Last year, Microsoft announced their new Expression suite of designer tools. Included in the suite are three tools for designers to build graphics, web sites, and rich XAML-based WPF user experiences as well as a library tool for storing these works of art.
The designer-developer workflow promised by these tools is exciting. Designers can work their magic in the Expression design tools, then code heads can open the designers' work in Visual Studio and connecting it to back end systems seamlessly.
I've seen a lot of excitement about these tools from folks in the local .NET developer community here in NY, NJ, and PA the past few months. However, when details on the new Expression suite came out last year, one thing that .NET developers were not happy about is that the Expression tools would not be included in their existing MSDN subscriptions.
For those of you who are not aware, an MSDN subscription is how most developers (and companies) buy Visual Studio. There are different levels of MSDN subscriptions, but most of them typically provide a developer with access to most of Microsoft's products (Servers, Operating Systems, Office, etc) for development purposes.
While designers are the core group the Expression tools are intended for, most developers find the tools to be quite useful too. Plus, it's a pretty good idea to have your developers understand the tools that the designers will be using since they will be working closely together to build the user experience.
I, along with many others inside and outside of Microsoft, have been providing strong feedback that not including the Expression tools in the MSDN subscription that developers buy was a bad idea. Well, I was happy to learn over the weekend that all of our feedback has paid off!
The products teams listened! Somasegar just announced on his blog that Expression Web and Expression Blend will be included in the MSDN premium subscription. Schweet!