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Microsoft Expression
January 23, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Designing With Microsoft? Evidently this is Microsoft's attempt at competition with 'Macrodobe', the strange, hybrid beast (lumbering?) that is the combined Macromedia/Adobe merger. Microsoft has launched a full suite of products taking aim at Dreamweaver, (is it better?) Illustrator-Photoshop and Flash. For many designers who pretend to be developers (or vica versa) Microsoft's new "Expression" will be 3 or 4 orders of magnitude less relevant than that old Corel Suite. The central issue seems to be one of credibility: Can Microsoft escape the seemingly permanent "FrontPage" stigma, not to mention even more recent design community letdowns?
posted by thisisdrew (101 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Can Microsoft escape the seemingly permanent "FrontPage" stigma, not to mention even more recent design community letdowns?

No.
posted by keswick at 6:48 AM on January 23, 2007


Expression Web is a professional design tool to create modern, standards-based sites which deliver superior quality on the Web.

(emphasis mine)
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:51 AM on January 23, 2007


'Macrodobe'

I prefer 'Macrobe.' Sounds like a really big germ.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The one time I've wished Micro$oft would've done the "embrace and extend" thing was when Adobe bought FrameMaker. First, Adobe teased the FM user community with a Linux release that they time-crippled, and then later they scared hell out us by announcing they wouldn't support FM under OSX.
posted by pax digita at 7:03 AM on January 23, 2007


Given Microsoft's long history of misusing client-side technologies, and the natural limitations of WYSIWYG, you're probably not going to see Expression used by many independent professional web developers.

However, Microsoft doesn't have to compete with Adobe. There are countless companies out there who just buy anything Microsoft releases and force employees into a Microsoft-orientated workflow.
posted by malevolent at 7:13 AM on January 23, 2007


...Outlook 2007, released next month, will stop using Internet Explorer to render HTML emails and instead use the crippled Microsoft Word rendering engine.

Personally, I kind of think this is a good thing. Anything that convinces people NOT to create email as full-on web pages is alright by me.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on January 23, 2007


I've used Expression in a production environment, with a team of 7 designers. We all tried Expression alongside Dreamweaver 8 (our bread and butter application). After 3 days we'd all dumped it and gone back to Dreamweaver.

It's not a better product. Not even close.
posted by ReiToei at 7:33 AM on January 23, 2007


For both legal and personal reasons I will say no more than this, but you should know that Microsoft has a very well-funded effort underway that co-opts (or attempts to co-opt) UX gurus previously skeptical of their product quality, aiming at securing their personal endorsement of Expression.

Now if that just doesn't tell you everything you need to know.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:34 AM on January 23, 2007


"For both legal and personal reasons I will say no more than this, but you should know that Microsoft has a very well-funded effort underway that co-opts (or attempts to co-opt) UX gurus previously skeptical of their product quality, aiming at securing their personal endorsement of Expression."

Dude... you can't just throw something like that out and not elaborate!
posted by ReiToei at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2007


From the site:

Design at Microsoft
"Beauty makes us think better."


When will they finally figure out that design is how something works, not how it "looks."

<sigh>
posted by jpburns at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2007


Actually, for application design, Expression seems pretty cool. I played around with it about a year ago when it was in early beta (and called "Sparkle", of all things) and I had a pretty good time.

I remember them putting a lot of emphasis on the fact that designers could easily build working mock ups of applications instead of just photoshop design templates. Although I didn't really use it too much myself, I watched a video where a demonstrator quickly built and modified a Flicker enabled photo browsing application, all with point and click. Since it was a WPF application, he was able to modfiy elements with XAML. I don't know where those technologies ended up, exactly, but I remember thinking that it was pretty innovative. Are there any Adobe products that function the same way?
posted by Drunken_munky at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2007


When will people stop using rhetorical questions about Microsoft?
posted by srboisvert at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2007


Allow me to second the Outlook 2007 move: I hate, hate, hate graphically intense emails. Plain text PLEASE!!

On another note, while there is much to dislike about Microsoft, they do have some products that work well in the corporate environment and are relatively easy to configure and maintain:

Small Business Server 2003
Exchange 2003
Office 2003 / Office 2007

That's all subjective, but many of Microsoft's tools are good....and, many of them are simply horrible (Frontpage)....

I'm curious to see how Microsoft evolves over the next 10 years. Their Microsoft Live! Suite to compete with Google is pretty much dead on arrival, MSN has been a complete flop, Hotmail is sliding into oblivion, Vista doesn't have anywhere near the buzz of previous OS releases and I expect uptake to be slow (but steady), Zune so far cannot compete, Windows Media Center hasn't gone anywhere and their Windows Home Server product while interesting, looks to be far too complex for the 'home media' market.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I see Microsoft becoming increasingly entrenched in the corporate market and defending that turf (Office / Server / Client OS) viciously as their other market forays don't return very much. I think we'll see their gaming division start to produce some stellar returns with the XBox 360 and Xbox Live which seems to be getting great traction at the expense of Sony, however.
posted by tgrundke at 7:52 AM on January 23, 2007


Seriously windows media player 11 is really pretty great. It isn't perfect, but it is a very solid package. It rivals iTunes 6. It is better than iTunes 7.
posted by I Foody at 7:57 AM on January 23, 2007


I got a security message about a worm... WTF is up with that?
posted by lobstah at 8:02 AM on January 23, 2007


Are they kidding? The announcement site is butt-ugly in Camino, by the way. Nice work, boys.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:08 AM on January 23, 2007


I got to play with the Expression stuff in beta. It's far better than Frontpage, but it's not Dreamweaver. The graphic stuff was pretty lousy; the last version of Paint Shop Pro was miles ahead of it, though it was easier to use than The GiMP.

Their Microsoft Live! Suite to compete with Google is pretty much dead on arrival

I don't think it's hit critical mass yet. It may never, but they're doing some pretty nice things with it. And honestly, this is one of those times we need Microsoft, because otherwise Google is going to be Microsoft was -- in near monopolistic control over the market.

Zune so far cannot compete

But if the ground rules change and the record companies drop DRM, then the Zune and its store will have a real shot (if they ramp down/turn off the copy protection on the Zune). Would you rather buy a crippled M4P from Apple or an unrestricted MP3 from Microsoft? (Now there's a quandary that will make a few heads explode.)
posted by dw at 8:11 AM on January 23, 2007


Interesting to see MS trying to break into a new segment and not just give away the software.

Thorzdad writes "..Outlook 2007, released next month, will stop using Internet Explorer to render HTML emails and instead use the crippled Microsoft Word rendering engine.

"Personally, I kind of think this is a good thing. Anything that convinces people NOT to create email as full-on web pages is alright by me."


As long as they leave us with the option to convert to plain text everything will be fine.
posted by Mitheral at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2007


i will drop my pants on a crowded street when the record companies drop drm
posted by localhuman at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2007


I've used Expression in a production environment, with a team of 7 designers. We all tried Expression alongside Dreamweaver 8 (our bread and butter application). After 3 days we'd all dumped it and gone back to Dreamweaver.

