Alex Tushinsky - Expression Web Interview

Name: Alex Tushinsky
Country: USA
WebSite: http://ltmod.com/
Focus: FrontPage and Expression Web Add-Ons, Templates, and Web Design and Development Training

Expression Web Interview with Alex Tushinsky

Q 1. Do you own and maintain your own FrontPage/Expression Web resource(s)?

A. Yes, HTTP://LTMOD.COM/  offers add-ins, and templates for FrontPage and Expression Web.

Q 2. Do you have a special tip for Expression Web you can share with our readers?

A. Well, this might sound obvious to others, but I recently discovered that the Manage Styles panel in Expression Web allows you to drag styles from a page declaration over to a linked style sheet declaration. For a while there I was cutting and pasting styles defined in pages over to my main style sheets, then noticed that simply dragging and dropping them from Current Page to the attached CSS filename does the trick!

Q 3. What feature would you most like to see available within the next version of Expression Web and why?

A. Personally I am finding myself missing a number of features that were the staples of FrontPage from Expression Web. For example, even if you don't build navigation bars using the FrontPage extensions, the navigation view is still an extremely useful tool. They should bring that back. Also, why not make the extension stuff XHTML compliant? I would love it if Expression Web simply built CSS rich navigation bars for me based on the Navigation View.

Q 4. What Expression Web Add-on would you most like to see available and why?

A. Well, as an add-on developer, I plan on working on a quick way of creating CSS navigation bars in Expression Web. To me that's an important feature. There needs to be a quick way to create, and insert links into pages without having to build DWTs around them or include pages. Another important one is a way to do data collection. People always want web sites to collect information for them and with the support Expression Web has for ASP.NET, the process of putting together a contact form, or any data collection form really, and save that information to a database should be simpler.

Q 5. As a developer you participate online and answer many questions on (FrontPage) Expression Web. What started you down this road and why?

A. Unfortunately, I don't do this as often as I probably should. I like helping people with web development. I teach it, and I work with it, and I'm always happy to answer questions. Unfortunately this typically limits me to my customers at present. There simply isn't any more time left in the
day.

Q 6. What Expression Web or Web design good practices do you recommend our readers follow?

A.  I was a bit upset at first that Expression Web lacked some of the features of FrontPage that I grew to love. However, I looked at it more from a standards compliance perspective and found that Microsoft was right
to get rid of some of these features. We should all build better, cleaner, and more compliant web sites. For example, I was surprised to see my ltmod.com site (built in Expression Web) work flawlessly on my Blackberry, while the old version of the site (built with FrontPage) was a disaster on the phone. So overall, I think any one working with Expression Web should use XHTML and CSS for their layouts. It will make for a better web site, that is easier to manage and update. I also think that its important to move all of those styles Expression creates in each and every page to a common CSS document. Keep it all in one place, so you can manage it better.

Q 7. What five sites do you recommend should be in our readers web design arsenal?

A .
a/ http://www.sitepoint.com/  - This site is absolutely great for anything web
design and development
b/ http://www.asp.net/  - As a programmer, I find this site a valuable source of information regarding asp.net.
c/ http://msdn.microsoft.com/  - Tons of information here, much of it technical, but you can usually find the answers if you spend the time.
d/ http://pixelmill.net/  - This site offers templates mostly, but they do have a great section for lessons and tips & tricks.
e/ Any web site managed by Tina Clarke (and there are plenty). Timely, relevant information. For example, I build Embedded Media Fix after reading her blog and noting that people are complaining about the Microsoft ActiveX Activation issue.

Q 8. Do you have any luminaries within Expression Web and the Web Design industry in general and who do you model your practices after?

A. Not really. My designs and development practices are my own. This, of course, explains why some of my web site color combinations are extremely bright and don't really match (I'm color blind as well), but I try to keep things original. I always hate the thought of looking at someone else's work and copying it. I try to come up with my own designs using Adobe Fireworks, and if I like it, it becomes a site.

Q 9. What advice would you give to readers who are used to using the wizards and bots of FrontPage and want to move to Expression Web and a more user friendly site?

A. I tell this to my students all the time - learn the language(s) behind the tool. I've seen so many people struggle with FrontPage, Dreamweaver and Expression Web not because the tools are complex, but because they are missing something basic within the HTML language itself. These tools are just translators between what you want to design and (X)HTML. If you don't understand what this language can do, how can you expect to achieve it in the tool? Learning (X)HTML will help also with CSS, JavaScript, and server-side programming. If you understand (X)HTML, you can figure out why you're doing something in a CSS block, and so on.

Q 10. Can you tell our readers of any upcoming Expression Web activities or just launched projects you have planned?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.  I just launched LTMOD.COM. Along with the launch I released several add-ons for Expression Web / FrontPage. Most notably, Media Manager 2007 (started out as Media Manager 2004 believe it or not) is a tool that lets you embed Apple Quicktime, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Media Player, and RealOne player into your web page. It also makes this IE compliant. Another tool that was built out of necessity and thanks to your blog is Embedded Media Fix, which resolves the IE ActiveX Activation issue when an embedded player is encountered on a page.

I am also planning on bringing back my DEVICES add-on, but this will take some time, and I'm not sure yet what its going to look like when its done. Definitely won't be the same tool that it is today. Finally, I'm working on several more quick add-ons. I'm also working on a CSS Navigation Bar builder, a Google SiteMap component, and several ASP.NET 2.0 apps that will be accessible via Expression Web.

Search and User Security. Some of this is in very early stages and may never see light of day. Later this year, I will definitely have Expression Web Training CD-ROM available for purchase, and I'm planning by early next
year to launch sitemaven.com, a web site dedicated to online training for web design and development. I teach these courses now face to face, but I believe I can make them more detailed, and much better online.

Interview by Tina Clarke Microsoft MVP - FrontPage  29th Sept 2007 Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reserved