The tools for Microsoft web developers are getting better and better these days, we've seen that with the SharePoint 2010 tools for Visual Studio 2010. But Microsoft is now also coming out with a new web server to support all ASP.NET developers: IIS Express.

Life Before IIS Express

If you are an ASP.NET developer, you have two options for testing your sites against a web server prior to IIS Express:

  • IIS Web Server -- the one that comes with Windows
  • Visual Studio's built in ASP Development Web Server

There's nothing really wrong with either one, but as a web developer your needs may actually cross the capabilities of the two put together. 

As Scott Gu says on his blog introducing the new Express version of IIS, many developers have said: "I wish I could have the ease of use of the ASP.NET Development Server, but still have all the power and features of IIS."

And this is what IIS Express does, combines the best of both web servers into one that is free and works with both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Web Developer Express 2010.

IIS Express

The ASP Development Server does not support the full capabilities of the IIS Web Server, but getting your IT department to let you install and run the IIS Web Server on your desktop could be an exercise in futility as it could be considered a potential security problem.

Now you can have a web server that is easy to setup and install, won't freak out the IT department and offers a full set of IIS web server functionality.  A few other nice features:

  • It doesn't require an Admin account to run and debug applications from Visual Studio
  • It can be installed side-by-side with either the IIS Web Server or the ASP Development Server
  • It works with Windows XP and up

IIS Express

Gu says that IIS Express will be configured to run with Visual Studio 2010 as an alternative web server. So you won't have to configure it to run your websites, just hit F5 and go. 

A public beta is expected sometime soon and a patch for both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Web Developer Express 2010 will come at the end of the year that support IIS Express.

My first thought when I read about this new web server, was that many IT organizations are going to be happy. They can now provide their development teams with strong Web Server capabilities without opening the door to potential security breaches.

My second thought, will it have all the nice add-on capabilities that IIS 7 offers like the SEO toolkit and the Media Services?