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Remote IIS Web Sites

A remote Internet Information Services (IIS) Web site is an IIS Web application associated with a copy of IIS that is running on another computer. Visual Web Developer communicates with the Web site by using the HTTP protocol and FrontPage Server Extensions from Microsoft.


As of December 2010, Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions (FPSE) 2002 is no longer available for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 RTM. If FPSE is already installed on the destination server, you can create and open remote Web site projects on that server. If the server does not already have FPSE installed, you must choose a different Web site project type. For information about project types that are available, see Types of Web Sites in Visual Web Developer. For information about FPSE support, see Supportability of Front Page Server Extensions 2002 running on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 on the Microsoft KnowledgeBase Web site.

Creating or opening a remote IIS Web site is useful when you want to do the following:

  • You do not want to install IIS on your development computer, but you have access to IIS running on another computer.

  • You want to test your Web site using IIS, which closely emulates how the Web site will run on a production server. This can have advantages over working with file system Web sites that run using the ASP.NET Development Server because paths are resolved as they will be on a production server.

Alternatively, if you have IIS running on your computer, you can create a local IIS Web site. For more information, see Local IIS Web Sites.

To create or open a remote IIS Web site requires the following:

  • The remote computer must have at least IIS version 5.0 installed and running.

  • The remote computer must be running the .NET Framework version 2.0.

  • ASP.NET version 2.0 must be enabled in IIS on the remote computer. For details, see the topic "Enabling ASP.NET" in the IIS Product Documentation.

  • FrontPage Server Extensions must be installed and enabled at the root level where you are creating the site. For details, see the topic "Installing and Enabling FrontPage Server Extensions" in the IIS Product Documentation.

  • You must have FrontPage administration or author permissions to create new folders and files on the remote computer under the root where you want to create the new site. For details, see the topic "Using Roles to Manage User Rights" in the IIS Product Documentation.

To open an existing site on the remote computer, the preceding must be true as well as the following:

  • FrontPage Server Extensions must be enabled at the Web site level.

  • The site must be configured to use ASP.NET 2.0. If it is not, when you open the site, Visual Web Developer will prompt you to reconfigure the site to use ASP.NET 2.0. This is distinct from having ASP.NET 2.0 installed on the remote computer. It is possible to have ASP.NET 2.0 installed on the remote computer but have the site to be opened still mapped to use an earlier version of ASP.NET.

FrontPage Server Extensions are a set of utilities that run on a Web server with IIS, which allow you to administer an IIS application across an HTTP connection. FrontPage Server Extensions make it practical to work with a server that is not directly accessible to you on your local computer or on a local area network.

Visual Web Developer uses FrontPage Server Extensions to manage remote Web sites. When you create or open a remote IIS Web site and when you create, open, and save files, Visual Web Developer communicates with the remote server by sending FrontPage Server Extension commands.

Visual Web Developer performs all of the communications tasks with FrontPage Server Extensions automatically. From your perspective as a Web site developer, after you have successfully created or opened a remote IIS Web site, you can work with files as you would in any Web site, such as a file system Web site or a local IIS Web site.


Using FrontPage Server Extensions has some implications for how you can work with source control on a remote computer. For details, see Web Site Source Control Overview.

When you create a remote IIS Web site, Visual Web Developer performs all of the tasks on the remote computer that are required to make the Web site function as an IIS application. Visual Web Developer creates the folder or folders for your Web site in the path you specified when creating the site, and then creates the files for the Web site template that you selected.

If you have a set of ASP.NET Web site files in a folder already, you can open a Web site and specify the folder as the location. Visual Web Developer allows you to work with the folder as if you had created the Web site in Visual Web Developer.

When Visual Web Developer creates the Web site on the remote server, it sets permissions that allow you to create and edit pages and components in the Web site based on your FrontPage Server Extensions administration or author permissions. However, Visual Web Developer cannot set certain permissions on folders that might be required by ASP.NET at run time.

At run time, your Web application runs in the context of the ASP.NET user account, either ASPNET (for Windows XP Professional or Windows 2000) or NETWORK SERVICES (for Windows Server 2003). If the application writes to the Web site, it must have Modify and Write permissions. A typical example is if your Web site has an App_Data folder for XML files or a local database. Without the appropriate permissions, the application cannot update the data in this folder.

Therefore, if your application must write to the site, you must grant Write and Modify permissions to the folders to be updated. If you cannot set these permissions yourself, you must have an administrator on the remote computer perform this task for you.

When you create or open a remote IIS Web site, Visual Web Developer creates a project to manage the files. The project stores a small amount of information such as your choices for how to run the application and what debuggers are available. Project information is stored on your local computer on a per-user basis. For more information, see Web Site Projects and Solutions.

By default, when you run a remote IIS Web site to test it, Visual Web Developer launches a browser and runs the Web site using the server name of the remote site. For example, if you have created the Web site ExampleSite on the server TestServer, when you test it in Visual Web Developer, the browser will request the test page from this URL:


For more information, see Testing Web Pages in Visual Web Developer.

If the remote IIS Web site that you are working with is not already on the production server, you can deploy it using the Copy Web tool or the Publish Web utility in Visual Web Developer. For more information, see ASP.NET Deployment Overview.


The Publish Web utility is not available in Visual Web Developer Express Edition.