SharePoint Designer 2007 and Expression Web

Jerome In one of my former postings, I mentioned we had decided to have two offerings, one for information workers (SharePoint Designer) and one for designers (Expression Web).


The two products are partially based on outstanding FrontPage and Visual Studio technologies and constitute two new products. However once you open both products, you cannot help finding similarities in the user interface and commands. It comes from the fact that both products are evoving from the same code base but we introduced differentiation between them to make them uniquely positioned. To keep things simple, both products are outstanding web authoring tools but we provided SharePoint Designer with unique SharePoint features.

In short, SharePoint Designer is a superset of Expression Web really focused on SharePoint. In other words, if you have any plans on investing in SharePoint or have already Windows SharePoint Services or Micrososoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, SharePoint Designer is your tool. If you don't, or don't know what SharePoint is or have no interest in SharePoint, then Expression Web is your tool. If you try to open a SharePoint site with Expression Web you will get a message redirecting you to the SharePoint Designer web site, where you can download a free evaluation version of SharePoint Designer and continue your work.





Shared Capabilities

  • High-fidelity design surface

    • Accurate, high quality WYSIWYG rendering of CSS, XHTML, ASP.NET
    • Integrated code and split views Standards-based page creation (XHTML, CSS, XSLT)

  • Deep CSS formatting and layout support,

    • Style management and application
    • Property editing
    • IntelliSense
    • Reporting

  • Deep support for working with ASP.NET 2.0

    • WYSIWYG control rendering
    • Control designer hosting
    • Property editing
    • IntelliSense

  • XHTML and CSS schema compatibility reporting
  • WCAG and Section 508 accessibility reporting
  • Pro designer oriented UI and workspace

Unique SharePoint Designer Capabilities

  • Create, open, edit, backup/restore SharePoint sites
  • Create SharePoint master pages and web part pages
  • Building SharePoint no-code applications (without writing or deploying server code)

    • Create lists, views and forms (from SPD as well as Browser)
    • Create and aggregate data views and forms on a variety of data sources (SharePoint lists and document libraries, SQL databases, XML files, Web services)
    • Add business logic with no-code workflows

  • Create, customize CMS template and summary pages

Comments (39)

  1. Pelican223 says:

    1. Your page is formatted incorrectly. (I’m using IE7 in Windows XP SP2 & all patches.)

    2. What products do I need to use with Sharepoint Designed , i.e. Sharepoint Server, Win 2k3 Standard Server etc?

    3 How does AJAX fit into this equation?

    Expressions is not found on the MSDN subscriber site. At least I can’t find it. Would you point me to a Expressions Blog as well, please?

    4. A VERY BIG Thank You for the diagram! I have been a MSDN Universal Subscriber for 7+ years and have never seen a single source document that ties products together and explains the big picture of how they interface. As a result, I probably use my subscription to the level that most use Office 2k3 🙂


    Mike Mc

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  2. Ishai Sagi says:

    Finally an explanation!

    I was wondering if I should install expression after I had a lousy time with it during beta because I installed it on the same machine as designer.

    Can you say if in the RTM version you are blocking installing expression when designer is installed, and if expression is installed will designer replace it during installation?

  3. Mark says:

    Finally! The succinct answer to the SharePoint Designer vs. Expression Web question: "In short, SharePoint Designer is a superset of Expression Web…."

    I’ve been trying to decide whether to renew our FrontPage Software Assurance with Expression Web or SharePoint Designer. Apparently we are allowed to go either way for the SA renewal.

    I couldn’t find any comparison of the two on the Microsoft web site. When I called Sales, they suggested that I download both products and compare them. In other words, they didn’t know what the differences are either.

    The flowchart above is misleading, as it implies that someone not (currently) using SharePoint would would get greater benefit from Expression Web. The volume pricing would seem to support this:  Expression Web is more expensive than SharePoint Designer, so it must be worth more, right? (although retail pricing puts them both at $299)

    But if SharePoint Designer gives us everything we would get in Expression Web, _plus_ the ability to do SharePoint sites someday should the need arise, _plus_ SharePoint Designer costs less, the decision becomes a no-brainer:  buy SharePoint designer.


