tester, or an architect, or a database developer — unless he’s rich.

    Now, I’m being told that I’m not a designer either.  Unless I’m rich.  And that I should be happy with the scraps.

    Universal subscriptions were for the guys (and gals) that did it all and needed it all.  That option is gone, but we’re being fed the line that we just _thought_ we needed it all.  You didn’t remove the value from MSDN, you "streamlined it".  Really!

    Great.  Instead of telling me what skills I do and don’t have, and what tools I am capable of using, why not be straight with me and say "This is a business decision.  We are a business.  Please don’t develop for Apache"   It would be a lot easier to swallow, and much more honest.

  3. Brad says:

    I think it’s a poor decision. Chris stated that after talking to customers, they decided to include Sharepoint designer instead of expressions. I’ve dowloaded Sharepoint designer, removed it within 30 minutes.  It won’t work with IIS websites, no code behind and unless your creating Sharepoint portals (which, it appears most of aren’t), its not worth the download bandwidth.

  4. Emad says:

    That’s a stupid decision because I love the expression web designer… Granted i am the worst designer and have zero artistic talent, but it does make a lot of the design work much easier and it understands .net…  I was planning on using it on a regular basis but I guess, i am out of luck…  that sucks.

  5. Shawn B. says:

    If developers want to use the tool the the tool must be good enough for developers.  I have yet to work at or consult with a place that had a dedicated UI person.  Everywhere I’ve seen the developer was the UI person.

    In all honesty, my reasoning is MS is pushing hard to convince us to use Sharepoint because it is just he same as EWD and is a more suitable match for developers.  If EWB is the same as Sharepoint and sharepoint is suitable for developers than Expression Web must also be suitable for developers, logical, no?

    Further, having never used Sharepoint, I never will, based on the things I hear about it.  I paid $4k for my MSDN subscription and its appalling to have to pay another $99 to "upgrade" an included MSDN elment to an excluded product tool.

    Reading the various comments from various MS employees on the matter (who are thrilled to announce the immediate availability of Expression Web to the market but not MSDN), just their very choice of words is sickening.  They are so out of touch with what the market wants and in touch with what only they want that their very carefully crafted choice of words is puking.

    I really don’t like MS.  Not because of Expression Web fiasco, but also because of the Team Suite fiasco and what comes next.  Before you know it they’ll split MSDN into more fragments that require a second mortgage to afford in order for us to continue to do our job.

    MS has forgotten us.  I say we forget them.



  6. Peter says:

    MSDN Universal "used to be" a reasonable value.  Unfortunately, Microsoft just decided to change their "business" strategy and the development world that has been supporting their paycheques is just supposed to take it quietly.  For a company that has amassed Billions in profits, hitting the developers for more money for development tools, on top of already escalated MSDN fees, is nothing short of GREEDY – shame on you!

    Remember David and Goliath?

  7. NoMatter says:

    It’s not that MS has forgotton us, it’s that they’ve forgotton themselves:

    Look into the near future:

    – The evangelists and MVP leads see that Expression has low community support and low adoption, so they try to hype the product, but to no avail.  They can’t see why, since it’s a great product.  Hmm…. Perhaps it’s that people have a list of features they’d like…

    – The product team and manager is focused on making a great product, and might even try to add features at the requests of the evangelists.  But they’re building for customers, so they add the features the customer niches they’ve identified want.

    – And in completely unrelated (to them) news, the bean counters notice that MSDN subscriptions cost more and have fewer bundled apps.  Fewer independent developers or small shops are subscribing, but they’re not really our money making demographic anyway, right? – We sell to the enterprise !

    See the disconnect? Will they get together and see if the issues are interrelated?  I don’t think they will.

    So when Ballmer repeated "developers" over and over, it was partially to be a showman.  It was also because it seems that noone in MS can remember the point for more than five minutes; Without the applications, without the  grassroots support, without the plugins and integration,  without the ad-hoc hallway demos of "look at this neat thing", without "we should buy this because it’s what we love" evangelism – without all of that, much of microsoft’s product offerings are doomed to fail no matter what the product’s strong points.  What’s more, they fail in ways that may not make it obvious what the problem is.

    It’s sad, but I believe they just can’t see this from inside.  They’re so passionate about what they do that they can’t stop and look at what they company as a whole is doing.  It’s not that any one of them is making a bad decision or doing something counter-productive.  No, the problem is that they can’t see that the collection of decisions – and the consequences – are related.

  8. says:

    I trully believe that designers can design I nice looking site with a stable database as well in VS2005 and VWD. Also, if they apply themselves and want to learn the product A true designer knows well enough that if you go over the top with design (bell & whistles) and such well… it just takes away from the main content of the website which, everybody know is text and text is KING OF CONTENT. I got news for everyone 95% of the content that is in MSDN can be cross referenced to use in expression thats why we are developers Ciao for now!


  9. Brian says:

    I hope this makes as much sense to the people who read this.

