Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web

.NET Framework 4.5

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web is an easy-to-use environment for developing dynamic web applications. It features a streamlined interface that focuses on providing the tools that you need for creating web applications. All the features of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web are also available in Microsoft Visual Studio 2012. The websites that you create with Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web are compatible with Visual Studio 2012. You can share pages and websites between Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web and Visual Studio 2012 without any conversion issues or loss of functionality.

Note Note

Because many of the features of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web are shared with Visual Studio 2012, the documentation for Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web often refers to Visual Studio 2012.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web contains all the features that you need as a hobbyist web developer or student to create fully functioning websites. 

This topic contains the following sections:

You can install the current version of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer, which is a free tool that makes it simple to download, install, and service components of the Microsoft Web Platform. These components include Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web, IIS Express, and the .NET Framework. You can use these tools to create ASP.NET web applications. You can also use the Microsoft Web Platform Installer to install free ASP.NET and PHP web applications.

You can use Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web to create and work with ASP.NET websites and Web Application Projects in the following configurations:

  • File system websites   In a file-system website or Web Application Project, files can be in any folder. The folder can be on your computer or in a folder on another computer that you access by using a network share. Instead of using IIS to test the site, you can use IIS Express or the ASP.NET Development Server. For more information, see File System Web Site Projects.

  • Local IIS websites   Local Internet Information Services (IIS) websites and Web Application Projects are applications on a local computer that run by using a local copy of IIS. For more information, see Local IIS Web Site Projects.

  • FTP-deployed websites   You can work with websites that you access by using FTP. You can connect from Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web to any FTP server on which you have read and write permissions. You can then create and edit webpages on that server. Web Application Projects do not support FTP deployment directly, although you can publish your Web Application Project to an FTP site. For more information, see FTP-Deployed Web Site Projects.

As in Visual Studio, you can open or create a website or web application project from the Start Page or from the File menu. For more information, see ASP.NET Web Projects and ASP.NET Web Application Projects.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web helps you create both ASP.NET webpages and HTML pages. ASP.NET webpages are dynamic pages. They include ASP.NET web server controls and code that ASP.NET processes on the server. During processing on the server, the controls and the code produce output that is sent as HTML (or other markup) to the browser. For more information, see ASP.NET Web Forms Overview.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web includes a webpage designer. In Design view, it provides a WYSIWYG design surface where you can type text and add controls. When you want to edit the page markup directly, you can switch to Source view. In Source view, the editor provides tools to help you create well-formed markup, such as statement completion and IntelliSense. The editor also checks that the markup complies with a validation schema that you have selected, such as XHTML5. Split view enables you to see both the design view and the markup at the same time. For more information, see Source View, Web Page Designer and Design View, Web Page Designer.

You can create custom page layouts by using master pages, which work like templates. You create an overall layout in a master page, and then create content pages to merge with the master page. To create a custom appearance for pages in a website, you can use themes. Themes enable you to define the color, fonts, and other characteristics of controls and of the page.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web also provides tools that make it easy to work with cascading style sheets (CSS). You can design the layout and style content in Design view by using UI tools such as the CSS Properties window. You can also change positioning, padding, and margins directly in Design view by using WYSIWYG visual-layout tools. For more information, see ASP.NET Master Pages, ASP.NET Themes and Skins and Working with CSS Overview.

To simplify webpage development, you can use ASP.NET web server controls. Web server controls provide familiar types of functionality for pages, such as displaying text boxes, buttons, check boxes, menus, and so on.

ASP.NET web server controls differ from HTML elements in that you can program the ASP.NET controls in server code. Programming controls in server code enables you to create webpages that present a sophisticated interface to users. You can create webpage content dynamically based on information that you can access on the server.

ASP.NET includes web server controls for a great variety of tasks you might perform in webpages, which includes the following:

  • Standard controls   Enable you to add both basic functionality and complex functionality to ASP.NET webpages. Standard controls include buttons, images, text boxes, check boxes, hyperlinks, list boxes, and so on. Other standard controls include a calendar, a file-upload control, and a control to display XML on a webpage.

  • Data controls   Enable you to connect a webpage to various sources of data, which includes databases and XML files. Data controls also let you display data on the page in tables or in other formats, and enable users to edit data.

  • Validation controls   Provide a way to check user input. You can check for required fields, ranges of values, minimum and maximum values, and specific patterns.

  • Navigation controls   Enable you to add various types of menus to webpages. These include static and fly-out menus, a tree view, and a navigation path (which is also known as an eyebrow or breadcrumb).

  • Login controls   Enable you to easily create logon forms and authenticate users. You can also use login controls that enable users to register on the website and recover or replace their passwords.

  • Web Parts controls   Enable users to customize an ASP.NET webpage in the browser. Web Parts controls can customized content such as news headlines or weather data. Users can select which Web Parts control they want to see, and they can customize the layout and appearance of the Web Parts controls. Web Parts controls are personalized, so that the preferences of the user are retained between browser sessions.

  • AJAX Extensions controls   Enable you to enhance a website by using AJAX capabilities, include asynchronous postbacks.

  • Dynamic Data controls   Enable you to use the Dynamic Data features of ASP.NET. For more information, see ASP.NET Dynamic Data and System.Web.DynamicData Namespace.