There is a huge difference between "better" and "easier to use for someone using a competing product for decades" and I wish people would stop confusing the two.

When will they finally figure out that design is how something works, not how it "looks."

Maybe when people figure out that words can have multiple, sometimes overlapping meanings?
posted by delmoi at 8:37 AM on January 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


But if the ground rules change and the record companies drop DRM, then the Zune and its store will have a real shot (if they ramp down/turn off the copy protection on the Zune). Would you rather buy a crippled M4P from Apple or an unrestricted MP3 from Microsoft? (Now there's a quandary that will make a few heads explode.)

Except the Zune is crippled, and it actually ads DRM to the songs it transfers. Even record companies drop DRM (which they're starting to do in order to be able to play on the iPod without selling through iTunes), the Zune will still suck balls.

Besides, there are tons of Mp3 players out there besides the zune that are much nicer anyway, such as those from Samsung.
posted by delmoi at 8:39 AM on January 23, 2007


I Foody - you actually like WMP 11? That clunk-tastic interface still pisses me off anytime I try to resize or max/minimize windows. Ugh!
posted by tgrundke at 8:39 AM on January 23, 2007


Why does M$ consistantly try and introduce new products to compete instead of making their own existing product base better? Oh, that's right - they don't have to... if you're a dinosaur, you just lumber along, eventually stepping on the smaller guys.

Y'know, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt - I'll try out a demo of something before I judge it, but the !#$ers won't let me because there wasn't an OSX demo (WTF?!) and this is what you have to install before installing Expression:

* Install Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 before installing Expression Web.
* Uninstall all Microsoft Office 2007 beta programs before installing Expression Web Trial.
* Get a product key to activate the trial.

Uh, thanks but no thanks. Do they honestly think any professional designer would switch any of their apps to anything they're offering? So basically then is this aimed at the consumer market who's looking for something 'more' (ha) than FrontPage but less than Dreamweaver? Or do they really think people are going to switch to this? Sure it integrates with with ASP, but that's assuming you'd want to write your pages in ASP.

Oh, and their sudden emphasis of 'user experience' and 'standards' makes me want to throw bricks at people's heads. Oh, Adam, to find out more about that tidbit...
posted by rmm at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2007


Can Microsoft escape the seemingly permanent "FrontPage" stigma, not to mention even more recent design community letdowns?

Please note they're using the name Expression, NOT Microsoft, so that would be a qualified yes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2007


Would you rather buy a crippled M4P from Apple or an unrestricted MP3 from Microsoft? (Now there's a quandary that will make a few heads explode.)

If the record companies drop DRM, Apple would certainly drop it too. So, head not exploding over non-quandry. However, what I'd really like to buy is a lossless DRM-free music file from whoever will sell it to me.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:47 AM on January 23, 2007


Seriously windows media player 11 is really pretty great.

You obviously don't have a lot of mp3s stored on an external drive. Every time I played music the moment my playlist stopped wmp11 maxed out my processor at 100% until i killed the app using the task manager. Every single time. Just destroys my laptop battery life. I regret upgrading because all my metadata is useless now.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on January 23, 2007


Well, if the saying is "talent imitates, genius steals," the new site for Microsoft Expression is a work of double-genius, since it steals the site design from Apple and the icons from Adobe.
(OK, so maybe "steals" is too much; it's more of an homage.)

At least they stole the old Adobe CS2 icons and not the stupid new periodic table/color wheel ones for CS3.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:52 AM on January 23, 2007


After 3 days we'd all dumped it and gone back to Dreamweaver.

Not that I have any design experience to speak of, but that doesn't really seem like a reasonable evaluation period when comparing it to a product you are familiar with. Three days is not enough time to seriously determine whether new/different ways of doing things are better or worse.
posted by fusinski at 8:54 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


But if the ground rules change and the record companies drop DRM, then ...

/uncontrollable laughter
posted by odinsdream at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2007


However, what I'd really like to buy is a lossless DRM-free music file from whoever will sell it to me.

Magnatune is one such company that does this.
posted by odinsdream at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2007


Yeah I have my media files on my main hardrive, and I am comparing it to jukeboxes not just media players. I previously used musickube and I liked that ok, but it was kinda limited.
posted by I Foody at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2007


Microsoft [...] well-funded [...] UX gurus [...] personal endorsement

Most of the usability guys have blogs of one kind of another, so... buy off key bloggers with truckloads of cash?
posted by Leon at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2007


Thank God they aren't making this for OSX. Lord knows that NO creative people (i.e. those who might be the target audience) use Mac computers.
posted by MrChowWow at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2007


However, what I'd really like to buy is a lossless DRM-free music file from whoever will sell it to me.

I believe you can actually buy several of these at once on a CD-ROM now.
posted by aaronetc at 9:11 AM on January 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine Windows Media Foundation and XAML (=Microsoft competition to Flash) taking off.
Those things will not be accessible to Linux and OS/X I guess.
Has anybody got experience (real use) with XAML? Will it be a protocol used on the internet? Or just for intranet?
posted by jouke at 9:18 AM on January 23, 2007


> ...you should know that Microsoft has a very well-funded effort underway that co-opts (or attempts to co-opt) UX gurus previously skeptical of their product quality, aiming at securing their personal endorsement of Expression.

This doesn't mean much. If a professional's opinion is known to be bought (obvious symptom: appearances at conferences where his stickered MacPro is replaced with a high-zoot Lenovo), the community he belongs to will rearrange itself as it sees fit in fairly short order, and he'll probably no longer be considered a trustable critic.

I don't doubt Microsoft is casting for opinionmakers at all levels of business, but Microsoft's sales strategy has always been to sell not to the geeks, but to the geeks' managers and executives. They find Excel, Visio and Project to be really tight, excellent products, so they imagine the software they delegate to their underlings must be at least half as good.
posted by ardgedee at 9:48 AM on January 23, 2007


Thank God they aren't making this for OSX. Lord knows that NO creative people (i.e. those who might be the target audience) use Mac computers.

This is much, much more insidious than it seems.

This is made by MS -- it will gain traction, no matter how much it sucks, simply because many IT buyers aren't very good at evaluating products, and assume any Microsoft purchase won't get them fired. By the time MS releases it for the 5th or 6th time, it will simply suck, rather than suck donkey balls, and IT buyers will have brainlessly put it on thousands of computers (mainly for part-time designers and folks that don't have the clout to tell IT to piss off when they give them a shitty MS product to work with).

So it will gain a certain amount of market share.

BUT, these MS products will always be MS Windows only (MS couldn't develop a cross-platform solution if they wanted to, these days. They can barely handle Windows only). So Microsoft is creating a big headache here, unless these products fail horribly.

I'd be quite happy to see Adobe get some competition, because their products, while extremely powerful (and the only choice), have some major annoyances. Maybe a little competition would keep them on their toes.

Sadly, this competition would have to kill OS X as a design platform for that to work.

MS really doesn't know any way to behave except as a predatory monopoly.
posted by teece at 9:49 AM on January 23, 2007


MS really doesn't know any way to behave except as a predatory monopoly.

