Last night, I had the privilege of presenting at the Capital Area .NET User Group, on the topic of Microsoft WebMatrix. One of the compelling things about WebMatrix is the ease with which you can grab any of nearly 50 open-source software packages, from blogs, to CMS, to image galleries, and easily tweak, then deploy them to your web host. Web hosts that support WebMatrix can make this even easier by providing a .publishsettings file you can import which fills in all the necessary fields to configure FTP or WebDeploy publishing.

Unfortunately, I ran into a demo snag in which I was unable to connect to my webhost, and didn’t have Fiddler handy on my demo machine to troubleshoot. I assumed, correctly it turns out, that the issue was port blocking at the host location for the user group.

WebDeploy, a protocol that web hosts can configure on IIS, and which is supported in both Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft WebMatrix, provides some significant enhancements over simple FTP, such as the ability to deploy web application files, settings, and databases in a single operation.

WebDeploy by default communicates using SSL over port 8172. Based on my testing, when I block that port outbound on my Windows Firewall, I get the same symptoms I saw last night, so I’m pretty sure the demo issue was caused by a blocked port. This article by Scott Guthrie explains how you install and configure WebDeploy, and notes that you can customize the port used (assuming you have access to manage IIS on the server, of course, or can get your hoster to change the port), if you run into issues like I did last night.

If you suspect port blocking, try accessing the target site using the following url scheme:

https://yourservername:8172/MsDeploy.axd

If you’re able to reach the URL in a browser, then port blocking isn’t the issue.

My thanks to all who came out for my talk at CapArea .NET last night. I had a fun time despite the glitch, and I hope folks enjoyed learning more about this nifty new tool!