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Inside ASP.NET Web Matrix

By Alex Homer and Dave Sussman
During its relatively short but spectacularly successful life, Microsoft® Active Server Pages (ASP) has grown from a simple scripting environment for creating dynamic Web pages into a powerful and easy-to-use platform for fully-fledged Web application development. In its latest incarnation, ASP.NET, it provides a complete solution for building almost any type of interactive user interface, as well as for implementing extensive back-end processing operations.
However, despite the many powerful features of ASP, choosing a comprehensive and usable development environment in which to create ASP applications was never easy. Many third parties provide ASP support in their products, for example HomeSite and Macromedia UltraDev (among others) support ASP 3.0, and, of course, Microsoft's own Visual Studio 6.0 included InterDev – which was also available as a standalone product.
With the advent of .NET, support for ASP.NET development has been fully integrated into Visual Studio .NET. It provides an extremely powerful and usable environment for ASP.NET development in the guise of Web Forms, as well as the more traditional types of application (Windows Forms). And now Visual Studio .NET is joined by another Microsoft product, namely the Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix Project (referred to from here on in as "Web Matrix").
At the time of writing, Web Matrix has just been released as a Beta 1 product. The whole nature of the Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix project is that it will develop and grow based on feedback from the community that uses it, so the feature set will evolve over time. You should also keep in mind that, as this is a Beta product, there are quite a few features that are not yet fully implemented (so some things you may expect to see are missing).
However, even at this stage Web Matrix is an extremely usable and efficient tool, and certainly well worth installing and experimenting with. In time, it will, without doubt, mature and be extended to provide many more of the features required for building Web sites and Web applications using ASP.NET.

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