Amen and hallelujah. If we had sigs, I'd put that in it. Nicely said.
posted by Malor at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2007


the web was a lot better visually and functionally when it was written by end users in plain text editors. designers ruin everything.
posted by quonsar at 10:02 AM on January 23, 2007


Not that I have any design experience to speak of, but that doesn't really seem like a reasonable evaluation period when comparing it to a product you are familiar with. Three days is not enough time to seriously determine whether new/different ways of doing things are better or worse.

Three days might not tell you if your workflow can be marginally better, but rather more importantly it will tell you that the competing program (Expression) is either worse or the same, and in doing so, tells you that you might as well stick with the product you're making money from.

It is in this realization that Microsoft will fail with the first version, because if there is no compelling reason to ever use this over Dreamweaver, there will always be a place in the market for Dreamweaver.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on January 23, 2007


When will people stop using rhetorical questions about Microsoft?

When people no longer tie reactions to Metafilter posts to feelings of self-worth. Microsoft is one of the few targets you can tee off on with almost no fear of blowback. For example:

Are they kidding? The announcement site is butt-ugly in Camino, by the way. Nice work, boys.

As a Mac user and Firefox zealot, I'm still struggling with what Camino does for me, other than free me from decisions about what extensions to add to the browser and save me from using cross-platform key combo equivalents. I cannot imagine how Microsoft forgot to check a page announcing a Windows-based product on an open source browser that only works on a competing OS. Priorities, people! Someone alert Steve Balmer.

I've heard ok things about Expression from people I would not expect to go easy on WYSIWYG web development tools. I don't think their target market is realistically hand-coders (if you all want to be elitist about the thing, we've got a team full of web developers who would scoff at anyone willing to trust their XHTML to Dreamweaver or any other tool); it has to be better than Frontpage for mom and pop and small offices. If it leads to better web markup that makes it easier for search engines and disabled users to consume content on the web, so much the better. This is a potshot, an excuse to post to Metafilter disguised as a product announcement which, I would note, is the kind of thing people would normally pop in only to say "Pepsi Blue!" about.
posted by yerfatma at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2007


jouke- I've used WPF and XAML for a couple of apps I've written. I'm not a huge MS fan but I think they've done a lot right with it. The idea that code is for functionality and markup is for interfaces and you can link the two together is a really good one and makes for much faster and more intuitive GUI design. Also, I wouldn't call XAML a resonse to flash. It is in many ways orthoginal.
posted by lucasks at 10:12 AM on January 23, 2007


But if the ground rules change and the record companies drop DRM, then the Zune and its store will have a real shot (if they ramp down/turn off the copy protection on the Zune). Would you rather buy a crippled M4P from Apple or an unrestricted MP3 from Microsoft? (Now there's a quandary that will make a few heads explode.)

I'm really confused by this: do you know how the iPod works, dw?

An MP3 file without DRM is as close to universal as digitally compressed music gets. The iPod plays MP3 files just fine. It wasn't Apple's idea to create the Fairplay feature of the iPod: it was the recording studios.

MP4/AAC is not a proprietary or DRM-encumbered format (it may be patent encumbered, just like MP3). It's just another (newer, slightly better) compression format. I'm sure Apple could get the recording studios to let them sell songs in DRM-free MP4 (should the recording studios abandon DRM). But even if the couldn't, the MP3s would still work flawlessly -- they'd just take up more space for the same sound quality, compared to the MP4.

The only thing this would do is to digitally make purchased music playable on any DAP. That'd be great. But it would make very little dent in the market -- the vast majority of music on DAPs is not DRM-encumbered. It's ripped from CDs or obtained online via sharing networks.

I've got 3000 songs on my iPod, of which about 20 are iTunes DRM jobs (somebody gave me an iTunes store gift card). I have more DRM tracks than most people, from the stats I've read.
posted by teece at 10:16 AM on January 23, 2007


Frontpage still exists, though now it's hidden away as "Sharepoint editor". It's actually... not awful, and can be persuaded to deliver passable code.

It;s got a quick simple search and replace that supports linebreaks, which is the main reason I open it at work. At home I have Homesite and so wouldn't use it.

I'll be interested to try out Expression, but neither it, nor Dreamweaver (which I've had very good expereiences with) really do what I'm doing these days, and I spend most of my time in Visual Studio, which is actually on of MSs better products.

Oh, and I've been using Outlook 2007 for a while now, and haven't noticed any problems with the display of emails.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on January 23, 2007


I can hand any client a copy of Dreamweaver and know that I won't be cleaning up proprietary tags and attributes and methods that make its output look great in one version of MSIE and like visual noise everywhere else.

I don't care if Expression sings soothing songs and provides backrubs. It has to be better than Dreamweaver to be taken seriously, and that starts with the quality of its HTML and Javascript. If any default behavior causes different results in MSIE and Firefox, it fails.
posted by ardgedee at 10:20 AM on January 23, 2007


Try viewing the Microsoft Expression Studio page in Opera 9.x. Major lulz.
posted by brownpau at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2007


If the record companies drop DRM, Apple would certainly drop it too.

Why would they do that? M4P locks users into iPod. iTunes is nothing but an advertisement campaign and loss leader for Apple to sell iPods. Without that, it becomes a fight between form/function and price point, and while iPods have a nice user interface, there are a lot of Asian companies producing far cheaper players that would welcome a wide-open market.

If Apple does drop DRM, songs certainly won't be 99 cents anymore.
posted by dw at 10:29 AM on January 23, 2007


Finally, a real PageMill® killer. Huzzah!
posted by hal9k at 10:32 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


jonmc: 'Macrobe.' Sounds like a really big germ.

I like 'Macrodobe.' I like this post just because it uses that word. And because it rightly disparages Macrodobe, which righteously deserves to be disparaged (what a magnificennt waste of effort and talent their applications are, and what magnificent wastage of talent and effort they engender every day).

I like 'Macrodobe' because it evokes 'macrobe' (which I'm pretty sure is a real term, jonmc, not just your imagination!), 'macrobiotic', and feels to me like an accurate representation of the Frankenstein's monster I fully expect them to unleash upon the world when they finally get around to releasing the integrated suite.
posted by lodurr at 10:34 AM on January 23, 2007


they finally get around to releasing the integrated suite.

It'll be the biggest thing ever. (As in: requiring three HD's and 30gigs ram)
posted by IronLizard at 10:39 AM on January 23, 2007


My 2c:
I do a lot of client-side web development. For the last 10 years, I've used Macromedia's Homesite. I've tried a few other so-so solutions, such as WestCiv's Style Master and Bradsoft's TopStyle Pro. I found both to be pretty cool on features, but a bit unstable and prone to crashes. I inevitably ended up switching back to Homesite. The only product I've ever used for an extended period other than Homesite was Edit Plus, which is a great product, but has a few shortcomings, and takes quite a while to set up (importing syntax highlighting for various languages, autocomplete, etc).

