February, 2014

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    Kinect Common Bridge update

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    The newest release of Kinect Common Bridge makes it even easier to track faces and recognize speech in your C++ applications with Kinect for Windows.

    This is the first update to the open source Kinect Common Bridge (KCB) released recently by MS Open Tech to make it simple to integrate Kinect for Windows scenarios and experiences in creative software development. The openFrameworks and Cinder communities have already adopted the Kinect Common Bridge. If you have been using either framework and experimented with KCB, you will find yourself right at home with its added capabilities. In the spirit of “focusing on the cool stuff” that motivates creative developers, starting the sensor and displaying a simple video treatment with face tracking can now be achieved in less than 10 lines of code! Incorporating Kinect for Windows magic in software experiences couldn’t be any easier…

    To learn more about this update of Kinect Common Bridge, read our post on our new blog: http://aka.ms/KCBUpdate

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    Vagrant and Hyper-V Provides Managed DevOps Work Environments

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    imageMS Open Technologies Inc. (MS Open Tech) has released code for Vagrant that brings initial Hyper-V support to this very popular DevOps tool.

    Vagrant managed work environments can be controlled by a single, consistent workflow, to help you maximize the productivity and flexibility of your team. Alongside industry-standard provisioning tools such as shell scripts, Chef, or Puppet, Vagrant supports a range of end-to-end management and deployment scenarios to create a single, consistent workflow that spans your entire team:

    Developers can define and build virtual machines (VMs) that contain everything required to get work done. These VMs are disposable and consistent and thus ensure that you, and all your colleagues, are developing in the same environment. As the Vagrant documentation points out this means you can say goodbye to "works on my machine" bugs.

    Operations engineers can use these same disposable environments and consistent workflows to develop and test infrastructure management scripts. Vagrant plays well with whatever operations tooling you use. When that tooling is designed for interoperability between platforms, such as Chef and Puppet, Vagrant really sets the operations team free.

    Designers can use Vagrant to ensure that they are working in the exact same environment as the rest of their team, regardless of their chosen host operating system. Designers can run a simple command to bring up the latest configuration and thus will no longer be working in an environment that differs from the development or deployment environments used by the rest of their teams.

    The Vagrant community has been asking for Hyper-V support for some time, in hopes of extending the experience across a heterogeneous platform environment. MS Open Tech are working with the Vagrant project to further enhance this work, specifically we are working on packaging, provisioning shell, and Chef & Puppet bootstrapping.

    We encourage interested parties to get their hands on the Vagrant Hyper-V provider, play with it, examine it and provide us with feedback!

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    February 22 is International Open Data Day – Celebrate with our Tutorial or create your own!

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    Open Data Day Events around the world!

    Here at Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. we have a lot of fun working with Open Source Software every day. For those who may be interested in sharing the experience, Microsoft is sponsoring several International Open Data Day events over the next few days, notably CodeAcross 2014 in multiple venues worldwide. Have a look here for details on CodeAcross events sponsored by Code for America. In Canada, Make Web Not War is organizing several events in Toronto, and out West, There is also an Open Data Summit in Vancouver. You can also find Open Data Day Hackathons and other events near you by accessing the Open Data Day events map.

    An Open Tutorial

    To contribute to Open Data Day I’ve put together a tutorial to show you how to enable a solution on Windows Azure that combines three open themes – Open Government, Open Data, and Open Source Software (OSS). The result in this case, is a reference map illustrating the locations of more FAA-licensed aircraft dealers across the United States. For the Open Government piece, I have selected open domain data provided by the US Federal Aviation Administration - the FAA Aircraft Registry. I have chosen to use the open source MongoDB to store data. I use the Open Data Protocol (OData) via Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) in Windows Azure to provide easy connectivity to the MongoDB data, and I use Microsoft PowerBI for Office365 to easily plot and visualize the data on a map.

    Here’s a screen shot of the finished product:

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    Happy Open Data Day! Let us know how you plan to celebrate the occasion in your corner of the world.

