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A software architect, Azure expert, and former Microsoft evangelist, Mike Benkovich dedicates huge amounts of his time to helping his fellow developers and burgeoning programmers learn about new technologies and platforms. Mike’s website equips developers with tips and resources to help them get to grips with technologies including cloud, data and devices, and he produces online courses covering areas like Azure enterprise development and serverless computing. Mike is also a chronic sharer of puns, so head over to his Twitter feed if you’re after a laugh (or a groan).

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5 Minutes to Code

@MikeBenkovich 02/15/2020

I'm working thru an idea for a video series that I call "5 Minutes to Code", where I would record some short videos that show how to accomplish a concept, procedure or task related to working with code. The goal is to deliver on a regular cadence some content that developers can use to learn how to do something. Lately I've been working with Azure as a cloud engineer working on infrastructure (like ARM and Terraform), delivery (like Azure DevOps and from developer tools), and coding (like .NET Core and web development). I have created a new page on my site where I'll publish a list of links to these, and this will give me the chance to work on my html and JavaScript skills.

Enjoy!


This year at Build 2018 - Azure for Enterprise Developers

@MikeBenkovich 05/05/2018

At this year's Microsoft BUILD Conference I was able to get a couple sessions to talk about the Enterprise Developer's journey to the Cloud. The sessions will be on Monday at 5:00 pm and Tuesday at 5:00 pm in Theater 4 on the Expo Hall Theater 4.

In it I'm going to share some exciting advancements in the tools we use every day to create great software, but especially the features that make those applications cloud aware! Not only can you create an publish to Azure but now you can also work with the settings and create templates to use for future deployments as well. The new Resource Group project enables the creation of complex infrastructure deployments that include not just the web hosting services but also analytics and monitoring capabilities as well as alerts when things go wrong.

If you're at Build stop by and let's chat about how you can make your team not just cloud aware, but Ready for the Enterprise Cloud! If you can't make it, I'm basing the talk on some course I'm developing for LinkedIn Learning called Azure for the Enterprise Developer. You can check those out online, they include:

Outside of that, I'll be hanging out at Build and tweeting about what's new and getting ready for the next roadshow. See you on the road!


Re-BUILD 2017, bringing the best of BUILD conference to cities near you

@MikeBenkovich 05/14/2017

Re-BUILD 2017 Roadshow

The “re-BUILD 2017 Roadshow” brings the best of the Build conference to cities across the US. A half day developer focused event in partnership with User Groups and Microsoft Partners will deliver a half day msdn-event style experience. There will be 3  sessions on Build Highlights, Going Serverless with Azure Functions, and Mobile Center, the next generation of HockeyApp. A HackFest over lunch will cover ad-hoc topics by community leaders and MVP’s to share their favorite thing from Build.

The schedule typically includes:

  • Build 2017 Productivity Features you never knew you had
  • Going Serverless with Azure Functions
  • Exploring Mobile Center
  • Pizza and Hackfest

The scheduled cities are listed below with more coming soon!

We'll see you on the road with re-BUILD 2017 Roadshow!


Check out Open Live Writer

@MikeBenkovich 04/19/2016

imageSince Windows 8 came out its been hard to find some tools that used to work so well with previous versions of Windows. One such tool is Live Writer, which was part of Windows Essentials. I came across this a couple weeks ago and wanted to share, I’ve been using it to work with my blogs and you can get it from http://openlivewriter.org/. I’m starting a new blog and will be updating BenkoTIPS to have an aggregated feed of items from historical blogs I’ve worked on. Should be a fun project.

Enjoy!


Using BlogEngine.NET

@MikeBenkovich 02/11/2016

I decided to move my blog to something that I host and run, so I can have more control over how it behaves. I'm also updating my site www.benkotips.com to a new infrastructure and hope to include some new features. Make sure you check it out!