I am strictly a hand coder, and I doubt if that will ever change. No WYSIWYG editor is ever going to work for creating efficient, structured code. The biggest concession I'll make towards automation is code snippets. As such, I would sooner shoot myself in the head than use the bloated piece of crap that is Dreamweaver. Sure, you can use it for hand-coding. But it's such a clunky, slow, unstable monster that doing so is just masochistic.

I've been using Expression for about a week now. It's a great product. It's lightweight, stable, looks great, and has CSS inspection, uses the CSS 2.1 specification for it's internal logic. It understands DOCTYPE's and it's error checking is pretty spot-on. Would I ever use it's "design view"? No. But for hand-coding, it rocks. I happen to be working on an ASP.Net 2.0 product right now, so the .Net integration comes in handy. The only other product I'd seriously consider at this point is ActiveState's Komodo, which is quite a clunky beast itself, but supports all the cool-kid languages out of the box.
posted by dvdgee at 10:53 AM on January 23, 2007


one more thing...

yerfatma: "...a team full of web developers who would scoff at anyone willing to trust their XHTML to Dreamweaver or any other tool.."

your team full of web developers is either old and stagnant, or just plain stupid. I said Dreamweaver was clunky, but it stopped re-writing people's handcoded stuff a long, long time ago. It's perfectly possible to use it as a text-editor with frills (CSS inspection, auto-complete, syntax highlighting). The only problem is that it comes bundled with all the resource-hogging crap that goes into the WYSIWYG stuff.
posted by dvdgee at 11:02 AM on January 23, 2007


ardgedee - Hmm. I've seen some awful browser bending tag soup generated by Dreamweaver in the wrong hands (usually people who never so much as glance at the code view), so It's not like it makes you immune from that problem.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on January 23, 2007


Would I ever use it's "design view"? No. But for hand-coding, it rocks. I happen to be working on an ASP.Net 2.0 product right now, so the .Net integration comes in handy.

You may have sold me on it there. But does it beat Visual Studio?
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on January 23, 2007


but the !#$ers won't let me because there wasn't an OSX demo (WTF?!)

I'm curious: Why in heaven's name would anyone have expected them to provide an OS X demo?

As for the comments regarding the percentage of the "creative community" using Macs: It's kind of a myth. Sure, if you walk into an agency, you'll see a lot of them. But if you walk into a corporate advertising division, you'll see "PCs" -- Windows machines -- mostly. There certainly is a very disproportionate representation among agency-based visual creatives -- but even in agencies, the writers and account folks most often still use Windows boxes. (Please, no tokens. I know there are plenty of small agencies, like mine, where Windows only gets fired up to run Quicken or do browser and PowerPoint testing. That's not the point.)

And most audio and video creative is still done on Windows. I know an audio creative guy who's buying a Mac -- but he'll be using it to run all his audio software in a Parallels box.

Note well that Macromedia (by the time of the merger buyout) had essentially started targeting Windows for all their first releases -- x.0 on a Mac for Macromedia apps is not a safe bet, and the Mac version often just doesn't work as well as the Windows version. Dreamweaver for Windows is less buggy, faster, and actually can do some things I can't do on my Mac version. And Dreamweaver has gotten bigger and buggier with each of the last three majore versions. Sure, it's wonderfully powerful -- but in another sense, it's crap.

Dreamweaver is like the Jaguar of web dev: When it runs, you can do 150 and feel like a king -- then the engine coughs and sputters (or dies). (At least the brakes don't give out...) I have learned from hard experience that I need to take the time to shut down and restart Dreamweaver every three or four hours when I'm doing a lot of work in it, or it will crash and take with it all that lovely state information it normally preserves through restarts.

As for Adobe -- man, what a waste that company is. Photoshop -- it's not even the Jaguar, man, it's more like you take a Porsche 960 and outfit it with a steel-plate bench seat and twine seatbelts, and then make you shift by rolling down the window and working a shift lever that's bolted to the outside of the car. By an honest evaluation, it's a piece of crap, simply by virtue of the fact that you need hours of training and several plugins to do the most basic things. (And no, I don't buy the tired old "with great power comes great learning curve" nonsense.)

The Macrodobe merger was bad for people who use this software. If MS can spark some competition, great -- circumstances and prejudice would either one suffice to keep me away, but I'd wish them well. Thing is, I'm just not optimistic. I don't think they're liable to make much of an impact on Adobe's core strongholds with something like this.
posted by lodurr at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2007


I am strictly a hand coder, and I doubt if that will ever change. No WYSIWYG editor is ever going to work for creating efficient, structured code. The biggest concession I'll make towards automation is code snippets. As such, I would sooner shoot myself in the head than use the bloated piece of crap that is Dreamweaver. Sure, you can use it for hand-coding. But it's such a clunky, slow, unstable monster that doing so is just masochistic.

Never is a long, long time; and that kind of categorical statement is clearly unwarranted. And if you're not making concessions to automation, you're wasting time -- yours and your employers'/clients'.

Anyway, snippets? Dreamweaver snippets suck. They're vestigial, anyway. The real power is in Templates and Libraries. I change the library item or the template, save it, and Dreamweaver updates all the pages that use it. Simple, quick, and it works. Sure, it's basically equivalent to a bunch of *nix string matching commands -- but I didn't have to learn GREP and roll my own regexes, and I can be reasonably sure they'll work every time because a bunch of people smarter than me did that for me and tested the hell out of it.

Unless you are using Templates and Libraries, Dreamweaver is actually kind of a waste of time for most people. Use those, and it's worth the bloat. (Barely.) Especially if you need portable deliverables. Every hour of work that I save, saves our clients something over $100. More to the point, if I can work faster, I can bill more. That adds up fast.

Sure, if it's "pure XHTML", it's portable by definition. But portability is a fluid concept. 'Portability' for me means that I can tell a client that they can use the template system we give them if they have Dreamweaver (or Contribute), or something that can read and convert Dreamweaver Templates.
posted by lodurr at 11:20 AM on January 23, 2007


Artw: It's more lightweight than Visual Studio. I find it more responsive. It's CSS handling is far, far superior to anything Visual Studio has. It will provide you with applied styles for any highlighted element, ala Dreamweaver, and it can link to any class/id CSS definition, even in external stylesheets. This is a bit clunky, as it will always jump to the first definition, so it's not that helpful if you have multiple definitions for the same class. I also can't stand Visual Studio's heavy-handed autocomplete and indentation reformatting for CSS.
posted by dvdgee at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2007


I'm really confused by this: do you know how the iPod works, dw?

My 40GB iPod says hi.

The only thing this would do is to digitally make purchased music playable on any DAP. That'd be great. But it would make very little dent in the market -- the vast majority of music on DAPs is not DRM-encumbered. It's ripped from CDs or obtained online via sharing networks.

Yes... and no. There are a lot of people who buy and download from Apple/Real/etc. There are three problems with this, though:

1. Formats "locked in" to particular players
2. Restrictions on burning
3. Restrictions on playback

iTunes primarily has the problem with #1 (though #2) is an issue; other stores have all three problems. If the record companies were to circumvent the stores and start selling MP3s, then all three of these issues would go away instantly. There would still be hardware restrictions (e.g. Zune's stoopidarse wireless setup), but the ties to single players and the limits on how you can use a file you purchase would go away.

