Saturday, December 11, 2010

Windows Azure Platform Monitoring services

Did you know that Microsoft has a public service status dashboard, where you can easily and quickly check the status of all Azure Data Centers and Services status? Yes, there is such Service Dashboard. It is located on the following address:

So the next time you experience some troubles with live Windows Azure environment, first check out the Service Dashboard, and then you can contact the Windows Azure support to report live site issues here. Do not forget to first get your Subscription ID first, and then always include it, when reporting issues to the support team!

Windows Azure Storage Tips

Windows Azure is a great platform. It has different components (like Compute, Storage, SQL Azure, AppFabric) which can be used independently. So for example you can use just Windows Azure Storage (be it Blob, Queue or Table) without even using Compute (Windows Azure Roles) or SQL Azure or AppFabric. And using just Windows Azure Storage is worthy. The price is very competitive to other cloud storage providers (such as Amazon S3).

To use Windows Azure Storage from within your Windows Forms application you just need to add reference to the Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient assembly. This assembly is part of Windows Azure SDK.

O.K. Assuming you have created a new Windows Forms application, you added reference to that assembly, you tried to create your CloudStorageAccount using the static Parse or TryParse method, and you try to build your application. Don’t be surprised, you will get following error (warning):

Warning    5    The referenced assembly "Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35, processorArchitecture=MSIL" could not be resolved because it has a dependency on "System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a" which is not in the currently targeted framework ".NETFramework,Version=v4.0,Profile=Client". Please remove references to assemblies not in the targeted framework or consider retargeting your project.   

And you will not be able to build.

Well, some of you may not know, but with the Service Pack 1 of .NET Framework 3.5, Microsoft announced a new concept, named “.NET Framework Client Profile” which is available for .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1 and .NET Framework 4.0. The shorter version of what Client Profile is follows:

The .NET Framework 4 Client Profile is a subset of the .NET Framework 4 that is optimized for client applications. It provides functionality for most client applications, including Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Forms, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and ClickOnce features. This enables faster deployment and a smaller install package for applications that target the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile.

For the full version – check out the inline links.

What to do in order to use Microsoft.WindwsAzure.StorageClient from within our Windows Forms application – go to project Properties and from “Target Framework” in “Application” tab select “.NET Framework 4” and not the “* Client Profile” one:


The gotcha, is that the default setting for Visual Studio is to use Client Profile of the .NET Framework. And you cannot choose this option from the “New Project” wizard, and all new projects you create are targeting the .NET Framework Client Profile (if you choose a .NET Framework 4 or 3.5 project template).

Slides from my talks on Windows Azure Topics

The year of 2010 was good for me. With the support of Microsoft Bulgaria & Martin Kulov (Microsoft Regional Director & Visual Studio ALM MVP) I established a Windows Azure User Group here in Bulgaria and I had presented couple of introductory and couple of deep dive topics covering Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Windows Azure Storage Services, Developing and Deploying Windows Azure Applications with Visual Studio 2010. The most recent is my talk at Microsoft PDC Local (Sofia, Bulgaria) where I showed up my “Azure Video Converter” Demo application. A proof of concept application to demonstrate the power of Windows Azure and how can developers use Windows Azure worker roles to execute third party software, which requires no access to registry/administrative privileges, etc. (a generic x-copy deployment apps).

All the slides can be downloaded or viewed online here.

Looking forward for even more exciting content in the coming 2011!

New book on Windows Azure released

During the passed couple of months I was a technical reviewer for a new book on Windows Azure – Microsoft Azure: Enterprise Application Development by Packt Publishing. I guess what would the most questions be. And the answer is: the book covers Windows Azure Platform up to version 1.2 of Tools & SDKs. And the screenshots are from the old Management Portal. But hey, everything written in that book is totally accurate and up to date. It just does not cover the new features, announced at PDC 2010.