  4. Paul Ferrill says:

    Anyone reported a problem installing Sharepoint Designer on a machine that had Office Beta code on it?

    I’m getting the message:

    Setup is unable to proceed due to the following error(s):

    The 2007 Microsoft Office system does not support upgrading from a prerelease version of the 2007 Microsoft Office system…

    I uninstalled all the beta stuff before loading the final Office 2007 and it installed OK.


  5. Arindam Das says:

    I do agree with Mark’s statement Completely. Though volume pricing for SharePoint Designer is less than Expression Web, Designer is a superset of Expression Web. So, I don’t find any logic in buying only Expression Web or for that matter Expression Web along with SharePoint Designer.

  6. Sunny says:


    Im using Sharepoint Designer to pull the the date using DataView.

    In DataView Im able to update the fields which I enter through the the DataView form. The data which was already there in the database Im not able to edit.

    I want to edit the code in the Sharepoint but after editing the and saving the old code is back.

    Is there any way where i can enable the sharepoint designer to edit the code.

    Please help


  7. Frank Gauthier says:

    Using sharepoint designer i put working copies of all my sites under one domain on the server. On many when i try and open them i get "The folder name is not valid" trying to figure out what this error means is truly painful.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  8. Lanod says:

    Just to be 100% clear, we know that SharePoint Designer does something that Expression Web doesn’t allow you to do (work with SharePoint etc.). Is there anything you can do with Expression Web does you can’t do with SharePoint Designer?

  9. John Dangerbrooks says:

    For the record: Microsoft Expression Web is a couple of megabytes BIGGER than Microsoft SharePoint Designer. That’s right, "Microsoft Expression Web" is bigger in size, not Microsoft SharePoint Designer

  10. Adrian says:

    I am currently using SharePoint Designer 2007 in an attempt to rebuild my department’s websites (moving from MCMS 2002).

    This document clearly states:

    "Accurate, high quality WYSIWYG rendering of CSS, XHTML, ASP.NET

    Integrated code and split views Standards-based page creation (XHTML, CSS, XSLT)"

    I don’t think the author has tried creating an XHTML compliant page with SharePoint Designer 2007!?!? It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!! Far from "Integrated"!! Sure, SharePoint Designer can recognise non-compliant code. But the problem is that SharePoint can’t render compliant code!!

    I’ll breathe the biggest sigh of relief when someone tells me "Yes, the next version of SharePoint has been built with Web Standards as priority"…

    I have really loved all Microsoft development tools in the past and I’m sorry to say that this one has made me start to lose much faith in Microsoft’s "quality control" department.

    Happy coding,


  11. Robert New says:

    I too have been confused by the difference, but I think I have discovered the essential distinctions.

    SharePoint Designer follows the FrontPage app path, it continues to use FrontPage Server Extensions, and one would use it for SharePoint development.

    Expression has been a rewrite of FrontPage towards industry standards, scrapping the proprietary FrontPage Server Extensions:

    – XHTML 1.0/1.1 complilant code

    – HTML 4.01 compliant code

    – full ASP.NET 2.0 support

    – full CSS 1.0/2.0/2.1 support

    – standards based designer (not IE-based)

    – does not rely on FPSEs

    – powerful XML/XSL support

    – built-in Web server

    – generates Section 508 compliant code

    (list from p.xxxi, "Special Edition Using Microsoft Expression Web" by Jim Cheshire.  To be fair, this list contrasted FP2003, but from what I can tell the EW distinction is here defined)

    Thus I think there is a place for both in a Microsoft Shop:  I’m planning on using EW for external web sites and SPD exclusively for SP intranets.


    Robert New

    Vancouver, Canada

  12. William Patterson says:

    Does Expression create clean code like Dreamweaver where you can edit the code later using a simple editor like notepad and not have Expression later on mess the changes up?

    Also can something like Dreamweaver be used to manage and edit Sharepoint?


  13. Tandy Wine says:

    I would just like to echo William’s question.  If I have Dreamweaver, can it be used to edit Sharepoint instead of the Sharepoint designer?

