1994 was when I first started playing with web pages and the forerunner FrontPage of the current Expression Web. HTML was primitive versus C or most database form generators and the look reminded you of something you might color as a child. Our firm got a lot of business 2 years later because we had a web site and most of our competitors did not. Life was simpler then as you threw AOL discs as frisbees around the office, formatted pages as tables like Word, and left graphic arts people in the bliss of the odd little world that was just the next iteration of bulletin boards.
Then several things happened at once: Internet bandwidth got exponentially faster, everyone had to have e-mail and a website just to say they had one, and Google made the Internet useful. Along the way, most forget that HTML is a publishing standard, so now you had to ditch the tables and follow the rules. When FrontPage Server Extensions died, I reluctantly started using Expression.
At first glance, it reminded me of screen output shown in the movie The Matrix. It really wasn’t that complicated, but because a startup outranked our 20-year-old firm in Google, I was committed to learning the new formatting of style sheets, divisions, and types. With Expression 3, our websites where converted to HTML 5 which most competitors haven’t done today. Now with Expression Studio 4, graphics are edited with Expression Design and video produced with Expression Encoder, along with web page updates with Expression Web. With virtually everyone using Microsoft products, the Expression brand had a comfortable feel to start helping the average person develop current web content.
Now Expression is being discontinued just a few years after release in 2005. While Expression Design 4 and Expression Web 4 are available for free download and will be supported through 2020, these tools will be sorely missed for their value of enabling great content creation while teaching important aspects of the web.
You see the world has changed again. It’s no longer about web pages, but applications and video or audio on various screen size devices. Microsoft is consolidating the Expression line into the development package Visual Studio 2012. I’m installing it while I wrote this post, but I wonder if the mainstream public will soon be forced to rely on professionals and pay regularly for their own quality content?