Opsgility announces instructor led Windows Azure Training

I am excited to hear a good old friend of mine from Microsoft Michael Washam has started a new company, www.opsgility.com, focused on instructor led Windows Azure training.   They are starting open enrollment classes now in the United States and will also do private deliveries (US and International).

If you have training needs and are interested in talking to them give them a call at: +1 866-833-3878 or email: info@opsgility.com

Faster Save Experience Editing Scripts in the Windows Azure Mobile Services Portal

How many times have you hit Ctl+S in the Windows Azure Mobile Services Portal while editing scripts, because your used to doing it in VS right, and you get the save webpage dialog coming up.

It used to frustrate me immensely and now its fixed giggidy! You will be happy to know Ctl+S will now save your changes or CMD+S for those on Mac.

#thatisall, #drinkingbeercoding #betterthenvegemite #yay :)

Building Mobile Apps with Windows Azure Content from BUILD 2012

//BUILD 2012 was an awesome event! this post is a little late.  Although late this content is still extremely relevant if you are building Connected Mobile Apps. Here are a couple of sessions you should watch:

Keynote Demo of Windows Azure Mobile Services
During //BUILD 2012 I was fortunate enough to be to be on point for delivering the day 2 Mobile Services keynote demo app Event Buddy.  If you have not watched this keynote demo I would recommend you check it out – the Mobile Services Demo starts about 10mins 30 seconds in


Direct Video link on Channel9.  Event Buddy is now also available as a Code Sample that you can download here.

Developing Mobile Solutions on Windows Azure – Part I

Watch Josh take a Windows Phone 8 + Windows Store application and light it up with cloud services to handle data, authentication and push notifications – right before your eyes with Windows Azure Mobile Services. Almost all demo and no slides, this session is designed to take you from zero to Mobile Services here in 60 minutes.

You can also watch this video directly on Channel 9 here.
Developing Mobile Solutions on Windows Azure – Part I

In addition to this I also presented with fellow baldy – Chris Risner.  In this session we took the output of Part I  from Josh and demonstrated how you could extend your existing applications to support common scenarios such as geo-location, media, and cloud to device messaging using services from Windows Azure.   Here a summary of the content of this presentation that I humbly grabbed directly from a prior post by Chris

  • We took pictures and uploaded them to Blob Storage.  For this we used a web service layer, running in Windows Azure Websites, to get a SAS (Shared Access Signature) which allowed us to securely upload to blob storage.
  • We then got the location of the device and used that information to geo-tag the pictures we just uploaded.
  • We added a web page to our web service which allowed a user to select a geographical area on a map and request a push notification be sent to anyone that had taken a picture inside of it (this used the Bing Maps API and Queues from Windows Azure Storage)
  • We deployed a worker role to Windows Azure Cloud Services which would check the queue and then figure out who should be notified (using Entity Framework’s geospatial support) and sent out the actual push notifications to both the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 clients.

Here is the direct link to watch on Channel 9 and Chris has also made the code available here
Enjoy,

Nick Harris

Top Ten Reasons to Compete in the Imagine Cup Windows Azure Challenge!

Have you checked out the Imagine Cup Windows Azure Challenge? It’s not too late! You’ve got until February 15 for someone on your team to pass the Windows Azure Challenge quiz, which is available from your Dashboard once you’ve signed up for the challenge and created a team.

We’re spending this week sharing information about the challenge and about developing for Windows Azure. Here’s my Top Ten Reasons to Compete in the Windows Azure Challenge:

