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Feature Overview

The Quick Dynamicweb Installer is a simple .NET Win Forms application that looks like this when you start it up first:

Figure 1

To use the tool, you make up a new domain name (for convenience, use one that ends on; see here for an explanation of this domain and why it is so useful). Next, you choose between a Standard and Custom solution (this determines the root of the site in IIS and whether or not /Admin is virtually included). You then choose between an empty database (using and the Industry Solutions data set. You then pick a Dynamicweb version from the Version drop-down list (which is built from a folder containing ZIP files with Dynamicweb applications), make some optional changes to the application pool and hosts file, hit Create site and less than a minute later you have a complete Dynamicweb site up and running.

The tool supports the following features:

  • It enables you to choose between standard solutions and custom solutions. In the latter case, you need to manually add your own Visual Studio project using the DW templates for Visual Studio to the Application folder.
  • You can choose between DefaultEmptyData and a custom file source.
  • It automatically creates the web site in IIS, adds an application pool if necessary, and adds /Files and /Admin virtual directories.
  • When "Use standard app pool" is checked, it tries to use an application pool called Dynamicweb 8 Sites. It creates the pool when it doesn't exist. When this checkbox is off, it always creates a new application pool named after the site.
  • It restores the SQL Server database from a ZIP file against a configurable SQL Server instance and sets up logins, users and permissions in SQL Server.
  • It has support for "post installation SQL fixes" to run custom SQL scripts to make changes to the database after the site has been set up. This enables you to fix issues in the database as is currently the case with the domain names on the current industry solutions site.
  • It uses a (configurable) folder with Dynamicweb applications in the ZIP format as they come from the Developer portal. That means you can drop a ZIP file in the Zips folder and the Dynamicweb version drop down is populated automatically. It then sees if an unzipped version of the selected application already exists and extracts the files if necessary.
  • It uses zipped versions of the DefaultEmptyData and your custom data sets; this means you can just drop a new ZIP file in a (configurable) folder and it just works.
  • It has a configuration file that enables you to specify the location of the input and output folders so you can freely determine the location of your files.  
  • You can create sites from existing sources (e.g. an existing Application folder, an existing Files folder, an existing SQL Server database or a combination of any of these).
  • It enables you to create backups of the site to a ZIP file.
  • It enables you to completely delete sites (and their associated data).

Getting Started

In order to get started with the Quick Dynamicweb installer, follow these instructions:

  1. Download the latest source or stable release from the CodePlex website. You find the project here: Switch to the Downloads tab and download the latest release. Alternatively, you can grab a copy of the latest source at the Source Code tab.
  2. Extract the source to disk and then open Visual Studio 2012 running as an Administrator. You need VS 2012 / .NET 4.5 because of the ZIP Manager API the tool uses which was introduced in .NET 4.5). You need to run as an administrator because the tool requires administrative permissions to setup IIS and execute other tasks.
  3. Open the project in Visual Studio.
  4. Next, you need to configure and setup the application. This comes down to creating a bunch of folders on your local hard drive and making changes to the application's configuration file. Each of the folders you need to create is configurable in the application's app.config file, but I'll be using the default folder names in this walkthrough. Feel free to change the folders used in the configuration file to match your own preferences. Start by creating a new folder called C:\Dynamicweb on your local hard drive.
  5. Add the following sub folders to C:\Dynamicweb:


This folder will contain the extracted Dynamicweb applications.


This folder contains the DefaultEmptyData8SQL and solution set data files.


This folder contains the sites you create with this tool.


This folder contains the Dynamicweb application ZIP files you can download from the developer portal.

Backups This is where backups created with the tool are stored.

You should end up with a folder structure like this:

Figure 2

  1. Next, download the Applications you need from the developer portal. I would recommend to get at least the latest version, and one older version so you can see how the tool behaves with multiple versions of Dynamicweb. Store the ZIP files in the folder C:\Dynamicweb\Zips. There's no need to extract their contents.
  2. From the Dynamicweb Developer portal download (the standard file set for an empty database) and (the complete solution set) and save them in C:\Dynamicweb\Install. Again, there is no need to extract their contents.
  3. With the Quick Dynamicweb Installer project open in Visual Studio, open app.config and make any changes you need to match your system and setup. The following table shows all configuration options and explains why you may want to change them.


