The Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI) is a great tool to automate the installation of web developer tools, framework, web server and database. In case you haven’t see this you I encourage you to take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/web. This is also something we showed during the REMIX 2009 keynote so you may want to have a look at the video for part 1 of the keynote.
Installing the platform and the tools is one thing, this includes the full Microsoft stack with IIS, ASP.NET but also PHP 5.2. But next to installing the stack it also offers you the ability to install open source web applications like DotNetNuke, BlogEngine.NET, Umbraco but also PHP applications such as Drupal, Moodle, Wordpress and many others. The application available through the Web Application Gallery (WAG) are all open source and were submitted to the tool. You can also submit your own open source application to be part of the gallery. This requires your application to be packaged using the Web Deployment Tool.
While you can use the Web Deployment Tool used by the Web PI to package and easily deploy your own web applications you don’t get the nice UI given through the Web PI tool.
The good news is now since the Web PI v2 RTM you have some interesting options. One of these options is adding custom XML feeds with your own non-public packaged applications or even extra products (choose the Options link). Katheryne has two nice postings on the IIS.Net site around this feature: “Web PI Extensibility: Custom Feeds – Installing Custom Products” and “Web PI Extensibility: Custom Feeds – Installing Custom Applications”, worth checking out!
Again, you don’t need the Web PI to deploy your own applications and are perfectly able to use the Web Deployment Tool separately but if you like the ease of use of the Web PI tool this is a perfect solution.