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    February Updates to the Windows Azure Toolkit for Eclipse – SSL Support, plus new JDKs, Windows Azure configurations and more

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    Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., has released the February preview of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Eclipse. This release includes multiple updates since our October 2013 release, including SSL support, additional support for the latest versions of GlassFish and the Azul Zulu OpenJDK package, a new option to choose the A5 instance on Windows Azure, Windows Server 2012 R2, some tweaks to the menu, and a new “Auto” option for private endpoints. Have a look at the documentation update for full details.

    Support for SSL

    Instead of having the user manually configure every Java-based Web Application Server running on Windows Azure to accept SSL certificates and authentication, which varies from server to server, our Engineering team has developed what we call SSL Offloading. Offloading allows you to easily enable HTTPS support (one of our most requested features) without requiring configuration of SSL on your Java application server. Instead, SSL authentication is handled set up by the Toolkit automatically, using IIS + and Application Request Routing (ARR) under the hood in your VM. So after the decryption, your Java Web application Server receives (and responds with) just standard HTTP. This also works in conjunction with sticky sessions for session persistence and the ACS filter for user authentication.

    To enable SSL offloading, select the Worker Role you want to work with in Role Properties, then click on Enable SSL Offloading (HTTPS), as shown below. You will be asked to confirm an endpoint change to 443 (HTTPS) and provide a certificate. Note that this change will only happen for this role. This allows you to have some roles without SSL, for example for a Website home page, but other roles with SSL enabled for access only by authenticated users or requiring more secure communication.

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    Customizable certificate name (CN) in the self-signed certificate creation UI

    You may already be familiar with the Toolkit’s UI to easily generate self-signed certificates for testing purposes. (It’s recommended that you use a certificate verified by a recognized SSL certificate provider for staging and production to avoid users seeing browser warnings about untrusted connections and unsigned certificates).

    Previously, you could generate certificates with the same hard-coded Common Name (CN) for all new certificates. Specifying your own name helps track and manage multiple certificates in the Windows Azure portal used for different purposes (like SSL vs Remote Desktop). Here’s a sample of the enhanced UI in action:

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    Support for GlassFish OSE 4

    Glassfish OSE 4 joins the multiple versions of Tomcat, Jetty, JBoss and Glassfish OSE 3 as the latest option to include as part of your deployment package. As before, you can test your deployments locally in Eclipse before you deploy with full emulation.

    Here’s the full list of Application Servers recognized by the Toolkit in this release:

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    More Options for Azul’s Zulu Open JDK package

    In July we announced a partnership with Azul Systems, and in September Azul Systems released Zulu, an OpenJDK Build for Windows Azure leveraging the latest advancements from the open source community. Zulu has been an option under the 3rd party JDK Deployment Project options since September’s announcement, and since then Zulu v7 update 40 and now update 45 are available options that the Toolkit knows how to deploy automatically under the hood in Windows Azure, without you having to download them to your local computer first.

    Here’s an example of the new JDK selection, showing a deployment being configured with the latest version of Zulu selected to be part of the deployment package:

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    In other OpenJDK news, Java developers working with the latest Azul Zulu OpenJDK v1.7 package on 64 bit Windows Server machines can now automate the process using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (WebPI). Full details here.

    New Features when Publishing: Select a Target OS

    In the October release we moved the target OS from the project properties a more prominent place in the publishing process. In this release we’ve added Windows Server 2012 R2 support for the target OS:

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    A5 VM support

    In this release we’ve also added support for the Windows Azure A5 instance configuration. The A5, A6, and A7 instances provide larger amounts of memory more suited for high-throughput applications. Detailed configurations of these instances are available here.

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    A new Toolbar button look, and a new button for creating Self-Signed Certificates

    The engineering team engaged a designer to create new menu icons to match the standard eclipse “flat” look. They’re still all there in the same place, but they look a little different now. We’ve also added a button to the self-signed certificate creation wizard. The graphical face lift of the Toolkit is still a work in process with more coming later, primarily motivated by Windows Azure’s own latest graphical scheme updates.

