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Using the Microsoft Web Platform to create web apps and websites

When it comes to a complete set of website development tools, nobody does it better that Microsoft. From web server (IIS), database server (SQL), framework (.NET) and development tools (Visual Studio), Microsoft has quite the offering. They even created an application to install it all, the Web Platform Installer (WebPI). And the best of all, they're free!

Spotlight view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4
Spotlight view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4

Using the WebPI application, you can download and install all of the programs you would need to create and publish a website. You can even download various web apps like Wordpress or DotNetNuke. The app categories range from blog and content management system (CMS) to e-commerce and galleries.

Appilcation view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4
Appilcation view inside of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer v4

And with the release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 on the horizon, Microsoft is starting to roll out new versions of quite a few of these programs. Here's a quote from Microsoft's site:

With the Microsoft Web Platform you get more than just a powerful set of tools, servers and technologies. You get a complete eco-system of products, technologies and partners all looking to help you succeed on the web.

Powerful Framework
ASP.NET Framework ASP.NET is a free, fully supported Web application framework that helps you build standards-based Web solutions by providing a rich set of features and easy integration with databases and web services.

Flexible Web Server
IIS Web Server Internet Information Services provides a secure, easy-to-manage Web platform for reliably hosting ASP.NET and PHP web applications on the same server.

Robust Database
SQL Server SQL Server® is a complete database engine for running high performance web applications. Easily create data-enabled web applications with SQL Server's support for LINQ, Entity Data Model, and ADO.NET.

Complete Tools
Microsoft Web Design and Development Tools Visual Studio®, Expression Web® and Windows Internet Explorer® with its built-in developer tools, provide a complete environment for building standards-based web sites, applications and services.

Here's a partial list of some of the recently updated applications:

  • Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Express
  • IIS 8.0 Express
  • .NET Framework 4.5

For more information on the Microsoft Web Platform, just follow the links below.

Microsoft Web Platform
Microsoft Web Platform Installer 4.0

Optimize your website for free with the Search Engine Optimization Toolkit from Microsoft

If you have been following our blog, I have written about creating websites for free with the Microsoft Web Platform or Microsoft WebMatrix. And with creating a website, you need to think about search engine optimization (SEO). One of my favorite free tools for this is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit from Microsoft.

Violation summary inside of the SEO Toolkit
Violation summary inside of the SEO Toolkit

With the SEO Toolkit, you can analyze your website for search engine friendly content. It can check links site wide, with or without 'noindex' and 'nofollow' tags. It can check page titles, page descriptions, metatags, images, etc. And it breaks down the site analysis report into four (4) categories: violations, content, performance and links. It's a full blown website crawler!

Content summary inside of the SEO Toolkit
Content summary inside of the SEO Toolkit

The Search Engine Optimization Toolkit is an add-in for Internet Information Services (IIS). The IIS is basically a website server and the SEO Toolkit is a website crawler (it only crawls websites hosted on the IIS). If you have installed the Microsoft Web Platform or Microsoft WebMatrix, you have IIS installed. It is also a feature built into Windows, but not added by default. Here's a quote from the IIS site:

The IIS Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit helps Web developers, hosting providers, and Web server administrators to improve their Web site’s relevance in search results by recommending how to make the site content more search engine friendly. The IIS SEO Toolkit includes the Site Analysis module, the Robots Exclusion module, and the Sitemaps and Site Indexes module, which let you perform detailed analysis and offer recommendations and editing tools for managing your Robots and Sitemaps files.

For more information on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit, just follow the links below.

Search Engine Optimization Toolkit
Getting Started with the SEO Toolkit

Easily create, customize and publish web apps / websites for free with Microsoft WebMatrix

In a recent article, I wrote about the Microsoft Web Platform and the apps and websites you can create for free. Microsoft recently introduced WebMatrix, which combines all of the programs needed to create, customize and publish a website (like WordPress, DotNetNuke, nopCommerce) in one, easy to use program.

