Jim Cheshire - Expression Web Interview

Jim Cheshire.

Name: Jim Cheshire
Country: United States
WebSite: Jimco Software and Jimco Books 
Focus: Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft Expression Web, and many software reviews


Expression Web Interview - Jim Cheshire

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

A. Yes. I own and maintain http://www.jimcosoftware.com  and http://www.jimcobooks.com  I should hire someone to maintain them for me since I never seem to have the time to devote much time to the websites these days due to my writing obligations. I hope to devote more time to them starting later this year when I finish my ASP.NET book.

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

A . Sure. When you're designing your website and applying CSS formatting, make sure that you create your CSS code first and then apply it to your page elements. If you don't, Expression Web has a nasty habit of automatically creating CSS classes for you named style1, style2, etc. If you let it, it will create quite a CSS mess for you to work with.

It's much easier to create your CSS code and then apply it to page elements as you add them to your page. That way, YOU control all of your CSS code.

Learn how to use the Direct Style Application toolbar. Using this toolbar,
you can switch Expression Web's style application to Manual and have greater control over how Expression Web manages your CSS code.

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

A. I'd like to see someone create a robust solution for creating attractive and powerful navigation features inside of Expression Web. The number one complaint I see about Expression Web is the removal of the Navigation view.

While Expression Web can read the navigation bars inserted with FrontPage, it won't let you alter the navigation structure because Navigation view is missing.

I know that at least one add-in developer is working on adding this functionality back to Expression Web.

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

A.  A little over 10 years ago when I started working with FrontPage, I didn't know anything about it. It occurred to me that the newsgroups were a great resource for learning about the product, so I started reading and posting. I figured that I would know I had learned the product once people stopped making fun of my posts!

In 1998, I was hired by Microsoft and moved into the FrontPage team. We were working on FrontPage 2000 at the time, and I was really excited about the VBA functionality we were adding. I started playing with that feature and eventually moved into creating add-ins for my own use. Shortly after that, I released my first add-in (Save All) and I've been hanging around the FrontPage community and releasing new add-ins ever since.

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

A. Learn first, use later. That's my advice. In other words, if you don't fully
comprehend how to use a specific technology, experiment with it and learn it before you use it on your production website.

There's nothing quite a frightening in the web development world than trying to implement a new technique on your production website only to find that your efforts mucked up the site.

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

A. In no particular order:
a/ http://webpagesthatsuck.com/
b/ http://w3c.org/
c/ http://www.google.com/analytics/
d/ http://webmonkey.com/
e/ http://www.asp.net/

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. That's a good question. I don't actually even know of any luminaries within the web design industry, and I think that Expression Web is far too young to allow us to recognize anyone in particular.

I model my practices (in my business) after my father. My father is the most principled man I know and he's an excellent role model.

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. Be patient. Expression Web 1.0 lacks many of the point-and-click features that you're used to, but I think we'll see a big improvement in this area in future versions. Until the next version is released, use the time to learn the technologies that will allow you to more easily move to new technologies in the future.

The Web is a constantly moving target. You cannot rest on your laurels. You absolutely must push yourself always to learn new technologies. You don't have to become an expert in all technologies, but some familiarity with them will make your life a lot easier.

Personally, I try to pick one or two new technologies and learn as much as I can about them. Once I feel comfortable, I move on to the next technologies that interest me. Right now, I'm really interested in Microsoft Silverlight and Expression Blend CTP. There are a lot of exciting developments in this area and I want to get a head start.

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








A. I am currently working on a new book called The Expression Web Developer's Guide to ASP.NET 2.0. This new book will walk you through creating a full-featured, data-enabled web application in Visual Web Developer 2008, the next version of Microsoft's free ASP.NET development tool. Visual Web Developer 2008 borrows the designer and many other features (including CSS features) directly from Expression Web, and it will be a natural environment for Expression Web users.

I think that many Expression Web users feel compelled to move into ASP.NET, but many of them are intimidated by that move because they don't know code or don't want to be a programmer. My goal is to teach Expression Web users how to do very powerful things with ASP.NET without having to be a programmer. This book will do that by walking you through creating a web application from beginning to end.

You can pre-order my book The Expression Web Developer's Guide to ASP.NET 2.0 right now from Amazon.

Once I finish my book later this year, I hope to start creating more video tutorials for Expression Web users that will be made available on my website. I hope to try and leverage Silverlight, Expression Blend, and Expression Media Encoder to create a cool new video library.

Interview by Tina Clarke Microsoft MVP - FrontPage  26th July 2007 Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reserved