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A Sneak Peek at Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition (Beta 1)

by John Peterson

I always thought Microsoft made a mistake when they eliminated Visual Interdev as a stand alone product. I guess I wasn't alone because it looks like it's coming back as Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition.

It is apparently based on the same code as Visual Studio 2005 (aka. Whidbey), but it's been trimmed down some. Here's Microsoft's explanation:

The Express products are an expansion of the Visual Studio product line to include lightweight, easy to use, and easy to learn tools for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and students who want to build dynamic Windows applications, Web sites, and Web services.

Anyway, if nothing else, it's a way to get to play with the ASP.NET 2.0 Beta bits.


First off, read the FAQ on the Express product line that I link to at the bottom of this page. You may simply not want to install this product yet. There are a number of issues. First, it only supports development using ASP.NET 2.0 which you can't currently legally deploy anywhere because of it's Beta status. Second, it is a Beta 1 build and may cause major issues with your machine... I would certainly not install it on any computer you can't blow out and rebuild. (If you don't have a spare computer lying around, you might want to take a look at Microsoft Virtual PC 2004. I recently started using it for this type of testing and it has been really great. There's a free trial if you want to take it for a spin.) Third, it installs it's own web server. I put it on a WinXP Home box to play with it, but I have no clue how well it handles co-exisiting with other web servers or other installations of ASP.NET.

Assuming you actually want to install, along with Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition, you'll need to install SQL Server 2005 Express and the MSDN Express Library, but don't bother downloading them. The install program will do it for you. The total download is just under 300MB. Here are some screen caps of my install:

Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Setup - Welcome to Setup
Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Setup - Destination Folder
Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Setup - Downloading and Installing Components
Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Setup - Done

The User Interface

The UI should look familiar to anyone who has used Visual Studio or Web Matrix. There's really not much new here. Here's a quick shot of the workspace (click for full size) and the about dialog box:

Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Workspace - Click for Full Size
About Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Beta

The web server setup screen should look very familiar to anyone who downloaded the ASP.NET Web Matrix:

Visual Web Developer Web Server

The new web based ASP.NET administration tool (click for full size).

ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool - Click for Full Size

Well that's enough for now... as the beta period progresses and we get closer to actual release we'll check back in with this great little tool. For now, check out the links below for more information or, if you're really brave, to get a copy of your own to play with.

More Information

Must see stuff:

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