Since installing Option Pack 4 for Windows NT to get IIS running Classic ASP, we have all felt the lack of ease from Microsoft to actually create websites on a developer box. There has always been an expressed need to not need a custom configured machine to install Visual Studio and create web sites right away. Why must we open Windows Configuration and add all these pieces if a solution for our OS could be added to the development product line.
My first development job was 10 years ago when I worked as an intern creating ASP site at the 19. I remember always struggling to deploy updates to the servers and usually reverting to “coding-on-the-server” for high risk bugs and debugging.
After that Windows 2000 really helped us out with IIS 5.0 on the server media and developers quickly moved to Windows 2000 as a developer environment. Shortly after that we all started playing with the betas of .NET in 2001 and developing on a “server-like” environment became second nature.
Then XP came out and we were able to install a consumer OS while retaining the ability to have IIS installed with the Professional edition. Dynamic URLs were becoming the appropriate way of web site design instead of default.aspx?id=234. We were entering the world of competitive SEO and ASP.NET needed to follow. IIS 6 with Windows Server 2003 or XP allowed this to be done, but it was up to the developer to build the right HttpHandlers and Modules to make it happen.
With Visual Studio 2005, we received the tool Cassini for web site development in the IDE, however it was always a quirky tool to use and large applications would tend to default to an IIS installation on the developers box. The task of removing the installed web server on the developers box was still not complete.
Then the age of Vista/7 came and we received all sorts of goodies, but limitations to “Run as Administrator” or if you were a SharePoint 2007 developer, you were launched back into the world of Server OS installation on your client box and the posts about how to make Windows Server 2003/2008 look like Vista started popping up all over. Most developers could still use Vista/7 for their typical ASP.NET development however, and IIS had started to receive a lot of the features that were added to IIS 7.0 on the server.
Today, ScottGu announced the addition of IIS Express and it makes a lot of promises to elevate the need for IIS installations on the developers machine. Read over the article and tell me what you think. I think it is a step in the right direction and I am looking forward to using it. I have never been a fan of Betas for Web Servers because it is easy to think your code is wrong when it could be an issue with the web server, but in this scenerio, I think I will give it a try when it is available for download.
Here are the highlights mentioned in his post:
- It’s lightweight and easy to install (less than 10Mb download and a super quick install)
- It does not require an administrator account to run/debug applications from Visual Studio
- It enables a full web-server feature set – including SSL, URL Rewrite, Media Support, and all other IIS 7.x modules
- It supports and enables the same extensibility model and web.config file settings that IIS 7.x support
- It can be installed side-by-side with the full IIS web server as well as the ASP.NET Development Server
- It works on Windows XP and higher operating systems – giving you a full IIS 7.x developer feature-set on all OS platforms