  14. spdblog says:

    These are two very different questions, but I’ll give it a shot.

    William: Yes, Expression (and SharePoint Designer) creates ‘clean’ code and can be used alongside Dreamweaver, notepad, Visual Studio, or whatever. Neither program should ever modify your HTML after you write it.

    William and Tandy:

    As far as I know, Dreamweaver can be used to modify the code in SharePoint pages, but I don’t believe Dreamweaver knows about web parts and other components specific to the SharePoint platform. SharePoint Designer is the current tool of choice if you are going to be customizing SharePoint applications. However, if you are going to be modifying the application pages on the server itself (like the template pages, error pages, etc), then you can use Visual Studio, Dreamweaver, Notepad, SharePoint Designer or anything else. You don’t get a WYSIWYG environment in these cases, though.


  15. Jharami says:

    "Neither program should ever modify your HTML after you write it."


  16. spdblog says:

    Hi Jharami,

    If you have an example of ‘before’ and ‘after’ where either program re-wrote your HTML that would help us out a lot. It could be that you have constructs that we did not have time to test.


  17. Pablo VN says:

    it seems a little bit unfair, that people that have and been using front page be forced to buy a new product that basically is the same with a different name and adding the number 2007 at the end. Thanks a lot!. Don’t you guys have enough money? you could have made it easier for us by continuing to do upgrades…. even platforms are changing because of it. way to go….

  18. spdblog says:

    Hi Pablo Vn:

    I think SharePoint Designer is a very different product from FrontPage 2003. This is a very dramatic upgrade, even if you only consider the changes for support, CSS design-time tools, and property grid support. When you add all of the SharePoint specific features such as publishing/layout page integration, rapid application design, and data view rendering, I think you will find that although the UI is familiar it is a large upgrade to previous products.

  19. Flemming says:

    I wonder why I can’t change font size in photogallery, it freeze when I try to save the changes

  20. Lewin Wanzer says:

    I would like to know why I can’t edit my sharepoint sites with my sharepoint designer tool. I keep getting errors. Does anyone know why?

  21. Suzanne says:

    I’ve been reading this discussion with interest. I’ve used FrontPage before BUT neverDreamweaver. Now I am wanting to ‘update myself’: What do I buy and learn? Sharepoint or Expressions web OR shall I also buy in addition to either of these, Dreamweaver?? I’m interested in writing webpages for myself but also as a skill to take with me into the workplace. Any advice?

  22. Suzkin says:

    Hi – I’ve been reading this thread with interest. I’ve used Frontpage before BUT never Dreamweaver. Now I am wanting to update myself, which product should I buy and learn?? Dreamweaver, Sharepoint OR Expressionweb? Should I just give Dreamweaver a miss?  And if I do, I’m still confused as to what other to get: Sharepoint or Expressionweb! I want to create webpages for myself at home, but also as a skill I can take into the workplace with me. All advice, really welcome.

  23. Jim G says:

    In my humble opinion, I think it would have been better to just come out with

    one product, SharePoint Designer, and call it Expression to not scare off the

    non-SharePoint folks.  Because I don’t think the confusion will go away anytime

    soon.  In the future for instance, will SPD have everything in it that Expression

    has, or will it have some features SPD does not have?  I think this question will

    not go away.

    Also, since Expression does not open SharePoint sites, it closes the opportunity

    for Expression customers to aquire a SharePoint site on a Windows server, unless

    they are willing to buy SPD for another $150.  I don’t see that as a particularly

    good business strategy for the expansion of market share for Windows Web

    Servers (IIS.)

    It seems to me the reason why Expression exists has more to do with trying to

    do away with the anti-FrontPage folks who still exist out there (even though

    FP 2003 was redesigned to not mess up the designers code, FrontPage still had

    the reputation as being inferior for serious web designers,) since any product

    retaining the title "SharePoint" would naturally scare off the anti-FrontPage

    designers.  While a SharePoint-less (hence FrontPage-less) product would have

    the image of starting completely over from scratch, competing with Dreamweaver.

