WebMatrix makes it easy for anyone to create a new web site using a template or an existing free open source application, customize it, and then publish it on the internet via a wide choice of hosting service providers.
And yes, it’s free.
WebMatrix lets you create web sites the way that you want to. We’ve spoken with countless web developers, and have learned what they want to create the next generation of web sites.
Watch the event streaming live on January 13 at http://web.ms/enter
Using Open Source Applications
There are lots of web developers who use open source web applications where much of the work has been done for them already, and they want to use the work of these communities. Applications such as WordPress, Umbraco, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, Drupal or Orchard are great examples of these, and many developers would like to take advantage of them.
But they need a way to make them easier is what we constantly hear. It’s one thing to host a web site and put a bunch of source code on there, but it’s quite another to have an easy way to download that source code, and make sure that it runs with all its dependencies. Maybe it uses PHP, but which version? Maybe it needs a database, but which one, and how do you install that and connect it to PHP? WebMatrix is designed to make all that work easy and let you focus on doing what you want to do — building web sites. It also makes it easy to publish that work on your hosting provider, and if you are using Windows as your host, and Web Deploy as the deployment technology, well, life gets even easier, as WebMatrix can deploy and configure not just your web files, but also your databases, in one step.
Don’t just take this blogs word for it though – you’ll see lots of great videos and articles demonstrating this in our new content library at http://www.microsoft.com/web/category/walkthroughs starting January 13.
Building your own Web Sites
There are also lots of developers who want to start with a blank slate, write some HTML, add some code to that HTML and get a dynamic web site. They want this process to be as easy as possible, and we’ve strived to streamline this.
First off, WebMatrix neatly integrates the IIS 7.5 Express web server. This web server is 100% compatible with it’s production-ready big brother IIS 7.5, including supporting the same extensions and capabilities such as HTTPs. With that in mind, developers can build sites on their development box and know that they will run on their web server without further modification!
We also ship SQL Server Compact with WebMatrix. This is a file based database, so you don’t need to have a separate database server. Your data gets deployed as a file (.SDF extension) with the rest of your site files, and the runtime for SQL Server Compact gets deployed as a bunch of DLLs to your \bin directory. It saves time, hassle, and money!
With WebMatrix you get the ASP.NET Web Pages framework. This includes the ‘Razor’ programming syntax that is so simple it’s hard to believe. It has the smartest parser I’ve ever seen, and this parser makes writing and understanding code that much simpler.
Let me show an example.
Here’s some HTML for a <ul><li> list, showing a simple unordered list with the numbers 0-10
Note that you have to use the echo command to write out the HTML, so you’re really mixing up code and markup, which is difficult to maintain.
It’s also hard to see where HTML ends and code begins, and vice versa, making it difficult to separate the two, and harder for design/development workflow.
The parser is smart enough to know where HTML ends and Razor begins, as well as where Razor ends and HTML begins, making your code a lot cleaner and easier to maintain.
Razor also supports Web Helpers which encapsulate common, complex functionality such as integrating Twitter, Facebook or Paypal into your page, and making it a one line-of-code solution. We’re shipping a bunch of helpers, but we’ve also made it easy for any developer to write a helper and publish it to a NuGet feed for any other developer to use, right from within WebMatrix.
There’s way too much to list in one post, so take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/web/post/Web-Development-101-using-WebMatrix which is a great step-by-step tutorial on how to build a web site using ASP.NET Web Pages in WebMatrix. It’s also part of the new content library for web developers that we’re building on Microsoft.com. [[Note, this won’t be live until 1/13]]
It’s a great day for web developers, and I encourage you to go check out WebMatrix. Download it, build sites, find a web provider from the gallery, seo-optimize your site, and build the next generation of web sites and open source web applications that we can all enjoy!