Microsoft has started beta testing a new -- and free -- website development toolset this week that's designed to make it easier for first-time site developers, small businesses and non-technical users to get started on small business Web design.
Dubbed WebMatrix, the tool, which is available for download, aims to provide all of the components needed to quickly build, deploy, and run websites, according to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).
"We recognized that we needed a new product to complete our portfolio of offerings for Web developers and better service Web agencies, small development teams within SMBs, hobbyists, and students," Laurence Moroney, a Microsoft technology evangelist, said in a post on The Official Microsoft Web Platform Team Blog earlier this week.
"[WebMatrix] includes IIS Developer Express (a development Web server), ASP.NET (a Web framework), and SQL Server Compact Edition (an embedded database) all in less than 50 MB," Moroney said. It also includes a gallery of open source applications that can be used in constructing websites.
In addition, developers who create sites using WebMatrix can transfer both the design and programming skills they develop, as well as their code, to Microsoft's premiere Windows development tool, Visual Studio, and to the full-function version of SQL Server. WebMatrix even includes integrated search engine optimization (SEO) technologies.
"Without leaving WebMatrix, developers can build websites from scratch, download and customize applications available within Microsofts Web Application Gallery, select a hosting partner, and deploy their website," a Microsoft spokesperson told InternetNews.com.
In fact, once the fledgling developer is done creating and testing a website, WebMatrix can help locate a reasonably-priced website hosting company from within the toolset.
"This tool is free, provides core coding and database support, integrates with an open source Web application gallery, and includes support to easily publish [and] deploy sites and applications to Web hosting providers," Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .NET, said in his personal blog.
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