ASP sites and free WYSIWYG software...

  Taran 19:22 04 Dec 2003

This could be of interest to anyone considering Microsoft web hosting for ASP pages or who already has it and is wondering what to do with it beyond their HTML site.

The ASP.NET site click here has a lightweight .NET development tool that you use as a WYSIWYG editor. In fact, it's a pretty good WYSIWYG web page editor as well as a programming/application development tool.

You choose your document type when you open the program and just drag and drop elements onto the blank page (forms, buttons, anchor points, image placeholders and so on) then give them instructions to work in a properties editing panel.

It's called Web Matrix (Reloaded) proving that Microsoft (who wrote it) at least has a sense of humour.

It can be used as a quite capable HTML editor but its real strength for many will be its ASP.NET and database application tools. You can use it to write your own ASP dynamic web applications and there are starter kits that you can download for free to get you up and running.

The starter kits are:

Time Tracker - project management tool

Reports – graphs, charts, tables and so on as a web application

Community – a skinnable community site for groups, newsfeeds (RSS and XML) and so on

Commerce – this is the real gem, a fully functioning web application showcasing an ASP.NET/SQL shopping cart, product catalogue and order submission

Portal – a pretty impressive and fully functional online web portal with user registration, login and lots of other nice tricks

All of the starter kits are available to download in your choice of Visual Basic .NET, C#, and JS languages.

You need the .NET Framework installed on your computer to use Web Matirx which limits you to Windows 2000, XP and 2003 Server.

It will write Microsoft Access applications whether you have Access or Office installed or not, which is a pretty neat trick.

No web server is required for testing purposes since it includes its own lightweight background server environment that runs on your PC to allow you to test your applications.

IIS is required though, to test and run production server environment projects (this ships with Windows 2000 and XP Pro) and you can also get a free Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (50 or 70mb download, depending on which one you go for) to allow you to develop and test fully-fledged .NET applications intended to run off an SQL server.

It comes with template documents to help you build secure login pages and all kinds of other things.

I realise that this will possibly only be of limited interest to most people, but we have seen a few ASP web application questions here in the WebDesign forum and interest in dynamic sites and e-commerce operations in particular seems to be gaining ground.

This is a pretty good little tool to get you up and running when you take the starter kits into account which demonstrate fully working web applications that you can modify, play with, break and fix to learn how they work.

In fact, if you only want it as a free WYSIWYG web page editor (including CSS files) it has to be worth the 1.3mb download and the 2.75mb of hard disk space it takes up, assuming you have the correct version of Windows with the .NET Framework installed.

Hope this helps someone.

Regards all.


  Taran 16:38 16 Dec 2003

Just ticking resolved to tidy up.


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