For more information about ASP.NET web server controls, see ASP.NET Web Server Controls Overview.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web supports ASP.NET data source controls, which connect to and communicate with various types of data sources. For example, the SqlDataSource control contains a data connection object that can connect to a SQL Server database. It also contains data command objects for SQL Select, Update, and Delete statements. Other data-source controls enable you to connect to OLE-DB data sources, XML data sources, and other data sources. The advantage of data source controls is that they provide a consistent interface for data binding for all ASP.NET controls.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web supports Language-Integrated Query (LINQ). LINQ is a query syntax that lets you define query operations directly in C# and Visual Basic. LINQ lets you query databases or in-memory data sources. To support database queries, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web includes an object-relational mapping designer. By using the designer, you can quickly create and edit data classes that map to objects in a database.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web supports ASP.NET Dynamic Data. Dynamic Data lets you create extensible data-driven web applications by inferring at run time the appearance and behavior of data entities from the database schema and deriving UI behavior from it.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web also supports various data controls that you can add to ASP.NET webpages to display data. These include the GridView, DetailsView, FormView, ListView, DataList, and Repeater controls. Each of these controls enables you to present data in different ways. Each control also supports additional features, which include sorting, paging, editing data records, inserting new data records, and so on. You can also populate controls such as the ListBox and DropDownList controls with data from data source controls.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web lets you drag data tables onto a page. When you do, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web automatically creates preconfigured controls on the page.

You can store data in a local database by using LocalDB or SQL Server Express. For more information about LocalDB, see Local Data Overview. For more information about SQL Server Express, see Using SQL Server Express with ASP.NET.

ASP.NET features such as membership, roles, and login server controls let you add authentication (login) and authorization to a website by using little or no code. You can enable users to register on the site, and you can create a login page that automatically checks user credentials. You can help protect pages so that only logged-in users can view them. On a single page, you can present different information to users who are logged in and to anonymous users.

For more information, see How ASP.NET Security Works.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web includes several project types to help you create web applications, sites, and services:

Note Note

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web does not support all project types.

  • ASP.NET Website Projects   ASP.NET website projects include specific types of files that ASP.NET recognizes for processing. In addition, you can create folders for special purposes, such as for storing source code, defining themes, and managing resources. Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web includes an ASP.NET Empty Web Site project template and an ASP.NET Web Site project template. These templates include many autogenerated capabilities that you can customize. For more information, see ASP.NET Web Site Projects.

  • ASP.NET Web Application Projects   ASP.NET Web Applications Projects let you compile a website into a single assembly and explicitly define project resources. This project type offers more options for deploying and maintaining web applications than a web site project does. Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web includes an ASP.NET Empty Web Application project template and a ASP.NET Web Application project template. These templates include many autogenerated capabilities that you can customize. For more information, see ASP.NET Web Application Projects.

  • ASP.NET MVC 3 and ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Projects   The ASP.NET MVC 3 and ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Application project templates can be used to build web applications that use a model-view-controller pattern. For more information, see ASP.NET MVC Overview.

  • ASP.NET Dynamic Data Entities Web Projects   The Dynamic Data Entities Web application project template and the Dynamic Data Entities Web site project template are used to work with the ADO.NET Entity Framework. The project types can target any relational database. For more information about Dynamic Data, see ASP.NET Dynamic Data.

  • WCF Service Projects   The WCF Service Application template provides a basic class structure for service development. The template includes basic definitions for a service contract, a data contract, a service implementation, and service configuration. You can use this template to create a service that requires little or no additional coding, and that can be the basis for more advanced services.

  • Silverlight Application Projects   You can use the Silverlight application project templates to create rich internet applications.

For more information about the web-related templates in Visual Studio, see Visual Studio Templates for Web Projects.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web includes many features to help you create and manage websites and web application projects. Additional features include the following:

  • Multi-targeting   You can target a web application to a specific version of the .NET Framework. By default, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web targets the current version of the .NET Framework. The multitargeting feature helps make sure that applications use only the functionality that is available in a specified version of the .NET Framework. In addition, the multitargeting feature lets you deploy older applications without requiring you to add a .NET Framework version in the deployment package.

  • IntelliSense   IntelliSense offers context-appropriate code choices as you type, including properties, functions, and objects. IntelliSense enables you to keep your coding context, find the information that you need, and insert language elements directly into your code.

  • Debugging   You can test pages by using the integrated debugger, which enables you to find errors in your code. You can also turn on trace, which displays useful debugging information in each page. For more information, see ASP.NET Debugging Overview.

  • Individualizing Webpages   You can create user profiles, which enable you to store user-specific settings that you can use to customize pages for each user. For more information, see ASP.NET Profile Properties Overview.

  • Managing state   The state management capabilities of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web enable you to store information between page requests, such as customer information or the contents of a shopping cart. You can save and manage application-specific, session-specific, page-specific, user-specific, and developer-defined information.

  • Globalization   You can configure your pages to automatically read text from a resource file that is matched to the user's preferred language and locale. For more information, see ASP.NET Globalization and Localization.

  • Deployment   You can publish websites to test servers or production servers by using a variety of tools. For more information, see Web Deployment Content Map for Visual Studio and ASP.NET.