Author: Laurence Moroney
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2011
Aimed at: Newcomers to WebMatrix
Pros: A well explained introduction to WebMatrix
Cons: Very basic, insufficient emphasis on PHP
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
WebMatrix is a very misunderstood product. At first it appears to be just a way of installing websites but it is really a cut down development environment that you can use to create and customize websites. This book isn't an advanced guide to WebMatrix but it does do a good job of explaining the sorts of things it can be used for.
The opening chapter describes the different Web Stacks that WebMatrix supports - of course there is a bias toward Microsoft technology but not everything is ASP.NET. As well as ASP.NET MVC using Razor syntax we also have basic HTML and PHP. After dealing with installation the book moves on to a brief tour of WebMatrix. Each method of creating a web site is examined and by Chapter 3 you have a rough idea of what WebMatrix can do and are ready to look at simple programming tasks.
After this the book moves through each of the WebMatrix helpers - working with images. video, forms and controls, database, social networking and Xbox live, and email. Chapter 10 explains some of the wider issues in using templates, styles and layouts and chapter 11 provides a complete but simple example of a web site that uses data. Chapter 12 is about FaceBook integration and Chapter 13 is about PayPal integration
Chapter 14 is a bit more ambitious in that it shows how to build your own helper for WebMatrix using the Microsoft Translator widget as an example. Finally we have a chapter on deployment and a rounding out chapter on using WordPress and PHP in general. Overall the book's emphasis is on using ASP.NET rather than PHP and this chapter doesn't really redress the balance but it's better than nothing.
The most important thing to realise is that this is a very basic book. You do need to have some idea how HTML/CSS and C# might be used to create a website but apart from this everything is explained. As WebMatrix is easy enough to use you might decide that you don't need a book this simple but it does serve to explain the sorts of things you can achieve using it. So as long as you aren't expecting rocket science this is a good introduction to WebMatrix.