Microsoft WebMatrix 2 Beta is a powerful tool which makes it far easier for developers to start creating complex websites in just a few clicks.
The program comes with its own basic site templates: "Bakery", "Photo Gallery", "Calendar", and "Personal Site". But perhaps more interesting is its ability to create sites based on a host of free and open source tools: WordPress, DotNetNuke, Drupal, SugarCRM, phpBB, Tiki Wiki, Joomla! and many more (59 in total).
So if you want to host a WordPress blog on your site, for instance, just choose it from the list, and click Next. WebMatrix should download, install and set up any necessary components, walk you through the process of setting them up, then leave you ready to work on your site code. Which you can preview in any installed browser, whenever you like, as the program install the IIS 7.5 Express web server for you.
Enhancements in WebMatrix 2 include more intelligent web application installations. The program is able to generate database passwords, users and other key details entirely automatically (although you can override these if you prefer), so in theory at least you can have your application up and running more quickly. (We say "in theory" because this didn't always happen for us, but that's no surprise: this is a beta, and it's trying to automate some very complex tasks.)
A smarter code editor now supports intellisense for .NET, PHP, HTML, CSS and JScript. Integrated help links mean you can learn more about some particular concept or language element in a click. And you can now remotely edit your files on the web server, so there's no need to republish: your changes are visible right away.
And elsewhere you'll find enhanced database management, improved web application templates, and new WebMatrix extensions to help you push your site even further, amongst other goodies.
Please note, WebMatrix 2 is a beta and has plenty of known issues. Check out the official list before you try the program out, just to make sure they won't affect your particular project.