I surprised myself by becoming quite a fan of WebMatrix, so I was keen to give the new WebMatrix2 beta a go and see how it shapes up.
I’ve found WebMatrix very easy to use and surprisingly robust. It gave me a very easy way to install and run my CMS websites locally and then to publish them, and also to resync my local environment to the published one. In particular note it allows publishing of an SQL database with just a tick of a box (once the connection string has been entered).
Aside from that it gives a handy but pretty basic interface to the local database.
WebMatrix 2 at first glance looks very similar but does have some very useful extras.
There is an all-new remote view section which allows you to see all your remote files within their file structure and to edit certain files, such as CSS and HTML files. This is not just a built-in text editor. It recognises syntax, uses syntax coloring and has inteli-sense like auto completion.
This is very useful, but is still a bit buggy. I found some of the pop-up help displaying on top of other pop-up help (although when I tried to reproduce that to take a snapshot it all worked properly).
It all seems to work reasonably fast too. I’m using it on my netbook and not having any troubles.
There is also a new galleries section that allows you to download and install extensions. There are only a handful so far but presumably more will become available. Of most interest to me is the image optimizer which reduces image file size and is very easy to use.
The database support has been expanded, adding support for stored procedures and increased support for table definitions.
A feature that particularly interests me is the extensibility framework. Unfortunately, after following the instructions to download and create a new extension project I am getting a compile error, so I’ve yet to investigate this feature.
Its still as easy as ever to create a new Website using the WebGallery or a template.
Going back to my opening statement, when I first installed the original WebMatrix I remember thinking “I’m not going to like this”. Its one of those easy to use but powerful programs, which generally means there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you’re unaware of. As a developer, I generally like to know exactly what’s going on so that if it should go wrong I can work out why and fix it.
The easy to use but powerful packages are great while they are working but can cost a lot of valuable time if something goes wrong.
So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised with WebMatrix and I like what I see so far in the WebMatrix2 beta. Unlike many betas, I’m not going to unload this and wait for the full release. Instead I’ll continue to make use of its extra functionality and see if I can get that extension project building …