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Since the .NET Framework SDK is free, is Visual Studio anything more than an IDE? If yes, do I need to buy Visual Studio to deploy my ASP.NET web application (written in C#)? I'm using MySQL for the database.

I'm a student that is going to graduate college soon, and I'm exploring technologies for a web application that I'm building for a startup.

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As far as I'm aware of, all you need is IIS, which in turn requires you to have one of the beefed up versions of Windows (in other words, not "home" edition). – Stargazer712 Oct 17 '11 at 22:43
You do not need a 'beefed up version of Windows' to develop .Net applications. You can use IIS Express which is a lightweight, self-contained version of IIS optimized for developers. – Chris Oct 18 '11 at 1:51
up vote 13 down vote accepted

No, you don't need Visual Studio to build web applications - you can use the SDK directly if you wish.

However, Visual Studio also exists in free Express editions. These are stripped-down single-language/single-platform versions of Visual Studio (for example, there is no support for plugins), but otherwise completely usable for building your applications.

In your case, you can use Visual Web Developer Express to work with ASP.NET applications.

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Plus, as a student you probably qualify for Dreamspark ( which would provide a full copy of Visual Studio, Windows Server editions for IIS, and free training, too. – Kate Gregory Oct 17 '11 at 23:23
I actually do. But I'm not sure if sticking with MS technologies would turn out to be expensive later. – rdasxy Oct 18 '11 at 7:14
The express editions have a non-commercial licensing term that may bite you if you're not careful. I use it to compile the Windows Native version of one of my Java libraries, and the non-commercial restriction sticks out in the EULA like a sore thumb. If my library weren't OSS I'd be worried about that term. – SplinterReality Oct 18 '11 at 8:52
@CharlesChappell are you sure? My understanding is you're welcome to sell apps you built with VS Express. – Kate Gregory Oct 18 '11 at 10:44
@CharlesChappell: I just checked the C# and C++ Express EULAs, and there is no such clause in there. The oonly use of the word commercial is a bit about not being allowed to "use the software for commercial software hosting services", but that would be something along the lines of offering Visual Studio itself as a commercial service. – Michael Madsen Oct 18 '11 at 11:14 is also a good landing point: there's a download icon with a "free" banner in the middle, at the top. These 'all-in-one' downloaders are excellent for getting you going easily with everything you need, all tied together nicely.

Good Luck!

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Thank you! Useful resource! – rdasxy Oct 19 '11 at 3:07

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