This week I am on a training course titled “Creating engaging user experiences with Microsoft Expression” “Delivering Rich Online Experiences Using Miscrosoft Expression, ASP.Net, AJAX and WPF” (edit: surprisingly I couldn’t remeber the exact title without the material in front of me, this is now the real course title and a better indication of the content).

Why?
Well, I met Andrew Shorten, a former Macromedia/Adobe now Microsoft UX guy after my presentation on Apollo at the LFPUG in February. We got to talking about what he’s up to at MS and a few days later he came down to see us in sunny Bournemouth and we got into discussing the latest industry goings ons and where the Microsoft Expression suite, WPF and SilverLight (then WPF/e) fits in. Turns out he’s a pretty cool guy and has a pretty cool job of liaising with the developer community and trying to push and gather feedback on the whole Expression outfit. He offered me a place on this early adopters course and me, being one for expanding my (and my businesses) horizons rather than spouting off uneducated, ill-researched rants about my love/hatred/bandwagoning-opinion on various technology companies, accepted.

Yeaaaah, but WHY?
Well, I’m well aware MS has been getting a bit of a bashing from the Adobe crowd (dev community and the more corporately associated) of late. I’m also obviously not anti-Adobe myself. Far from it, I’ve been developing with Flash since early Flash 4, I’ve blogged enthusiastically about Apollo, Flash and Flex for nearly a year (late starter in comparison to some but have been reading and commenting on blogs for years). I’ve attended several Flash conferences and regularly travelled the 3+ hours to London for the monthly MMUG and now LFPUG meets. However, I have also been a long-time user of Microsoft technologies, I’ve developed in .net for several years, both ASP.Net and Windows Apps development, before that I developed in VB and classic ASP, am fluent in SQL Server and have managed several dedicated MS web servers over the past few years.

So… I’m an Adobe AND MS fanboy? Kind of, but I also run my own Linux server (on which this site is hosted), am in no way adverse to owning a Mac, am increasingly familiar with Apache, PHP and MySQL, am interested in several Open Source projects and generally like to keep tuned to as much as possible in the web and technology space.

So… (finally getting to the point) for me, taking an active interest in Expression and Silverlight was never a choice of ditching Adobe in favour of the MS alternative. I have no intention of stopping or slowing down any of my interest in Adobe, nor any other technology. I’m just prepared to arm myself with the relevant skills to understand the Expression toolset, familiarise myself with the merits and drawbacks of the available technologies and position myself in the best place possible to be able to accept projects requiring MS, Adobe or whatever technologies and being able to advise in an authoritative capacity which is the right technology to use for which specific projects.

I’ve been getting a bit hacked off with the side-swiping and name-calling going on in our industry of late. And think it’s time for these companies to stop wasting time trying to make each other look bad and start concentrating on their products and their developers. We’re now spoiled for choice with some amazing technologies, let us get our teeth into them without feeling guilty and let us do some amazing stuff with those technologies. You won’t influence by bad-mouthing, you’ll influence by supporting, listening and reacting to your developer communities.

Sorry, now the rant is over, I’ll get back to posting on the week’s progress as I delve into the unknown world of Expression. 😀