Microsoft WebMatrix is a mixed bag

Microsoft's free and easy Web development tool for noncoders has some nice features, as well as irksome shortcomings

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The following screen images offer a small glimpse into the WebMatrix site creation process. You can create a site from scratch or import from an existing site, but most users will likely start with a template from the WebMatrix gallery. The Razor framework and integration with the SQL Server Compact database offer a simple means to make sites dynamic, and thanks to the WebDeploy feature, publishing to a Windows server is a snap. But there are a few traps along the way.

To get a closer look at a screen, just click on the image.

WebMatrix offers a gallery of 38 public domain sites created with .Net or PHP.
When you pick an application, WebMatrix figures out the dependencies so that it can create a complete, working stack on your development machine.
Unfortunately, not all the dependencies of the application I tried to download were available. The main application downloaded quickly, then the download stalled, filling in the stack in multiple attempts on different days at different times. (When Microsoft demonstrated the product for me, the sample download worked flawlessly.)
WebMatrix has a template gallery that currently contains two starting points and three worked-out samples.
The Bakery sample uses ASP.Net Web Pages with Razor markup, which is relatively uncluttered. On the other hand, the editor has no real support for Razor other than simple syntax highlighting. The cure for the weakness of the editor is the Visual Studio link at the upper right.
The Bakery sample makes an attractive site, primarily because of good design and artwork rather than the coding. The lightweight preview technology works well. Here we are viewing the site running in Chrome and hosted locally on the new IIS Express Web server.

This story, "Microsoft WebMatrix is a mixed bag," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in application development and Windows at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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