Issue with Xamarin Forms - InitializeComponent does not exist - Xamarin XAML is not Windows XAML

@MikeBenkovich 02/02/2015

Have you ever tried to reuse code by adding existing files to a project? In Visual Studio this usually works, with the file getting put into the right location, associating the editor based on the file extension. I’ve been working on a Xamarin Forms project which allows me to use XAML to create the UI and C# for the code behind. This enables me to leverage my skills and experience building Windows and Windows Phone applications on iOS and Android. The problem came when I would include an existing file into a project.

image

The error: InitializeComponent does not exist – makes me wonder what’s wrong with the file? First things first, I checked that the namespace and class names matched. Next I tried commenting out what might’ve been invalid XAML syntax with the thought that maybe it wasn’t compiling right. No luck. Finally I compared the file to another that was working (I added myWorkingForm.XAML and guess what, no error in that one!). Both had the same namespace, both had the same class name declared as public partial (meaning it’ll compile the XAML + the C# into a class).

Finally I was down to looking at the compiled objects folder…and I saw that while myWorkingForm created an interim file myWorkingForm.xaml.g.cs the one that came from the file I included did not. I decided to look at the shared project’s projitems file (which is what lists the types of files in the project). I discovered that Visual Studio assumes that a XAML file is Windows XAML, not Xamarin XAML. In the projitems file the XML showed that adding the existing file associated it as a Page, where the other file that worked was marked as an Embedded resource (see below).

<ItemGroup>
  <EmbeddedResource Include="$(MSBuildThisFileDirectory)Pages\myWorkingForm.xaml">
    <SubType>Designer</SubType>
    <Generator>MSBuild:UpdateDesignTimeXaml</Generator>
  </EmbeddedResource>
</ItemGroup>

<ItemGroup>
  <Page Include="$(MSBuildThisFileDirectory)Pages\TestForm.xaml">
    <SubType>Designer</SubType>
    <Generator>MSBuild:Compile</Generator>
  </Page>
</ItemGroup>

To make it work? Manually change the myproject.projitems file (in the solution explorer open the containing folder then edit the file with notepad) for TestForm.xaml to use the EmbeddedResource tag, matching that for myWorkingForm.xaml. This causes the build to use the Xamarin compiler and generate an interim file TestForm.xaml.g.cs. Problem solved!

Happy Coding!    (originally posted on www.benkotips.com)

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Setting a schema for the database in Azure Mobile Services

@MikeBenkovich 01/12/2015

I’ve been working on a project using Xamarin.Forms and Azure Mobile Services for a while, and one issue I came across that wasn’t entirely clear is how do you work with an existing database, yet support updates to the tables and be able to deploy to different environments (like Test, QA and Prod)? Hopefully I can shed some light with this post.

Azure Mobile Services is a feature rich cloud service that promises to take care of some of the complexities of building connected mobile apps. It supports things like 3rd party federated identity, push notifications, logging and more. With the original node.js release it supported JavaScript configuration for the CRUD operations against a table along with a dynamic schema that adapts to the request received via REST. In the .NET release they replace node.js with the ability to roll your own logic in C# and handle the data interaction with WebAPI type controllers. It requires a bit more work, and handling the database changes can be confusing.

Fortunately I’ve found a couple articles that help illustrate how this is done (on MSDN), but it doesn’t specify how to handle ongoing updates. To make it work for my scenario I either needed a way to support data model changes to a .NET backend mobile service, but have a consistent schema name when I move between environments. In the second article they show how to enable code-migrations, and to replace the default database initializers, by using the NuGet package manager and modifying code in the WebApiConfig.cs file. The steps were:

  1. Use NuGet Package Manager to Enable-Migrations
  2. Add a starting migration
  3. Update the WebApiConfig.cs file to use a DbMigrator to update the context instead of calling the default initializer

    public
    static class WebApiConfig
    {
    public static void Register()
    {
    // Use this class to set configuration options for your mobile service
    ConfigOptions options = new ConfigOptions();

    // Use this class to set WebAPI configuration options
    HttpConfiguration config = ServiceConfig.Initialize(new ConfigBuilder(options));

