Microsoft unveils WebMatrix developer tool

Microsoft unveiled on Tuesday a beta version of WebMatrix, a free tool intended to simplify Web application development based on Microsoft’s ASP.Net Web platform.

Serving as an addition to the Microsoft Web Platform for building and running Windows-based Web sites, WebMatrix is for developers of all skill levels. It is downloadable at the WebMatrix Web site.

“WebMatrix is a task-focused tool that is designed to make it really easy to get started with Web development,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president in the Microsoft Developer Division, in a blog post. “It minimizes the number of concepts someone needs to learn in order to get simple things done, and includes and integrates all of the pieces necessary to quickly build Web sites.”

“This tool is free, provides core coding and database support, integrates with an open source Web application gallery, and includes support to easily publish/deploy sites and applications to Web-hosting providers,” said Guthrie.

Developers using WebMatrix can build Web sites from scratch or download and customize applications available within Microsoft’s Web Application Gallery.

Also part of the WebMatrix download are IIS Developer Express, which is a lightweight server for building and testing ASP.Net Web sites; SQL Server Compact Edition 4, which an embedded database engine; and ASP.Net programming extensions. Components integrate with the Microsoft developer platform and tools including the Visual Studio IDE, SQL Server database and Windows Server OS.

Also, WebMatrix integrates with ASP.Net Razor, enabling a view engine option for ASP.Net, providing a code-focused templating syntax optimized around HTML generation.

“IIS Express, SQL CE, and the new ASP.Net Razor syntax bring with them a ton of improvements and capabilities for professional developers using Visual Studio, ASP.Net Web Forms and ASP.Net MVC (Model View Controller),” Guthrie said. “We think WebMatrix will be able to take advantage of these technologies to facilitate a simplified Web development workload that is useful beyond professional development scenarios — and which enables even more developers to be able to learn and take advantage of ASP.NET for a wider variety of scenarios on the Web.”

WebMatrix is a 15MB download. Microsoft could not immediately provide a date for general availability of WebMatrix.

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