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  • Cleaner HTML Markup with ASP.NET 4 Web Forms - Client IDs (VS 2010 and .NET 4.0 Series)

    - by ScottGu
    This is the sixteenth in a series of blog posts I’m doing on the upcoming VS 2010 and .NET 4 release. Today’s post is the first of a few blog posts I’ll be doing that talk about some of the important changes we’ve made to make Web Forms in ASP.NET 4 generate clean, standards-compliant, CSS-friendly markup.  Today I’ll cover the work we are doing to provide better control over the “ID” attributes rendered by server controls to the client. [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] Clean, Standards-Based, CSS-Friendly Markup One of the common complaints developers have often had with ASP.NET Web Forms is that when using server controls they don’t have the ability to easily generate clean, CSS-friendly output and markup.  Some of the specific complaints with previous ASP.NET releases include: Auto-generated ID attributes within HTML make it hard to write JavaScript and style with CSS Use of tables instead of semantic markup for certain controls (in particular the asp:menu control) make styling ugly Some controls render inline style properties even if no style property on the control has been set ViewState can often be bigger than ideal ASP.NET 4 provides better support for building standards-compliant pages out of the box.  The built-in <asp:> server controls with ASP.NET 4 now generate cleaner markup and support CSS styling – and help address all of the above issues.  Markup Compatibility When Upgrading Existing ASP.NET Web Forms Applications A common question people often ask when hearing about the cleaner markup coming with ASP.NET 4 is “Great - but what about my existing applications?  Will these changes/improvements break things when I upgrade?” To help ensure that we don’t break assumptions around markup and styling with existing ASP.NET Web Forms applications, we’ve enabled a configuration flag – controlRenderingCompatbilityVersion – within web.config that let’s you decide if you want to use the new cleaner markup approach that is the default with new ASP.NET 4 applications, or for compatibility reasons render the same markup that previous versions of ASP.NET used:   When the controlRenderingCompatbilityVersion flag is set to “3.5” your application and server controls will by default render output using the same markup generation used with VS 2008 and .NET 3.5.  When the controlRenderingCompatbilityVersion flag is set to “4.0” your application and server controls will strictly adhere to the XHTML 1.1 specification, have cleaner client IDs, render with semantic correctness in mind, and have extraneous inline styles removed. This flag defaults to 4.0 for all new ASP.NET Web Forms applications built using ASP.NET 4. Any previous application that is upgraded using VS 2010 will have the controlRenderingCompatbilityVersion flag automatically set to 3.5 by the upgrade wizard to ensure backwards compatibility.  You can then optionally change it (either at the application level, or scope it within the web.config file to be on a per page or directory level) if you move your pages to use CSS and take advantage of the new markup rendering. Today’s Cleaner Markup Topic: Client IDs The ability to have clean, predictable, ID attributes on rendered HTML elements is something developers have long asked for with Web Forms (ID values like “ctl00_ContentPlaceholder1_ListView1_ctrl0_Label1” are not very popular).  Having control over the ID values rendered helps make it much easier to write client-side JavaScript against the output, makes it easier to style elements using CSS, and on large pages can help reduce the overall size of the markup generated. New ClientIDMode Property on Controls ASP.NET 4 supports a new ClientIDMode property on the Control base class.  The ClientIDMode property indicates how controls should generate client ID values when they render.  The ClientIDMode property supports four possible values: AutoID—Renders the output as in .NET 3.5 (auto-generated IDs which will still render prefixes like ctrl00 for compatibility) Predictable (Default)— Trims any “ctl00” ID string and if a list/container control concatenates child ids (example: id=”ParentControl_ChildControl”) Static—Hands over full ID naming control to the developer – whatever they set as the ID of the control is what is rendered (example: id=”JustMyId”) Inherit—Tells the control to defer to the naming behavior mode of the parent container control The ClientIDMode property can be set directly on individual controls (or within container controls – in which case the controls within them will by default inherit the setting): Or it can be specified at a page or usercontrol level (using the <%@ Page %> or <%@ Control %> directives) – in which case controls within the pages/usercontrols inherit the setting (and can optionally override it): Or it can be set within the web.config file of an application – in which case pages within the application inherit the setting (and can optionally override it): This gives you the flexibility to customize/override the naming behavior however you want. Example: Using the ClientIDMode property to control the IDs of Non-List Controls Let’s take a look at how we can use the new ClientIDMode property to control the rendering of “ID” elements within a page.  