    // *** BENKO: Enable database migrations for the service
    //Database.SetInitializer(new MobileServiceInitializer());
    var migrator = new DbMigrator(new Configuration());
    migrator.Update();
    }
    }
  4. Test local and confirm it’s working

I added a couple additional changes to set the schema name for my app in the MobileServiceContext.cs file (in the Models folder).


protected override void OnModelCreating(DbModelBuilder modelBuilder)
{
// *** BENKO: This is what sets the schema name to the service name...
string schema = ServiceSettingsDictionary.GetSchemaName();
schema = "mySchema";
if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(schema))
{
modelBuilder.HasDefaultSchema(schema);
}

modelBuilder.Conventions.Add(
new AttributeToColumnAnnotationConvention<TableColumnAttribute, string>(
"ServiceTableColumn", (property, attributes) => attributes.Single().ColumnType.ToString()));
}

I also need to make sure to create the schema on my database instance in SQL Azure and grant rights to the service user account. You can get the user account using SQL Server Mgmt tool (expand the users of the database node, or by running a SQL Script to select name from the SysLogins table of the master db. Once you have it you will need to create the schema an grant rights to it. Assuming the service user is ABC123Login_myServiceUser, the script looks like this:



create schema mySchema

-- Grant specific access rights to use based on Schema
GRANT
SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE,
ALTER, CONTROL, EXECUTE,
REFERENCES, TAKE OWNERSHIP, VIEW DEFINITION
ON SCHEMA::[mySchema]
TO [abcdefghijLogin_democityUser]

When you publish the mobile service it will attempt to update the database using the schema provided. If there are error you can use the service’s logs to figure out what’s missing. By specifying the schema name instead of using the service’s name I’m able to deploy to multiple environments but integrate this data with my other applications.

Happy Coding! (originally posted on www.benkotips.com)

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Some Common Xamarin.Forms XAML Control Properties

@MikeBenkovich 12/28/2014

imageXamarin.Forms is an attractive option when building cross platform apps, but for an old XAML developer like myself it can be a challenge to get the nuances of the grammar and syntax right. For Windows I’ve depended on tools like Blend and Visual Studio Intellisense to help me understand what’s possible. Moving to Xamarin XAML is sometimes tedious because while I can use the intellisense from the C# code behind file it’s not there yet in a designer. While there’s some posts out there that compare and contrast how to move to Xamarin XAML from Microsoft XAML (like this one from TCPWare by Nicolò Carandini), I still wasn’t finding what I was looking for. This post is an attempt to iterate thru some of the core proprties of interest for many of the controls I use, and to catalog them here for current and future reference.

1/3/2015 : Update, added more controls to list -

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First some common properties – Some common properties to most controls include:

  • x:Name : The control name that can be used to reference the control from code
  • AnchorX, AnchorY : Positions control within the layout
  • HeightRequest, WidthRequest : The requested size of the control if the layout allows
  • MinimumHeightRequest, MinimumWidthRequest : The minimum size allowed
  • HorizontalOptions, VerticalOptions : Layout options for the control, include values Start, End, Fill, Center, StartAndExpand, EndAndExpand, CenterAndExpand
  • BackgroundColor : Color of background
  • Rotation, RotationX, RotationY : Rotation properties for rendering control
  • Scale : Scale value

Label - Displays text on a page.

  • XAlign, YAlign : Text alignment property…values include TextAlignment.Start, TextAlignment.Center, TextAlignment.End
  • TextColor : Color of text and background…can be named color
  • Font : Attributes of the font, such as Bold, Italic, Large, Medium, Small, Micro, 
  • LineBreakMode : Used to determine label’s text wrap properties. Values include CharacterWrap, NoWrap, WordWrap, HeadTruncation, MiddleTruncation, TailTruncation

TextCell - Displays text and detail subtext in a single control

  • Text : The main text to display
  • TextColor : Primary color of the text
  • Detail : Subtext displayed below main text
  • DetailColor : Color of secondary text

imageimageimageBoxView - Similar to Rectangle in Windows XAML. Used to display a box with some color on a page.

