When working on some projects and articles in Expression Blend 3 I noticed a few differences with Blend 2 right away. Here are 9 improvements and new features I really like or enjoy having now.
1. Expression Blend now shows the size of your controls even when the width and height are set to Auto:
2. The assets are placed in a panel now. Although the “old” way of working with asses is still available, this new panel can be left open. Beside that, the assets are grouped in different ways in a tree, which makes them very easy to find.
3. The is support for Team Foundation Server now. At this point you need to install a hotfix from the knowledge base, but I found this feature very useful. It’s not a little thing, but I ran into this limitation in expression Blend 2 almost daily and I am so glad checking in and out files is possible now.
4. You don’t have to edit .XML files to get your application to run Out-Of-Browser anymore. Just set it thru the Project menu:
5. The recording state is on, when editing visual states for example, is much better to read. In stead of showing the whole line in red, only the border and the center of a little light is red now. A small thing, but nice.
6. The gradient settings can be edited now from the properties panel. Just expand the group to view the advanced properties when editing a gradient. Editing the StartPoint, EndPoint and Transformations has become really easy now.
7. When writing the article about styling a TreeView I ran into a few bugs in the Hierarchical Data Templates. These are fixed now. Better even, with just one click you can convert your Sample Data into a Hierarchical Collection:
8. With Silverlight 3 came Behaviors. These, among other items, can be added now from the New Items dialog right inside Blend. Code templates are used so you don’t have to set the whole thing up yourself. Just go to File->New Item…
9. One last feature I would like to mention is intellisense. When working on smaller projects, you do not have to leave Blend to edit some code. It can be done right in Blend now, which becomes very handy when dealing with events for example. Intellisense even works when editing Xaml files.
There are of course many more new features in Expression Blend 3. Even Very big ones, like SketchFlow. In future tutorials many of these will be explained.
If you haven’t already, go and download the 60 day trail version of Microsoft Expression Blend 3 + SketchFlow RC now and play with it. It’s fun!