• Price: 221 . 72

  • Company: Microsoft

  • Pros: Usable and flexible interface. Decent price – especially for upgraders. Strong coding environment and decent CSS tools.

  • Cons: No Mac version. Lack of PHP support renders the application worthless to many, and the Design View is awkward and unintuitive.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

Booting up Microsoft’s latest attempt to conquer the Web-design market, it’s hard not to have preconceived ideas. After all, this is from the company that inflicted FrontPage and Publisher on the design community – the two software products that have arguably done more damage to Web design than any others.

First impressions of Microsoft’s efforts are mixed. After a bafflingly long install, the application finally appeared. Unsettlingly, the interface looks like a cross between Word and Dreamweaver, and even when using the application, it’s hard to forget Microsoft’s Office suite. Crucially, though, the default palettes are liberally sprinkled with standards-compliant tags and attributes. This is a promising addition, as is the fact that our first new page’s code was standards-compliant right from the start.

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The application’s interface actually turns out to be a joy to use, and the various toolbars are easy to rework into a formation that suits the user. Inevitably, comparisons with Dreamweaver abound when working with Expression Web, but although Microsoft’s effort comes up short in some areas, it has a few tricks up its sleeve, even surpassing Adobe’s market-leader on occasion. 
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<b>Written in code</b>
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Expression Web is particularly strong in Code view. It includes everything you’d expect – word wrapping, line numbering, and a decent code-completion feature (referred to as “IntelliSense”) – and the presets for attribute and tag colours are clear and readable. A neat additional touch is the familiar red squiggle from Microsoft Office, which in Code view signifies a possible mistake in your code – by hovering your cursor over it, a tooltip explains what the problem is.
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