  • Color : Color of box
  • Opacity : Value of opacity…
  • IsEnabled, IsFocused : properties of Box

Entry - Similar to TextBox in Windows XAML. Used to get input from user.

  • TextColor : Color of text and background…can be named color
  • IsEnabled, IsFocused, IsPassword, IsVisible : Values that drive entry behaviors
  • InputTransparent : Determines whether to show input
  • Keyboard : Type of keyboard to show, possible values include Chat, Default, Email, Numeric, Telephone, Text, Url
  • Placeholder : Text to display when there is no value entered…displayed in grayed out mode
  • Text : Value of control

Image - Display an image. Includes common properties and:

  • Aspect : Scaling of image…stretch or fill. Values include Fill, AspectFill, AspectFit
  • IsEnabled, IsFocused, IsLoading, IsOpaque, IsVisible : Drive behaviors of image control
  • Source: This is where the image is sourced from…can be local resource or online.

ImageCell Displays an image and a TextCell

  • ImageSource
  • Text, TextColor
  • Detail, DetailColor
  • IsEnabled

Button - Used to trigger event processing in response to user’s actions

  • BorderColor, BorderRadius, BorderWidth : Values to control the border of the button
  • Command, CommandParameter : Values for the command to be executed when clicked
  • Font : Attributes of the font
  • IsEnabled, IsFocused, IsVisible : Values to drive button’s behaviors
  • Text : Text on the button
  • TextColor : Color of text on the button 

ActivityIndicator. An indicator that shows there is an action processing and the user needs to wait for it to complete

  • Color : Color of the indicator
  • IsEnabled, IsFocused, IsRunning IsVisible : Values to drive activity indicator’s behaviors

ProgressBar. Used to display how far along a process is

  • IsEnabled, IsFocused, IsVisible : Values to drive the control’s behaviors
  • Progress : Value to show completion…I think this is a value from 0.0 to 1.0

TimePicker. Used to select a time value

DatePicker. Similar to TimePicker, but used to select a date

  • Date : The date value of the control
  • Format : Format to display, using standard C# formats

Switch. Used to input whether a boolean property is true or false

  • IsToggled, IsEnabled, IsVisible, IsFocused : Drive control’s behaviors

SwitchCell. Displays a label and a switch

  • Text : The text of the label
  • On : A boolean value of whether the switch is toggled
  • Height : The height of the control

ViewCell. A basic layout control that displays an item in a data template. Does not have the basic properties.

  • Height : Height of cell to display

StackLayout. Similar to a StackPanel in Windows XAML, used to display items in a stack. Has the common properties as well

  • Padding : The area around the layout, displayed as an integer or series of values “left, top, right, bottom”… i.e. “20,0,0,0” means left margin of 20, zero on other sides
  • Spacing : The area between items
  • Orientation : Horizontal vs Vertical

Grid. Layout in Columns and Rows, using various spacing options, such as fixed, Auto and Star – *

  • RowDefinitions, ColumnDefinitions : Same as Windows XAML
  • RowSpacing, ColumnSpacing : distance between columns and rows, defaults to 6 px

ListView. Container for collections of items…

  • ItemsSource : The data collection used to populate the list
  • SelectedItem : If an item is selected in the list
  • IsEnabled, IsGroupingEnabled, IsVisible : Drives list’s behaviors
  • RowHeight : Height of item’s row
  • HasUnevenRows : A flag that indicates row height varies
  • Triggers : connects an item to a behavior
  • ItemTemplate : Binding template for item’s display
  • GroupHeaderTemplate : Binding template for list’s header

 

Happy Coding!

image

(originally posted on www.benkotips.com follow me on http://twitter.com/mbenko)


CloudTip #13-What do you need to know to get started?

