Microsoft's WebMatrix 2 web developer toolkit is now free to download in its final version, and the release includes support for Node.js templating as well as with ASP.NET and PHP.
Microsoft continues to warm up to the open source community by adding more extensibility to the WebMatrix platform. Inside WebMatrix 2 is a handy tool called the Web Gallery, and it's where developers can download and install popular web content management (and other) apps like Drupal, Umbraco, WordPress and Joomla!. These applications contain all the tools developers would need to build and launch websites fast and with minimal cost.
Extensibility and Apps
Besides support for Web apps, Microsoft WebMatrix includes an Extension Gallery full of other tools like mobile phone emulators. Any website being built today needs to look good on mobile devices; just ask Facebook. In order to easily check how a site would look on a smartphone, the Extension Gallery has the prebuilt tools you need. Again, these are not built by Microsoft, but by developers, and there are versions for the iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and of course others can be built for people's needs.
Easily build new Web apps and even launch with Windows Azure Web Sites.
This kind of extensibility should be welcomed by developers the world over. Obviously, many Microsoft tools aren't the most intuitive or inexpensive. WebMatrix 2 is a step in the right direction here. Because it's free, anyone curious about building websites with Microsoft tools would do well to check it out. Additionally, anyone who already had the WebMatrix 2 beta can easily download the final version right from their dashboard. Windows Azure users can also download WebMatrix 2 from that portal.
SEO Reports, Templates and Standards
WebMatrix 2 can build websites using prebuilt templates or apps. The templates are for those familiar with PHP, ASP.NET or Node.js and the apps are for those who prefer to use a Web CMS like Joomla! or Drupal. Included in these tools are support for the latest Web standards like CSS3 and HTML5. Furthermore, there are lots of other time savers like code completion (auto-tag complete) and code snippets for easier HTML coding.
For adding other features like widgets, the NuGet tool opens up a world of prebuilt tools that can add Twitter and Facebook features, among others. There's also an SEO report tool that can tell if there is any SEO violations in the code like missing tags or pages that have slow load times. Tell us in the comments if you've used Microsoft Web tools before or if you think WebMatrix might be worth trying.
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