Microsoft release more things than you can shake a stick at

There are quite a few tools and products I’ve been eagerly awaiting from Microsoft. I’ve been working with beta versions and anxiously watching mailing lists for news of new features and possible release dates. I knew some of them would probably come out in January, but they went and released them all, and more this Thursday. It’s very exciting, but this simultaneous release is going to make it harder to learn about all of them.

Orchard 1.0

I’m most excited about this. I’ve been working with Orchard and writing some modules for it since their first alpha release in March 2010. Orchard is an open source contact management system based on ASP.NET MVC. I really like the built in ways of extending Orchard. They fit really well with the tools I like to use and my development process.

You can find out more about Orchard at the Orchard Project Site, and you can also see the modules I’ve written in the Orchard Module Gallery.


When I started my current project I decided to work with the first release candidate of MVC3. A release candidate is a bit better than a beta, but it is likely to contain bugs and they may change a few minor things. I’m really glad I did as it’s been a pleasure to use and upgrading to the final release has been easy. The nicest and most exciting new feature in MVC 3 is the new razor view engine. I was perfectly happy with the previous web forms view engine, but razor is much cleaner and less verbose.

You can find out more about MVC 3 at the MVC 3 site.

NuGet 1.0

NuGet brings to the .NET world what it should have had for a long time. A package manager like RubyGems. A packager manager gives you a way to easily install things that your program might need, like an error logging module or an API wrapper library. It also gives you an easy way to check for and install updates. You can also set up your own NuGet server to distribute your own code. This could be a great way of sharing code in an organisation.

You can find out more and view available packages at the NuGet site.

IIS Express

Ever since I started doing web development and wanted to test stuff locally I’ve never been completely happy with the servers I could install on my local Windows machine for testing. For a while you could only run one website. Since Vista this hasn’t been a problem, but setting up a full server locally and making sure the settings are consistent across even a small team of developers could be difficult. My preferred option for a while has been to use the Visual Studio test web server. It runs straight from your project and the settings are stored as part of the project file so can be easily source controlled. However there are some things you can’t do it that server, like run it with an SSL or add new mime types.

IIS Express promises to be the best of both worlds. It should make testing things a lot easier. I can’t wait to try it out.

You can download IIS Express here or through the Web Platform Installer. You can find out more about it in Scott Guthrie's IIS Express blog post.

WebMatrix 1.0

This is probably not something I will use myself as it’s not really aimed at me. However, the next time someone asks me how to start and learn web development it is something that I will recommend. When I started web development over 15 years ago things were a lot simpler and there were less options and tools available. These new tools and options bring power and flexibility, but they must also make it a bit overwhelming if you’re just starting. WebMatrix is a free web development tool that tries to give you a good starting point. If they’ve done it well it will allow you to make real things, present you with a nice learning curve and also allow you to graduate to more advanced tools if you want to.

You can find out more at the WebMatrix Site.

Other things

Microsoft also released SQL Server Compact Edition 4 and the Web Deploy and Web Farm Framework 2.0. I’m not as excited by these things, but these are both useful things that I will investigate more later.

Useful links