And if they did, then the iPod's main selling point would be its UI. But if you're a kid with an allowance, would you rather buy a $20 Korean import MP3 player or a $199 iPod Nano, especially if all that legal music can now play on both?

(And remember, the kids may be the biggest "thieves," but they're also the biggest purchasers from the iTunes Store.)

So, if you're Microsoft, you know what you have to do -- convince the record companies to partner up to sell MP3s (or just drop DRM altogether), drop the cost of the Zune, and loosen some of the restrictions (if not get rid of them entirely).

Ballmer wouldn't do it no way no how, but Ray Ozzie might.
posted by dw at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2007


I'm a "creative" and have been using windows as a platform for more than 10 years.

90% or more of my work is eventually used by people on Windows machines. I don't really want to have several different machines cluttering my space just so I can test an app on a Windows box.

I also cannot stomach the cost of Apple products. I can build my own nifty PC for a fraction of what I'd spend to get equivalent Mac performance.

I have nothing against Macs, but people who insist creatives only use them need to get over themselves.

I use homesite/photoshop almost exclusively.
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 AM on January 23, 2007


lodurr: "The real power is in Templates and Libraries".

That's why I develop sites using server-side template solutions. Ruby has Rails with layouts and partials, ASP.Net 2 has master pages and user controls, Java has Struts, Faces, Tiles, etc. Why on earth would I want to do this in Dreamweaver? I don't do brochure websites.
posted by dvdgee at 11:30 AM on January 23, 2007


> I've seen some awful browser bending tag soup generated by Dreamweaver in the wrong hands...

Yeah. I can do that in BBEdit too. Dreamweaver makes it harder to be successfully bad -- eliminating stupidity is beyond the product's scope.
posted by ardgedee at 11:31 AM on January 23, 2007


I can't imagine Windows Media Foundation and XAML (=Microsoft competition to Flash) taking off.
Those things will not be accessible to Linux and OS/X I guess.


WPF/E, which is a light weight version of Windows Presentation Foundation (and competition to Flash) is already available for OS/X in beta form, it also works in Firefox. Eventually, Microsoft will release a light-weight version of .NET Framework for OS/X, which is pretty cool. No word on Linux though.

I think WPF and especially WPF/E will take off with no trouble once more developers see how cool it is to develop in, we are already considering using WPF to rewrite our huge intranet project.
posted by LeavenOfMalice at 11:32 AM on January 23, 2007


I don't do brochure websites.

Ah, I see. If it doesn't use a server side app, it's a "brochure site."

It's nice that you can be so pure. The rest of us have to make a living, and often that entails creating websites that will run in a diminished hosting account and will need to be maintained by mere mortals after we hand them off. (And if they can't be, guess what? That means we didn't do our job. And that client goes somewhere else next time.)

And it's cool that you're so bleeding edge. And so ready to make pronouncements about what you don't do, when that "don't" is completely irrelevant to you.

Really, saying "I wouldn't use Dreamweaver 'cuz it's dumb" when you do all your stuff in Ruby On Rails is kind of like saying "I wouldn't IE7 because it sucks" when you're using a PPC Mac. Dreamweaver can do nothing for you.
posted by lodurr at 11:37 AM on January 23, 2007


That's why I develop sites using server-side template solutions. Ruby has Rails with layouts and partials, ASP.Net 2 has master pages and user controls, Java has Struts, Faces, Tiles, etc. Why on earth would I want to do this in Dreamweaver? I don't do brochure websites.

That's great, if you're building applications. If you're just building sites that will have static content, and you don't want the overhead and cost that goes hand-in-hand with CMS applications, Dreamweaver + Contribute give you a lot of functionality for a comparatively low price.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2007


I don't think their target market is realistically hand-coders (if you all want to be elitist about the thing, we've got a team full of web developers who would scoff at anyone willing to trust their XHTML to Dreamweaver or any other tool)

Your team of web developers could code a lot better if they had their heads removed from their asses.

Dreamweaver annoys me at times, but it's my tool of choice for work. I stopped using Homesite five or six years ago, because Dreamweaver had more and better tools to work with.

I wouldn't hire someone if they hadn't handcoded (X)HTML, but I also wouldn't hire someone if all they do is handcode XHTML. There are good tools out there to expedite the process, check for well-formed code, and hold designers to the semantic web. A person who doesn't use the right tools is like the carpenter who uses a hand saw and hand drill to build a McMansion. Ridiculously inefficient.
posted by dw at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2007


Lord, could I bitch about Contribute.... You want to talk performance hogs -- outrageous. And so, so sluggish, even on Windows. What a pig. But even buggy and clumsy and slow, clients seem to love it. For some reason that I frankly don't undersatand (well, not at a gut level, I get it technically), they just can't seem to warm up to web-based content management interfaces. So we use Contribute.

At the end of the day, my big problem with Macromedia apps is not that they're bad per se, but that they're not as good as they should be. I'm in metaphor hell this afternoon, I guess; to me, it's a lot like the automobile market: 20 years ago, we had a bunch of cars on the American market that could routinely get over 40mpg on the highway, now we've got a scant hand full.
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on January 23, 2007


I am rooting for Microsoft to hit it big with this product. Not because I like MS, or because I expect them to be able to do anything better than any other company, but because without MS to threaten them the Adobe products will continue to slide into shittiness.

Photoshop 7 ran fine on my old HP laptop with sub-GHZ processor and around 512mb RAM. Photoshop CS ran fine on my old HP laptop, but on my new AMD Turion-based, 1 GB RAM, 2GHZ laptop it continually refuses to update the screen as I work - so actually using Photoshop requires me to manually refresh by resizing, zooming, etc. every single time I make any change to the image. The CS2 trial I checked out not only refused to refresh the screen, but every single keyboard shortcut present in the program absolutely, completely did not work. Period. No matter what I did or what troubleshooting steps I tried. In the nearly two years I have been trying to figure this shit out there has never been a single patch or suggested fix that solved the problem.

Every other app in the CS suite runs perfectly on my laptop. All apps up to and including CS2 run perfectly on my (older, but also AMD-based) home desktop. I know from forums, etc. that I am far from the only person dealing with this insane behavior from Photoshop, and yet... if you check the Adobe support forums, there is absolutely zero mention of the issue, and absolutely zero patches or updates for any of it. You think I'm going to purchase CS3 just to see if it can do what the copy of CS1 I already have was supposed to have done, out of the box? Hell no. Not until they actually start testing that shit before selling it for $1500 per install. You read the requirements for an Adobe app lately? "Intel processor" required. No, not "Intel or Intel-compatible", Intel ONLY. They do not test it and apparently do not support it on AMD-based systems. There are multiple reported issues I've heard about when trying to run it on some AMD-based machines - some, not all - and these problems are neither patched nor mentioned.

