Dev Pulse

Sounding the pulse of the developer and development manager

August, 2011

Posts
  • Dev Pulse

    Your SaaS Applications and the Windows Azure Marketplace

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    imageThere has been lots of buzz about the Windows Azure Marketplace since the announcements at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles that the Windows Azure Marketplace has been expanded to feature and sell not only data subscriptions, but application subscriptions. Effectively, you can now use the Marketplace to sell your Windows Azure applications, services, and building block components to a global online market. When your application is published to the Marketplace, you instantly get access to new customers, new markets, and new revenue opportunities all backed by Microsoft to ensure quality and service.

    Read more about the benefits of the Windows Azure Marketplace >>

    Getting Started

    In order to get started selling subscriptions in the Marketplace to your Windows Azure-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) application, your application will need to know how to handle the events of the subscription lifecycle, such as subscribing, registering, accessing, using, and unsubscribing. With the August 2011 refresh of the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit (Download, Online), a new hands-on-lab has been added to walk you through the changes you’ll need to make in order to be able to publish and interact with the Marketplace.

    SaaS1

    The lab takes an application through the full provisioning process through 5 exercises. First you’ll learn about SaaS subscription scenarios. You’ll then modify an existing application to support Windows Azure Marketplace subscriptions. Once that’s done, you’ll go through the registration of the application in the Marketplace and test it using the Marketplace’s Dev Playground. When your application can support new subscriptions, you’ll then modify it again to support unsubscribing the subscriptions. With those changes in place, the application is ready to be published to the Marketplace. You’ll walkthrough how to do that as well.

    Download the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit >>
    Go through the Introduction to Windows Azure Marketplace for Applications Hands on Lab >>

    When Your Application is Ready

    After completing the hands-on-lab, you’ll have everything you need in order to make the changes to your application. However, before you get started making changes to your application, head over to the Windows Azure Marketplace Publishing page to get the paperwork that you need to get involved with the Marketplace. Take care of that first and when everything is done on that end, go ahead and make the changes to your application, test them, and publish your application.

    Publish your application to the Marketplace >>

    This article also appears on Musings of a Developer Evangelist from Microsoft Canada.

  • Dev Pulse

    What a (Windows Azure) Day! Tools and Training Kit Updates

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    What a Windows Azure Day

    Wow! This was quite a Windows Azure Wednesday! First the Windows Azure Code Gallery, and now, just released, brand new Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio and updates to the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit.

    Browse the code gallery >>
    Download the tools >>
    Download the training kit >>

    Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio

    Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 - August 2011The version 1.4 release of the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio brings with it some great new features that make developing for Windows Azure just that much quicker. They are:

    • MVC3 Web Role Support
      Now you can add MVC3 web roles (by selecting the type of MVC3 project) to your solutions when you create Windows Azure projects (you had to manually do this before!). This support will now automatically add the necessary assemblies as references to the project and makes sure that they are deployed as part of the service package when you deploy your application.

    • ASP.NET Universal Providers
      New templates include the new universal ASP.NET providers that support SQL Azure (as well as other versions of SQL Server) for session, membership, roles, and profiles.

    • Package Validation
      When you create a package or publish your Windows Azure application, Visual Studio warnings and/or errors enable you to fix issues that would prevent the application from being deployed or published. Think back at how many times you went to deploy your application in the Management Portal only to find out that there was an issue with the package. This will be a huge time saver. For sure.

    • Application Performance Profiling
      Speaking of time savers, here’s another one that is sure to save you time (specifically troubleshooting time). You can now profile your application so that you can easily detect performance bottlenecks while the application is running in Windows Azure (you had to employ some clever workarounds to get this kind of functionality before). You can even profile individual instances of a role to make it even easier to pinpoint the issues.

    • Multiple Service Configurations
      This is my favourite new feature. Long gone are the days when you had to manually change configuration values or keep multiple copies of the service configuration files in order to work with applications both locally and in Windows Azure. Now, you can have multiple service configurations in your Windows Azure project that enable you to define the different environmental values. You can then select which one you want to use when.

     

    NOTE: There are some build differences and new elements in the configuration files of the new tools that are used by the new features (such as the multiple service configurations feature). As such, someone using the previous version of the tools will not be able to work with projects that are based on this new version without upgrading.

    TIP: If you’re working on a team, make sure that all developers upgrade to the latest tools to ensure that the same build is used.

    That’s it for new features with this release. There have also been several fixes to features that were there in previous releases. All in all, your Windows Azure development experience should be that much better with this new release.

    Download the updated Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio >>

    Windows Azure Platform Training Kit

    image

    To go along with the new tools, the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit has been refreshed. All of the labs and demos now use the new features of the new tools and show you how to use all of the features of the platform that you already know in much easier and more intuitive ways. Of course, some minor bugs and enhancements here are there made it into the refresh as well!

    Download the updated Windows Azure Platform Training Kit >>

    Next Steps

    Now that you know what’s new and exciting, time to go do some downloading! Download the updated tools and platform training kit to make sure that you have access to all of the latest and greatest that Windows Azure has to offer.

    Download the updated Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio >>
    Download the updated Windows Azure Platform Training Kit >>

    One More Thing on the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit

    Since the kit was created to ensure that you have access to great technical training materials for Windows Azure, we want to make sure that it has everything that you need and works the way that it should. If there’s additional content you’d like to see in the training kit, please let us know on the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit Forum. Also, if you encounter any bugs or have any problems, please send us feedback at azcfeed@microsoft.com. You’re feedback is always appreciated.

  • Dev Pulse

    Learn Windows Azure Through Code

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    imageDepending on how you go about learning or finding solutions to problems you encounter, books, presentations, and online articles/blogs may not do it for you. Another way to learn is through code samples - snippets of specific functionality or even full applications that you can step through. Luckily, the Windows Azure Code Gallery has both!

    With the Windows Azure Code Gallery, you can filter code samples based on language, affiliation, technology, and other keyword data to quickly and effortlessly find the code that you’re looking for. To help you further zoom in on the right sample, each sample has a user rating, the number of times the sample has been downloaded, and the last date the sample was modified. Once you've found the sample, you can browse the code before downloading it and even ask the sample author questions through the Q and A feature.

    Browse the Windows Azure Code Gallery >>

    IMPORTANT: If the sample helped you, make sure to rate it so that others know that it was useful. If you’re into social networking, make sure to use the Twitter, Del.icio.us, Digg, and Facebook Share buttons to let those in your networks know of the sample and how it helped you.

    Submit Your Own Samples

    The success and growth of the Windows Azure Code Gallery is dependant on the developer community. The gallery enables members of the community to submit code samples to be included in the Windows Azure Code Gallery. As you search through various online resources while learning and/or developing your Windows Azure solutions, if you come across something that you think would be good as a learning tool or perhaps something that would save fellow developers time, upload the sample to the gallery. The more samples there are in the gallery, the more centralized knowledge there will be and the easier it will be to find help when building Windows Azure solutions.

    Upload a code sample to the gallery >>

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