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Microsoft Expression Blend Unleashed [Paperback]

Brennon Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 13, 2008 067232931X 978-0672329319 1

Microsoft Expression Blend Unleashed is about learning a new tool for designers, but also learning a new mindset for developers. Expression Blend enables the delivery of rich interactive applications, for the web as well as the desktop, allowing you to take graphical assets and blend them with functional .NET code through the power of XAML and the WPF platform. Microsoft Expression Blend Unleashed also features a C# Primer, introducing designers to the .NET Framework. .NET allows the reader to extend the functionality of many of the WPF elements used in Expression Blend. The most important concept for the reader to grasp is that Blend and Visual Studio together are about facilitating the kind of user experience everyone wants from the applications they use. This book will give you the skill set whether you are a designer or developer; from there, you just need to use a little imagination.


Detailed information on how to…

  • Design and develop WPF applications
  • Use Blend’s animation workflows
  • Design and implement WPF template types
  • Create and manage Resource Dictionaries
  • Master WPF Style templates
  • Handle control events
  • Understand advanced control properties in XAML/Blend/C#
  • Create customized controls through inheritance
  • Understand the fundamentals of XAML-based design and development
  • Implement effective XML, CLR Data binding, and XAML template binding
  • Extend XAML functionality with C# code
  • Implement video and audio in your applications
  • Use Blend as part of your designer/developer workflow

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brennon Williams is among the top .NET developers in the UK, consistently contracted by leading consultancies for cutting edge development projects. He has an extremely wide skill set as a hybrid designer/developer, with experience in Flash, 3D Object Modeling, and DirectX based development. Brennon’s UK company X-Coders Limited is the preferred Blend/WPF training and development provider for some of the World’s largest companies.


For almost 15 years, Brennon has worked in several countries as a consultant software developer. He is currently employed as XAML Architect for SmithBayes in the UK and Dev Lead/XAML Architect for Motorola’s WPF project in the United States and Sri Lanka. He is also creating his ExpressTrain video tutorial network online at When he schedules an hour or two of free time, he enjoys nothing more than having a BBQ with his wife and kids in the backyard.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



You're a user of things—we all are. You have an experience with every thing you interact with. And, it better be a good experience, too; otherwise, you'll change the thing, avoid interacting with it, or suffer.

It could be that basking in the color of your bedroom walls is a therapeutic experience. Conversely, you might have a frustrating experience with a hammer whose head keeps falling off (or which, to keep you and those around you safe, asks you to confirm every blow). On the other hand, an object may be perfectly well-designed, but not necessarily designed for you. Even if you could fit in it, a child's chair would be too short for you. As anyone who has seen the movie The Forbidden Planet will know, Krell-sized doorways would be a needlessly extravagant use of space in a human home! In each of the previous examples, the experience depends, to some degree, on the person doing the experiencing.

Let's talk about software—the kind of software you create. That's why you have this book in your hands, right? Good software is concerned with the emotions of the person using it. It can excite the user from time to time, but it should never frustrate the consumer. When it's working effectively, good software's unobtrusive usability brings only a faint smile of satisfaction to its user's lips, not grumbles. The value of software is the value of the experience that flows from it.

This book is for anyone interested in designing usable and beautiful software. It's about a framework for helping you do just that. It's about a platform and toolset that do the heavy lifting so you can focus on the art, the usability, the experience. You'll learn how it's possible to separate the tasks done by the designer and developer roles so that you can work in an independent, yet complementary way. You'll see how you can avoid a potentially lousy translation step from comp to user interface. You'll see how to customize controls, bind to data, create artwork with vectors and brushes, and represent user interface and data in declarative markup that is kept separate from the application logic.

WPF, Silverlight, and Expression are instruments: Artists create with them. The tools have a user experience of their own—and that experience will improve as they mature. Expression Blend, for instance, is suited to designers with esthetic talent, to be sure—but those with a taste for a little technology will find a lot of additional possibilities. Soon, Blend will adapt to an even greater diversity among designers. Making that happen is the daily preoccupation of the development, test, program management, technical writing, product design, product development, support, and evangelism members of the Blend product group.

