With the second Beta of WebMatrix now available for download, Microsoft is pushing web development on top of Windows forward.
When it was initially introduced this summer, WebMatrix was advertised as a solution designed to simplify the process associated with building and deploying websites using the Windows platform.
The solution bundles together a web server (IIS Developer Express (), a framework (ASP.NET ), and also comes with an embedded database (SQL Server Compact).
Microsoft is offering WebMatrix free of charge, targeting both developers that are looking to write code themselves, as well as those needing a way to simplify the deployment of existing free open source applications.
Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform at Microsoft emphasized four new features for WebMatrix Beta 2, out of the enhancements introduced:
“•Web Page Enhancements: WebMatrix supports building standalone ASP.NET Web Pages using the new Razor syntax. It includes the same syntax improvements (@helper, @* comment *@, etc) that I mentioned above with ASP.NET MVC 3. It also now supports building pages using both VB and C#.
•Improved Templates: WebMatrix includes template projects for common scenarios. The template projects now use HTML 5 and CSS 3 (and also work with downlevel browsers). A new Wishlist project template has been added with Beta 2.
•NuPack Integration: WebMatrix provides NuPack integration and supports a web-based admin experience for installing libraries to an application you are working on. (NuPack is a free open source package manager designed to simplify finding, installing, and leveraging .NET libraries)
•Toolkit Support: We are delivering a toolkit (that can be installed via NuPack) that provides convenient helpers that can be used within ASP.NET applications. This includes helpers for Analytics, Facebook, GamerCard, Gravatar, LinkShare, Captcha, Twitter and Video scenarios.”
By turning to WebMatrix, developers are able to tweak websites as they wish, customizing them in accordance with their needs.
Additional functionality packed into the tool involves publishing sites, and easy access to a gallery of hosting providers for their projects.
Of course, WebMatrix supports free open source applications such as WordPress, Joomla, DotNetNuke or Umbraco, etc. on top of allowing developers to write their own code.
When the website is done, developers can also publish it via FTP is they already have a server available, or use the solution to find a hosting provider that’s right for their needs.
“All components of WebMatrix seamlessly integrate with Microsoft’s developer platform and tools including Visual Studio, SQL Server and Windows Server,” revealed a member of the Microsoft Web Platform Team.
“Without leaving WebMatrix, developers can build websites from scratch; download and customize free open source web applications available within Microsoft’s Web Application Gallery; select a hosting partner, and deploy their website.”