Over the past few days, Microsoft have been busy announcing a whole range of new tools and packages aimed at a wide range of web developers.
One of these is the new WebMatrix development tool. WebMatrix integrages all of the components you require to get started and developing a website on your own PC in a small download package: a server (IIS Developer Express), a database (SQL Server Compact), ASP.NET, and a simple lightweight IDE.
While Microsoft says that WebMatrix is suitable for all web developers, looking at the feature set reveals it is especially suited to those just getting started in the ASP.NET web development world, with quick-start tools for popular open-source projects such as Joomla! and WordPress.
Installation is extremely simple through the Web Platform Installer; you can then install and customise additional open-source packages through the Web Application Gallery, making this a great platform if you just need to tweak some functionality on an existing project and go live quickly. This provides a refreshing alternative to installing the entire Visual Studio package when WebMatrix provides all of the tools you need for simple development work.
Other features that make WebMatrix enticing for beginner users as well as seasoned pros looking to quickly customise and release a simple site are the fast deploy mechanism to supporting hosts over FTP, SFTP and Web Deploy (MSDeploy); added ASP.NET helpers to simplify common tasks like database connections and video embedding; and the ability to run WebMatrix on older operating systems such as Windows XP.
For more information on WebMatrix, check out Scott Guthrie’s detailed walkthrough post, and find more information on the official site, and these two blog posts by Ars Technica and Microsoft UK’s student team.