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SharePoint Designer and Expression Web

Print | posted on Sunday, February 18, 2007 4:34 PM

Over the last month or so I've been asked numerous times by customers and partners about SharePoint Designer and Expression Web. These queries have mostly fallen into two buckets:

1. Isn't SharePoint Designer just FrontPage and therefore is it rubbish?
Well, yes it is sort of the "new version" of FrontPage, but no it isn't rubbish. Really, it is rather good.
Firstly, FrontPage got a bad rap for mangling your markup and inserting it's own stuff over the years - at one point that was very true and very annoying - but this wasn't true of the previous version (2003) and SharePoint Designer follows this.

Let me be very clear, although it might be surprising, SharePoint Designer is a superb web editor. That's right! It's design surfaces are extremely high fidelity and the tools especially with regards to CSS support are best of breed in the market. It certainly doesn't mangle your markup and the formatting tools are extremely flexible.

There are a few issues - there are so many toolboxes etc that make a widescreen monitor is very useful (but hey it's not like that isn't true for Dreamweaver or Photoshop). Also there are foibles with workflow tasks and so forth. However, if you had used the public beta of SPD, you should be pleasantly surprised by the stability improvements.

2. What's the difference between SPD and Expression Web, and when should I use which?
Currently there is really only one key difference - Expression Web cannot open SharePoint sites. Otherwise it's basically the same (Expression Web has a nicer splash screen). Now this won't always be the case, and you can expect divergence in the future.

Presently though this makes the choice easy (and to a certain degree makes the whole "it ain't in MSDN, what's up with that" issue moot - at least for the Web product) - If you need to edit SharePoint sites, then use SPD. If you don't, then use Expression Web. There's no real point in installing both.


So there you go - a certifiable HomeSite addict has just stated that SharePoint Designer is awesome for making web pages. If you are interested in more details of Microsoft's web design tools, and especially surface unification in Orcas, check out Scott Guthrie's blog. I'm off to spin some GIFs.