How to install and configure IIS Developer Express with Web PI M3

In this article, I will discuss where to download IIS developer express installer, how to install and configure it to use with Visual Studio 2010.

IIS developer express is a new web server from Microsoft for ASP.NET developers for non production use. The new developer edition of IIS comes with a lot of cool features from IIS and Visual Studio's built-in web server combined in to one software, making it a better tool for developers.

As of now, the IIS developer express is not a separate download and there is no separate installer. It need to be installed through the WebMatrix software install. WebMatrix can be installed using an installer called "Web Platform Installer", which can be used to install a bunch of web development tools from Microsoft and third parties.

What is Web PI 3?

Web PI stands for Web Platform Installer, which is an integrated installer for several web application development tools from Microsoft and third parties.

On 7 July 2010, Microsoft announced Web PI 3 along with WebMatrix beta. WebMatrix is an integrated web application development tool which include a developer version of IIS called 'IIS Developer Express'.

The Web PI 3 installer can install a large number of web application development tools, including:

  • WebMatrix (which includes IIS Developer Express)

  • SQL Server Compact

  • SEO tools

  • Third party web application tools like DotNetNuke, Umbraco, WordPress and Joomla!

  • SQL Server Express

  • and many more.

    The components included in Web PI installer are dynamically loaded from Microsoft web services, so this list can change and add more stuff any time.

    You can download WebMatrix Beta installer (Web PI 3 beta) from here:

    How to install WebMatrix beta and IIS Developer Express

    Download the Web Platform Installer 3 beta and launch the installer. The installer gives a lot of options to choose from. If you are looking for only IIS Developer express, check only one option: Microsoft WebMatrix beta

    My first attempt to install WebMatrix failed saying it failed to install .NET Framework 4.0. Then rebooted the computer, removed all components of .NET Framework 4.0 from add/remove programs and then installed the .NET Framework 4.0 alone from the WebMatrix installer. I suggest you to install .NET Framework 4.0 from the installer before you attempt to install WebMatrix itself.

    IIS Developer express installer

    Once you check it and proceed, you will be given a confirmation screen. In the confirmation screen, it lists the following components to install:

  • Microsoft WebMatrix Beta

  • Microsoft .NET FRamework 4

  • Microsoft SQL Server Compact 4.0 CTP1

  • Microsoft SQL Server Compact Tools 4.0 CTP1

  • ASP.NET Web pages


  • SQL Server 2008 Management Objects

  • IIS Developer express installer

    Unfortunately, there is no option to unselect any of the tools from the list. All the displayed components are dependencies for WebMatrix beta and are required to proceed.

    Also, the list does not display the IIS developer express. This is bit confusing, but ignore it and proceed with the installation. It appears that the IIS developer express is embedded within the WebMatrix system and cannot be separated out. This is very disappointing.

    My first attempt to install WebMatrix failed saying it could not install the dependencies. After scratching my head for a while, I followed the steps below:

    1. Open add/remove programs.
    2. Removed all components of .NET Framework 4.0
    3. Restarted the computer even though I was not prompted to do so.
    4. Opened Web PI 3 beta installer and select .NET Framework 4.0 alone from the options to install.
    5. Restarted the computer even though I was not prompted to do so.
    6. Opened the Web PI installer and followed the installation of WebMatrix again.

    Great, it worked this time. I got a message saying everything is successfully installed.

    Alright, I got WebMatrix installed. But what I really wanted was IIS Developer Express. I went to the programs menu and looked for an entry called "IIS Developer Express". No, it is not there!

    I found the Microsoft WebMatrix program group and expanded it. There was an entry called "Microsoft WebMatrix" under it. Opened it to see how to looks. Here is the welcome screen I got:


    I thought there would be some option to see what I am looking for - IIS Express. No, it is not there too!

    So, proceeded to create a new website. I chose the option "Site From Template". As expected, it allowed me to choose a template for my new site. I chose "Empty Site" since I always like to start everything from a clean slate.

    Wait, where is it going to create the site? Do I have an option to choose the location? No, I could not find an option to specify the location.

    WebMatrix sites

    Take a look at the image of the next screen I received. The web site was created at this location:

    c:\users\<user name>\documents\My Web Sites\<Site Name>

    I am yet to figure out if I can take control of the location and organize all my projects in to one folder of my choice in my PC.

    How to launch IIS developer Express from WebMatrix?

    When you open WebMatrix, you have few options in the top bar:

    1. Run
    2. Start
    3. Stop
    4. Restart

    These links control your IIS Express server and your websites hosted on it. The Start, Stop and Restart buttons will start/stop/restart your IIS Express. The Run menu will start the IIS Express and also launch the website in your default browser.

    You can click on the arrow below the "Run" menu to choose or all of the installed browsers in your computer. This will open the website in the selected browser(s).

    Run WebMatrix

    The above steps demonstrates how to launch IIS Developer Express from WebMatrix from it's integrated menu options.

    How to use IIS Developer Express from Visual Studio?

    As of now, there is no Visual Studio integration for IIS Express. If you like to use IIS Developer Express from Visual Studio, your options are limited to:

    1. Open WebMatrix, start IIS Express and then run your Visual Studio website against the site hosted in IIS Express.
    2. Launch IIS Express from command prompt.

    Manage IIS Express from system tray

    There is an IIS Express System Tray utiltiy (iisexpresstray.exe) which places an icon in the system tray and allow you to manage the sites hosted in IIS Express.

    This utility allows you to view the list of all sites hosted in IIS Express and you can start/stop the sites from here.

    When IIS developer express is started, by default the system tray utility also starts, unless you disable it explicitly.

    One of the problems I found with this system tray utility is, it always starts in the bottom right corner of my screen, with only a small portion of it in the visible area of the screen. Rest of the screen is hidden outside the visible boundary of the screen. I had no ways to drag this screen to a visible area. The drag option simply does not work since the screen does not have a draggable title bar. My only option was to expand the size of the window so that most part of the content is visible.

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    Author: Anisa03 Jun 2011 Member Level: Bronze   Points : 1


    Gr8 article. I was finally able to get my first application up.
    Could not figure out why IIS was not available.


    - Anisa

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