Dev Depot: WebMatrix 3, Web Development Goes On Fast Track

Stephen Yagielowicz

Rarely built on static HTML, websites today often require a range of technologies that are difficult and time consuming to integrate. Fortunately, a selection of tools is available to smooth over the rough spots and make development much easier than before.

For example, a free, lightweight, Cloud-connected web development tool, Microsoft’s WebMatrix 3 (Microsoft.com/web/webmatrix), allows users to create, publish and maintain a site with ease.

Designed with the needs of mobile developers in mind, WebMatrix 3 optimizes websites for mobile browsing using built-in templates, device emulators and code completion for jQuery mobile.

The heir apparent to the FrontPage legacy, Microsoft says that WebMatrix 3 enables easy access to Windows Azure websites, using icon-sized site previews that make them easy to find and open, as well as the ability to access remote sites as seamlessly as local sites.

“Simply open your remote sites, make changes, and hit Save,” explains a Microsoft spokesperson. “The lightweight performance and full editing capability (including intellisense) make it feels like you are editing a local site.”

According to its publisher, WebMatrix 3 supports today’s top languages, creating websites using ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js or HTML5 templates to take advantage of the latest web standards and emerging standards — such as CSS3 and HTML5 — while supporting popular JavaScript libraries such as JQuery.

Optimized for Open Source development, WebMatrix 3 lets users install popular web apps with a few clicks, easily customizing them with app-specific code completion, and then publish them quickly to the web. The system boasts Cloud integration that allows the instant posting of local projects online as a companion website in Windows Azure — without ever leaving WebMatrix, using its Publish button — allowing users keep their sites in sync and to save any changes to the cloud.

Designed with the needs of mobile developers in mind, WebMatrix 3 optimizes websites for mobile browsing using built-in templates, device emulators and code completion for jQuery mobile.

The tool also facilitates team collaboration on projects using Git and TFS source control systems.

“Plug into GitHub, CodePlex, and Team Foundation Service to start sharing your code with the world,” the spokesperson stated. “Whether you are a newcomer to Git, or a seasoned pro, you will find all of the features you would expect in a powerful but easy to use tool.”

“Team Foundation Service is Microsoft’s hot source control service in the Cloud,” the spokesperson added, explaining, “WebMatrix 3 makes it simple and fun to work with your code using TFS for any project in the Cloud, or on site.”

Microsoft says that one of the big benefits of WebMatrix 3 is that its Open Source user community has developed a wide array of add-ons, such as an iPhone simulator and power tools for Node.js, which add even more functionality to WebMatrix. Of course, users can create their own custom extensions.

These are just a few of the ways in which this tool eases development. Another way is through its handling of database creation and connectivity, as well as other technical issues affecting your website.

“Go beyond content with support for creating and editing databases, optimizing sites for search engines, quick access to professional tutorials and much more,” the Microsoft spokesperson concluded, underscoring the wide range of benefits that WebMatrix 3 provides to forward-looking web developers.

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