@MikeBenkovich 05/17/2012

imageThere are many ways to learn a new technology. Some of us prefer to read books, others like videos or screencasts, still others will choose to go to a training style event. In any case you need to have a reason to want to learn, whether it's a new project, something to put on the resume or just the challenge because it sounds cool. For me I learn best when I've got a real project that will stretch my knowledge to apply it in a new way. It also helps to have a deadline.

I've been working for a while now for Microsoft in a role that allows me to help people explore what's new and possible with the new releases of technology coming out at a rapid pace from client and web technologies like ASP.NET and Phone to user interface techniques like Silverlight and Ajax, to server and cloud platforms like SQL Server and Azure. The job has forced me to be abreast of how the technologies work, what you can do with them, and understanding how to explain the reasons for why and how they might fit into a project.


Try Azure for 90 Days Free!

In this post I'd like to provide a quick tour of where you can find content and events on Cloud Computing that should help you get started and find answers along the way.

Part 1 - Get Started with Cloud Computing and Windows Azure.
You've heard the buzz, your boss might even have talked about it. In this first webcast of the Soup to Nuts series we'll get started with Windows Azure and Cloud Computing. In it we will explore what Azure is and isn't and get started by building our first Cloud application. Fasten your seatbelts, we're ready to get started with Cloud Computing and Windows Azure.
Video; WMVMP4 Audio; WMA Slides: PPTX

Part 2 - Windows Azure Compute Services
The Cloud provides us with a number of services including storage, compute, networking and more. In this second session we take a look at how roles define what a service is. Beyond the different flavors of roles we show the RoleEntryPoint interface, and how we can plug code in the startup operations to make it easy to scale up instances. We will show how the Service Definition defines the role and provides hooks for customizing it to run the way we need it to.
Video; WMVMP4 Audio; WMA Slides: PPTX

Part 3 - Windows Azure Storage Options
The Cloud provides a scalable environment for compute but it needs somewhere common to store data. In this webcast we look at Windows Azure Storage and explore how to use the various types available to us including Blobs, Tables and Queues. We look at how it is durable, highly available and secured so that we can build applications that are able to leverage its strengths.
Video; WMVMP4 Audio; WMA Slides: PPTX

Part 4 - Intro to SQL Azure
While Windows Azure Storage provides basic storage often we need to work with Relational Data. In this weeks webcast we dive into SQL Azure and see how it is similar and different from on-premise SQL Server. From connecting from rich client as well as web apps to the management tools available for creating schema and moving data between instances in the cloud and on site we show you how it's done.
Video; WMVMP4 Audio; WMA Slides: PPTX

Part 5 - Access Control Services and Cloud Identity
Who are you? How do we know? Can you prove it? Identity in the cloud presents us with the same and different challenges from identity in person. Access Control Services is a modern identity selector service that makes it easy to work with existing islands of identity such as Facebook, Yahoo and Google. It is based on standards and works with claims to provide your application with the information it needs to make informed authorization decisions. Join this webcast to see ACS in action and learn how to put it to work in your application today.
Slides: PPTX

Part 6 - Diagnostics & Troubleshootingx
So you've built your Cloud application and now something goes wrong. What now? This weeks webcast is focused on looking at the options available for gaining insight to be able to find and solve problems. From working with Intellitrace to capture a run history to profiling options to configuring the diagnostics agent we will show you how to diagnose and troubleshoot your application.

Part 7 - Get Started with Windows Azure Caching Services with Brian Hitney (http://bit.ly/btlod-77)
How can you get the most performance and scalability from platform as a service? In this webcast, we take a look at caching and how you can integrate it in your application. Caching provides a distributed, in-memory application cache service for Windows Azure that provides performance by reducing the work needed to return a requested page.

