When I saw the Gu writing 3 posts in a row about new technologies/products (IIS 7.5 Express, SQL Server CE 4 and Razor view engine) I knew something big was about to come. And in fact yesterday he announced the WebMatrix, a new web development stack that combines the 3 products above plus a new super-easy to use web development IDE and a new syntax for developing quick websites, called ASP.NET Web Pages.

The WebMatrix

First let’s share the official announcement:

WebMatrix includes a complete Web development stack that integrates a Web server (IIS Developer Express), database (Microsoft SQL Server Compact 4.0), programming model (ASP.NET Web pages with Razor syntax), and a tool (WebMatrix Beta) into a seamless experience.  You can use WebMatrix to streamline the way you create an ASP.NET Web site from templates, or by starting a new Web site by using the world’s most popular free and open source (ASP.NET or PHP) apps like DotNetNuke, Umbraco, WordPress, or Joomla!. With WebMatrix you can code your Web sites, customize them, optimize them for good search engine ranking, test them, and deploy them to an Internet hosting company, all through the tool.

Learn more about WebMatrix through:

For additional resources, visit:

Also available is a nice 200 pages eBook about the Razor syntax and the ASP.NET WebPages: ASP.NET Web Pages using the Razor syntax.

And finally, make sure to read the long and super-complete blog post by ScottGu, Introducing WebMatrix and ScottHa post with a detailed step by step example of WebMatrix and with links to more documentation.

Before moving on, one thing I want to make very clear to avoid confusion is that, while some parts of the WebMatrix stack are very interesting for professional developers (IIS Dev Express, Razor and SQL CE 4), all the rest (the IDE, ASP.NET WebPages) is targeted to hobbyists developers, that wants to quickly write their own website and that don’t need to build complex applications, or also people that want to make their own Subtext skin by modifying a default skin.

If you are a professional developer and are wondering how all these new things relate to WebForms and ASP.NET MVC, David Ebbo wrote an interesting post explaining how WebMatrix, Razor, ASP.NET Web Pages and MVC fit together.

Now my thoughts on it

Whereas I’m pretty excited by Razor, I’ve to say that I’ve mixed feelings about the WebMatrix IDE and ASP.NET WebPages: they lower the bars for new developers that want to start building their personal web sites on the MS stack, but doing so they also promote “bad” programming practices. Probably people that want to build their quick site to publish all their runs don’t care about unit testing, SOC and so on, but still seeing a SQL statement in the the “view” feels bad. But again, I’m not the target of this platform.

What I think will be important is the migration story from this PHP-like way of developing apps to a more professional one if the developers decides he/she wants to go that route.