Microsoft has unveiled a new all-in-one web development suite called WebMatrix.
It’s more than an IDE or a framework, it’s a whole suite — a web server, a SQL database, and a database-ready framework, all wrapped up into a single development environment that makes it easy to build, test and deploy some fairly complex web apps.
The new suite is especially geared towards developers building web apps that require local data storage. It’s pretty flexible, and you can also use it to build simple websites, then scale up to something mid-weight or incorporate a full-scale app that you could run a business on top of.
The WebMatrix suite is made up of three components: the lightweight Windows-based web server called IIS Express, SQL Server Compact Edition, a simple database server, and Razor, a new templating language based on ASP.NET. The beta version you can download today actually doesn’t have Razor, but it will be included in a future release “later this month,” according to Microsoft.
Among the most exciting proposed features slated for the next version are DOM manipulation APIs, which make it easy to access any elements in a web page. The company also plans to translate some server-side controls to be accessible via client-side calls. For example, a templating control could retrieve data from the server and place it into a page based on a local template without refreshing.
On the list of nice-to-haves, Microsoft includes animation and drag & drop. These popular features are a major part of effects libraries such as Scriptaculous, Moo and JQuery.
Developers attempting to use non-Microsoft tools have long had difficulty fitting in with the ASP.NET framework. For example, ASP.NET changes the ID of any server-manipulated page element. The DOM features alone in the proposed update to Microsoft’s Ajax tools will simplify client-side access.
If you want a peak at what the code will look like in the future version of ASP.NET Ajax, download the roadmap.