To help illustrate this we can create a simple page called “SingleControlExample.aspx” that is based on a master-page called “Site.Master”, and which has a single <asp:label> control with an ID of “Message” that is contained with an <asp:content> container control called “MainContent”: Within our code-behind we’ll then add some simple code like below to dynamically populate the Label’s Text property at runtime:   If we were running this application using ASP.NET 3.5 (or had our ASP.NET 4 application configured to run using 3.5 rendering or ClientIDMode=AutoID), then the generated markup sent down to the client would look like below: This ID is unique (which is good) – but rather ugly because of the “ct100” prefix (which is bad). Markup Rendering when using ASP.NET 4 and the ClientIDMode is set to “Predictable” With ASP.NET 4, server controls by default now render their ID’s using ClientIDMode=”Predictable”.  This helps ensure that ID values are still unique and don’t conflict on a page, but at the same time it makes the IDs less verbose and more predictable.  This means that the generated markup of our <asp:label> control above will by default now look like below with ASP.NET 4: Notice that the “ct100” prefix is gone. Because the “Message” control is embedded within a “MainContent” container control, by default it’s ID will be prefixed “MainContent_Message” to avoid potential collisions with other controls elsewhere within the page. Markup Rendering when using ASP.NET 4 and the ClientIDMode is set to “Static” Sometimes you don’t want your ID values to be nested hierarchically, though, and instead just want the ID rendered to be whatever value you set it as.  To enable this you can now use ClientIDMode=static, in which case the ID rendered will be exactly the same as what you set it on the server-side on your control.  This will cause the below markup to be rendered with ASP.NET 4: This option now gives you the ability to completely control the client ID values sent down by controls. Example: Using the ClientIDMode property to control the IDs of Data-Bound List Controls Data-bound list/grid controls have historically been the hardest to use/style when it comes to working with Web Form’s automatically generated IDs.  Let’s now take a look at a scenario where we’ll customize the ID’s rendered using a ListView control with ASP.NET 4. The code snippet below is an example of a ListView control that displays the contents of a data-bound collection — in this case, airports: We can then write code like below within our code-behind to dynamically databind a list of airports to the ListView above: At runtime this will then by default generate a <ul> list of airports like below.  Note that because the <ul> and <li> elements in the ListView’s template are not server controls, no IDs are rendered in our markup: Adding Client ID’s to Each Row Item Now, let’s say that we wanted to add client-ID’s to the output so that we can programmatically access each <li> via JavaScript.  We want these ID’s to be unique, predictable, and identifiable. A first approach would be to mark each <li> element within the template as being a server control (by giving it a runat=server attribute) and by giving each one an id of “airport”: By default ASP.NET 4 will now render clean IDs like below (no ctl001-like ids are rendered):   Using the ClientIDRowSuffix Property Our template above now generates unique ID’s for each <li> element – but if we are going to access them programmatically on the client using JavaScript we might want to instead have the ID’s contain the airport code within them to make them easier to reference.  The good news is that we can easily do this by taking advantage of the new ClientIDRowSuffix property on databound controls in ASP.NET 4 to better control the ID’s of our individual row elements. To do this, we’ll set the ClientIDRowSuffix property to “Code” on our ListView control.  This tells the ListView to use the databound “Code” property from our Airport class when generating the ID: And now instead of having row suffixes like “1”, “2”, and “3”, we’ll instead have the Airport.Code value embedded within the IDs (e.g: _CLE, _CAK, _PDX, etc): You can use this ClientIDRowSuffix approach with other databound controls like the GridView as well. It is useful anytime you want to program row elements on the client – and use clean/identified IDs to easily reference them from JavaScript code. Summary ASP.NET 4 enables you to generate much cleaner HTML markup from server controls and from within your Web Forms applications.  In today’s post I covered how you can now easily control the client ID values that are rendered by server controls.  In upcoming posts I’ll cover some of the other markup improvements that are also coming with the ASP.NET 4 release. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Announcing ASP.NET MVC 3 (Release Candidate 2)

    - by ScottGu