    If it were my decision, I would have just come out with one product, and perhaps

    called it Expression Web Designer, but include the SharePoint functionality.  That

    might provide the best of both worlds — a new name which promotes a fresh,

    "FrontPage-less" product, competing with Dreamweaver, and also including

    SharePoint functionality to assist in expanding market share of Windows Server in

    the web server market.  (Because when designers use the product, their

    curiosity will be piqued when they see the SharePoint features they are not

    using, and sooner or later they will probably give a SharePoint site a try, and

    chances are like it for intranet site cases.)

  24. Robert New says:

    I’ve searched all over the place, and no body seems to answer authoritatively the critical question:  

    Can Expression Web do anything that SharePoint Designer cannot?

  25. spdblog says:

    Hi Robert, as Jerome says above "In short, SharePoint Designer is a superset of Expression Web really focused on SharePoint."

    In the next version of Expression Web I’d expect some sharper differentiations, and you can actually download the Beta version of XWeb 2, right now to see some of them, but in this v1 product, SPD is a superset.


  26. Sunjay says:


    Will SPD 2007 or ServicePacks to it, have the ability to create SilverLight. Because it looks like the Expression Web set of tools has moved far ahead of SPD 2007 . So it looks like SPD is now a subset of Expression Web.

    Also can we have some guidance on how to go about SivlerLight via the SPD route.



  27. Karen says:

    Very interesting discussion. It’s answered many of my own questions so thanks, all, for weighing in. I’m a freelance writer/consultant and have been building websites for my own and my clients’ needs since the days of FrontPage (…what?) 97, I think. My business has grown to the point where I need some type of extranet for managing client projects but my cash flow can’t accommodate the expenses of a true SharePoint site. I bought Expression Web and have been very, very happy with it as a website design and site admin tool. But oh how I wish I’d known about SharePoint Designer! I’d have bought that in a heartbeat and maybe would be up and running by now. Both products use the same technologies, they use the same (so I read somewhere on the MSDN) rendering engine, their UIs are near-identical, they both use easy-to-understand webparts… but EW won’t open a SharePoint template or starter kit. So for me, building even a small freelancer-friendly "SharePoint-like" site in Expression Web is going to be a time-consuming hassle, if it’s even possible at all. (Right now I’m messing around with DotNetNuke and not having much fun with that, either. And this is after messing around with Office Live workspaces, and discovering, half way through, that because I’m in Canada, the product isn’t fully supported. So I had to nix that idea…)

    Copywriters are taught to promote benefits over features and imho (as one of same, when I’m not being a tech writer) this is what’s led to the confusion here. Master copywriter Bob Bly says that when marketing technical products and services to the tech-savvy, focus instead on features. I’ve thought this for a long time: if MS would focus more on features and specs when marketing its business apps, and direct the benefit-laden copy at the home and recreational-type products, there would be a lot less confusion, a lot less time and money wasted, and a lot less grumbling. Generally, and obviously, I like MS products, but dammit I wish I didn’t have to work so hard to figure out which of its gazillion tools is the right one for the job I want to do or the problem I need to solve.

  28. ppwclev says:


    Thank you for the blog and the relevant posts.  I am disappointed and confused.  Why have two different products and price tags?  I am very surprised since we would like to use a single application to manage web sites and sharepoint sites like we could in Frontpage 2003.  Purchasing both is not an option in this economy so I will remove the evaluations and drop back to Frontpage 2003 until Frontpage 2009 is released.

  29. Michael says:

    It has seemed a bit confusing on the answers.  For those of you who are consultants and not MSDN users you might want to check out Microsoft Reseller Action Pack (MAPS) – Sharepoinrt Designer 2007 and Sharepoint is included with most of the MS products and they are annually renewed as a subsription but you do receive quarterly updates.

    The answer isn’t clear for the difference between Expressions vs Sharepoint as in does Sharepoint Designer have everything web developers need or if not whats missing.  Maybe I’ll discover that answer as I explore Designer.

