There are five threads in the design of Expression Blend for HTML:
- Blend for HTML inherits its idea of visual authoring from Expression Blend
- Blend for HTML speaks HTML/CSS as its first language
- Blend for HTML is a visual authoring tool for applications, not websites
- Blend for HTML introduces visual authoring of metro-style apps for Windows 8
- Blend for HTML is designed to work with dynamic, code-driven UX
Expression Blend has been designed primarily as a visual authoring tool for production assets, with unfiltered access to the power of the underlying platform and a strong workflow between design and development: Blend offers the design-centric complement to Visual Studio’s code-centric view of the world. Blend for HTML inherits this same core idea – enable visual creation of production quality markup throughout the development process, while cooperating effectively with the coding side of the process.
While Blend inherits core concepts from previous flavors of Expression Blend, it speaks HTML and CSS as its native tongue, with a wide range of sophisticated tools for creation, layout and styling of HTML/CSS-based user experience.
Blend for HTML: Visual Authoring for Code-Centric Applications
But that is still not all. Client-side apps also usually have many dynamic states that cannot be expressed in markup. An example might be a fly-out that is displayed by an event handler and filled with generated content that might in turn depend on previous computations by the app. How do you ever visually author an element that is not even part of the UI visible in the app? Blend for HTML has an answer for that problem: Interactive Mode.
Using interactive mode, users can interact with the app as if it was actually running (with very few limitations) and bring it in any desired state, including transient visuals such as hover and complex application-defined states. A single keystroke can then freeze the state and return the user to editing mode. This extends visual authoring to many scenarios previously entirely inaccessible to a visual authoring tool.
We believe that Expression Blend for HTML will make a big difference in your productivity creating HTML-based apps for Windows 8. With the Windows Developer Preview, we have made a preview version available that is not feature complete yet, so there will still be many changes. As always, we are looking forward to hear from you.