Expression Blend gets some honest praise

Adobe is currently showing some folks how to go from Adobe Illustrator to Adobe FLEX in terms of workflow. This is a positive step for them as they are beginning to catch on that FLEX's limitations aren't in the language, but the actual development lifecycle itself.

That being said, Ryan Stewart of Universal Desktop fame and someone whom I meet with when I was last in Seattle, stated that despite their best efforts – Microsoft – appear to have a headstart in this space.

To quote:

Now we are looking at Illustrator and Sho is going to demo the work they've done getting Flex and Illustrator to talk to each other. He has the skeleton of a Flex application, and a matching skin in Illustrator. By breaking the Illustrator files into symbols and labeling them then exporting that as a SWF, you can bring it into Flex. To get the skin to display, you point CSS assets at the exported SWF file and the application skins automatically.

It was a good demo, but I still think Microsoft has them beat with Blend. The fact that Blend is a tool made specifically for Interaction Design is a huge jump in getting designers and developers to work together. It may take a bit to get that workflow down, but I think Blend has a big headstart in getting that part of the market.

This is some good old fashion honest praise and Ryan is keeping a level head lately about both brands. It supports a theory of mine that the RIA space isn't going to be decided on just "output" or "x-platform" prowess, it will mostly be decided on the tools that get people to this end point.

It's great that Adobe are warming up to the idea of bridging the gaps between Flex Builder and their respective design tools and can only wait and see what the end results end up like.

Remember: It's not just about the destination; it's also about the journey

Comments (6)

  1. RSS It All says:

    Adobe is currently showing some folks how to go from Adobe Illustrator to Adobe FLEX in terms of workflow

  2. Steve says:

    Makes sense – however you’ve got to remember people are already using Illustrator. It’s the industry standard vector tool, designers worldwide are trained in it and use it daily. Blend may well offer a better solution but shifting people away from industry standard tools they are already skilled in is going to take a lot of work.

  3. Garry Trinder says:


    Yeah, I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop since 1.0 days, so for me to switch its going to take a lot – I think a lot of the creative folks are loyal to the products simply because they have specific reasons that are valid.

    Express tools aren’t there to replace per say, they are also there to compliment and provided a bridge between Adobe Creative world into WPF.

    My workflow for example was to go from Adobe Photoshop, Into Blen and then into Visual Studio (So i went from Photoshop Layers to Visual Studio in a vey rapid manner).

    One of my specialities in the Adobe Flex world was skinning, it was my thing and going from Adobe Photoshop to Adobe Flex Builder – well – it wasn’t seamless, in fact its the same workflow as going from Adobe Photoshop to Notepad in that fashion.

    I say this not to beatup on Adobe, but to ilustrate that to be relevant, Adobe need to probably wind back some more on the end result features and more on the hands on tools.

  4. Phillip Kerman says:

    I really don’t know what the big deal is.  I have yet to have a project where simply importing and integrating assets was a huge part of the job.  Sure, there are glitches sometimes and I wish the graphic artist did something differently… but you look at the total time on a project and this import stage is way less than 1%.  So… if the artist is faster/better in one tool then that’s where you’ll see best productivity regardless if it means the import process is slow.

    Maybe MS has some awesome solution, but as stated, making people switch isn’t easy.  Most of the great solutions I’ve seen to make importing easy are half-baked and assume A LOT about how people work.  They assume people will change their workflows.  Even if it’s better and faster, switching is difficult.  Not just because people are stubborn but there’s an upfront cost in learning.

  5. Doug Karr says:

    Having worked with or for many media companies, I never met any creative professionals that didn’t work off of OSX.  From the Expressions site, it states: "Expression Blend is the professional design tool to create engaging web-connected experiences for Windows."

    If it’s for Windows, it’s not ever going to get to the desktops our graphic artists are using.

    Adobe; however, and Flex… are cross platform and cross browser – that’s a huge gap that Microsoft has to fill.

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