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    Set private endpoint ports to Auto

    Now you can set a private port to “auto” for input endpoints and internal endpoints, the equivalent of using “*” as the private port number in CSDEF. Previously, you could only assign a specific port number. The auto setting lets you rely on Windows Azure, when appropriate, to assign a free port number to that endpoint.

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    Getting the Toolkit

    Here are the complete instructions to download and install the Windows Azure Toolkit for Eclipse, as well as updated documentation.

    Ongoing Feedback

    We listen and respond to the community, you are our compass to know we’re going in the right direction! We value your feedback on how we can make it make it easier to test and deploy your Java applications on Windows Azure and we appreciate code contribution proposals. As always, let us know how the latest release works for you and how you like the new features!  To send feedback or questions, just use MSDN Forums or Stack Overflow.

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    Now Available through Microsoft’s Web Platform Installer: Azul Zulu OpenJDK Package for Windows

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    We have great news for Java developers planning to deploy the latest Azul Zulu OpenJDK v1.7 package on 64 bit Windows Server machines. Now you can automate the process using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (WebPI).

    This new offering is the result of our partnership with Azul, which has produced Zulu, a version of the Azul OpenJDK built for the Windows Azure Platform. In October we also integrated Zulu into our Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java. Today’s announcement continues our plan of making Java support on Windows Azure as flexible and simple as possible.

    If you’re not familiar with the Web PI, then your SysAdmin has probably been holding out on you. It’s a free and extremely useful tool that automates the download and installation of products and applications designed for the Microsoft Web Platform as well as most popular free web applications via its built-in Windows Web Application Gallery.

    The Zulu Web PI Application Gallery entry downloads the latest Zulu distribution from Azul Systems, The process is simplified, as WebPI can unzip it, automatically set your JAVA_HOME to reference Zulu, and add Zulu references to your PATH environment variable to set Zulu as the default JVM on that machine. 

    Windows Server installation

    For now, we recommend - for Windows Server only (not Eclipse clients) - using the Web PI installer to install. This is due to an Eclipse bug we’ve discovered during testing, which we are working to resolve.

    Workaround for Eclipse Clients

    If you would like to install Zulu it on your client computer and you use Eclipse as your Java IDE, we have discovered at least one issue in Eclipse that will result in intermittent hangs if Zulu is used as Eclipse’s JVM. If you are keen to try it out with Eclipse anyway, then the known workaround is to start Eclipse with additional command line parameters: -vmargs -XX:MaxPermSize=256m. If you encounter other issues, then let Azul and/or us know. If you have an Eclipse account and this issue is affecting you, please vote up the importance of bug 426422.

    Step-by-Step Installation on Windows Server

    Log on to your 64 Bit Windows Server as a user with administrative privileges, open a browser and navigate to http://www.microsoft.com/web/downloads/platform.aspx

    Next, click on the big green “Free Download” button to install the Web Platform Installer:

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    The Installer will start as soon as it’s downloaded. The first screen you see is the “Spotlight” Screen, listing the most popular and/or newest packages featured in the Web PI Installer:

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    You will need to click to the “Applications” tab to find theZulu Installer in the Web Application Gallery.

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    NOTE: Entries are ordered by number of downloads, not alphabetically. If you do not see it listed at the top, it may be easiest to search for “Azul Zulu, OpenJDK v1.7”.

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    Click on the Add button, then click install:

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    As mentioned earlier, during Installation, the latest Zulu distribution from Azul Systems will automatically download, as well as set your JAVA_HOME to reference Zulu, and then add references to your PATH environment variable to set Zulu as the default JVM on that machine. 

    Once this process is complete, you are ready to deploy Java applications!

    We’re always looking for ways to enhance the developer experience and to make life easier for Java developers on Windows Server and Windows Azure, so please let us know whether you find this to be a useful tool..

    And watch this space for more exciting news coming soon!

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    New Open Source Portable Class Library for SQLite

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    Microsoft Open Technologies has released an interesting Portable Class Library for SQLite, offering .Net developers a single API for integrating SQLite across Windows Store, Windows Phone and .Net 4.5 apps.

    The library is released as open source and is available as a NuGet Package (and source code).

    To learn more, read the full blog post on msopentech.com/blog

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