How do you respond to Free and Open Source software eating your market?

One way is to create a user-friendly package of bite-size meals for novices to follow like a breadcrumb trail back to your nest. Include the better FOSS add-ons and make it go down easier with a polished toolset. In other words, spend money seducing developers with the aspect FOSS is weakest at- the developer experience.

I stumbled over WebMatrix while attempting to create an API site to help with some technical editing I am doing on a book. I started out using another Microsoft tool called Web Platform Installer 4.5. WPI is a utility for managing the task of installing various parts of the Microsoft solution stack along with some FOSS that it plays with. In my opinion it suffers from the Dictionary Paradox: I don’t know what the things are it lists as I browse it: conversely, don’t know what the things are that I will need to build a particular solution. Somehow it installed WebMatrix, but I didn’t know what it was or that I had it. Here’s a synopsis. I discovered that it had installed WebMatrix after I found it via another search and started installing it.

The most powerful aspect of WebMatrix it combines many activities that normally straddle several separate applications into a unified experience that focuses on learning and accomplishment. Instead of hunting down IIS manager, IP addresses, port numbers, default browsers, database manager, tables, Javascript libraries, Java versions, firewall settings, .NET runtimes etc. you create a simple Hello World. MySQL, IIS and a stripped-down IDE are just right for getting from 0 to trouble in an afternoon – I highly recommend it. Especially to Java tool developers.