By releasing the free website development environment WebMatrix, Microsoft continues collecting bonus points from web developers. After testing it for six months, the software has been released as final today. Like Visual Web Developer Express, WebMatrix connects client and server side programming tightly, while requiring only a slow learning curve. Furthermore, it is not limited to ASP.NET, but can also use PHP as development language.
WebMatrix contains a local webserver — IIS Developer Express. This server does not require any admin rights and runs in Windows XP as well —, an SQL server and ASP.NET. At launch, several demo projecs are available that make use of the new C#-based template language Razor. Similar to PHP, JSP or the old ASP, it allows to mix the programming and the HTML code and get started without long preparations. Thereby, predefined helper classes make routine tasks easier.
With a “web gallery”, WebMatrix installs applications like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or DotNetNuke and automatically fetches required components like PHP or MySQL. It makes use of the independent Web Platform Installer which is now available in version 3.0. Importing your own web projects is possible, for instance to extend them with a server-side component. You can continue the projects created in WebMatrix within Visual Studio. With deployment, Microsoft wants to help you as the developer by listing hosters that natively support WebMatrix projects.