As a side bonus, if MS gets any good at doing illustration work, I would love to see some of the basic controls moved into PowerPoint and other office programs. The shit drawing controls in those programs make my Illustrator-trained blood boil in their abject stupidity. Unfortunately, I am sort of afraid that they would be more likely to make their design package work like PowerPoint's drawing tools rather than the other way around...
posted by caution live frogs at 11:58 AM on January 23, 2007


Speaking for the dead-tree-based design community, Microsoft will never be able to live down Publisher. Nothing is more despised by the printing industry, except maybe Word documents. To me, and people in my corner of the industry, the phrase "Design with Microsoft" is enough to cause open weeping. I can only imagine the abomination they're about to unleash onto the rest of the deign community.
posted by lekvar at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2007


Speaking for the dead-tree-based design community,

You people are still around?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on January 23, 2007


Nothing is more despised by the printing industry, except maybe Word documents.

What is this word 'maybe' that you speaking?

Publisher may be worse, but Word is ubiquitous. I'm willing to defend Word for some things, but you would be somewhere in the high hundredth printing person I've heard weep o'er Word docs. It's just not much good at output, I'm afraid.
posted by lodurr at 12:24 PM on January 23, 2007


Microsoft Expression -- So Easy, Even A Dead-Tree Designer Can Do It!

Sorry, I just had to...
posted by lodurr at 12:26 PM on January 23, 2007


Why does M$ consistantly try and introduce new products to compete instead of making their own existing product base better?

Please! Give Microsoft a break. Office 2007 has taken the best suite of office apps and made it even better.
posted by bobbyelliott at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2007


Photoshop -- it's not even the Jaguar, man, it's more like you take a Porsche 960 and outfit it with a steel-plate bench seat and twine seatbelts, and then make you shift by rolling down the window and working a shift lever that's bolted to the outside of the car. By an honest evaluation, it's a piece of crap, simply by virtue of the fact that you need hours of training and several plugins to do the most basic things. (And no, I don't buy the tired old "with great power comes great learning curve" nonsense.)

Photoshop is a piece of crap? Really? And what exactly would you point to as an example of a superior bitmap editing program? The statement that you need plugins for "the most basic things" is silly - the most basic image editing functions range from color correction to compositing, all of which can be accomplished without the use of any third party plugins whatsoever. If you're gonna complain that some of Photoshop's functionality is implemented in plugin form, well, that's a good thing, the result of logical, modular software design.

Photoshop is indeed a highly sophisticated program, and as such, involves a learning curve for learning truly deep, complex techniques that are complicated by nature.

I'll give you one example - bluescreen mask extraction, compositing and color spill removal. By definition, this is a complex process, yielding superior results when compared to a low-tech chromakey or selection mask, and while you can indeed purchase an expensive plugin for bluescreen work, ALL of the tools for doing professional-quality matte extraction and edge enhancement are right there in the program - the Calculations menu. Yes, it's involved, it comes from it's origins at Industrial Light and Magic and the work that John Knoll did with his brother Tom in developing the first versions of Photoshop. Those vestigal traces are still found in the program, and add to it's overall complexity. A large number of digital photography buffs are happy with Photoshop Elements, but the fine degree of control desired by many is available only in the full version of Photoshop. But Photoshop can be tailored to it's audience: indeed, if you're using CS2, you can customize the menu structure by stripping out a bunch of the menu items that you or your creatives don't use, and even color code the remaining items to establish a visual flow that is highly intuitive. All of this underscores that Photoshop is a sophisticated, mature, full-featured application that is highly flexible, extremely capable and expandable. Sorry it's too tough for you, but show me ANY professional media creation tool that can be learned in a day. Or two. I've been using Photoshop for over 15 years, and I'm still learning stuff about it.

The healthy market for Photoshop training, videos and books is a sign that there is great depth to the program, and I will indeed agree that many of these materials are either inferior or redundant. On the other hand, take a look at Dan Margulis' book on Lab color, and you start to understand the true depth of capabilities which require some intellectual effort.

Imaging is a science and art, and complexity is the nature of the beast. Not everything is a browser, and if you think Photoshop is deep, try diving in After Effects sometime, which I feel is, in many ways, a superior compositing and layering tool, with an architecture that was designed to be nondestructive from the bottom up.

As far as creative pros primarily using Windows for audio and video work, I say, tell that to the army of ProTools and Final Cut people doing broadcast-level work on the Mac every day. I won't go into the issues of the many semi-secret weapons that are Mac-only, such as Metasynth, Artmatic, Studio Artist or things like that, that discussion is for another time.
posted by dbiedny at 12:31 PM on January 23, 2007


your team full of web developers is either old and stagnant, or just plain stupid. . . . It's perfectly possible to use it as a text-editor with frills

Your team of web developers could code a lot better if they had their heads removed from their asses . . . I stopped using Homesite five or six years ago, because Dreamweaver had more and better tools to work with.

HomeSite works just fine. What more do I need than snippets and some auto-complete? For a typical static site, we build two pages, homepage and sublevel, let a script rip out all the pages and then go back in and fill out the content. For application user interfaces, the code is so page-specific I don't see what more an IDE could offer. We're lazy enough we've automated as much of the old-school style web development (i.e., not integrated with an app or CMS) as possible. I'm glad you're happy with your tools. Our set seems to work for us.
posted by yerfatma at 12:32 PM on January 23, 2007


Word docs. It's just not much good at output, I'm afraid.
I have a few work-arounds for Word docs. The only work-around I have for Publisher files is me working my hands around the neck of the person responsible.
posted by lekvar at 12:32 PM on January 23, 2007


If you're using a Mac, it can be understood that you prefer Adobe Photoshop. Corel stuff seems to look a lot better on the PCs I've tried these programs side-by-side on. In fact, it seems to my untrained eye that Photoshop for PC needs a dramatic overhaul at this point, given that Adobe InDesign produces vastly superior images; shouldn't quality be a bit more continuous between programs?
posted by koeselitz at 12:40 PM on January 23, 2007


Photoshop is a piece of crap? Really?

Yes, really! The fact that everyone uses it does not mean it's good. It sucks.

Here's a simple test case for you: Tell me how to create a new image from a group of objects in a Photoshop file, using Photoshop.

And what exactly would you point to as an example of a superior bitmap editing program?

Why should I be expected to?

In any case, you're qualifying the game heavily by restricting this to "bitmap editing". That's not what people mostly use Photoshop for, even as they edit bitmaps with it. They're using it as an object editor. Even the example you cite, it's an object editor, not really a bitmmap editor. Sure, the end-product is a bitmap, but the "source code", if you will, is all objects.

The statement that you need plugins for "the most basic things"...

... was an exaggerration, I confess. But you do need to perform a lot more actions to do things that are basic simple actions in other software -- and that, by the way, used to be basic, simple actions in Photoshop.

As far as creative pros primarily using Windows for audio and video work, I say, tell that to the army of ProTools and Final Cut people doing broadcast-level work on the Mac every day.

The fact that people do it that way does not mean that the majority of people do it that way. Most professional audio work is done on Windows boxes. Most studio editing work is done on Windows boxes or Unix workstations.

