Chapter 2

Capitalizing on Expression Web 4 Functionality

This page serves as the companion web page for Chapter 2 of Expression Web 4 Step by Step.

The previous chapter emphasized how Microsoft Expression Web displays a website or a page. This chapter focuses on how Expression Web performs its tasks and how you can work with Expression Web as the Integrated Development Environment that it really is.

By taking advantage of the potential available in Expression Web 4, designers can gain efficiency and speed, while at the same time improving accuracy and personal convenience.

Expression Web 4 is not just a Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) editor, it’s also a top-notch website management tool and an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) in the same way that Microsoft Visual Studio is an IDE for programmers, but built with web professionals in mind.

After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Change site settings
  • Change Application Options
  • Change Page Editor Options
  • Use the Expression Development Server
  • Use PHP with the Expression Development Server
  • Create a new site from an Expression Web 4 template
  • Create an empty site and import files and folders
  • Use the Import Site Wizard
  • Configure add-ins

Changing Site Settings

To build on one of the most important concepts introduced in the previous chapter, you will begin this chapter by capitalizing on how Expression Web 4 works with sites.

In this chapter segment you will examine the Site Settings dialog and make sure that certain Site Settings are in place for this book's Sample Site

Site Settings

Changing Application Options

In the previous exercise you learned how Expression Web uses site settings for an individual site. This exercise is similar , except that the settings described in this section dictate how Expression Web 4 behaves as an application, with every site and page. Consider this the broadest point of access to the inner workings of Expression Web 4.

In this chapter segment you will learn about Application Options settings

Application Options

Changing Page Editor Options

In the previous exercise, you learned how to modify application settings to change the behavior of Expression Web at the application level. In this exercise, you will learn about Expression Web’s Page Editor Options dialog box. From the Page Editor Options dialog box, the user can change many of the default settings for Expression Web.

In this chapter segment you will learn about Page Editor Options

Page Editor Options

Using the Expression Development Server

The Expression Development Server is a tremendously useful feature for designers. In the past, web designers had to set up a local server or publish every change to an external server just to author and test dynamic pages such as ASP.NET or PHP . The Expression Development Server is also unique because it lets you store sites in any common folder location, such as your My Documents folder , your desktop, or even a folder on an external drive. The Expression Development Server will process these pages no matter where they reside; it does not require them to be in a special folder on the server.

In the following steps, you will preview a dynamic page through the Expression Development Server and change the site options to use the Expression Development Server to preview HTML pages


Using PHP with the Expression Development Server

PHP is a very popular and powerful open source web development and programming platform. You will even find open source PHP applications in the Windows Web Application Gallery (, which is a collection of web applications you can install through the Microsoft Web Platform Installer. This is all part of the Microsoft Web Platform initiative. You can find out more at

The days of PHP as a technology primarily for programs that are not based on Windows are over. In addition to the fact that the Microsoft Web Platform has obviously embraced PHP, Expression Web also recognizes the importance of PHP and makes it much easier to use, via the common PHP code blocks item on the Insert menu, IntelliSense for PHP in Code view, and so on.

In this chapter segment you will learn how to install and configure PHP for the Expression Development Server at both application and site levels

Installing PHP for the Expression Development Server

Creating a New Site from an Expression Web 4 Template

Expression Web 4 comes with 19 different website templates divided into three categories: Personal, Organization, and Small Business. Each of these site templates is based on a Dynamic Web Template, which you will learn about in Chapter 3 . Each template also contains three different cascading style sheets, which also control the site’s visual properties. Because there are 19 templates, each with at least three different style sheets, there are at least 57 different appearances available that require little or no custom design work.

In this chapter segment you will create a new Site using one of the Expression Web 4 Site Templates

Expression Web 4 Site Template

Creating an Empty Site and Importing Files and Folders

No matter how many templates come with Expression Web or how many style sheets you can attach, in some cases only a custom site will do. In such cases, you will start with an empty site, import the graphics and other files you need, and then start building the custom site. To use Expression Web to manage the site, you must know how Expression Web recognizes individual sites and their files. Basically, Expression Web needs to know the beginning and end point of the folder structure that it considers a "site.” You must also have metadata enabled within the site to make Expression Web’s advanced management features available.

In the following steps you will learn how to create an empty site and then import files and folders

New Empty Site

Using the Import Site Wizard

The Import Site Wizard is a powerful and helpful tool. With it you can import a site from any location, regardless of whether the site is based on a local disk or located on a server. The benefit of using the Import Site Wizard is that the wizard will import all of the files and folders from an existing location into a new site, thereby protecting the original site from any accidental damage. You can work on the imported site without worrying about the original site and its files and folders.

In the following steps you will use the Import Site Wizard to import a web site

Import Site Wizard

Configuring Add-ins

An add-in is a small program that extends the functionality of an application. Expression Web 4 contains a whole new add-in platform. In the past, add-ins were generally made by programmers in C++ and were fairly complicated. In Expression Web 4, each add-in consists of an Extensible Markup Language (XML) manifest file that describes the add-in to Expression Web, an HTML file for the add-in’s interface, and any necessary cascading style sheets or JavaScript files. In Expression Web 4, add-ins for the application can actually be created within Expression Web itself.

Add-ins fall into three basic categories: panels, dialog boxes, and commands. Users can access the add-ins via menu commands, the Panels menu, and the Toolbar.

With that kind of ease of access, we can expect developers to create add-ins that provide extended functionality for Expression Web that would otherwise be unavailable except through significant manual work.

In the following steps you will View, enable, and disable add-in–based components.

Insert Symbol Here:

Tip: A list of Expression Add-ins, as well as documentation regarding creating add-ins can be found at
Insert Symbol Dialog (Built on the Expression Web 4 Add-in Model)

Key Points

  • Expression Web allows tremendous customization in default application behavior.
  • The Expression Development Server processes files from any folder location and doesn’t require the designer to install a separate server.
  • The Expression Development Server’s path to PHP can be set at an application level as well as on a site-by-site basis.
  • By specifying a path to the PHP executable file in the Site Settings dialog box, the designer can test his or her PHP pages with various versions of PHP.
  • Expression Web contains 19 site templates, each of which contains multiple cascading style sheets with which you can alter their appearance.
  • With the Import Site Wizard, designers can create a copy of a site from a local folder location or a Web server–based location so they can work on the copy without the possibility of damaging the original site.
  • Expression Web 4 contains a new add-in model designed to simplify the process of creating and using add-ins.

You can easily make this a point to YOUR company OR hide it all together.