Windows 8 (Windows Phone 8, iOS) and Windows Azure better together

 

More often than not when working with customer building mobility solutions (may it be enterprise or consumer) there is a need for a backend. That backend could be as simple as set of web services exposing CRUD operations on the underlying data store. Or it could be much more complex set of services running business workflows integrated with relevant identity providers. Ability to send push notifications is generally required as well.

Although the project on hand is mobility focused with client app development there is an inherent requirement for scalability, reliability etc. for the backend as well.

This is exactly where Windows Azure comes in with its Mobile Services. It offers very simple and easy to use data services, user authentication capabilities, push notification mechanism as well as batch jobs in the (Azure) cloud. Key words here are “simple and easy  to use”.

WindowsAzureMobileServices

To that end I would like to point you to Windows Azure Mobile Services page. Do try out the tutorials and resources page and go through some of the common scenarios to see how best you can use these capabilities when building apps for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and iOS platforms.

If you like what you see then you can get a free Azure trial account that amongst other things gets you 10 mobile services for free!

For more detailed learning resource on Windows Azure we recommend you to download Windows Azure Training Kit.

PS: Support for Android is coming soon!

Windows Azure Mobile Services Update (New Features)

 

Last week Microsoft announced updates to Windows Azure Mobile Services which allows developers to take advantage of the cloud to build and deploy modern apps for Windows 8 and iOS. Whether you are a developer building for the Windows Store, Windows Phone 8, iPhone, or iPad, Mobile Services provides an easy, streamlined process for backend elements like storing structured data, configuring user authentication via Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and incorporating push notifications.

Developers will benefit from Windows Azure Mobile Services in the following ways:

· Rapid Development: configure a straightforward and secure backend for Windows 8 and mobile applications in less than five minutes.

· Create modern mobile app with built in support and new added capabilities:

o Scheduled Scripts: run a server script on a pre-set schedule or on-demand which enables several key scenarios including:

§ aggregating data from Twitter, RSS feeds, or any external web services

§ executing background code efficiently, such as process/resize images, performing complex calculations, or sending emails

§ schedule sending push notifications to customers to ensure they arrive at the right time of day

o Command-line support: use the Windows Azure cross platform command line tools to easily create and manage mobile services

o Availability in Europe: create Mobile Services in the North Europe region in addition to the US East and US West regions

Call to action: Visit WindowsAzure.com to access Mobile Services either by logging into a current Windows Azure account or sign up for the free Mobile Services trial.

Get started with 10 Mobile Services for FREE

Windows App Certification Kit (aka WACK) Update for Windows 8

 

Recently I have seen a lot of partners and developers submitting store apps without testing them with the latest version of WACK tool. This post is just a reminder that please update the WACK tool to its latest version i.e. 2.2.

When you run your WACK tool, it should prompt you to update the tool to the latest version (as shown below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please don’t ignore it as the latest version of tool as the latest version offers the following important enhancements:

  • Optimized binding references (when using bindings, WinJS.Binding.optimizeBindingReferences should be set to TRUE in the app’s JavaScript to optimize the memory usage).
  • Branding validation (apps should not use the default icons generated by Visual Studio or included in the SDK samples).
  • Private code signing (remove any private code signing keys, such as .pfx files, from the package).

Also note that to test your Windows 8 app on Windows RT, you can download a separate WACK tool here.

For more details and latest updates for WACK visit MSDN.

Developing Multi-tenant Applications for the Cloud, 3rd Edition (Free)

 

Along with Moving Applications to the Cloud on Azure, Microsoft’s Patterns and Practices team has also published the 3rd edition of “Developing Multi-tenant Applications for the Cloud”.  This guide focuses on green field projects (whereas the Moving Applications to the Cloud covered brown field ones). Its a highly recommended read if you are planning to build a new multi-tenant app service on Windows Azure.

