I’ve been working with Expression Web 2 Beta for two weeks now and I’ve found it to be a vast improvement from the first release. I’ll get back to that in a later post but right now I want to share with you some interesting and annoying bugs that have gotten in the way of my work.
File tree updates and image file recognition
I don’t know why, but it seems Expression Web works with some form of paging file or log that keeps track of the files in your site. That’s all fine and dandy except it doesn’t correspond with the folder you are working in. Let me explain: When I design sites I regularly ad new folders and files outside of the program by simply copying and pasting them in explorer view. Unfortunately these changes are not reflected in Expression Web unless you hit F5 or click “Refresh”. And even then, whether the tree gets updated or not seems rather random. Especially if it’s a sub-folder you currently have exploded in the tree view. Every time I ad a new file or folder within a sub folder of the site, I have to unexplode the tree to see the update. And that’s a couple of extra mouse clicks I could do without.
But that’s just the half of it. For some reason the program has serious trouble recognizing simple image files. This problem is heavily debated in the Expression Web forum and I’ve encountered it several times. Basically if you ad an image file into an existing folder outside of Expression Web, it’s hit and miss whether that file will actually be recognized by the program. Chances are all you get is a little red X instead of the image. The only way to remedy this issue is to go to File -> Import Image and import it into the program. This seems highly unneccessary as these are standard issue files (jpg, png, gif etc) that don’t require special rendering of any sort. And it gets really annoying when you are making minute changes to an image file to make it fit your layout because every time you overwrite your old file, you have to re-import it to see that update.
To be fair, I’m not sure this last issue is a real bug or if it’s an intended feature from the Dev team. Ideally I’d like to see both of the above issues resolved so that the updating/importing of new files are done automatically. If not, my secondary option would be that both full file-tree updates and image importing is included in the F5 Update function.
The PHP destroyer
Expression Web 2 Beta does have extensive support for PHP, but it’s not quite there yet. I’ve been designing some new WordPress themes with the software and I’ve come across something really weird: On the second upload of the same file, the PHP is garbled (at least parts of it). Here’s exactly what happens:
I have a file called header.php. Right at the top of the <head> there is this line of code:
<title><?php bloginfo(‘name’); if ( is_404() ) : _e(‘ Â» ‘, ‘box’); _e(‘Not Found’, ‘box’); elseif ( is_home() ) : _e(‘ Â» ‘, ‘box’); bloginfo(‘description’); else : wp_title(); endif; ?></title>
After editing and saving the php file, I uploaded it to the server and ran a test. Everything was fine but there were some minor issues further down in the file that needed tweaking. I made the necessary changes, saved and re-uploaded the file. This time, once it reached the server, the line above read like this:
<title><?php bloginfo('name'); if ( is_404() ) : _e(' Â» ', 'sandbox'); _e('Not Found', 'sandbox'); elseif ( is_home() ) : _e(' Â» ', 'sandbox'); bloginfo('description'); else : wp_title(); endif; ?></title>
It’s pretty evident what happened here but why it happened is beyond me and I think it’s pretty clear why I find this “mildly” frustrating. It does look a lot like the old PHP problem EW had, but what’s new is that it only appears to effect small parts of the file rather than the whole. There is plenty of PHP code further down in the same file that remains unaffected even though the <title> tag is completely garbled. Ghost in the Shell anyone?