Web Developer Tools

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Sometimes Microsoft confuses me…

As most of you know I’ve been a web developer for close to a decade now. I’ve seen the lay of the land change from flat HTML files, database-enabled files using .pl and cgi, and now to open-source dynamic sites created with any syntax markup tool, php, and mySQL (and equivalent tools from Microsoft).

I’ve always been a coder: get down to the nuts and bolts, take out they stray tags, make your code readable to the next guy, and I’ve always preferred notepad as my coding environment, but I’ve appreciated the clean-code and javascript image roll-overs created with Adobe’s Image Ready. Anything to help simplify life, right?

So now I’m confused. Microsoft has three products aimed at web development.

FrontPage
When MSIE 4.0 came out, they released a fun little tool called FrontPad (which was either a precurser to FrontPage, or a dumbed-down version thereof, opinions vary). FrontPad was short-lived, at best: a WYSIWYG HTML editor that wasn’t very WYSIWYG. FrontPage filled in the gap left by FrontPad’s shortcomings, and FrontPad went away.
Visual Studio .NET
Soon developers wanted a more programming-like model than a web development model to work with. This has obvious advantages and disadvantages alike. Imagine being able to write a website as if it were a program, yet maintaining the cross-browser / cross-platform / cross-medium nature of the web. The downside? It’s almost programming and almost webcoding… or some of both, depending on your perspective. Yet that’s exactly what Visual Studio is supposed to do. (And it’s one of the tools that I’m using at my current job.
Visual Web Developer & Visual Web Developer Express
Visual Web Developer Express (VWDX) may turn out to be the FrontPage replacement, if there is to be one. Is it a hyped up version of FrontPage or a dumbed down version of the non-express version of Visual Web Developer?
Visual Web Developer (not express) combines a lot of the data connectivity that Visual Studio .NET has in it with a lot of the coding capabilities of Visual Studio .NET, supposidly without the complexity (or sticker price) of the full Visual Studio Suite.

Anyone out there have any experience with Visual Web Developer?

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