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Comparing Visual Studio and Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web is part of the Visual Studio family. Visual Studio is a development environment from Microsoft for creating web applications, as well as client (Windows) applications, Windows services, components, controls, and other types of applications. In contrast, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web features a streamlined interface that focuses on providing the tools that you need for creating web applications. Therefore, the Express version is more compact and can be easier to work with than Visual Studio.

As with Visual Studio, you can use Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web to do strong name signing, connect to Team Foundation Server, debug using different web browsers, and manage NuGet packages.

All the features Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web are also available in Visual Studio, and the websites that you create with Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web are compatible with Visual Studio. You can share pages and websites between Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web and Visual Studio without any conversion issues or loss of functionality.


Because many of the features of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web are shared with Visual Studio, the documentation for Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web often refers to Visual Studio.

Additional Features Available in Visual Studio

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web contains all the basic features necessary for creating fully functioning websites. Visual Studio offers additional features that are designed for the professional web developer and for enterprise development teams. The following table lists additional features that are available in Visual Studio.



Project templates

Visual Studio offers additional preinstalled project templates such as an ASP.NET Reports Web Site template, additional Test project templates, and templates for SQL Server, SharePoint, and LightSwitch.

Additional XML features

Visual Studio includes additional XML support, such as:

  • The XSLT debugger.

  • The XSD schema designer.

  • The ability to create an XML schema from an XML instance.

  • The ability to view XSLT output from the XML editor.

  • Smart validation support when you edit XSLT style sheets.

  • The context-sensitive toolbar for XML editing.

Additional code-editing features

Visual Studio includes additional code-related features such as the Code Definition window and more refactoring support.

The Code Definition window is a read-only editor view that displays the definition of a symbol in a code file. The active project contains the code file or a reference to it.

Refactoring is the process of rewriting code in a less complex way without changing its behavior.

Performance and code analysis features

From the Visual Studio Analyze menu, you can create performance analyses, compare performance reports, configure and run code analyses, and calculate code metrics.

UML Features

From the Visual Studio Architecture menu, you can add a variety of UML Diagrams to your project and generate dependency graphs.

Exploring Visual Studio Express for Web

To learn more about how to create dynamic websites by using Visual Studio Express for Web, see the following resources:

See Also


Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web

ASP.NET 4.5 and Visual Studio 2012

Visual Studio Web Development Environment Content Map