  1. You get a Windows Azure account to build your submission for FREE!
  2. Much more power than your favorite superhero without the occupational risks!  From the safety of your couch with a click of a button you can quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers.
  3. Born to code? Me too, we already have so much in common :)  - Windows, Mac, Linux - .NET, node.js, java, php, python and others you can build applications using any operating system, language or tool. Use what works best for you!
  4. When building your solutions you consider leveraging partners from the Windows Azure Store who provide both application and data services.  For example you could use Microsoft Translator to translate text and SendGrid to send an email.
  5. Need a Database? Apply your existing knowledge and hit the ground running using one of the following popular databases including Windows Azure SQL Database, MySQL and MongoDB.
  6. Building a distributed system? Check out Service Bus for relayed connectivity between distributed components anywhere in the globe!
  7. Got Video? Build media solutions using Windows Azure Media Services: Ingest, Encode, Protect and Stream media from the cloud with ease.
  8. Go Web go! With Windows Azure Web Sites there is no easier way to get a web site up and running in seconds. Before you could read a whole paragraph on how to use Web Sites, you could have a site up and running with a database back-end.   Develop with ASP.NET, PHP or Node.js and deploy in seconds with FTP, Git or TFS.
  9. Got Mobile? When competing in a world class challenge every minute counts.  Within seconds you can use Windows Azure Mobile Services to create a back-end for your Windows Store + Windows Phone apps to incorporate structured storage, user authentication, and push notifications.

And the number one reason to compete in the Windows Azure Challenge is . . .

  1. Got Job? huh… wait!, what now? When the competition is all done and dusted, the skills you’ve gained working with Windows Azure will set you well apart from the rest when it comes to looking for your dream job – it did for me!

Nick Harris | Imagine Cup Windows Azure Challenge Captain | @cloudnick

Announcing the Windows Azure Boost for Imagine Cup

WinAzure_rgb_Cyan_S

Windows Azure is a suite of powerful cloud services that can help your app projects in a variety of ways. If your Imagine Cup team is thinking about exploring Windows Azure, the decision just got a lot easier thanks to the Windows Azure Boost!

At our worldwide finals next July in St. Petersburg, our first place winners who include Windows Azure in their project can earn an extra $1,000 or $3,000 for their team!

We actually have two Windows Azure Boosts. Our first boost is for those teams using Windows Azure Cloud Services, Websites, or Virtual Machines. Use any or all of those technologies and your team could win $1,000! Our second Boost is for using Windows Azure Mobile Services. Incorporate that into your project and your team could win $1,000 for it. And best of all, you can go for the double shot: if your team wins both Boosts you’ll get $3,000!

So if you’re submitting a project to the Windows Phone Challenge, for example, consider using Windows Azure Mobile Services in your project. If you’re our top winner in that challenge, your team will earn an extra thousand dollars thanks to the Windows Azure Boost. Add Windows Azure Cloud Services, Websites, or Virtual Machines and your winning team would get the double shot of $3,000!

(This is open to all competitions and challenges except the Windows Azure Challenge, since that would be redundant.)

We’re really looking forward to seeing your great projects in St. Petersburg. And if your project uses Windows Azure, your team could earn the thousand-buck boost or even the double shot for three thousand.

To get you started, here are some links to help you out:

Good luck and happy coding! Official rules for the Windows Azure Boost are here.

Nick Harris | Imagine Cup Windows Azure Challenge Captain | @cloudnick

Blog Series: Sending Windows 8 Push Notifications using Windows Azure Mobile Services

Sending Windows 8 Push Notifications using Windows Azure Mobile Services

Recently we announced the preview of Windows Azure Mobile Services. In this blog series I will detail how to build a Windows Azure Mobile Service to send push notifications of varying types to your Windows 8 applications.

This series will walk through creating a push notification scenario using WNS and Windows Azure Mobile Services.

As I post each part I will update the links below and tweet as the post is available. So lets get started with Part 1 - Azure Mobile Services and Push Notifications an Overview

Part 1: Windows Azure Mobile Services and Push Notifications an Overview

What is Windows Azure Mobile Services?

Here is an info-graphic on the current Windows Azure Mobile Services stack I pulled together as part of a presentation I recently gave at TechEd.  It’s important to note that this info-graphic captures Mobile Services today and over time you will see the feature set of Mobile Services grow exponentially with subsequent releases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The goal of Windows Azure Mobile Services is to make it incredibly easy for developers to add a cloud backend to their client apps be it a Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS or Android application. To do this we provide a number of turn key features baked right into the Mobile Services experience. As the diagram depicts Mobile Services today provides:

