Web Development 101: Part 1, Getting Started with WebMatrix

Microsoft WebMatrix is a free tool that allows you to create, customize and publish web sites on the Internet.

WebMatrix makes it easy for you to create web sites. You can start with an open source application such as WordPress, Joomla, DotNetNuke or Orchard, and WebMatrix handles the task of downloading, installing and configuring the apps for you. Or you can write the code yourself using a range of built-in templates that help get you started. Whatever you choose, WebMatrix provides everything your web site needs to run including the web server, database, and framework. By using the same stack on your development desktop that you’ll use on your web host, the process of going live with your website is painless and worry free.

You can download it from http://web.ms/webmatrix.

A full video of this article can be watched here.

Using the Web Platform Installer

From this site, you'll download the Microsoft Web Platform Installer, a free tool that may be used to install a variety of Microsoft products, including WebMatrix.

When you launch the Web Platform Installer, you'll see a screen like this:

To find WebMatrix, select the Spotlight link at the top of the screen, and either the All link or the Products link on the left.

Press the Add button beside WebMatrix, and then press the Install button at the bottom of the screen. You'll be asked to accept the WebMatrix license and the licenses for any of the dependency applications that need to be installed. Depending on what is installed on your machine, you'll see something similar to this:

If you see other needed dependencies, don't worry, just go ahead and press 'I Accept'. Once you accept the license, WebMatrix will begin installing:

Once WebMatrix has installed, you'll see the 'Congratulations' screen, which indicates you have everything you need, and you're ready to go! As earlier, you might see a slightly different list here, indicating that you had different dependencies that needed to be installed.

Running WebMatrix

WebMatrix is available in your Start menu in the Microsoft WebMatrix folder. This is what it looks like in Windows 7.

Select the Microsoft WebMatrix icon and you'll launch WebMatrix. You'll see this Welcome screen:

The options on the Welcome screen support these ways of building a web site:

- Site From Web Gallery: The Web Application Gallery (WAG) is a collection of open source web applications written using a variety of technologies, including PHP and ASP.NET. Applications in the WAG give you a great head start – where someone else has written a lot of the code for you and is allowing you to freely use it on your site. WebMatrix makes the process of downloading, installing and configuring this code easy.

- Site From Template: If you prefer to write your own code, instead of using the open source applications from the WAG, then this option gives you a great way to start with either an empty web site, or a number of simple template sites that you can customize and change.

- Site From Folder: If you have a collection of web files already and you want to edit and run them on a web server quickly, WebMatrix will allow you to do so, simply by pointing it at that folder.

Creating web sites with WebMatrix

There are two main ways that developers like you create web sites. The first is to use an Open Source web application (using the Site From Web Gallery option) where folks in the community have done a lot of the hard work for you. Perhaps you've heard of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Umbraco, DotNetNuke or Orchard? WebMatrix makes the process of downloading their code and configuring your server to run it on a simple and seamless process, regardless of the technology they're written in.

The other, is of course, to write everything yourself (using the Site from Template option). WebMatrix ships with the ASP.NET Web Pages framework which provides a very simple, yet very powerful way of creating dynamic web sites that use databases, and can integrate social frameworks, media and more.

In this series you'll learn how to use the ASP.NET Web Pages and integrated 'Razor' framework to see how easy it is to create a simple web site that provides a database of your favorite movies. You'll see how to get the site to work on all browsers, how to create web pages, how to make those pages dynamic by rendering data from a database, and lots more.

In Part 2, you'll get started by creating the web site, and adding a static HTML page to it.

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