As I have just purchased a lovely new laptop, I thought I might document the process, detailing all of the software I needed to install and how I got to the point of being able to develop the site. My initial thought is to host the website on Azure, not least because I know how to use that cloud-based system and it is integrated with Visual Studio.
Sticking to what I know, I’ll use Visual Studio to develop the site. As this is for a personal site I can use the Community Edition which has the major advantage of being free. For larger organisations you’ll need to purchase a license, or you may be able to use a restricted number of installations, depending on what you’ll use it for and the size and nature of your organisation. Please check the Visual Studio site for the finer details.
So, I downloaded Visual Studio Community 2017 and installed on my new laptop.
Umbraco requires a database in which the website content is stored. The default suggestion is SQLCE which stores the data in the file system of the site. It’s great for a quick prototype but I have heard that it can lead to bad performance for the site and other problems.
At work we use Microsoft SQL Server, but I thought that would involve expensive licenses and initially ruled out that route. I have previous experience of using the open source (and free) MySQL and couldn’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t go with that.
However, before taking the plunge I’m very pleased I had a look at the Azure costs of hosting a MySQL database compared to a SQL Server one. It’s much more expensive per month, so I thought I might take a look at the licensing costs of the Microsoft offering. And, as it turns out, it’s free too! Well, you can download and use the Developer Edition for free, as long as it’s not being used in a production environment.
So, I headed over to the SQL Server website and downloaded the latest version.
Alongside SQL Server I know it’s very useful to have SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), not least because there is now an option to transfer a database from your local SQL Server installation to an Azure SQL database. It is also an easy environment to perform any database queries, which can sometimes be useful during an Umbraco site’s development. Again, it’s free, so head along to the Microsoft site and download a copy.
I have limited experience of front-end development and am definitely not a designer. I have some knowledge of CSS and HTML, but if I was to go-it-alone in this department the site wouldn’t look as professional as I would like. Hence, I made the decision to look for a pre-built template that I could adapt for my own site.
I know there are probably free templates out there, but I decided to buy one that I liked. It was less than US$20, and this one could be cut up and spliced together to suit my Umbraco needs.