Anyway, this is not an anti-Mac screed that I'm pushing -- it's an anti-Adobe screed. Sure, there's some video/audio production done on Macs, and I'm sure that in many cases it's done using excellent tools. There's more of it done on Windows. And many of those tools are probably pretty darn good, too.
posted by lodurr at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2007


yerfatma: For a typical static site, we build two pages, homepage and sublevel, let a script rip out all the pages and then go back in and fill out the content.

Yeh, we'd never get away with that. We're often changing the design after launch, as often as not in more or less real time. Dreamweaver makes that easy for us.

Our last static site used two templates, but they were pretty heavily customized using the conditional attribute feature in the Dreamweaver templates. I try to keep it down to two templates (home page and interior), but sometimes the designers mandate differences between page layout at different levels or locations in the IA tree that I can't implement by just changing the stylesheet or some tag attribute. Then I need to go to a new template. Doesn't make me happy, but if I watch my template properties, I can easily migrate pages back and forth between templates if there's an error or if that changes.

FWIW, I was a dedicated Homesite user for years, until I Switched. BBEdit just didn't feel right, and I was delivering code to ad agencies at the time anyway, so I just elected to get familiar with DW.
posted by lodurr at 1:07 PM on January 23, 2007


Lord, could I bitch about Contribute.... You want to talk performance hogs -- outrageous. And so, so sluggish, even on Windows. What a pig. But even buggy and clumsy and slow, clients seem to love it. For some reason that I frankly don't understand (well, not at a gut level, I get it technically), they just can't seem to warm up to web-based content management interfaces. So we use Contribute.

Web-based CMS interfaces suck. They suck hard. For people to like Contribute, it only has to suck a little less. And that's where it it.

At the end of the day, my big problem with Macromedia apps is not that they're bad per se, but that they're not as good as they should be.

I can only really speak to Dreamweaver and Contribute, since I don't use Flash or Fireworks, but Dreamweaver is incredibly complex for what is, at heart, an HTML editor. It's so complex because it's pulled in a lot of directions by a lot of people who do significantly different things. Given those constraints, I'm surprised it's as good as it is.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:13 PM on January 23, 2007


Tx LeavenOfMalice
posted by jouke at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2007


lodurr,

I'll assume here that when you say "object", you mean layer. For the most part, Photoshop layers are made of bitmap graphics, with the exception of text and imported vector art retained in vector format. I'm not "restricting" my points to bitmap graphics, Photoshop is a bitmap graphics editor. Whether you like it or not, that's the deal. Adobe has never claimed otherwise. And for the record, I'm not some wide-eyed Adobe fanatic, I have made my share of enemies there by virtue of my outspoken opinions regarding the good and bad of their applications.

My cited example - bluescreen work - does indeed specifically involve BITMAP GRAPHICS. If you don't understand that, well, that's about your lack of knowledge of what I'm talking about. All of the work I've done on motion pictures using Photoshop to do bluescreen work is based on pixel-based image files - Cineon and Pixar format, to be exact. I prefer to use After Effects at this point, but much of the approach in that app is due to knowledge and techniques I gained using Photoshop. Calculations looks at each PIXEL of an image, and compares it to each PIXEL of another image, spitting out a PIXEL result. No objects or vectors.

As far as your test case, there are a few ways to do it - if you're stating that you want to make a single layer Photoshop document from a bunch of layers in a document, position the layers where you want them in space with relation to one another, and flatten the file. You're done. If you want to spawn off a duplicate, leaving the original layered file intact, then choose the Image>Duplicate command, and check off "duplicate merged layers only", and you'll have a new file with the layers all nicely melted together.

Anything you could accomplish with Photoshop 1.0 can be done more easily, with more flexibility, in any of the last half dozen versions of the program. PERIOD.

You make a sweeping statement about Photoshop sucking, and then fail to back it up with specifics. You're certainly entitled to say whatever you want, but that doesn't make the statements true or relevant. When you say "IT SUCKS", it's on you to qualify the statement, and that usually involves citing positive examples and offering specific cases of other applications that are superior. Of course, you don't have to do a damn thing to back up your statements, it's just that it kinda makes your argument a bit stronger, instead of just emotional.

And as far as your claim that "most professional audio work is done on Windows boxes", I say you're wrong, and I'll qualify it: Pro Tools is by far and away the most popular platform for studio-based digital audio editing and recording, and it's no secret that anyone using it is likely to be using in on the Mac platform, due to the larger number of TDM plus being offered for the Mac, as well as easier audio hardware expansion and driver issues. EVERY musician I know who uses it, is on the Mac.
posted by dbiedny at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2007


What I'd like to see somebody try, really try wholeheartedly, is to create a UI that transformed not based on user sophistication, but user role. If the user is functioning as a developer, it would look one way; if the user is functioning as a designer, it would look another.

There's some of that in Dreamweaver, Contribute, and other apps, but it's half-hearted. They don't really transform the UI, and there's too much of a mindset of "dumbing it down" to suit the audience. Well, that's not really it -- it's that the audience has different needs, not lesser needs.

I've heard of whole user environments -- system desktops, e.g., in KDE or on Windows -- that tried to do something like that, but that's not een where I'm going. Actually, I'm not sure where I am going, but it would be something like having one knife that could be either a carving knife or a french knife, depending on what you needed, yet still be the "same" knife, just reconfigured. Kind of like those silly (or maybe not so much) GM SUVs that can be reconfigured from luxury truck to pickup by moving panels around.
posted by lodurr at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2007


That's TDM plugs.
posted by dbiedny at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2007


As far as your test case, there are a few ways to do it - if you're stating that you want to make a single layer Photoshop document from a bunch of layers in a document, position the layers where you want them in space with relation to one another, and flatten the file. You're done.

You used to be able to do this in Photoshop, and can still do it in Fireworks and most other software that manipulates vector and bitmap objects in the same file by simply selecting them, copying them, and then pasting as a new file. The file was automatically dimensioned to the outer bound of the largest visible object. No flattening required. No need to take the interim step of creating a file that you have to then trim.

In Photoshop, what you end up with is an eyeball guess at the right size for the element. It's imprecise; you have to trim it down, and that can be a real pain. It takes me about three to four times as long to acquire a typical element from a Photoshop composite when using Photoshop as it would using, for example, Fireworks.

IOW, this was capability that Adobe took away. Why, I have no idea.

As for my statement about audio: I've never actually met anyone who did professional audio on a Mac. All the studio guys we deal with use Windows. All the hobbyists I've ever known who did it seriously, not just dabbling, used Windows. I know that there are people using Macs. But I've never met one.

Clearly, you think Photoshop is great. I still think it sucks, by the same rationale that I use to state that H1 Hummers suck. It's a stupid waste of human effort both in the creation of the program and in its use. I shudder to think of the millions of person hours that could be salvaged if it were reworked from the ground up with real and not voodoo usability in mind.
posted by lodurr at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2007


What I'd like to see somebody try, really try wholeheartedly, is to create a UI that transformed not based on user sophistication, but user role. If the user is functioning as a developer, it would look one way; if the user is functioning as a designer, it would look another.

I don't think that user roles are generally that clear-cut, and software really shouldn't try to out-think the user, in my opinion - I don't want someone else's ideas about workflow or tasks to constrain what I do.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:59 PM on January 23, 2007


Still, it would be worth a shot to try it for some things.

