This impressive web-editing program is now available at no cost
It is possible to create a web page, or even an entire site, with nothing more than a text editor, such as Windows Notepad or the more capable Notepad++. We wouldn't really recommend that as a full editor, such as Microsoft Expression Web, has plenty of time-saving tools.
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While Expression Web used to be a paid-for program from Microsoft, it is now available as a free download. The catch is that it won't get the support that it used to.
It can also be used to create complete websites and there are several templates to help get you started. It can manage uploading updated files to the website, as well as templates to ensure a consistent look across all the pages. Templates are .dwt files that can be used by Adobe Dreamweaver.
The most attractive feature of Expression Web is that it can display how a web page will appear as well as the code behind it. Unlike some other editors, it is possible to edit the page from either view. It is especially helpful that the two views follow each other. If you want to edit the code behind a picture, simply click on the image in the preview pane and the code will jump to that place. This alone is a massive timesaver.
Expression Web will also check for errors as you type (including spelling if you want). This can pick up tags that have not been closed in the correct order or code that does not follow the particular HTML standard specified when the page was created.
Complete sites can include template files saved in the .dwt format, which is also compatible with Adobe Dreamweaver. This saves time because elements that appear on every page can be edited once and then updated to all the pages in the website.
While updating a site using a Content Management System held on the website itself makes life easier when editing the site from multiple locations, this is adequate for simple sites where only one person is likely to be editing the site.
Editing from more than person is possible as the Site Manager tool will check the dates off all the files on the web host. It is possible to simply replace any differing files with files from the computer but there is also a synchronisation tool so that the latest versions of files are always used.
The Site Manager Tool can save settings for uploading ftp, removing the need to use a separate ftp program. However much we like Filezilla, it is easier to do as much as possible from one program.
The Design view makes it easy to design a page exactly as you want it, and elements such as pictures or text boxes can be dragged onto the page from the Toolbox. The Snippets tool pane contains fragments of code that can be quickly added to web pages.
Checking your pages before they go online is made simple with Expression Web. The preview menu will include all the browsers on your computer. On our test machine it recognised Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Chrome. Preview windows can be opened at a particular resolution, which is very helpful when working on the design of a site.
As with many other tools, the Preview options can be adjusted to include other resolutions that might be required.
Another advantage of Expression Web is the Publishing tool. Websites can be uploaded to web hosts directly from Expression Web using a variety of different means including FTP, SFTP, webdav or a folder on the computer.
If you've never used a design program like this, you may find the community pages on the Microsoft helpful. Some of the tutorials are quite detailed including one on making an email icon.
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An excellent web editor
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