    Earlier today the ASP.NET team shipped the final release candidate (RC2) for ASP.NET MVC 3.  You can download and install it here. Almost there… Today’s RC2 release is the near-final release of ASP.NET MVC 3, and is a true “release candidate” in that we are hoping to not make any more code changes with it.  We are publishing it today so that people can do final testing with it, let us know if they find any last minute “showstoppers”, and start updating their apps to use it.  We will officially ship the final ASP.NET MVC 3 “RTM” build in January. Works with both VS 2010 and VS 2010 SP1 Beta Today’s ASP.NET MVC 3 RC2 release works with both the shipping version of Visual Studio 2010 / Visual Web Developer 2010 Express, as well as the newly released VS 2010 SP1 Beta.  This means that you do not need to install VS 2010 SP1 (or the SP1 beta) in order to use ASP.NET MVC 3.  It works just fine with the shipping Visual Studio 2010.  I’ll do a blog post next week, though, about some of the nice additional feature goodies that come with VS 2010 SP1 (including IIS Express and SQL CE support within VS) which make the dev experience for both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC even better. Bugs and Perf Fixes Today’s ASP.NET MVC 3 RC2 build contains many bug fixes and performance optimizations.  Our latest performance tests indicate that ASP.NET MVC 3 is now faster than ASP.NET MVC 2, and that existing ASP.NET MVC applications will experience a slight performance increase when updated to run using ASP.NET MVC 3. Final Tweaks and Fit-N-Finish In addition to bug fixes and performance optimizations, today’s RC2 build contains a number of last-minute feature tweaks and “fit-n-finish” changes for the new ASP.NET MVC 3 features.  The feedback and suggestions we’ve received during the public previews has been invaluable in guiding these final tweaks, and we really appreciate people’s support in sending this feedback our way.  Below is a short-list of some of the feature changes/tweaks made between last month’s ASP.NET MVC 3 RC release and today’s ASP.NET MVC 3 RC2 release: jQuery updates and addition of jQuery UI The default ASP.NET MVC 3 project templates have been updated to include jQuery 1.4.4 and jQuery Validation 1.7.  We are also excited to announce today that we are including jQuery UI within our default ASP.NET project templates going forward.  jQuery UI provides a powerful set of additional UI widgets and capabilities.  It will be added by default to your project’s \scripts folder when you create new ASP.NET MVC 3 projects. Improved View Scaffolding The T4 templates used for scaffolding views with the Add-View dialog now generates views that use Html.EditorFor instead of helpers such as Html.TextBoxFor. This change enables you to optionally annotate models with metadata (using data annotation attributes) to better customize the output of your UI at runtime. The Add View scaffolding also supports improved detection and usage of primary key information on models (including support for naming conventions like ID, ProductID, etc).  For example: the Add View dialog box uses this information to ensure that the primary key value is not scaffold as an editable form field, and that links between views are auto-generated correctly with primary key information. The default Edit and Create templates also now include references to the jQuery scripts needed for client validation.  Scaffold form views now support client-side validation by default (no extra steps required).  Client-side validation with ASP.NET MVC 3 is also done using an unobtrusive javascript approach – making pages fast and clean. [ControllerSessionState] –> [SessionState] ASP.NET MVC 3 adds support for session-less controllers.  With the initial RC you used a [ControllerSessionState] attribute to specify this.  We shortened this in RC2 to just be [SessionState]: Note that in addition to turning off session state, you can also set it to be read-only (which is useful for webfarm scenarios where you are reading but not updating session state on a particular request). [SkipRequestValidation] –> [AllowHtml] ASP.NET MVC includes built-in support to protect against HTML and Cross-Site Script Injection Attacks, and will throw an error by default if someone tries to post HTML content as input.  Developers need to explicitly indicate that this is allowed (and that they’ve hopefully built their app to securely support it) in order to enable it. With ASP.NET MVC 3, we are also now supporting a new attribute that you can apply to properties of models/viewmodels to indicate that HTML input is enabled, which enables much more granular protection in a DRY way.  In last month’s RC release this attribute was named [SkipRequestValidation].  With RC2 we renamed it to [AllowHtml] to make it more intuitive: Setting the above [AllowHtml] attribute on a model/viewmodel will cause ASP.NET MVC 3 to turn off HTML injection protection when model binding just that property. Html.Raw() helper method The new Razor view engine introduced with ASP.NET MVC 3 automatically HTML encodes output by default.  This helps provide an additional level of protection against HTML and Script injection attacks. With RC2 we are adding a Html.Raw() helper method that you can use to explicitly indicate that you do not want to HTML encode your output, and instead want to render the content “as-is”: ViewModel/View –> ViewBag ASP.NET MVC has (since V1) supported a ViewData[] dictionary within Controllers and Views that enables developers to pass information from a Controller to a View in a late-bound way.  This approach can be used instead of, or in combination with, a strongly-typed model class.  