Developing Multi-tenant Applicatoins for the Cloud

Here is a quick summary from MSDN Patterns and Practices:

The cloud platform provides you with access to capacity on demand, fault tolerance, distributed computing, data centers located around the globe, and the capability to integrate with other platforms. Someone else is responsible for managing and maintaining the entire infrastructure, and you only pay for the resources that you use in each billing period. You can focus on using your core domain expertise to build and then deploy your application to the data center or data centers closest to the people who use it. You can then monitor your applications, and scale up or scale back as and when the capacity is required.

Yes, by locating your applications in the cloud you’re giving up some control and autonomy, but you’re also going to benefit from reduced costs, increased flexibility, and scalable computation and storage. This guide shows you how to do this.

This guide is the second volume in a series on Windows Azure. It demonstrates how you can create from scratch a multi-tenant, Software as a Service (SaaS) application to run in the cloud by using the latest versions of the Windows Azure tools and the latest features of the Windows Azure.

For more details visit: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff966499.aspx

Moving Applications to the Cloud on Azure – 3rd Edition (Free Download)

We recently published the 3rd edition of “Moving Application to the Cloud “. Just like other Patterns and Practices books this books is also available for free download and the source code samples are available as well. I strongly recommend our customers and partners (and audiences :)) to read this if they considering to move apps to Windows Azure.

Patterns and Practices

Quick summary taken from MSDN is:

 

How do you build and deploy applications to be scalable and have high availability? Along with developing the applications, you must also have an infrastructure that can support them. You may need to add servers or increase the capacities of existing ones, have redundant hardware, add logic to the application to handle distributed computing, and add logic for failovers. You have to do this even if an application is in high demand for only short periods of time.

The cloud offers a solution to this dilemma. The cloud is made up of interconnected servers located in various data centers. However, you see what appears to be a centralized location that someone else hosts and manages. By shifting the responsibility of maintaining an infrastructure to someone else, you’re free to concentrate on what matters most: the application.

This guide is the third edition of the first volume in a series about Windows Azure. It discusses the hosting options available in Windows Azure and demonstrates how you can adapt an existing, on-premises ASP.NET application to one that operates in the cloud. It introduces a fictitious company named Adatum that modifies its expense tracking and reimbursement system, aExpense, step-by-step so that it can be deployed to Windows Azure using a range of different hosting options.

The guide is intended for any architect, developer, or information technology (IT) professional who designs, builds, or operates applications and services that are appropriate for the cloud. It is primarily written for people who work with Windows-based systems. You should be familiar with the Microsoft .NET Framework, Microsoft Visual Studio, ASP.NET, SQL Server and Microsoft Visual C#.

You can download the free e-book here.

Sample Source code is available here.

Windows Azure Conf

Windows Azure Conf is the event by community for community and focuses on Windows Azure.

Ok, its hosted by Microsoft but it is still awesome and Scott Gu is going to do a keynote.

This will be streamed live on Channel9 so its a great opportunity to learn Windows Azure from the experts. All of this for free.

What are you waiting for? Go register @ http://www.windowsazureconf.net/

 You can get the ics file here.

Player Framework for Windows 8 v1 is now available

Microsoft’s open source, robust video player framework for Windows 8, HTML5, Silverlight, Windows Phone and other application platforms has hit a v 1.0 milestone. This is part of Microsoft’s Media Platform. Its a great achievement by the team(s) working behind the scene to make it happen.  You can download the latest sdk here.

It is also a great opportunity for the developers to leverage this great player framework that enables following (non exhaustive list of) scenarios:-

To learn more about Player Framework visit: http://playerframework.codeplex.com/

WOWZAPP Hackathon : Windows 8 Session

Thank you for attending my Windows 8 talk during WOWZAPP Hackathon.

Quick summary is:

-          Design Chrome-less experiences (use appbar’s for navigation and command)

-          Use Live Tiles

-          Incorporate Search and Share capabilities

-          Use Async calls

-          User Azure as a backend (and focus on great UX for your app)

 

Following are the links the samples that I highlighted in my Windows 8 Design talk.

Live Tiles: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/App-tiles-and-badges-sample-5fc49148

Sharing Source: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/Sharing-Content-Source-App-d9bffd84

Sharing Target:  http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/Sharing-Content-Target-App-e2689782

Search Contract:  http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/Search-app-contract-sample-118a92f5

For all your backend, notifications, state persistence needs do use Windows Azure.