Jimi Hendrix asked: "Are you experienced? "A Hendrix album or concert was an experience that went beyond the everyday to provide astonishing sounds, virtuosity, charisma, psychedelia and theatrics. What makes your consumers enthusiastic about—and return to—your software and design is the quality and nature of their experience. For the most part the experience you provide is dependent on your talent and imagination. However, some of your success is due to the tools you use and how well you know them.

I hope you enjoy using WPF and Expression. I hope they give you what you need and make you successful. You can communicate with the Blend product group at

In the meantime, there's a lot for you to learn. I'll let Brennon tell you the rest!

Steve White
Program Manager, Microsoft Expression Blend

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Sams Publishing; 1 edition (June 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067232931X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0672329319
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,913,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rushed and scattered, but best resource available June 18, 2008
By dex3703
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have eagerly awaited this book since I first learned of it last fall, when I found Brennon William's XCoders training site. Based on the quality of his Blend traning videos, and the obvious passion he has for Blend, I had great expectations for this book.

I hoped the book would provide a well-organized and comprehensive training program for a complex piece of software. By and large the book does do so, but overall I am disappointed with the presentation and organization. The book has clearly been rushed to production, lacking not only editorial guidance but basic copyediting. The tone is strangely giddy and the examples seem poorly thought out and disorganized. For example, the Twitter example application in Chapter 2 has you create a Twitter account so you can databind to the RRS feed, and see how to connect a WPF application to the feed. The problems I found here were 1) Twitter has apparently changed since the book's writing, as I couldn't find a way to get my own RRS feed, and more importantly 2) there's no point in creating your own feed, as your sample app can only read the public feed. I imagine a typical designer reading the book, strugging to understand what's going on, hardly getting any benefit from this distraction.

As I progress through the book, it's clear that Brennon does tie together important concepts, and provides a solid introduction to a very new and unfamiliar UI creation process. I only wish that more time was spent in polishing the book so it really shone, and that the material was organized using more effective teaching techniques (summaries, bullet points, reviews, etc), with specific callouts for designers (who are no doubt already baffled by the expectation that they need to become almost-programmers) and developers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No longer of any value whatsoever June 15, 2010
By S. Aki
This book is for Expression Blend 2. Expression Blend 4 has already been released and they differ so far apart that there is really no value anymore. Microsoft is very commited to Expression Studio and as such they're releasing a new version every year at the moment and the versions have so much new functionality and differ so far apart that you can't get any value out of it.

A brief overview book like "Introducing Microsoft Expression Studio" is a much better buy. At least it contains relevant information. Not sure why there is no newer unleashed book for 3.

Contains no information on Sketchflow or 3D (the book only knows about 2D as that's what was available in Blend 2).

Expression Blend 4 Unleashed is available for preorder and if you haven't gotten into Expression Blend 4 yet I would advise getting that book when it's released. It's by the same author and hopefully this time he fixed the font, it's horrendous :)

That said, all in all I like his writing style and he clearly has a good understanding of things. I for one will most likely add Expression Blend 4 to my bookshelf as I'm sure I'll still be able to learn a thing or two by the time it releases. Just wish he'd put a rough cut on Safari so we can get at it already!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for learning Blend July 24, 2008
By Samer A
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're new to XAML/WPF and especially if you're new to Expression Blend, I would recommend getting this book to start you off. It is light on code explanations, since there are other books that are specifically designed to teach you XAML and WPF. So if you're looking for something to teach you how to write it yourself, then I'd suggest another book.

I've had Blend on my PC for some time now but always felt like I was only scratching the surface of its capabilities--and I was right. After working with this book, I've discovered just how easy it is to design user controls and entire interfaces using the tools Blend has. Things that confused me in the past are now pretty clear. Blend has so many embedded and somewhat hidden controls that it's easy to pass over things that end up being really useful.

I have one small gripe with this book: I wish it were in color. WPF is all about creating visually stunning UIs and UIEs yet this book only shows everything in gray scale, which can make it hard when you're trying to decide if what you created looks just like what he has in the book. But it's no deal breaker, since he has his exact color codes printed in the book along with each example.

Overall I'd recommend this book as a good starting point for using Blend. It greatly reduces the amount of time you'd spend trying to figure it out yourself, or trying to code XAML from scratch.
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