Part 8 - Get Started with SQL Azure Reporting Services with Mike Benkovich (http://bit.ly/btlod-78)
Microsoft SQL Azure Reporting lets you easily build reporting capabilities into your Windows Azure application. The reports can be accessed easily from the Windows Azure portal, through a web browser, or directly from applications. With the cloud at your service, there's no need to manage or maintain your own reporting infrastructure. Join us as we dive into SQL Azure Reporting and the tools that are available to design connected reports that operate against disparate data sources. We look at what's provided from Windows Azure to support reporting and the available deployment options. We also see how to use this technology to build scalable reporting applications

Part 9 - Get Started working with Service Bus with Jim O'Neil (http://bit.ly/btlod-79)
No man is an island, and no cloud application stands alone! Now that you've conquered the core services of web roles, worker roles, storage, and Microsoft SQL Azure, it's time to learn how to bridge applications within the cloud and between the cloud and on premises. This is where the Service Bus comes in-providing connectivity for Windows Communication Foundation and other endpoints even behind firewalls. With both relay and brokered messaging capabilities, you can provide application-to-application communication as well as durable, asynchronous publication/subscription semantics. Come to this webcast ready to participate from your own computer to see how this technology all comes together in real time.

Enjoy!

-mike

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Cloud Tip #9-Add Microsoft.IdentityModel to the GAC with a Startup Task

@MikeBenkovich 04/07/2012

Access Control Services is one of the many services that are part of the Windows Azure Platform which handles an authentication conversation for you, allowing you an easy way to integrate cloud identity from providers like Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Live ID with your application. You need an active Azure Subscription (click here to try the 90 day Free Trial), add an ACS service namespace, then add a Secure Token Service (STS) reference to your  application (you’ll need the Windows Identity SDK and tools for Visual Studio to add the Federation Utility that does that last part – download here).

imageIf you’ve seen an error that says ‘Unable to find assembly Microsoft.IdentityModel’ and wondered what’s the deal? In the documentation for working with a Secure Token Service (STS) you might have seen that this assembly is not part of the default deployment of your Windows Azure package, and that you’ll need to add the reference to your project and set the deployment behavior to deploy a local copy with the application…all good, right?

So you follow the instructions and still get the error. One reason for this is that you might be seeing an error caused by calling methods from the serviceRuntime which changes the appdomain of your webrole. In that case you should consider adding a Startup Task to load the WIF assembly in the Global Assembly Cache.

The basic logic is that in the startup of the web role you’ll need to inject a startup task to run the gacutil executable to do the installation. I created a startup folder in my web project to contain the scripts and files necessary, including a copy of gacutil.exe, a configuration file for it, and a batch file “IdentityGac.cmd” to contain the script commands needed.

I copied the gactuil.exe and config files from my C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\x64 directory, and put them in the Startup folder. Next I created a cmd file (in notepad) with the commands to install the assembly into the GAC. I found a post that discusses how to create a script to do the installation on http://blogs.infosupport.com/adding-assemblies-to-the-gac-in-windows-azure/ where it installs the Windows Identity files and then sets the windows update service to on demand, installs the SDK, then runs gacutil.

    @echo off
    sc config wuauserv start= demand
    wusa.exe "%~dp0Windows6.1-KB974405-x64.msu" /quiet /norestart
    sc config wuauserv start= disabled
    e:\approot\bin\startup\gacutil /if e:\Approot\bin\Microsoft.IdentityModel.dll

I add these files to the Startup folder, and then open the properties for the 3 files and set the build action to none and “Copy to Output Directory” to Copy Always. This ensures that these files will be present in the deployed instance for my startup task. Next we edit the startup tasks in the Service Definition file, adding a section for <Startup>, and a <Task… to run our script file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<ServiceDefinition name="MplsKickSite.Azure" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/ServiceHosting/2008/10/ServiceDefinition">
  <WebRole name="MplsKickSite" vmsize="ExtraSmall">
    <Sites>
      <Site name="Web">
        <Bindings>
          <Binding name="Endpoint1" endpointName="Endpoint1" />
        </Bindings>
      </Site>
    </Sites>
    <Endpoints>
      <InputEndpoint name="Endpoint1" protocol="http" port="80" />
    </Endpoints>
    <Startup>
      <Task commandLine="Startup\IdentityGac.cmd" executionContext="elevated" taskType="simple">
      </Task>
    </Startup>
    <Imports>
      <Import moduleName="Diagnostics" />
      <Import moduleName="RemoteAccess" />
      <Import moduleName="RemoteForwarder" />
    </Imports>
  </WebRole>
</ServiceDefinition>

In Steve Marx’s post on Startup Task Tips & Tricks he suggests that when debugging a new startup task to set the taskType to background instead of simple so that it won’t prevent Remote Desktop from getting configured. If you’re interested to download the Startup folder I used I’ve uploaded a zip archive file with the files here.

