My Experience with the Web Platform Installer – Part 1, Web Platform

Over the past couple months, I had been leery about my hard drive in my laptop. It had been getting noisier, and a noisy hard drive is never a good sign. Before I went to PyCon, we got a new hard drive, just in case we had to swap it out at the last minute. Thankfully, the electronic powers that be smiled down on me for the past 3 presentations (PyCon, Central Ohio Day of .NET, and Kalamazoo X) – the hard drive stayed noisy, but it also stayed strong.

Tonight, we replaced my hard drive with a new one, and instead of imaging the old drive to the new one, I did a fresh install of the release candidate of Windows 7 Ultimate. Rather than installing everything else, I came up with an idea to try out the Web Platform Installer.

Jeff Blankenburg has mentioned this in his MIX recap talk that’s touring user groups and in his Stir Trek talk. I had played with this a little bit with my previous setup, but I already had other software packages (like Visual Studio 2008) installed. This time, I wanted to see just what it could do with beefier packages (other than just the Silverlight tools).

The best way I can describe the Web Platform Installer is something along the lines of an apt-get GUI for web products that can run on Windows.

Now keep in mind that I’m a web junkie, so this tool is perfect for me. Let’s add a little background to explain the method behind my madness – I’m hoping to work with MVC soon enough, and as for PHP, well, you may see me talk about that more.

I run a site called Cleveland Tech Events, and I’m currently using Joomla as my content management system (CMS). However, there are a lot of features and things that I want that Joomla can’t give me. I can look at other CMS packages, but I need to keep my PHP skills up, so I’m going to write my own. Cleveland Tech Events lives with many of my other domains, where PHP is the common base. So I’ll stick with what I have. Seeing that the Web Platform Installer has PHP as an option, I’m truly curious now.

After downloading it and installing it, I was ready to use the Web Platform Installer to get my web development environment setup. So this is what I’m telling it to install:
Web Platform Installer - Selected Packages

One thing you’ll notice, the Web Platform Installer will download dependencies, much like apt-get. I did not have anything installed beforehand, but it added SQL Server Express and Visual Web Developer Express, without me having to select that.

Web Platform Installer - Selected Packages with Dependencies

Web Platform Installer - Installing Dependencies

However, I did run into an issue with one of my installs – that would be the Silverlight 3 Tools installer. I reran the Web Platform Installer and reselected the tools after the first set of installations finished, and Silverlight cooperated the second time around.

Web Platform Installer - Failed Install

Now I focused on the Web Platform side for this installation, since I’m trying to get my laptop setup as a development environment. But wait, there’s more! Stay tuned for Part 2, when I get into what’s hiding in the Web Applications tab.

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