In my spare time, I enjoy developing some Apps myself or with friends. As you know, we need source control, bug tracking, team wiki etc. These tools become more important when more people are involved in the project. Before I use Windows Azure, I just applied a virtual machine on the cloud, and install and configure components such as Redmine and SVN along with those missing dependent packages. We need to take care of the billing for the virtual machine and also need to maintain the health of the server. As a coder, however, I just want to focus on product design and coding rather than maintaining the system. I talked to a lot of developers recently and it turned out they are just like me. For indie developers or those in start-ups, very often only the source control tool is used.

On Microsoft cloud, there are two ways to quickly get a healthy development environment. The first is building a virtual machine within a few minutes on Azure by using existing VM templates. The other way is using Visual Studio Online. VSO has quite a few advantages. However, let’s first check the more traditional method.


Hosting a VM on Azure using a template

For traditional developers who are more comfortable with a dedicated server can create a virtual machine quickly from VM depot. For general guide about how to create a VM using VM depot please reference:

1)      For Redmine + SVN users please reference

2)      For GitLab users please reference:

With virtual machine on Azure, a little cost is needed for hosting the VM. For pricing, please refer to the link below:

Those documents are there but it took me a while to find all the useful documents. You might still find it a bit troublesome with the above configuration steps. Still too many steps to follow and still you have to do calculations for billing.


Using Visual Studio Online

I prefer VSO mainly because it saves me a lot of troubles and it's free to start. I do not have to take care of the virtual machine billing because it is free for 5 users or less. And it is free for additional MSDN subscribers. I do not need to go through all the initial configuration steps. I do not need to maintain a server that host all the services. The source control and project management is integrated with the Visual Studio IDE by design, which is really convenient. Both GIT and TFS are supported for source control and usually I use GIT. The most convenient thing is that the changes in a solution can be automatically detected. When checking in code, I will not miss any new files I have added. With SVN, sometimes developers forget to add a file and it can cause compilation error for other developers. However, SVN is really popular among indie or startup developers. And GIT could be frustrating at the beginning. As a SVN user, I find TortoiseGit a great tool when migrating to Git and VSO.(

You can start VSO for free from below link