  • Structured Storage
    • ability to store structured data to a SQL Database using dynamic schema without being concerned with writing underlying T-SQL.
    • If using single database apps are automatically partitioned by schema e.g AppX.Todoitem, AppY.Todoitem
    • If you want access to your data you are not locked out and can manage it in a number of ways including the Mobile Service Portal, SQL Portal, SQL Management Studio, REST API etc.
  • Server Logic
    • Service API: Mobile services automatically generates a REST API to allow you to perform CRUD operations from your client application on your structured storage
    • With Dynamic Schema (enabled by default), your Mobile Service will automatically add columns to tables as necessary to store incoming data.
    • Ability to author server side business logic directly in the portal that is executed directly within the CRUD operation pipeline
  • Auth
    • Makes it easy for your users to Authenticate against Windows Live. Other major identity providers are coming soon.
    • The REST API can be locked down using table level permissions using a simple drop down.  No complex code required.  Available permissions levels include: Everyone, Anyone with an Application Key, Only Authenticated Users, Only Scripts and Admins.  These permissions can be set individually on each table and can granularly control each CRUD operation of each table.
    • More granular control can be added using server side scripts and the user object
  • Push Notifications
    • Integrates with WNS to provide Toast, Tile and Badge Notifications.
    • WNS auth is made easy with the portal captures your WNS client secret and package SID
    • the server side script push.wns.* namespace  performs WNS auth for you and provides a clean and easy object model to compose notifications
  • Common tenants of Windows Azure Services
    • Scale
      • Compute - scale between shared and reserved mode, increase/decrease your instance count
      • Storage - ability to scale out your mobile service tenant(s) to a dedicated SQL DB. Ability to scale up your SQL DB from web through business to 150GB.
    • Diagnostics
      • View diagnostics directly in the portal including API calls, CPU time and Data Out
    • Logging
      • Console.* operations like console.log and console.error provide an easy means to debug your server side scripts.

Today we provide client libraries for Windows 8 to make consuming mobile services easy.  For more details on what client libraries (Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android) are supported at the time of reading please see: Mobile Services and Mobile Service Reference.

What are Push Notifications?

The Windows Push Notification Services (WNS) enables you to send toast, tile, badge and raw notifications from the cloud to your Windows Store applications even when your app is not running. Push notifications are ideal for scenarios when you need to target a specific user with personalized content.

The following diagram depicts the general Lifecycle of a push notifications via the Windows Azure Notification Service (WNS).  We’ll walk through the steps shortly but before doing so I thought it would be important to call out that as a developer implementing a push notification scenario all you need to do is implement those interactions in grey and the applications/services in blue.  Fortunately Mobile Services makes a great deal of this easy for you as you will see throughout the reset of this series. 

The process of sending a push notification boils down to three basic steps:

  • 1. Request a channel. Utilize the WinRT API to request a Channel Uri from WNS.  The Channel Uri will be the unique identifier you use to send notifications to your application.
  • 2. Register the channel with your Windows Azure Mobile Service.  Once you have your channel you can then store your channel and associate it with any application specific data (e.g user profiles and such) until your services decide that it’s time to send a notification to the given channel.
  • 3. Authenticate and Push Notification to WNS. To send notifications to your channel URI you are first required to Authenticate against WNS using OAuth2 to retrieve a token to be used for each subsequent notification that you push to WNS once you have this you can compose and push the notification to the channel recipient. The push.wns.* methods make this task exceptionally quick to accomplish compared to writing it all from scratch yourself.

All in all Windows Azure Mobile Services makes all these concepts and steps and incredibly simple to implement though its structured storage and push notifications features.  This series will walk through creating a push notification scenario using WNS and Windows Azure Mobile Services.

As I post each part I will update the links below and tweet as the post is available

Enjoy,

Nick

Localized Windows Azure Mobile Services Deck, HOL and Demo script

For those of you looking for localized content be it to help you get started with learning about Windows Azure Mobile Services or even if you want to go out and present about it in your local community we have made available a localized hands on labs, powerpoint decks and demo scripts

As a preview here is a screenshot of one of the Agenda slide from the Chinese zh-TW poser point deck

We have localized the content into the following languages thus far.  You can click on the link to get access to the content directly

· Chinese zh-TW
· English en-US
· German de-DE
· French fr-FR
· Italian it-IT
· Japanese ja-JP
· Korean ko-KR
· Portuguese pt-BR

Coming soon:
· Spanish
· Russian

 

Enjoy,
Nick Harris