Check out Windows Azure Mobile Services @ http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/mobile/

Here’s a quick sample for your reference:-

http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/doto-a-simple-social-todo-7e6ba464

 

Packt Publishing is celebrating 1000 titles giving away free access to its library

Birmingham-based publisher Packt Publishing (that published our Windows Server AppFabric cookbook recently) is about to publish its 1000th title. Packt books are renowned among developers for being uniquely practical and focused, but you’d be forgiven for not yet being in the know – Packt books cover highly specific tools and technologies which you might not expect to see a high quality book on.

During the event, we will be inviting anyone already registered to www.packtpub.com, or who registers before 30th September 2012, to download any one of our eBooks for free. Packt is also opening its online library for an entire week for free to members, offering customers an easy way to research their choice of free eBook.

Get your choice of eBook for free. Find out more here.

Get your choice of eBook for free. Find out more here.

Packt is certain that in its 1000 titles there is at least one book that everyone in IT will find useful right away, and are inviting anyone to choose and download any one of its eBooks for free over its celebration weekend of 28-30th Sep 2012. Packt is also opening its online library for a week for free to give customers an easy to way to research their choice of free eBook.

GET YOUR CHOICE OF FREE BOOK HERE

Packt supports many of the Open Source projects covered by its books through a project royalty donation, which has contributed over $400,000 to Open Source projects up to now. As part of the celebration Packt is allocating $30,000 to share between projects and authors as part of the weekend giveaway, allocated based on the number of copies of each title downloaded.

Dave Maclean, founder of Packt Publishing:

“At Packt we set out 8 years ago to bring practical, up to date and easy to use technical books to the specialist tools and technologies that had been largely overlooked by IT publishers. Today, I am really proud that with our authors and partners we have been able to make useful books available on over 1000 topics and make our contribution to the development community.”

41 HOLs and 35 Presentations on Windows Azure

Windows Azure Training Kit has been updated and was released earlier today. This is one of the best resources out there for learning Windows Azure. This particular release delivers 41 HOLs (Hands On Labs), 35 Presentations including new content on Windows Azure SQL Database, SQL Federation, Reporting and Data Sync as well as Security and Identity.

On top of all the Azure learning goodness, this release also includes an agenda for Azure Dev Camps with 7 new branded presentations.

Enough with the blogging,  More details on the MSDN download page at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=8396:

 

For direct download from any of your following favourite sources:-

 

Windows Azure Training Kit on GitHub In addition to downloading the training kit contents, you can also browse through the content, report any issues with the content, and make your own contributions on GitHub.   You can find the training kit content on GitHub at http://windowsazure-trainingkit.github.com

Windows Azure Training Kit – Full Package (WATK-August2012.exe) The full package enables you to download all of the hands-on labs and presentations to your local machine.  To use the full package, simply download and run the WATK-August2012.exe.  This file is a self-extracting executable that will extract all of the training kit files to the directory you specify.   After the content is extracted, the starting page for the training kit will be displayed in your default browser.  You can then browse through the individual hands-on labs, demos, and presentations. Download here: http://download.microsoft.com/download/A/7/C/A7CF725D-A215-4294-B0DC-2C01BDB01397/WATK-August2012.exe

Windows Azure Training Kit – Web Installer (WATK-WebInstaller.exe) The Web Installer allows you to select and download just the specific hands-on labs and presentations that you need.  The Web Installer is a much smaller download so it is recommended in situations where you cannot download the full package.  To use the Web Installer, simply download and run WATK-WebInstaller.exe.   The Web Installer will then display a list of the content in the training kit.   You can then select the hands-on labs and presentations to download.  After selecting the content proceed through the steps in the application to download the files to the directory that you specify.   Download it here: http://download.microsoft.com/download/A/7/C/A7CF725D-A215-4294-B0DC-2C01BDB01397/WATK-WebInstaller.exe
Enjoy!