The below code demonstrates a common use case – where a strongly typed Product model is passed to the view in addition to two late-bound variables via the ViewData[] dictionary: With ASP.NET MVC 3 we are introducing a new API that takes advantage of the dynamic type support within .NET 4 to set/retrieve these values.  It allows you to use standard “dot” notation to specify any number of additional variables to be passed, and does not require that you create a strongly-typed class to do so.  With earlier previews of ASP.NET MVC 3 we exposed this API using a dynamic property called “ViewModel” on the Controller base class, and with a dynamic property called “View” within view templates.  A lot of people found the fact that there were two different names confusing, and several also said that using the name ViewModel was confusing in this context – since often you create strongly-typed ViewModel classes in ASP.NET MVC, and they do not use this API.  With RC2 we are exposing a dynamic property that has the same name – ViewBag – within both Controllers and Views.  It is a dynamic collection that allows you to pass additional bits of data from your controller to your view template to help generate a response.  Below is an example of how we could use it to pass a time-stamp message as well as a list of all categories to our view template: Below is an example of how our view template (which is strongly-typed to expect a Product class as its model) can use the two extra bits of information we passed in our ViewBag to generate the response.  In particular, notice how we are using the list of categories passed in the dynamic ViewBag collection to generate a dropdownlist of friendly category names to help set the CategoryID property of our Product object.  The above Controller/View combination will then generate an HTML response like below.    Output Caching Improvements ASP.NET MVC 3’s output caching system no longer requires you to specify a VaryByParam property when declaring an [OutputCache] attribute on a Controller action method.  MVC3 now automatically varies the output cached entries when you have explicit parameters on your action method – allowing you to cleanly enable output caching on actions using code like below: In addition to supporting full page output caching, ASP.NET MVC 3 also supports partial-page caching – which allows you to cache a region of output and re-use it across multiple requests or controllers.  The [OutputCache] behavior for partial-page caching was updated with RC2 so that sub-content cached entries are varied based on input parameters as opposed to the URL structure of the top-level request – which makes caching scenarios both easier and more powerful than the behavior in the previous RC. @model declaration does not add whitespace In earlier previews, the strongly-typed @model declaration at the top of a Razor view added a blank line to the rendered HTML output. This has been fixed so that the declaration does not introduce whitespace. Changed "Html.ValidationMessage" Method to Display the First Useful Error Message The behavior of the Html.ValidationMessage() helper was updated to show the first useful error message instead of simply displaying the first error. During model binding, the ModelState dictionary can be populated from multiple sources with error messages about the property, including from the model itself (if it implements IValidatableObject), from validation attributes applied to the property, and from exceptions thrown while the property is being accessed. When the Html.ValidationMessage() method displays a validation message, it now skips model-state entries that include an exception, because these are generally not intended for the end user. Instead, the method looks for the first validation message that is not associated with an exception and displays that message. If no such message is found, it defaults to a generic error message that is associated with the first exception. RemoteAttribute “Fields” -> “AdditionalFields” ASP.NET MVC 3 includes built-in remote validation support with its validation infrastructure.  This means that the client-side validation script library used by ASP.NET MVC 3 can automatically call back to controllers you expose on the server to determine whether an input element is indeed valid as the user is editing the form (allowing you to provide real-time validation updates). You can accomplish this by decorating a model/viewmodel property with a [Remote] attribute that specifies the controller/action that should be invoked to remotely validate it.  With the RC this attribute had a “Fields” property that could be used to specify additional input elements that should be sent from the client to the server to help with the validation logic.  To improve the clarity of what this property does we have renamed it to “AdditionalFields” with today’s RC2 release. ViewResult.Model and ViewResult.ViewBag Properties The ViewResult class now exposes both a “Model” and “ViewBag” property off of it.  This makes it easier to unit test Controllers that return views, and avoids you having to access the Model via the ViewResult.ViewData.Model property. Installation Notes You can download and install the ASP.NET MVC 3 RC2 build here.  It can be installed on top of the previous ASP.NET MVC 3 RC release (it should just replace the bits as part of its setup). The one component that will not be updated by the above setup (if you already have it installed) is the NuGet Package Manager.  