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Set up a development environment

Describes how to set up an Optimizely Customized Commerce development environment.

Optimizely is conveniently installed through Visual Studio and the Optimizely Visual Studio Extension, providing everything you need to get a website up and running and get started developing.



See the Optimizely system requirements for production and development environment requirements.

Install Visual Studio

Visit Microsoft Visual Studio to download a suitable version, if you do not already have Visual Studio installed.

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

Install the Optimizely Visual Studio extension

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

  1. Select Extensions > Manage extensions.
  2. In the extensions window, select Online > Visual Studio Marketplace, and type "episerver" in the search box.
  3. Select Optimizely 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.

Explore 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 of databases, it is also recommended to install either SQL Express or SQL Server Developer Edition and Management Studio.