Happy Coding!

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Cloud Tip #3–Find good examples

@MikeBenkovich 03/31/2012

imageYesterday in Minneapolis we delivered the first Windows Azure Kick Start event of the series we’re running this spring to help developers learn and understand how to use the new tools and techniques for building cloud based applications. As part of that event we wrote a lot of code as a demonstration of how this stuff comes together and I’ve uploaded it to www.benkotips.com in case you’re interested in the download. The solution includes several projects including:

  • MplsKickSite - An existing ASP.NET web site that we migrated to Windows Azure, implementing the RoleEntryPoint interface and adding references to the Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient for working with storage, and Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ServiceRuntime to give us instance information. We also added cloud identity to the site using Access Control Services to secure a data entry page with data hosted in a SQL Azure database
  • WPFUpload which is a Windows application which includes logic to support drag and drop to upload files into Windows Azure Blob Storage, and if they are images to add work to a queue to create thumbnail images
  • UploadDataLib which is a class library that implements Windows Azure Table Storage logic for working with the images uploaded by WPFUpload and the ThumbMaker worker role projects.
  • ThumbMaker which is a worker role class that demonstrated working with Tables and Queues and the System.Drawing library to create thumbnail images and brand them with a custom logo message
  • PhoneApp1 which demonstrates how to use a Windows Phone Silverlight user control to handle the login conversation with ACS
  • NugetPhone which is a second example of ACS in use with devices, except that instead of spending 10 minutes to write the code like we did with PhoneApp1 we use the Nuget package manager to include a package (Install-Package Phone.Identity.AccessControl.BasePage) to perform the authentication for us and make the 4 code changes to implement the logic…2 minutes to demo

The decks and recordings of similar sessions are available on the Soup to Nuts Cloud Computing page of my site (http://bit.ly/s2nCloud). You can download the solution and project files and run every thing with the Compute and Storage Emulator, but you’ll need an active subscription to deploy to the cloud. If you don’t have Azure benefits you can activate from an MSDN Subscription you can always give the 90 day Free Trial a try.

Enjoy!

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Cloud Tip #2–Finding Cloud Content that works for You

@MikeBenkovich 03/29/2012

imageThere are many ways to learn a new technology. Some of us prefer to read books, others like videos or screencasts, still others will choose to go to a training style event. In any case you need to have a reason to want to learn, whether it’s a new project, something to put on the resume or just the challenge because it sounds cool. For me I learn best when I’ve got a real project that will stretch my knowledge to apply it in a new way. It also helps to have a deadline.

I’ve been working for the last several years now for Microsoft in a role that allows me to help people explore what’s new and possible with the new releases of technology coming out at a rapid pace from client and web technologies like ASP.NET and Phone to user interface techniques like Silverlight and Ajax, to server and cloud platforms like SQL Server and Azure. The job has forced me to be abreast of how the technologies work, what you can do with them, and understanding how to explain the reasons for why and how they might fit into a project.

In this post I’d like to provide a quick tour of where you can find content and events on Cloud Computing that should help you get started and find answers along the way.

