During the Visual Studio 2012 launch last week I took the opportunity to ask Developer division Corp VP Soma Somasegar when Blend, Microsoft’s design tool for Visual Studio 2012, will be finished. A tricky question to answer, since there are multiple versions, as explained here:
- Blend for Windows Store apps (HTML or XAML) is fully released and available as part of Visual Studio 2012
- Blend for WPF and Silverlight is in preview. For production you are meant to use the old Blend 4, unless you are targeting Silverlight 5 where you have no choice but to use the preview version.
- Blend for Windows Phone is part of the Windows Phone SDK 7.1
The SketchFlow prototyping tool is also part of the preview Blend.
So when will Blend for Visual Studio 2012 be done? Somasegar refers to HBlend, which is the HTML version, and XBlend, which is for XAML.
“We shipped HBlend, and we shipped a preview of XBlend. It will take several months to finish. We also want to continue adding to HBlend. So I can’t tell you that Blend is ever going to be done [laughs],” he told me.
That said, the full Blend for Visual Studio 2012 will come out of preview sometime. Will it coincide with the first update for Visual Studio, announced for later this year?
“It is going to be later than the update, but I don’t have a specific timeframe,” he said.
Personally I have mixed (ha!) feelings about Blend. On the one hand, it is obvious that the simple designer in the Visual Studio IDE is insufficient, and that the rich Blend tool is needed, for those who can make sense of its intricate user interface. On the other hand, the designer aspect of Microsoft’s tooling seems to me messy, with too many versions of Blend and overlap between Blend and Visual Studio which gives developers a difficult choice: do I work with Blend, or stay within the simpler but more limited IDE tools?