If you already have NuGet installed, please go to the Visual Studio Extensions Manager (via the Tools –> Extensions menu option) and click on the “Updates” tab.  You should see NuGet listed there – please click the “Update” button next to it to have VS update the extension to today’s release. If you do not have NuGet installed (and did not install the ASP.NET MVC RC build), then NuGet will be installed as part of your ASP.NET MVC 3 setup, and you do not need to take any additional steps to make it work. Summary We are really close to the final ASP.NET MVC 3 release, and will deliver the final “RTM” build of it next month.  It has been only a little over 7 months since ASP.NET MVC 2 shipped, and I’m pretty amazed by the huge number of new features, improvements, and refinements that the team has been able to add with this release (Razor, Unobtrusive JavaScript, NuGet, Dependency Injection, Output Caching, and a lot, lot more).  I’ll be doing a number of blog posts over the next few weeks talking about many of them in more depth. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • New Bundling and Minification Support (ASP.NET 4.5 Series)

    - by ScottGu
    This is the sixth in a series of blog posts I'm doing on ASP.NET 4.5. The next release of .NET and Visual Studio include a ton of great new features and capabilities.  With ASP.NET 4.5 you'll see a bunch of really nice improvements with both Web Forms and MVC - as well as in the core ASP.NET base foundation that both are built upon. Today’s post covers some of the work we are doing to add built-in support for bundling and minification into ASP.NET - which makes it easy to improve the performance of applications.  This feature can be used by all ASP.NET applications, including both ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms solutions. Basics of Bundling and Minification As more and more people use mobile devices to surf the web, it is becoming increasingly important that the websites and apps we build perform well with them. We’ve all tried loading sites on our smartphones – only to eventually give up in frustration as it loads slowly over a slow cellular network.  If your site/app loads slowly like that, you are likely losing potential customers because of bad performance.  Even with powerful desktop machines, the load time of your site and perceived performance can make an enormous customer perception. Most websites today are made up of multiple JavaScript and CSS files to separate the concerns and keep the code base tight. While this is a good practice from a coding point of view, it often has some unfortunate consequences for the overall performance of the website.  Multiple JavaScript and CSS files require multiple HTTP requests from a browser – which in turn can slow down the performance load time.  Simple Example Below I’ve opened a local website in IE9 and recorded the network traffic using IE’s built-in F12 developer tools. As shown below, the website consists of 5 CSS and 4 JavaScript files which the browser has to download. Each file is currently requested separately by the browser and returned by the server, and the process can take a significant amount of time proportional to the number of files in question. Bundling ASP.NET is adding a feature that makes it easy to “bundle” or “combine” multiple CSS and JavaScript files into fewer HTTP requests. This causes the browser to request a lot fewer files and in turn reduces the time it takes to fetch them.   Below is an updated version of the above sample that takes advantage of this new bundling functionality (making only one request for the JavaScript and one request for the CSS): The browser now has to send fewer requests to the server. The content of the individual files have been bundled/combined into the same response, but the content of the files remains the same - so the overall file size is exactly the same as before the bundling.   But notice how even on a local dev machine (where the network latency between the browser and server is minimal), the act of bundling the CSS and JavaScript files together still manages to reduce the overall page load time by almost 20%.  Over a slow network the performance improvement would be even better. Minification The next release of ASP.NET is also adding a new feature that makes it easy to reduce or “minify” the download size of the content as well.  This is a process that removes whitespace, comments and other unneeded characters from both CSS and JavaScript. The result is smaller files, which will download and load in a browser faster.  The graph below shows the performance gain we are seeing when both bundling and minification are used together: Even on my local dev box (where the network latency is minimal), we now have a 40% performance improvement from where we originally started.  On slow networks (and especially with international customers), the gains would be even more significant. Using Bundling and Minification inside ASP.NET The upcoming release of ASP.NET makes it really easy to take advantage of bundling and minification within projects and see performance gains like in the scenario above. The way it does this allows you to avoid having to run custom tools as part of your build process –  instead ASP.NET has added runtime support to perform the bundling/minification for you dynamically (caching the results to make sure perf is great).  