Expression Web is designed to integrate with the other components of the Expression Studio suite, but since none of these programs is beyond Release Candidate yet, it’s impossible to say how the tie-ins will compare with Adobe’s integration. That said, it’s hard to believe it’ll have the same depth of inter-relation as Dreamweaver has with both PhotoShop and Illustrator. And while Expression Web may be a competitor for Dreamweaver, what we’ve seen of its Expression stable-mates doesn’t prompt the same kind of comparisons with their Adobe counterparts.
Microsoft would no doubt argue that Expression Web integrates instead with Visual Studio, and it’s certainly true that Adobe doesn’t have this kind of heavy-weight development tool in its stable. For some, this will be a plus but since many web designers focus on site design rather than .Net application development, Visual Studio compatibility may not interest them as much.
There are a few shortcomings to the program, too, such as its lack of support for secure FTP. Without this you have to use an alternative program to upload to a secure server, removing some of the useful features of Expression Web’s upload tools, such as its HTML optimisation. It’s also not hot on development languages other than XHTML and ASP.Net. There’s no obvious support for PHP and the other compatibility drawback is that you have to develop in a Windows environment. There’s no Mac or Linux version of Expression Web on the table.
Price-wise, if you’re upgrading from FrontPage or can stretch a point and claim you’re working in an educational environment, you can get a very attractive deal. However, even if you have to pay full price, Expression Web should still be around £230, some £90-£140 less than Dreamweaver.
If you’re not already deep into the Dreamweaver mindset or if you want to create standards-based sites with full support for CSS, ASP.Net or just XHTML, Expression Web should definitely be on your short-list. While Microsoft may be a late arrival at the Serious Web-Designers’ Ball, it’s made quite an entrance with Expression Web. The only reason you shouldn’t consider it is if you intend to code PHP.