Microsoft WebMatrix opening screen
Microsoft WebMatrix opening screen

Microsoft WebMatrix allows you to manage all aspects of your website. From inside WebMatrix you can change web server settings (Internet Information Services / IIS), create and customize your website (Visual Web Developer 2010 Express), create and edit databases (SQL Server 2010 Express) and generate reports. It will also upload your app / website from your local server to your remote server too.

Microsoft WebMatrix file editing screen
Microsoft WebMatrix file editing screen

And with lots of free app / website templates, creating an online presence has never been easier.

Microsoft WebMatrix web gallery screen
Microsoft WebMatrix web gallery screen

Here's a quote from the Microsoft website:

Create, customize and publish websites with WebMatrix

WebMatrix is a free web development tool from Microsoft that includes everything you need for website development. Start from open source web applications, built-in web templates or just start writing code yourself. It’s all-inclusive, simple and best of all free. Developing websites has never been easier.

Create your website

To get started creating websites, just download and install WebMatrix using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer. You’ll be up and running less than 5 minutes! Once WebMatrix is installed, we make it simple to get and install the latest version of your favorite free web applications such as WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke and Orchard.

Customize your website

Once you’re up and running, you will find that WebMatrix provides all the tools features you’ll need in a single unified interface. Say good-bye to switching between multiple applications just to perform common web development tasks. With WebMatrix, you’re always just a click away from easily editing your files, managing your database and modifying your server settings.

Publish your website

When you’re ready, WebMatrix provides a no-hassle way to show the world your website. Just access our hosting gallery from WebMatrix and you’ll find a hosting provider that is guaranteed to run your site smoothly while also allowing you to publish directly from WebMatrix.

For more information on Microsoft WebMatrix, just follow the links below:

Microsoft WebMatrix
Microsoft WebMatrix Features

Creating web apps and websites for free with Microsoft Web Platform

Have you ever wondered how to create a blog, content management system (CMS) or e-commerce website? You can do just that and more with Microsoft Web Platform. You can create your own web app using WordPress (blog), DotNetNuke (CMS) or nopCommerce (e-commerce), just to name a few. And, best of all, it's all free.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3 - Spotlight View
Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3 - Spotlight View

From web server (Internet Information Services), database server (SQL Server 2010 Express), programming tools like (Visual Web Developer 2010 Express) and lots of apps to work with, Microsoft Web Platform has it all. And did I mention that they are all free.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3 - Products View
Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3 - Products View

You can use Visual Web Developer 2010 Express to customize any of the free ASP.NET and PHP web apps available in the Windows Web App Gallery. And if your app needs a database, you can install SQL Server 2010 Express. There are also tools for Silverlight and Windows Azure too.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3 - Applications View
Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3 - Applications View

All of the programs included in the Microsoft Web Platform are installed on your local system. You build and test your web app on the Internet Information Services (IIS) installed on your local system and then upload it to your remote IIS server when you're finished. If you don't know the platform of your web server, you will need to contact your hosting company to find out. The IIS is more commonly referred to as the Windows platform.

Here's a quote about the Microsoft Web Platform Installer and some of the programs available from the Microsoft site:

The Microsoft Web Platform Installer 3.0 (Web PI) is a free tool that makes getting the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server Express, .NET Framework and Visual Web Developer easy. The Web PI also makes it easy to install and run the most popular free web applications for blogging, content management and more with the built-in Windows Web Application Gallery.

Web Server
Install the latest version of IIS, including latest IIS Web extensions like IIS Media Services.

Framework
Install the latest version of the .NET Framework. This includes everything you need to work with ASP.NET.

Database
Install the latest version of SQL Server 2008 Express. This includes both the database engine and tools.

Tools
Install the latest version of Visual Web Developer Express, Our full featured free web development tool.

Web Apps
Install free popular ASP.NET and PHP web apps such as Umbraco and WordPress. Browse the Windows Web Application Gallery

Extras
Web PI also includes the latest community version of PHP for Windows and a trial version of Expression Web 3!

For more information on the Microsoft Web Platform, check out the following links:

Microsoft Web Platform
Microsoft Web Platform Installer 5.0
Windows Web App Gallery

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