Microsoft's Expression Web places CSS (cascading style sheets), XML, and other industry standards at the core of its site design and management strategy. While some vestiges of the former FrontPage web-design application remain, the program is as close as can be to a new product.

Expression Web feels more grown-up than FrontPage. While the program still shields web designers from much of the code underlying their pages, the resulting sites should meet all web-design and accessibility standards. The trade-off for the added functionality is the hours of training the program requires for non-coders, even with its many built-in guides.

The benefits of CSS for web-design are undeniable: separating content from navigation, colour schemes, and other elements makes updating the site fast and simple. While you could develop and publish a site the old-fashioned way, CSS is the default for every webpage you create.

Expression Web goes to great pains to make CSS approachable. For example, when you choose a style, you see possible style attributes in a drop-down menu. IntelliSense lets you type just a letter or two to select options, and you can drag small pieces of code from a palette directly on to your page to add navigation elements, form fields, or other components. Nevertheless, switching to CSS takes quite a bit of training.

Theoretically, Expression Web will work alongside other members of the Expression Studio suite when they become available later this year. However, despite being over £100 cheaper than Dreamweaver, Expression can't match its integration with other applications in Adobe's Creative Suite for team development.

Microsoft Expression Web 2: Specs

  • 700MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 1.5GB of hard disk space
  • 700MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 1.5GB of hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Despite a few lingering traces of old FrontPage features, Expression Web is a giant step up and an appealing upgrade for those who wish to use CSS and XML.

Find the best price