This post if part of the Student Project Express, a series in which I am showing how to complete a Student project using Microsoft technologies. The table of contents for the series is available here and I will keep it updated as as publish more content.

As mentioned in the last post, we now have our test, pre production and production environments ready and waiting to be used. This means is about time to set up our machine and start writing some code!

In the fourth post (Getting the software), we downloaded SQL Server, Visual Studio and the Expression suite in .IMG or .ISO format. While we saw how to use it inside a Virtual Machine, what do we need to do when we need to install these things on our own machine? The first and most obvious thing to do would be to burn a DVD with it (and if you use Windows 7 it is a really straightforward thing to do… just right click on the file and open it using the Windows Disc Image Burner).

But there is a more efficient way which will spare us from having to use a disk. We can “mount” these files and make them show up as “virtual” DVDs and install directly from there! There are a number of tools that allow to do this (and best of all free of charge). The one I personally use (but again… feel free to find and use a different one if you prefer) is called Virtual Clone Drive. Some great advice on how to get and install this, can be found here but basically we need to download the installer, run it, configure it and once done… a new menu ital will appear when we right click on one of the supported file formats (.ISO, .CCD, .DVD, .IMG, .UDF and .BIN)… Mount (Virtual Clone Drive):


When we do this, a new drive will show up in our Windows Explorer and will launch the setup automatically (if your system is set up to execute the autorun, otherwise you will have to launch it manually from Explorer).

First thing, let’s install SQL Server… we can follow the instructions we had to set up the production server since we are not going to do anything too fancy. So, right click on the en_sql_server_2008_developer_x86_x64_ia64_dvd_x14-88839.iso file, click on Mount and select run from the Autorun window:

This installation is going to be slightly different from the production one because now we will need also the management tools so, follow the instructions from this post until we get to the Feature Selection screen (just note that if you are using Windows 7 you will get a warning that you will need to apply the Service Pack 1 before launching SQL Server 2008!):


Here on top of the database engine, we need to install the management tools, so check the relevant options and keep following the instructions for the production server until SQL Server is full installed.

As mentioned, once finished installing SQL Server 2008, we will need to install the Service Pack 1… just go ahead, launch Windows Update and it will be offered automatically (alternatively you can download it from here):


Once this is done, right click on the same file, unmount the .ISO image (the virtual DVD will disappear) and mount the Visual Studio one. As before we will see the autorun window and need to launch the installer.

Depending on your need there are quite a few options when installing Visual Studio.

I would recommend installing all the development options (you can always play around with them later on) but deselecting SQL Server 2005 Express edition since we already installed SQL Server 2008. This install will take a while and once we’re done… off to install Service Pack 1 (which you can download here)! In this case too, mount the ISO file and launch the installer!

This is quite straightforward, just confirm the license and you are ready to go!

The last step is to install the Expression Suite. If you have never heard about it, Microsoft Expression is a suite of tools specifically created to make design of user experiences easy and efficient. We will be installing Expression Studio 3 which includes:

  • Expression Blend 3 + Sketchflow: this is the interaction designer package to create powerful and beautiful interfaces for Silverlight and WPF applications 
  • Expression Web 3 + SuperPreview: this is the web design tool which allows you to create standards based web sites supporting a wide range of essential technologies: PHP, HTML/XHTML, XML/XSLT, CSS, JavaScript, ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight, Flash, Photoshop files, and video/audio for webcasting
  • Expression Design 3: an intuitive vector drawing tools to quickly build sophisticated vector and image assets
  • Expression Encoder 3: A tool that allows to encode a wide array of video file formats, stream live from webcams and camcorders or screen capture your PC

Learning to use this tools (and especially Expression Blend) is very important to create web sites and applications that stand out of the crowd. In this exercise we will mostly focus on Expression Web 3 to create our website but I will also touch on how we could use Microsoft Silverlight to create a more interactive and immersive experience.

Anyway, to install the suite, simply mount the ISO file, run the installer, select to install all the products in the suite and off you go!

At this point all of our environment are up and running. The next step is to start designing our database, which is the topic of the next post.