Archive for March, 2009

MIXed Thoughts, and Meer Meer

Microsoft’s developer conference MIX ’09 is going on right now, and there were some interesting points in the keynote yesterday around plans for Expression Web 3. Whenever this happens, I tend to get a bunch of private messages/tweets/IMs asking what my reaction may be as a product manager for Dreamweaver. I wanted to address them in general here.

In general- I think it’s great that Expression Web is in the market, as competition is vital to have – it helps keep everyone on their toes and ultimately our designers/developers win – with better tools over time. As for commentary on the specific features in Expression Web 3, they seem rather broad for the most part (CSS, PHP and standards improvements, SFTP, etc) and I’m not surprised or overly impressed with any of the new features, as in many ways they’re still catching up to the Creative Suite, and Dreamweaver. Given we’ve had quite a bit of lead time in the market, that’s to be expected.

The feature of the Expression Web 3 announcement getting the most ink, however, appears to be ‘SuperPreview‘ – a Windows-only app (also integrated with Expression Web) to preview sites on IE 6/7/8 – assuming you have them installed locally – with the promise of cloud-based access to alternate browsers on Mac and Windows at an undisclosed point in the future. This is the one feature I’ve gotten the most private nudges about in the last day. In case you missed it 4 months ago, we showed a sneak peek of a curiously similar solution – a project code-named Meer Meer – back in November at our MAX (not MIX!) conference. Although it’s still in development for now, there were no smoke and mirrors involved back in November – it was a live demo of the first working builds – the Meer Meer service lets you compare and contrast popular browsers on Mac and Windows via a Flex-based interface that works on any Flash-enabled OS (Mac, Windows, Linux), featuring Dreamweaver integration that allows a designer to preview both remote AND local web content – including interactive design states you may have triggered in Dreamweaver CS4’s new Live View rendering mode – without worry of firewalls or publicly posting sensitive client projects for the world to see. Anything you can render in Live View (interactive widget states, rollover effects, AJAX-driven content) can be frozen in place using Dreamweaver CS4’s ‘Freeze JavaScript’ feature, and sent directly to the Meer Meer service for preview, too. Meer Meer is a service-based app (or ‘cloud-based’, to use the hip term-du-jour), so there’s no local installation required to use it at a basic level, you can just connect via Flash-enabled browser of choice, and point Meer Meer to an existing site, on top of the deeper integration with Dreamweaver. Simple, but oh-so-powerful.

Keep posted, as you’ll be hearing a lot more about Meer Meer shortly. If you didn’t attend MAX last November for the sneak, you can read a little more about the Meer Meer project here at Ajaxian, and also in an interview I did with Sitepoint shortly afterwards. Cross-browser testing is definitely a challenge that nearly all web designers and developers face, and Meer Meer’s going to help lower that bar for everyone. One thing I can say without question about the Dreamweaver team is that we’re committed to digging deep into the creative (and technical) workflows that web professionals demand, and we’ve no plans to let up- so keep posted for more innovation like Meer Meer (and like those in DW CS4- Live View + Live Code + Freeze JavaScript, Related Files, the Code Navigator, HTML Datasets, among many other new takes on old workflows) from the DW team in the web design and development space in years to come, both in Dreamweaver as well as across all our Creative Suite products. We’ll keep breaking fresh ground for you- and you can bet you’ll hear it here first. ;-)