    I think the thing with Sharepoint designer, and why MS think Sharepoint designer is a good MSDN replacement for the real designer tools, and maybe why so many people have an issue with the current debacle, is that Sharepoint numbers are like the numbers news agencies come up with for support of George Bush.

    There’s a lot of people who say they use Sharepoint for something more than a place to put a bunch of contacts and shared documents, etc; just like there’s a lot of numbers out there that say at least 50% of America supports Bush (approximately over the past 6 years)…but with both, I’ve not actually met/seen very many people who actually are part of those groups that support these numbers.  Maybe I’m just sheltered.

    You know I’m one of those guys who has Microsoft tatooed across my rear, so it’s not like I have any disdain for Microsoft (except when it comes to the non-compliance of IE).  But at the same time I purposely stay away from Sharepoint/Office development.  Why?  Because I don’t feel like a real software developer at that point.  I feel like I did when I first started in this industry; some geek who just had a knack for VBA in Access or Excel.  And maybe I’m being presumptous, but I doubt that any software developer who is passionate about what he/she does would be quick to say, you know instead of doing this in WinForms or ASP.NET, let’s do it in Word or Excel…granted, we all know it can be done (and maybe should be in some case)…but where is the glory in that?  And how many developers are doing this because they want to meet a set of business requirements and how many are doing this because it’s just plain cool!  I try to stay focused toward the business; but to be honest, if it wasn’t cool, I wouldn’t be doing it for a living… and write Word/Excel/Outlook/etc apps, ain’t cool.

    If I could actually afford a subscription that meets my needs of developer, tester, requirements gather, GUI (web) designer (I can’t anymore), the pitch of ‘Sharepoint designer’ wouldn’t do much for me because of those reasons.  It seems odd that only few short years ago I could afford a higher level subscription that met those needs and now I can’t even though my salary is significantly more than it was back then.  I do hope this changes.

    I can’t say I agree with Microsoft, but I’m not ready to get laser removal yet, I think they’ll listen to the community that made them what they are.

  10. Philip says:

    Brian – I agree, but not really with your last point (They’ll listen to the community).

    Not that people won’t listen, but NoMatter has it right.  MS is full of people that will listen, but you have to have all of this for it to do anything:

    1) The person listening must care about the issue

    2) The listener must agree with the community

    3) The listener must be able to see what change must happen

    4) The listener (or the group of them) must be able to enact that change

    I hope we can find that – but after experiencing the Universal -> MSDN Premium transition I sincerely doubt it.

  11. Duncan says:

    This is only the first product in a range, by taking web developer out of MSDN and I assume the rest of the expression suite along with it, a signal is being sent to the developers, don’t, use this new tech, we don’t want developers in the design space.

    Without the expression suite the WPF tech won’t really be available to the main stream until the next release of visual studio, and then only in the basic form, as most of the interesting functionality is added by the expression stuff, and has to be hand coded in VS.

    This is only going to harm the uptake of the WPF, and WPF/E, if developers can’t do the interesting stuff without paying out more money then frankly it won’t happen.  Outside of the big establishments it won’t be used.  

    Microsoft made a great leap forward creating the next generation of developers by supplying the express products, XNA studio will no doubt be a jumping stone for future games developers.  

    To remove expression suite from MSDN cripples the new technology before its had a chance to rise, I can only hope the Microsoft teams will see, that without support from the development community, and outside of Microsoft cost the overriding factor, we won’t see the upsurge of applications using this technology, and these products will spend their life as a backwater,  un-used and under developed, unavailable to developers, and untried by design studios, who already have their suite of tools, and need reasons to change.

    Microsoft wanted to break into the design space, cutting out the huge army of developers, and ignoring their influence on the design space, is not the way to do it.  

  12. Pete Wilson says:

    Somehow the SharePoint Designer overview doesn’t mention a thing about non-SharePoint web sites. I guess Microsoft wants their developer+designers to design with another company’s product – and if I’m doing that, why am I doing instead of Ruby on Rails/PHP/Cold Fusion?

  13. Stephen P. says:

    I’m hugely in agreement with Philip’s comment regarding Microsoft’s increasing tendency to structure their product lines in a way that punishes consultants and independent developers who wear many hats.  I wound up getting the Developer’s edition of VSTE, because I couldn’t countenance paying $10k for my tool suite.  I’ve heard from a friend at MS that they’re trying to create new pricing tiers and packaging that lets them compete with suites like Rational.  Who’s brilliant idea was that?  They’re much better off recognizing that adding value to their "Least Common Denominator" MSDN package is what will keep developers in their camp.  With Rational, usually a few rarified architects use their stuff; not many orgs will pay the megabucks for department-wide licenses.  Heck, SourceSafe has flourished despite it’s lack of quality because of the fact that it came *in the box.*

    Ok, enough ranting.. back to work.

  14. Pete says:

    Interestingly, Microsoft’s own online purchase option lists Expression Web in the developer category…

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