Scott Hanselman

Web Platform Installer: Trying to make it easier to setup for web development

October 04, 2008 Comment on this post [15] Posted in ASP.NET | IIS | Tools
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There's a renewed focus, in my opinion, to make things easier to find around The Big Blue Monster. I'm working with a bunch of folks on a more official version of and some changes around making the .NET Framework easier to find, as a small example.

Getting a machine up to speed for Web Development is another thing that's kind of a hassle because you need to go get (and know to go get) IIS7, Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, SQL Server 2008 Express Edition and the .NET Framework, yada yada yada.

There's a new site at and a new (beta) of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (blog announcement). It's basically a super bootstrapper that keeps track of where to get stuff and organizes them as profiles.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer

If I select "Your Choice" I get a complete list from a catalog of things that can be downloaded. I can auto-select options from a dropdown like "PHP Developer" or "Classic ASP Developer." Cool that those options are there as well as ASP.NET Developer. There's a manifest that it downloads to get the latest versions of each of these.

Web Platform Installer Choose Components

On the Web Server tab, it'll pick the right IIS modules you'd need to get a site up, but it also shows as options some of the more interesting (and not well publicized) modules like ARR and BitRate Throttling that have been released since IIS7 came out.

If you're running a Web Development shop, it's certainly a quick way to get everything you'd need installed, including the free version of Visual Studio Web Express.

Check it out, and if you have any trouble or find anything interesting, you can report it directly to the team at the Web Platform Installer Forum. If you like it or hate it, let them now. It'd be interesting to see how extensible it can be and if they choose to extend it other developer products.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 04, 2008 2:34
Sweet. I have run into this more times than I can count. I'm shocked that the PHP option is there. It should be, since PHP is about as popular as sliced bread, but I'm shocked that it actually is.
October 04, 2008 3:35
I hope there will be an option in the future for this to work with the full version of Visual Studio. It really is a pain to get a new dev box up and running.
October 04, 2008 3:57
Very cool. Almost makes me want to put windows back on my machine. :P

October 04, 2008 4:40
Sweet stuff. I haven't worked with .NET in a couple years, but this weekend I need to get a VM up and running with a MSFT stack. I'm hoping this will make life easier.
October 04, 2008 5:07
What would be nice is to get IIS7 onto XP
October 04, 2008 9:35
It would also be great if IIS on XP could host multiple websites, so it's easy to test cross-site web services (eg. Silverlight 2.0 apps) without having multiple Cassini's floating around. IIS webs can also be accessed from the VPCs you have loaded for older browser testing, and also from the Macs on your network.

Even better, a tool that manages host-headers for those websites with a set of rules in the HOSTS file (appname.local?) although obviously that only makes it easier on your dev box, and not across the network.

Small shops/home developers are now well beyond the single-website restriction in IIS making sense. Simulating/testing cross-domain scenarios, and cross-platform testing in particularly is difficult for the 'Express' developer.

Just a thought...

p.s. I've just tried to post this twice with Blogger OpenID (XP, FF2), got the following error both times:
Server Error
404 - File or directory not found.
The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.
I can see other commenters have used OpenID, but it didn't work for me :-(
October 04, 2008 20:20
That is kick ass. I'll have to try it out and see how well it works. Thanks for sharing this.
October 04, 2008 20:36
I am a retired electronics design engineer who dabbled in VWD2005 as a hobbyist, mainly to try and keep my mind sharp. I ran into the problem that IIS back then was not free. Do I assume that this 2008 pkg including IIS is free? Also, I want to credit Scott for teaching me about VWD in his excellent video here:
October 04, 2008 21:21
Very nice. Definitely +1 on the setup experience. Begs another question though... Is anyone also kicking around the idea of a command-line package manager?

I try to keep at least one foot in the Ubuntu world and something which works really well are the apt-get commands. They also end up being very how-to-blog and search-engine friendly. There's nothing more satisfying that cutting and pasting an apt-get install from a reference site to a command-line.

For example:
c:\>winstall iis7 sqlexpress aspnet vs2008
c:\>winstall -update dotnetfwk
October 07, 2008 20:05
It's a shame it doesn't support XP, only Vista.
October 07, 2008 23:28
no XP? no thank you.
October 08, 2008 23:29
I'd like to setup something like this on our local network and customize it for setting up a developer's machine, setting up servers in our various environments, etc. to work like a package manager as Louis DeJardin mentioned above.

Is there a toolkit available (now or soon) with which we could do this?
October 19, 2008 5:15
I second 81bronco's comment. It would be nice if these installers could point to a common unc path where, at least in our shop, the devs store all our MSDN iso images. Then we can use the full products of VS, SQL etc. I do realize that ISOs are more complicated than networked MSIs but since we're wishing ...
October 30, 2008 13:02
Hi Scott, I know I'm late to the part on this article, but the lack of XP does seem to be a shot in the foot with this. I was wholeheartedly behind this as a great idea until I read that.

Its a shame that the inevitable politics of supporting only the current OS (even relatively unpopular ones) in much of MS's great ideas seems to blunt the good work that is done elsewere. Good effort but failed in execution.
October 31, 2008 16:22
Yes we know XP is long in the tooth, but it also happens to be the OS of choice even post-Vista release for many, many home and pro web developers.

Surely Microsoft could remove the frustrating single website restriction of IIS 5.1 in XP as an outward sign of their slow progression into giving their customers what they're actually asking for and not simply piling on more eye candy?

They (Microsoft) have made great strides in this area lately (specfically MVC - I love it) and I can't see how removing this restriction, which has been requested for years and years (literally) can do anything but strengthen their image amongst existing MS developers?

Is it perhaps a deep-rooted, non-trivial issue that prevents them from doing so?

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.