This is where the Dynamicweb applications are extracted to.


This is where the installer tool expects to find the zipped Dynamicweb applications downloaded from the developer portal.


This is the default domain name suffix used for the new site's name and host header.


This is where your new sites are created. Each site will have a folder named after the domain name you specify when creating the site.


This is the path to the file for new, blank sites.


The instance of SQL Server used by the new site. This must be SQL Server 2008 R2 or later to support the Industry Solutions.


This is the folder where the SQL Server MDF files are created.


This is the location for your Windows hosts file. This file is updated with a mapping between the site's domain name and so you can access the site even when you're offline.


This is the default password for the Administrator account you can use to log in to the site.


A SQL file with custom SQL statements you want to execute against the database after the site has been created. Leave the path empty if you don't want to execute any custom code.

BackupFolder The physical path to the folder used to store backup files.


  1. Next, hit F5 to start the application. If you weren't running Visual Studio as an Administrator you're prompted to restart, as the tool can only be run within an administrative context. You should see the following screen:

    Figure 3

  2. As a convenience, a new name for the application has been generated containing the current date and time. You can overwrite the selection with a new name and leave the default domain name suffix in place or you can enter an entirely new name. If you leave the Update hosts file option checked, you can pretty much make up any name that is valid as a domain name, as it will be written to the Windows hosts file and associated with the local machine.
  3. Next, choose between a new, empty site and the Industry Solutions set in the Solution type area. In the former case, the new site is based on the Default Empty Data set for Dynamicweb 8. In the latter case, the site is a copy of the Dynamicweb Industry Solutions set.
  4. Next, choose between a Standard and a Custom solution in the Site type area. In the latter case your site won't run immediately as you'll manually need to create a Dynamicweb Visual Studio in the application's folder. Check out this series on building custom modules for more details.
  5. You can leave Use standard App Pool checked if you want the tool to try and use an application pool called Dynamicweb 8 Sites. This application pool will be created the first time if it doesn't exist. I prefer this solution so all my Dynamicweb sites use the same application pool which in turn means less memory overhead and a less cluttered application pool list. Uncheck this option if you require process isolation and want the site to use its own application pool. In that case, a new application pool is created named after the new site you're creating.
  6. From the Dynamicweb version drop-down choose the Dynamicweb version you want to use. It should list all applications that the tool found in the ApplicationZipsFolder application setting. If the drop down is empty, make sure you created the folder and copied your Dynamicweb applications (as ZIP files) into this folder.
  7. Finally, click Create site to create a new site, copy the required files, setup a SQL Server database, configure Dynamicweb and start up your browser. After a short delay, your default browser should start up and you should be able to log in using the password specified in the application's configuration file (which defaults to admin).

That's it. You just created a new Dynamicweb site using this handy installer.

The code is documented and much of it is pretty straight forward so I won't describe how the tool works in full detail but to give you a rough idea what it does, here's a quick rundown of the steps it carries out:

