Whether you are a small business or a development shop, Microsoft is providing more ways for you to create websites built on their technology and a number of web content management systems.
Making Use of the Microsoft Web Platform
If you are a Microsoft developer or Solutions Architect, then you probably make use of the Microsoft Web Platform to get the most up date software for your development environment. It's easy to download and install all the base software and some of the more popular open source web content management systems (among other solutions).
Now Microsoft adds another new solution to the platform called WebMatrix, and "it's everything you need to build, run and deploy your Web site for free." WebMatrix is a solution bundle that includes:
- IIS Express (we talked about this new web server yesterday)
- SQL Server Compact
That's the core technology your team needs to get started.
Webmatrix Welcome Screen
But that's not all you can get with WebMatrix. Only a crazy developer starts a website from scratch, especially with all the open source options for web content management available to them. Notice in the WebMatrix welcome screen above that you can build a site from the Web Gallery. This option enables you to download and install one of a number of open source solutions (Umbraco, Drupal, DotNetNuke, WordPress or anything else you can find in the Gallery).
WebMatrix also comes with a number of out-of-the-box templates if a Web CMS is not to your liking.
What Can You Do With Webmatrix
There are four core workspaces to the WebMatrix Beta:
- Site: Website administration capabilities including configuration and deployment settings.
- Files: All the files within your website, including CSS, images, source files, etc.. There are number of Web Helpers that can be implemented such as integration with Google Analytics, Facebook or Twitter feeds.
- Database: Complete database management using SQL Server Compact or another database like MySQL or SQL Server.
- Reports: SEO reports help you identify issues deep within your site and provides recommendations on how to fix them.
WebMatrix is a development tool, so once you have created your website, you then need to deploy it to a hosting provider to make it publicly available. Fortunately the publishing capability is built into the tool, allowing you to configure a remote server that will host your website.
It also supports incremental changes so you can modify your website locally and push the updates out when you are ready.
Microsoft Development Made Easy
WebMatrix is a pretty slick tool that will help developers get started learning about Microsoft development and/or provide development tools for those who can't afford to have the licenses for Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server.
However, you can still open a project created in WebMatrix in either Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Developer Express 2010, so you aren't limited to just using WebMatrix once you get a feel for how to development Microsoft-based websites and applications.
There's a lot more to learn about how WebMatrix works and Scott Gu provides a detailed look at the beta on his blog. To get Webmatrix you need to download the latest version of the Web Platform Installer. It is available now.