Microsoft launches Web developer tools for rookies

Making multiple moves in the Web development space, Microsoft is introducing this week both a website building tool for neophytes and the third major version of its MVC (Model View Controller) technology.

Due Thursday, WebMatrix is “a new tool to make it easier for people to build Web sites,” said Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb, director of Web platform and tools. Geared for students and new developers, WebMatrix is a text-based tool for writing code. The free tool supports ASP.Net and PHP development. Users could write applications like a Facebook Like button or a Twitter search capability, or start an application from scratch.

The tool, however, lacks more sophisticated capabilities of Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE, such as debugging. “People get started [with] WebMatrix, and when and if they’re ready, [they can] begin using Visual Studio to take advantage of more advanced features,” Goldfarb said.

Developers can start with an open source application, such as WordPress, Joomla, or DotNetNuke, and use WebMatrix to download and configure these applications. Also, tools are provided for building a Web site, including a Web server, database, and framework. WebMatrix has been downloadable in preview form at the WebMatrix website.
Microsoft also is releasing on Thursday ASP.Net MVC 3, which offers Web development based on MVC. “The key, simple way to think about [the tool] is MVC provides you with a solution that’s more customizable,” offering dependency injection, for example, said Goldfarb. With dependency injection, developers can plug in dependencies into an application and perform functions like switching out the database.

“It open ups ASP.Net MVC such that anything can be swapped out,” said Scott Hanselman, community architect for Web and platform tools at Microsoft.

ASP.Net MVC 3 is a free, open source technology that can work with Visual Studio or any text editor. Version 3 has been in development at Microsoft for a while, with a release candidate offered in November. Among the features of ASP.Net 3 is Razor, providing a compact view engine for ASP.Net, as well as the NuGet open source package manager. Also featured is “unobtrusive JavaScript,” providing an approach to JavaScript that avoids injecting inline JavaScript into HTML marketup and enables cleaner separation of behavior using the new HTML5 data convention.

Microsoft has offered ASP.Net MVC downloads at the ASP.Net website.

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