  1. When you click the Create site button, a new instance of SiteGenerator is created and its CreateSite method is called.
  2. This method calls SetupSettings which retrieves all settings from the Form and stores them in an instance of the InstallSettings class. This method performs some logic to determine the type of site that needs to be created, setups database names and backup paths, and extracts the files from the application and data set zip files to their target locations.
  3. Then a new IIS site is created using the managed ServerManager class.
  4. Then the following IIS related actions are carried out:
  5. The bindings are set up (associating the site with the selected domain name)
  6. A virtual directory for /Files is created.
  7. When setting up a custom site, a virtual directory for /Admin is created that points to the Admin folder of the selected application.
  8. An application pool is created when the default application pool (called Dynamicweb 8 sites) does not exist or you chose to use a custom application pool.
  9. A 404 handler for the site is registered with IIS.
  10. The tool then creates a new SQL Server database against the configured instance and restores a backup of the selected database into this new database.
  11. The tool then creates a new login at the SQL Server level (if it didn't exist yet), creates a new user in the database for this login and assigns it to the minimum required SQL roles. It then performs some cleanup by deleting users that come with the backup file but that you don't need. The final database related steps are resetting the Administrator password to the one you specified in the application's configuration file and running the custom "fix up" SQL statement to get the database in the shape you want it.
  12. The tool then writes to the site's GlobalSettings.aspx file to register the SQL server instance and database name and writes the domain name to the Windows hosts file to associate it with 127.0.0.
  13. The final steps include deleting the SQL Server .bak file and starting up your default browser so you can login.

Using Custom Settings

If you want to create a new site based on existing data (as opposed to using the standard default empty data or Industry Solutions and the standard application), check off the Use custom settings checkbox. This expands the form and shows a few more options. Using the Custom source type radios you can determine the source of your data. When you select ZIP, the tool expects you to browse for a ZIP file that contains at least one of the following:

  1. An Application folder containing a custom Visual Studio project.
  2. A Files folder that contains the files you want to use for the site.
  3. One or more SQL Server .bak files (directly in the root of the ZIP file).

Once you’ve selected the file using the Browse button at the right (with the ellipses on it), the tool inspects the ZIP file and lists which of the three sources it found. The following figure shows a ZIP file that contained all three sources.

Figure 4

When more than one SQL Server backup is found, you can pick the file you want to use from a drop down list. If only one database is found, its name is listed in a label and you don’t need to explicitly select it.

Note that depending on the sources found in the ZIP file, the Solution type, or Site type or both may become disabled.

When you select Folder as the Custom source type, the Browse button lets you pick a folder as opposed to a file. The tool will scan the folder for the same three sources and apply the same rules.

Note: the sources always serve as a copy; when the site is created, the sources are copied into the final site’s folder.

The tool will use its default settings for sources that are missing. If your ZIP file or folder does not contain a Files folder, the tool will use the one from the ZIP file associated with the Site type. Likewise, when there’s no database, the default database for the Site type is used.

Deleting sites

As of Beta 2 the tool now supports deleting sites as well. To use this feature, switch to the Backup and delete sites tab. Then select a site from the drop-down list, determine if you want to really delete the site or just back it up, and then press the Backup or Delete button:

Figure 5

When you click Backup, the tool creates a ZIP file with the site’s data, as well as a backup of the SQL Server database used by the site. It saves the ZIP file in the folder specified in the BackupFolder appSetting in app.config. When you uncheck Backup only, the tool also executes the following (irreversible) actions:

-          Delete the site in IIS

-          Delete the SQL Server database

-          Delete the site’s main folder

The ZIP file that is created is compatible with the ZIP file format the Site creation tool expects. This makes it super easy to create a copy of a site and deploy it on another machine. Just run the backup tool on one machine, move the ZIP file to another machine and run the restore tool there.

Known Issues

  1. The tool currently only supports Integrated Windows Authentication. You'll need to change the code or update the site and database afterwards if you want to support SQL Server Authentication instead. If there's a demand for this integration method, let me know (just open a new issue using the Issue Tracker at Better yet: update the code yourself and send me a pull request on the CodePlex site.

Next Steps

The next steps largely depend on you: the user of this tool. Please let me know if you find it useful, and whether you have any change requests that would improve it. You can submit requests using the Issue Tracker at the tool's page on If you've written code to fix a bug or add additional functionality, you can send me a pull request using the Upload Patch functionality on the Source Code tab. If you want to contribute more to this project than a one-off patch, let me know and I'll make you a contributor to the project.

Happy to hear your thoughts on this little tool; good or bad. You can use the discussions page or the issue tracker to let me know your ideas.

Last edited Mar 1, 2015 at 5:50 PM by ImarSpaanjaars, version 15


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