Examples of live Starter Kit Sites

Since I talk about using various starter kits, I thought I would share the acutal live sites that I have put up over time.  In no particular order, here they are:

http://www.rvresort.com – using “My Web Pages”

http://www.redhotchilimommas.com – using “Club Starter Kit 2.0″

http://www.skyriverapartments.com – using “Personal Starter Kit”

If you any questions or comments about any of those sites, just let me know.

Working with the My Web Pages Starter Kit

I had a need for a simple content management system website that could be up and running with minimal effort and the “My Web Pages Starter Kit” fit the bill. The “My Web Pages Starter Kit” is as simple as it gets to  install and use – just upload the files to your host and you can manage everything in your browser.  It is very shared hosting friendly as it works in a Medium Trust environment and does not need a SQL database since it stores data in XML files.  It comes with 16 themes that you can select from and is available in 8 languages and counting.  So that is the good news.  I found some of the built in features a little weak and the community support to be a bit tepid but if you are looking for a simple CMS and don’t want to invest the time to ge up to speed in DNN, you should check it out.  It may fit the bill for you if its built in features meet your needs.

List of Available Starter Kits

The are two broad types of starter kits available. The original starter kits released by the ASP.NET team and community supported starter kits.

The ASP.NET team starter kits are:

  1. Small Business Site Starter Kit - The Small Business Starter Kit provides a sample of a business promotion website suitable for small and medium-sized businesses.
  2. Personal Web Site Starter Kit – A typical personal site that includes a photo album system.
  3. Club Web Site Starter Kit – A starting point for creating a web site for your club or organization.
  4. Time Tracker Starter Kit – A business web application for keeping track of hours spent on a project with the ability to handle multiple resources as well as multiple projects.
  5. Classifieds Web Site Starter Kit – The Classifieds Site Starter Kit provides a complete, ready to run, fully customizable, Web site for listing and managing classified advertisements.

All of these can be found at http://www.asp.net/downloads/starterkits/default.aspx
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How to Get Your Starter Kit Launched on a Web Host

The most common problem for the novice Starter Kit user is moving their site from their personal computer to their web host.

A common stumbling block is the database configuration.  When you run the StarterKit on your personal computer a database file is created in the App_Data folder of your site and everything works fine. When you move the site to your web host this database will not work for you.  You are going to have to copy the information from the database on your personal computer and replicate it to your Web hosts SQL Server Database either through a backup and restore proceedure (which is the way I like to do it) or through running a script against the hosted database.  Check out the steps below for the details.

I am assuming you have your site up and running just fine on your local machine and here are the steps to move to a hosted environment.

Basic Steps:

1) Get a web hosting account.  You already have one you say?  Great, but all web hosts are not created equal.  Not to knock anyone in particular too much but some of the large (and inexpensive) web hosts (godaddy, 1and1, etc.) make it a challenging to get your starter kit to work.  In particular, some starter kits such as CSK and Club Starter Kit 2.0 among others require that you have a full trust rather than a medium or partial trust environment on your Web host.  This is not going to be something that you can change – either your host provides it or they do not.  There are several hosts that specialize in .NET hosting (such as discountasp.net, Ultimahosts.net among many more) and they will make your life much easier when you want to go live with your web site.  It is up to you but you may be able to save yourself a lot of time and anguish by researching which web hosts work well with your particular Starter Kit.  In addition, many of the hosts that specialize in .NET hosting have an option in their control panel where they will automatically install a blank Starter Kit into your hosted space.  Now this is not going to help you if you have already customized your Starter Kit locally but if you are just now getting started there is no easier way to get live on the Internet.

2) Create a blank SQL 2005 database on your Web Host.  The exact steps to do this are going to vary by Web Host by will be accomplished from your online control panel.  Be sure to write down the name of the database you created.

3) Create a user for that database on your Web Host.  Again the exact steps are going to vary but it will be accomplished through your control panel and you will need to write down the user name and password you created.

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