Can I use Visual Web Developer Express for the project I am planning? Do I need to buy Visual Studio or is free Express edition sufficient for my needs? Which features are missing from Visual Web Developer Express?
Here is what is not in VWD Express:
1. Extensibility. In Express edition you cannot install and use Web Application Projects, Web Deployment Projects, CSS Properties Window, HTML/ASP.NET Spell Checker, ReSharper and any other add-on or third party tool.
2. Class Libraries. VWD Express only supports a single type of project: Web site. You cannot add a Class Library project or a Web Controls Library project to the solution. Class libraries are popular way to sharing business logic code or any other utility code.
3. Source Code Control. SCC is crucial in team development. I can't imagine my life as professional developer without good Source Code Control system that provides me with change history, branches, merges, etc.
4. Accessibility checker. If you are developing Web sites that must be accessible, Accessibility Checker is indispensible tool.
5. Automatig generation of resources for localization. If your Web must be localized in multiple languages, you do want to have this feature.
6. Attach debugger to a process. If you need to step through code in existing classic ASP pages in order to understand how it works or you have to maintain classic ASP pages, you need ASP debugging which requires ability to attach debugger to a running process.
7. Native code debugging. Some legacy code, especially in classic ASP code may be using COM objects written in C++. Mixed mode debugging is not supported in Express.
All of the above is available in the Visual Studio Standard Edition. However, Professional Edition gives you XSLT debugging, extensive database tools, it comes with SQL 2005 Developer Edition (as opposed to SQL Express in VS Standard and below) and Crystal Reports.