Microsoft Offers ASP.NET Starter Kits, WebMatrix Tools

For devs that want to get deep with ASP.NET features, Microsoft has released its biggest set yet of free code, templates and downloads - and even made it attractive to tweak and share by making it available under a very non-restrictive license. See what Microsoft is making available, free and with few sharing restrictions.

Tags: Devs, Web Matrix, Starter Kits, Developers, Features, Nandi, Server,

For devs that want to get deep with ASP.NET features, Microsoft has released its biggest set yet of free code, templates and downloads - and even made it attractive to tweak and share by making it available under a very non-restrictive license.

The basic dev offerings can be broken out into two main releases:

I The release of version 1.0 of five (5) ASP.NET Starter Kits, which include templates for building a variety of tactical web services applets/applications. These kits include Time Tracker, Reports, Community, Commerce, and Portal;

II. An upgrade to ASP.NET Web Matrix (version 06), which adds support for Microsoft Access database and the J# language; and

* For devs looking for tech support and community, there is also an expanded ASP.NET Developer Center at MSDN.

Inside ASP.NET Starter Kits 1.0
These starter kits show developers how easy it is to build a web service, using drag and drop tools to create the application, build your pages and even integrate it with outside data sources," Shawn Nandi, ASP.NET product manager told IDN.

"Developers and companies looking for highly scalable, full featured, Microsoft-supported applications,should use Microsoft's Content Management Server and Commerce Server
products," Nandi told IDN. However, he added, "the Starter Kits can be for any web developer interested in learning ASP.NET and how to scope a development project and use the visual tools."

With the kits, Microsoft suplies developers "a more advanced starting point" for ASP.NET development, by including a lot of the templates and pre-build codesets you might need for a specialized pplication, Nandi added.

For example:

The ASP.NET Starter Kit for Portal includes 10 basic portal modules, a pluggable framework, XML-based definition of portal content and even pre-built roles-based security for viewing and adding/deleting content.

The ASP.NET Starter Kit for Commerce lets developers build a basic online store using pre-defined catalog templates, an order entry applet, search and shopping cart.
The ASP.NET Starter Kits are available free for Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003. and the .Net Framework. See details on Starter Kits and download links here. Devs can also get a useful ASP.NET sample app for community portal here

The downloads are also available under Microsoft's Shared Source licensing, Nandi said, which allow devs to build and share both non-commercial and commercial apps with very few restrictions.

The main provision is the licensing agreement requires devs to include notice where their code has been modified from the original download, and that support is not available. Asked if there were any hidden aspects to the Shared Source license that might keep devs from sharing their commercial applets from ASP.NET Starter Kits, Nandi said, "I can't see anything in the license that would prevent it. "We want devs to get their work out on this."

Inside Enhacements to ASP.NET Web Matrix Features
Among the new features in ASP..NET Web Matrix are a series of drag-and-drop ASP.NET server controls (available from the toolbox or ascx user controls) to help devs quickly design either ASP.NET pages or HTML documents. The designer also supports Table and Style attribute editing. ·

Other notable ASP.NET Web Matrix features include:

Projectless File and FTP Workspaces. Web Matrix supports both
FTP-based and file-based workspaces that allow developers to easily organize
and edit their ASP.NET applications. Workspaces are saved across sessions
for allowing you to quickly work on your application. This is a key enhancement for devs working on complex apps, or working in teams across the Internet. "In prior versions, FTP connections would get deleted when you shut down We Matrix," Nandi told IDN. "Now we persist the link."

SQL Server and Access Database Management. Integrated support to create and edit SQL or MSDE and Access (.mdb) databases. This lets devs create new databases, add or delete tables, design table schema and relationships, edit table data rows, create stored procedures (SQL/MSDE only) all within Web Matrix. Auto-generate ADO.NET code to perform data access using the built-in code wizards. ·

Improved Data UI Generation. This feature lets devs create data bound pages without writing code, by dropping SQL/MSDE or Access tables on your page to create data-bound grids. In addition, code builders help generate code to select, insert, update and delete SQL/MSDE or Access data.

Multiple language support. Supports code in Web applications files (eg. aspx and ascx files), as well as in code wizards. Web Matrix has support for writing code in C#, Visual Basic and J#. ·

Class Browsing. With this feature, devs can browse any class in any assembly to view its properties, events or methods, as well as metadata attributes associated with the class. Perform searches on class names, or member names to quickly find classes.

XML Web Services Support. Allows devs to more easily expose a SOAP-based XML Web Service, as well as call and consume a XML Web Service hosted on another server. ·