Let people shift between roles. In an ideal world, let them make their own, but don't make that the default (that way lies madness -- or DevonThink, take your pick).

As I said, I'm having a hard time imagining it for DW, but maybe what would really need to be done is to split it up into a bunch of smaller, loosely-coupled apps. Maybe that's what I really want. When you want to image-map, spawn an image-mapper; when you want to add JavaScript, launch something that can interpret the DOM and inject the right JavaScript.

Nah, that's clumsy, too.
posted by lodurr at 2:07 PM on January 23, 2007


dw: W.r.t the audio case, we're both making characterizations based on our own experience. I know what I see; you know what you see. Neither one of us has cited anything that actually directly counters what the other has asserted. I've said the people I've seen use Windows; you've said the ones you know use Macs.

The data is probably out there to prove the point one way or the other, but honestly I don't care enough to look it up. It's just not that important to me. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and that's that.
posted by lodurr at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2007


Er, for "dw" read "dbiedny". Dammit.
posted by lodurr at 2:11 PM on January 23, 2007


Pro-tools? Logic? most professional audio studios use Macs (begrudgingly, maybe, but they're certainly in the majority).

Photoshop is a great tool - if you've come from a photographic background - it makes sense for working with photos. It seems to be attempting a lot more these days incorporating a bunch of layout, web and graphic design requirements. There will always be some new work flow that an individual will seek, but judging the power of an app purely on available automated workflows is utterly subjective.
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2007


To me the biggest problem with Photoshop is the implementation of simple drawing tools, and I've always suspect that it's their philosophy that if you want to do that kind of thing you should go over to Illustrator, and they wanted to keep Illustator a clear and distinct package.

Now theres more and more people who, like me, use it to generate graphics for the web and don't want to go over to illustrator for some simple drawing, and instead now have all these quirks and workarounds ingrained in them and would find it hard to use something else. The "Porsche with the gearstiv mounted on the outside" metaphor seems really apt to me.

While we're on ther subject, do you know what else has an interface that sucks? Macromedia Flash.
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on January 23, 2007


Photoshop is a great tool - if you've come from a photographic background - it makes sense for working with photos.

Photoshop.
posted by dbiedny at 2:18 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


To me the biggest problem with Photoshop is the implementation of simple drawing tools, and I've always suspect that it's their philosophy that if you want to do that kind of thing you should go over to Illustrator, and they wanted to keep Illustator a clear and distinct package.

I absolutely concur. Many thousands of moons ago, I participated in the behind-the-scenes on a product called ColorStudio, and came up with the idea of an integrated vector layer, called Shapes. The vision was to incorporate a true vector drawing capability on top of a bitmap layer, with selective rasterization. Shapes got to a version 1.0, and then Letraset dropped the ball, and Adobe came to bat with Photoshop. The rest is history.
posted by dbiedny at 2:21 PM on January 23, 2007


lodurr, just to follow up, there's nothing stopping us from changing our design after launch. Usually it can be done just in the CSS, but the files themselves just have the content on them. Everything else in in server-side includes/ .NET Master Pages.
posted by yerfatma at 3:06 PM on January 23, 2007


And as far as your claim that "most professional audio work is done on Windows boxes", I say you're wrong,

dbiedny is quite correct. Mac+OSX is certainly the dominant platform for professional audio work.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:43 PM on January 23, 2007


All of these are token examples, and I distrust tokens -- which, of course, makes it even more silly for me to have said what I did, since I was based only on my own token experience.

I said I didn't care, but this preponderance of tokens led me to Google, Ask and Yahoo around, and it turns out to be a surprisingly difficult question to answer with data (can't find any market share or sales figures for audio production software). So a preponderance of tokens will have to do, and here that's clearly favoring Macs as a pro production platform.

In any case, the whole "who uses what platform for audio" thing is a derail from my original assertion, which was that the dominance of Macs in visual creative work is not as complete as people think it is. That was offered with the qualification that I fully understand that the Mac is disproportionately represented in visual creative fields with regard to its market share. I would be very surprised if it had over 30% of the total market share, though. My gut is that it's less than that. (People in the advertising/design/marketing complex tend to have a skewed impression of their importance, in my experience, so we tend to think more people do things the way we do than actually do.)
posted by lodurr at 5:21 AM on January 24, 2007


Hey Lodurr - I absolutely agree with everything you said about Dreamweaver, though.
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:44 PM on January 24, 2007


The vision was to incorporate a true vector drawing capability on top of a bitmap layer, with selective rasterization.

Super Paint, baby, is that you?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:59 PM on January 24, 2007


Microsoft Expression Media is the next version of iView Media Pro, which Microsoft bought last June.
[Via an update to this Daring Fireball post, which was inspired by this MetaFilter thread.]
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 AM on January 25, 2007


How simultaneously disappointing and unsurprising...
posted by lodurr at 10:31 AM on January 25, 2007


which was that the dominance of Macs in visual creative work is not as complete as people think it is.

I guess it depends on what people think... I dunno the answer. I do know that in my years in corporate America, a Mac was like a 3 dollar bill, unless you were in a "creative" section of the corporation, in which case they were pretty much a monopoly.

However, I like the fact that InDesign and Photoshop are cross-platform -- I'd like it to stay that way.

If Miccrosoft ever develops a Photoshop killer, the Mac dies as a design platform (or at least gets some major problems). That would suck.

That's what sucks about MS in general. I don't really mind MS, but I hate the way they try to make it harder and harder for me to use the OS I want to use.

There really is not even any debate any more: if Microsoft can gain success in a field, they will leverage any monopoly power they have to destroy all competitors. They'll do it with design stuff, if they can. And sadly, the Windows/Office monopoly gives MS a major cash cow and major infrastructure with which to build new monopolies.

So I wish them the worst of luck, even though I think Adobe/Macromedia could really use some competition.
posted by teece at 5:38 PM on January 25, 2007


Seriously -- and I know you're not going to want to hear this, and I don't think it's all that cool, either, I just happen to think it's true -- I have a hunch that in five years time, most Mac and Windows apps will be inter-operable, and that the Mac as a platform will be differentiated in a very different way than it is now.

I see that as a necessity because, unless Apple does something to actively prevent it, Windows apps will be penetrating more and more deeply into the Mac experience -- into the desktop, as it were. "The Mac version" of a large app like MS Project or Interdev -- maybe even Macrodobe CS-x -- might become a Cocoa wrapper that still requires some kind of Windows virtualization to run. WINE doesn't do anything but get better, and strange as it sounds MS gets more and more open as their monopoly position erodes, making it in turn easier for WINE and WINE-like stuff to get better....

In other words, the platform differentiators will all end up being redefined, or at least re-emphasized. Then again, my thinking right now is based on a "computer" platform, which is probably going to be in the process of disappearing (at least in a form that we're familiar / comfortable with) in that same time frame, so it's probably going to be even stranger than I'm thinking...
posted by lodurr at 4:43 AM on January 26, 2007


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