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Introduction to Visual Web Developer Express

Back to the tutorials list

If you already have and are familiar with VWD Express, just skip to the last section of this page, and follow the instructions for creating your tutorials website and database. Otherwise, continue on:

 bulletYou need VWD Express. Follow these steps before doing the other tutorials

The tutorials on this website require the use of a pc with Visual Web Developer Express (VWD) as the design tool. It is FREE. VWD is a sister program to Expression Web, but is far superior when working with databases, as it supports the creation of "code-behind" VB or C# pages which are extremely useful when working with databases.

Many developers prefer to set up their pages with VWD and its code-behind pages, and then do their page design work with Expression Web, which has some useful design tools that VWD does not have (such as Super Preview, which lets you test how your designed page will look in various browsers).

The language of all code interaction with the database in our tutorials will be Visual Basic (VB for short). We will keep the records in a SQL Express database for this tutorial, and the tool we will use to set up our page is Visual Web Developer Express (VWD).

Access users: You will still be able to follow along these tutorials using an Access database (see below).

bulletGetting set up with VWD Express

If you do not have VWD 2010 Express, you can get it here (it is part of the Visual Sudio package):

Get Visual Web Developer 2010 Express  Unfortunately MS no longer makes this available. Use the link below for the 2013 version

When you get to the (confusing) download page, scroll down to the "Visual Studio Community and Express" section.  You want the "Express 2013 with Update 4 for web"

Get Visual Studio 2013 Express

It is completely free. You will need the ASP.Net platform and SQLExpress Server that come along with it. You will be asked to install the Platform Installer, which makes it easier for you to get the required asp.net platform and SQL Express database.

Be sure to read all the installation instructions.

All the tutorials on this site require that you have successfully completed the installation of VWD Express, the ASP.NET platform, and SQLExpress server.

bulletGetting started with VWD Express

After installing VWD Express, open it, and click on File / New Website. Click Visual Basic under Installed Templates, and choose ASP.NET Website. At the bottom of the screen you will see where that website's default location will be on your computer. You might want to edit that entry before pressing the ok button, to change the name used for your website (otherwise it will probably just be called website1 -- you might rather name it something that makes sense to you like MyTutorialsWebsite). When done, press the OK button.

This will create a basic website with a Default.aspx page that is already open. Normally you would change what is on that page to correspond to whatever you wanted on your default home page. You can close the page by clicking the x on its tab in the upper left corner.

Find the Solution Explorer pane. That is where the pages on your website will be placed. Right now, a few "starter" files that VWD created are showing under your website location\name ( for example an "about.aspx" and a web.config file). Double-click the about.aspx file and that starter file will open. Again, we aren't going to use that for this tutorial, so you can leave it open, or close it.

If you do not already see Database Explorer in a toolbar or a pane, go to the top menu, choose View / Database Explorer which should open a toolbar or pane window showing your Data Connections (currently there are none). If the Database Explorer  is by the toolbar, it should minify down next to your toolbox when you click elsewhere on the page. If you ever "lose" it, you can always get it back from the View menu. Or it might reside in a pane next to the Solution Explorer. You may set the layout up to suit yourself.

In the Solution Explorer, right click on the App_Data folder (this is a secure folder where databases reside), choose Add New Item, highlight SQL Server Database, and in the Name box below give it a sensible name like MyTutorialsDatabase.mdf, and click the Add button.

Access users: Although these tutorials use a sql express database, you may use an Access database and still follow along the tutorials. There are some slight differences but you should still be able to figure things out. To work with an Access database instead of an .mdf database, right-click on the App_Data folder, choose Add Existing Item, browse to the Access database on your computer, and add it. Then whenever you are configuring a datasource, browse to that database to work with.

You will now see the database in your App_Data folder, and in the Database Explorer, the Tables and Views are visible to you.

You are now ready to take the rest of the tutorials on this website. Do not delete the website you have created, you will be using it in subsequent tutorials. Save the website and the tutorial pages you have created as you go along.

bullet Take the basic tutorials in the order shown -- some use the results of prior tutorials

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