We are pleased to announce a new preview build in the Expression Blend 2 train – our September Preview. The September Preview has a slew of new features, many of them made possible based on your feedback!. We have also made available some videos that highlight the new features in this build. Visit the Expression Blend 2 September Preview page for viewing these, and to download and install the latest build.
As usual, we look forward to your feedback!
The Expression Blend team
What is new in this release?
Visual Studio 2008 Support
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview can open and work with Microsoft Visual Studio® 2008 (formerly known as Microsoft Visual Studio code name “Orcas”) Beta 2 projects and solutions. By default, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) projects that are created in the Expression Blend 2 September Preview are now Visual Studio 2008 projects, if Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 is installed and such projects cannot be edited in Visual Studio 2005. The Expression Blend 2 September Preview can still open projects that were created with earlier versions of Expression Blend or Visual Studio 2005.
Making Controls from Existing Objects
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality that lets you refactor (in other words, convert) existing content into a control that can be reused (instantiated). Selected elements, their referenced resources, and referenced animations are refactored into the new control. You must build the project to be able to see and instantiate the new control.
Split View and XAML Editor Improvements
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview lets you view an open document in both Design view and XAML view at the same time by selecting the new Split tab on the right side of the artboard. Additionally, you can specify font size, font family, tab size, and word-wrap for the XAML editor (XAML tab) by modifying the Code Editor settings under Options in the Tools menu.
The Storyboard Picker replaces the old Storyboard box. The picker consists of a label to indicate the name of the selected Storyboard (if a Storyboard is selected), a shortcut menu (available when you right-click the label), a pop-up button (and resulting pop-up menu), and a Close button to close all Storyboards and exit recording mode. Both the shortcut menu and the pop-up menu let you create a New Storyboard, and if a Storyboard is already selected, you can now Duplicate, Reverse, or Delete the selected Storyboard. The shortcut menu also lets you Rename the selected Storyboard. The pop-up menu contains all Storyboards in scope in a multicolumn layout. The pop-up menu can be resized, and its list filtered according to a text box at the top of the list. The Storyboard label serves as the Storyboard selector when you want to modify properties on a Storyboard.
Storyboard and Keyframe Properties
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality for setting properties on Storyboards and on keyframes in the Properties panel. When you have a Storyboard selected, you can change the direction of the animation and change the repeat behavior. When you have one or more keyframes selected, you can change the easing behavior between keyframes by modifying the related key splines graphically, or by setting specific values.
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality for animating individual vertices (points and tangents) on a line. Previously, if you modified a vertex when in animation recording mode, the original shape of the object was permanently modified.
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview now displays a breadcrumb bar above the artboard, which helps you quickly switch editing scopes while you are editing templates and styles in WPF projects. The breadcrumb specifies the object that is selected. If a template can be applied to the object (such as a button), you can click a drop-down arrow in the breadcrumb item to view the actions that can be performed on the object (such as editing a button template). If you have already edited a style or template on the object, the breadcrumb will include additional items that represent the style and template items that you edited earlier. This makes it easy to see which style or template has already been edited on an object, to quickly switch the scope in which you are editing, and to understand exactly where you are as you make changes.
Font Embedding and Subsetting
The Expression Blend 2 September Preview contains new functionality for embedding and subsetting fonts in your project. Embedding makes sure that the font that you select for your application is the font that users will see when they run your application. Subsetting lets you create a custom font file that only contains a subset of the glyphs that you are interested in, and thereby reduce the size of your re-distributable. Typically, users will already have most of the fonts that you can select in Expression Blend, and therefore you do not have to embed them. If the user does not have your chosen font, a default system font will appear. If you do decide to embed, subset, or otherwise redistribute fonts in your application, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have the required license rights for those fonts. For the fonts that come with Expression Blend, see the Microsoft Software License Terms (EULA.language.rtf) file for full license terms. For other commercial fonts, see the Microsoft Typography web site for information that can help you locate a particular font vendor or find a font vendor for custom work. To embed fonts in an Expression Blend application, you can use the new Font Embedding manager available in the Tools menu and available in the Advanced Properties section under Text in the Properties panel when you select a text control. For more information about how to embed fonts in WPF applications, see Packaging Fonts with Applications on MSDN.
When building inside the Expression Blend 2 September Preview, the property $(BuildingInsideExpressionBlend) is set to true. You can use this property in your project or .targets files to change how the project builds when in Expression Blend. For more information about how Visual Studio supports this scenario, see the Visual Studio Integration documentation.
We’ve added the ability to uniformly resize, scale, and rotate multiple selected elements by using resizing handles on the artboard. In addition, we made a number of usability improvements – for example, you now easily duplicate elements by dragging them with the Ctrl key pressed.