by January 1, 2009 0 comments

Developing a web application on Windows using its tools is a lot simpler than
we think it could be. .NET, Visual Studio etc. all help in increasing the
productivity of a developer and put you on the right track quickly. However, it
sometimes is difficult to remember what all is required to be installed to get
productive quickly. This is where these two new tools from Microsoft can really
help you out.

Direct Hit!

Applies To: Web developers
USP: Learn to use the two new tools for
energizing Web apps on your system.
Primary Link:
Keywords: Web platform installer, web
application installer

Web Platform Installer
First up is a tool called the Web Platform Installer. This is a tiny 60KB file
that you can download to your machine which you wish to set up as a development
platform for Web applications. Run the file and it will check your system and
then let you install the tools that you need.

You can choose to install the complete set, a set that lets you develop on
ASP.NET or a custom set. The custom set is most useful as it has a number of
choices that you can obviously customize and takes care of non-ASP.NET
developers too.

The first tab here called “New” shows you a list of new and cutting edge
modules, SDKs or tools that you can use. In the current release, you have a
number of IIS 7 extensions, SilverLight tools for VS and the latest beta of
ASP.NET MVC release. The next tab called “Web Server” allows you to select and
install the components of IIS7 that you need for a particular type of
development and there are a number of templates — like Default, ASP.NET
Development, PHP Development – that are included. Choosing a template (say PHP
Development) changes the set of modules you need installed (for instance CGI/FastCGI
support for PHP). The next tab — Tools and Framework — gets you the latest
version of .NET (3.5sp1), SQL Express 2008,
Visual Web Developer Express 2008, drivers for PHP, and some more. The final two
tabs let you select all or view updates for any of the installed stuff.

Once you have selected the items you wish to install, you can proceed and
review the list. When you proceed, you will be given the license terms to agree
to and then it downloads the required software and installs and configures it
for you automatically. So getting to a productive state is very easy on a new
computer — and remember that all the Microsoft software it downloads is
completely free.

Web Application Installer
This is the second tool from Microsoft that lets you install web based
applications. It includes both ASP.NET and PHP, free or open source applications
and is configured automatically to work on Windows.

Choosing the type of install.

When you run the WAI file, you are shown a number of different applications
that you can install. Some of these require PHP and MySQL to be installed on IIS
beforehand. (Note: currently the Web Platform Installer doesn’t install these,
but the next release is expected to automate this as well.) If you have run the
WPI and installed PHP and MySQL, you can choose from the list of Web
applications shown.

The “NEW” tab shows latest
and cutting edge stuff.

Once you have chosen the application you wish to install and proceed, you
will be first prompted for the web site on the local machine and the virtual
directory name you wish to assign. Proceeding further, you will need to give the
specific configuration that the chosen application needs — for instance,
database information, usernames and passwords and more. Proceeding further will
let the tool check the system to see if it meets the compatibility required. If
it doesn’t, it informs you of the same so that you can correct the errors and
proceed. When it does, it downloads the Web application, and configures the
database and application accordingly. Once it completes, you are presented with
a fully installed and configured version of the application you chose — whether
it is on ASP.NET or PHP/MySQL on Windows.

You can configure IIS7 based
on your development requirements — like ASP.NET or PHP.


A list of free or open source
Web apps on ASP.NET and PHP that you can install.


Web site options for a
selected application.

Currently the two tools have a limited number of things they install — but
this number is expected to grow each time they update the catalog. Installing
the free Microsoft web platform and tools as well as a number of free or open
source web applications running on both ASP.NET and PHP/MySQL on Windows is now
a breeze. If you’re a Web developer, these two tools can help you get productive
very, very quickly.

Configuration options for the
selected application.

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