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Set up a development environment

Describes how to set up a development environment in Optimizely Content Management System (CMS).

Optimizely Content Management System (CMS) is conveniently installed through Visual Studio and the Optimizely Visual Studio Extension, providing everything you need to get a website up and running and start developing.



See the System requirements for Optimizely for detailed production and development environment requirements.

Install Visual Studio

If you do not already have Visual Studio installed, download it from Microsoft Visual Studio.

When installing Optimizely through Visual Studio, you will use IIS Express, SQL Server Express, and LocalDB, which are included with VS 2015 and higher. If you do not have this, ensure that you install LocalDB separately.

Install the Optimizely Visual Studio extension

Using the extension package for CMS, you can set up a project with a database, required NuGet references, and sample templates (optional). The easiest way to install the Episerver Visual Studio extension is directly from Visual Studio (Community, Professional, or Enterprise) as described below: 

  1. Select Extensions > Manage extensions.
  2. Select Online > Visual Studio Marketplace in the extensions window, and type "episerver" in the search box.
  3. Select Episerver CMS Visual Studio Extension and click Download (or Update if already installed).
  4. Restart Visual Studio.


A license is not required when running in Visual Studio and using IIS Express.

Eventually, you will need a commercial Optimizely license for testing and production environments. You can order a time-limited demo license for evaluation purposes from the Optimizely License Center.

Exploring advanced features

Later on, when you want to explore more advanced features like multi-site and language support and to test deployment locally, you will need a more production-like development environment using Internet Information Services (IIS)

When testing deployment and backup and restoring databases, it is also recommended to install SQL Express or SQL Server Developer Edition and Management Studio.