  30. David says:

    "…If you have an example of ‘before’ and ‘after’ where either program re-wrote your HTML that would help us out a lot. It could be that you have constructs that we did not have time to test."

    You’ve got to be kidding me.  MS never has time to test. Early adopters are the testers for MS.

    Try this:

    Go to your favorite publishing site. Right click on Pages and create a new ASPX form. Now click Alt+F, S to save it. Viola. A bunch of crap just got added.


    <%@ Page Language="C#" %>

    <html dir="ltr">

    <head runat="server">

    <META name="WebPartPageExpansion" content="full">

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

    <title>Untitled 1</title>



    <form id="form1" runat="server">






    <%@ Page Language="C#" %>

    <html dir="ltr" xmlns:mso="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:msdt="uuid:C2F41010-65B3-11d1-A29F-00AA00C14882">

    <head runat="server">

    <!–[if gte mso 9]><xml>


    <mso:PublishingContactPicture msdt:dt="string">, </mso:PublishingContactPicture></mso:CustomDocumentProperties></xml><![endif]–>

    <META name="WebPartPageExpansion" content="full">

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

    <title>Untitled 1</title>



    <form id="form1" runat="server">




  31. Chris Swinney says:

    So, just to be super clear, is there ANYTHING available in Expression that IS NOT available in SPD? (Including templates, add-on etc etc)?

  32. Larry says:

    Can Sharepoint Designer create ".mobi" compliant code? I like the product very much and would like to use it for the .mobi version of our website.

  33. Michael Ellwood says:

    What is sharepoint and why can’t you just create a basic web design package we can understand? It’s not that hard!

  34. Simon says:

    Hi ,  

    I was wondering if you can assist ?

    Creation of a CMS Website to link to our  Sharepoint Portal versus Creating a Sharepoint Extranet

    We are a small company who would in the ideal world want an Extranet built on top of our Sharepoint 2007 Portal Intranet but the costs seem to be extionate (i.e licenses) . An I am really strugling with the creation of/edting of a site Sharepoint Designer 2007 – would it not  be wiser to use an tool like MS Visual Studio to create a CMS site first and link it to our existing Portal. Number 1 is this possible & 2 if so would it be easier for site design (for look & Feel) in MS Visual Studio (or similar) and yet have the ability to pull in the necessary web parts?

  35. Carlton says:

    SharePoint Designer is now Free

    You only need a valid Microsoft OS and you’re good to go

  36. X says:

    Gives a good idea.

  37. SAM says:

    thanks jerome for very useful information . could you please tel me the diff b/w sharepoint designer and sharepoint server?

  38. Mimi Sidwell says:

    I have built my websites using FrontPage 2000, which I know is out-dated etc. I am looking at buying a new computer with Windows 7 and thus need to make a decision – I can purchase FrontPage 2003, get Windows 7 Professional with Virtual XP and continue with my FP 2000, or I can migrate to Sharepoint Designer 2007.  However, I am very busy and do not have time to re-learn a new and different program, and need a wysiwyg html editor. At first look at Sharepoint it seems over-whelming, as all I need is an html program to continue with my websites. (I DO NOT use FP extensions to upload, instead I use Filezilla FTP and it works fine.  My webhosting does not have Windows Servers which I understand is not a problem since I upload with FTP.)  In your opinion, can I easily migrate to Sharepoint and use it much like FP, or would I be better off buying a FP 2003 and using Virtual XP?  Or any other suggestions?  Much look forward to reading comments, thank you for your time.

  39. I sort of have the same problem.  I am using FP 2002 and was told to download Sharepoint 2007 which I did.  I have no idea how to use some of the things that are on Sharepoint but I'm sure I'll eventually learn it.

    I have Windows 7 and I've been using FP2002 but it's frustrating about the code errors that I have to deal with so migrating to Sharepoint was recommended and eventually to Expressions.  

    My webhost server does have windows servers and I use FP extensions to upload.  They say they do not support Sharepoint but I can publish using FP Extensions or FTP.  So, can I remove the FP Extensions now?

    I keep  reading here I can't open a share point web with Expressions but will the new versions of Expressions allow me to do that?

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