First on my list are the webcasts we’ve created that are 1 hour long sessions on the various aspects of a given topic. For Cloud Computing and Windows Azure I’ve got a list of several on my web site (www.benkotips.com) including a 27 part companion series we called “Windows Azure Boot Camp”. The first 10 webcasts in this series cover what you would see at a boot camp event (www.windowsazurebootcamp.com).  This spring we started a new series called “Cloud Computing Soup to Nuts” which is a developer focused get started with Windows Azure and the related services. We’ve recorded 6 webcasts as part of that series and will be adding more as we go forward. We just added 3 more for April including:

4/3 : Part 7 - Get Started with Windows Azure Caching Services with Brian Hitney (http://bit.ly/btlod-77)
How can you get the most performance and scalability from platform as a service? In this webcast, we take a look at caching and how you can integrate it in your application. Caching provides a distributed, in-memory application cache service for Windows Azure that provides performance by reducing the work needed to return a requested page.

4/10 : Part 8 - Get Started with SQL Azure Reporting Services with Mike Benkovich (http://bit.ly/btlod-78)
Microsoft SQL Azure Reporting lets you easily build reporting capabilities into your Windows Azure application. The reports can be accessed easily from the Windows Azure portal, through a web browser, or directly from applications. With the cloud at your service, there's no need to manage or maintain your own reporting infrastructure.  Join us as we dive into SQL Azure Reporting and the tools that are available to design connected reports that operate against disparate data sources. We look at what's provided from Windows Azure to support reporting and the available deployment options. We also see how to use this technology to build scalable reporting applications

4/17 : Part 9 – Get Started working with Service Bus with Jim O’Neil (http://bit.ly/btlod-79)
No man is an island, and no cloud application stands alone! Now that you've conquered the core services of web roles, worker roles, storage, and Microsoft SQL Azure, it's time to learn how to bridge applications within the cloud and between the cloud and on premises. This is where the Service Bus comes in—providing connectivity for Windows Communication Foundation and other endpoints even behind firewalls. With both relay and brokered messaging capabilities, you can provide application-to-application communication as well as durable, asynchronous publication/subscription semantics. Come to this webcast ready to participate from your own computer to see how this technology all comes together in real time.

If you’re looking for a conversational 30 minute show that covers Cloud topics I suggest checking out Cloud Cover on Channel9. This show features Azure experts including Ryan Dunn, Steve Marx, Wade Wegner, David Aiken and others who work closely with the product teams at Microsoft to learn how to use the latest releases.

Live events are a moving target depending on when you read this post, but we try to keep a list of upcoming Microsoft Events for developers on http://msdnevents.com. As we schedule them we add the events to this hub and you can find them by date and by location with a map of upcoming events. Another place to check is the demo page I’ve created on BenkoTips which shows not only upcoming events (aggregated from Community Megaphone, if you add it there it should show up on the map) but also User Group locations and links to their sites. That’s on http://benkotips.com/ug, then use the pan and zoom to focus the map on your city. Pins get added with the links. If your User Group data is out of date, send me an email & we’ll get it fixed.

We’ve got a series scheduled to run in thru May 2012 for Cloud Computing called Kick Start, which are a 1 day focused event that takes you thru the content from Soup to Nuts. The current schedule includes:

As to books I’d suggest checking out Sriram Krishnan’s book Programming Windows Azure: Programming the Microsoft Cloud, or Brian Prince’s book Azure in Action. If it’s SQL Azure that you’re after then Scott Klein has a great book called Pro SQL Azure (Expert’s Voice in .NET). I am also partial to the Patterns and Practices team’s book on Moving Applications to the Cloud on the Microsoft Azure Platform.

Finally you need an active Azure Subscription to get started. You can activate a 90 Free Trial by going to http://aka.ms/AzureTrialMB and get the tools at http://aka.ms/AzureMB.

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Announcing Windows Azure Kick Start Events

@MikeBenkovich 03/12/2012

It’s spring and once again we’re back on the road to helping people explore the possible and see how to get started with Cloud Computing. Along with the webcast series I’ve been doing (http://benkotips.com/s2nCloud) we’ll be on the road to bring the content to your town. The schedule so far is listed below.

By the way if you have MSDN you have free cloud benefits! This video shows you how to get your risk free access to Azure to explore and learn the cloud or activate your MSDN Cloud benefits here. If you have questions send our Azure team members an email msnextde at microsoft.com.

See you on the road!

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