This enables a really clean development experience and makes it super easy to start to take advantage of these new features. Let’s assume that we have a simple project that has 4 JavaScript files and 6 CSS files: Bundling and Minifying the .css files Let’s say you wanted to reference all of the stylesheets in the “Styles” folder above on a page.  Today you’d have to add multiple CSS references to get all of them – which would translate into 6 separate HTTP requests: The new bundling/minification feature now allows you to instead bundle and minify all of the .css files in the Styles folder – simply by sending a URL request to the folder (in this case “styles”) with an appended “/css” path after it.  For example:    This will cause ASP.NET to scan the directory, bundle and minify the .css files within it, and send back a single HTTP response with all of the CSS content to the browser.  You don’t need to run any tools or pre-processor to get this behavior.  This enables you to cleanly separate your CSS into separate logical .css files and maintain a very clean development experience – while not taking a performance hit at runtime for doing so.  The Visual Studio designer will also honor the new bundling/minification logic as well – so you’ll still get a WYSWIYG designer experience inside VS as well. Bundling and Minifying the JavaScript files Like the CSS approach above, if we wanted to bundle and minify all of our JavaScript into a single response we could send a URL request to the folder (in this case “scripts”) with an appended “/js” path after it:   This will cause ASP.NET to scan the directory, bundle and minify the .js files within it, and send back a single HTTP response with all of the JavaScript content to the browser.  Again – no custom tools or builds steps were required in order to get this behavior.  And it works with all browsers. Ordering of Files within a Bundle By default, when files are bundled by ASP.NET they are sorted alphabetically first, just like they are shown in Solution Explorer. Then they are automatically shifted around so that known libraries and their custom extensions such as jQuery, MooTools and Dojo are loaded before anything else. So the default order for the merged bundling of the Scripts folder as shown above will be: Jquery-1.6.2.js Jquery-ui.js Jquery.tools.js a.js By default, CSS files are also sorted alphabetically and then shifted around so that reset.css and normalize.css (if they are there) will go before any other file. So the default sorting of the bundling of the Styles folder as shown above will be: reset.css content.css forms.css globals.css menu.css styles.css The sorting is fully customizable, though, and can easily be changed to accommodate most use cases and any common naming pattern you prefer.  The goal with the out of the box experience, though, is to have smart defaults that you can just use and be successful with. Any number of directories/sub-directories supported In the example above we just had a single “Scripts” and “Styles” folder for our application.  This works for some application types (e.g. single page applications).  Often, though, you’ll want to have multiple CSS/JS bundles within your application – for example: a “common” bundle that has core JS and CSS files that all pages use, and then page specific or section specific files that are not used globally. You can use the bundling/minification support across any number of directories or sub-directories in your project – this makes it easy to structure your code so as to maximize the bunding/minification benefits.  Each directory by default can be accessed as a separate URL addressable bundle.  Bundling/Minification Extensibility ASP.NET’s bundling and minification support is built with extensibility in mind and every part of the process can be extended or replaced. Custom Rules In addition to enabling the out of the box - directory-based - bundling approach, ASP.NET also supports the ability to register custom bundles using a new programmatic API we are exposing.  The below code demonstrates how you can register a “customscript” bundle using code within an application’s Global.asax class.  The API allows you to add/remove/filter files that go into the bundle on a very granular level:     The above custom bundle can then be referenced anywhere within the application using the below <script> reference:     Custom Processing You can also override the default CSS and JavaScript bundles to support your own custom processing of the bundled files (for example: custom minification rules, support for Saas, LESS or Coffeescript syntax, etc). In the example below we are indicating that we want to replace the built-in minification transforms with a custom MyJsTransform and MyCssTransform class. They both subclass the CSS and JavaScript minifier respectively and can add extra functionality:     The end result of this extensibility is that you can plug-into the bundling/minification logic at a deep level and do some pretty cool things with it. 2 Minute Video of Bundling and Minification in Action Mads Kristensen has a great 90 second video that shows off using the new Bundling and Minification feature.  You can watch the 90 second video here. Summary The new bundling and minification support within the next release of ASP.NET will make it easier to build fast web applications.  It is really easy to use, and doesn’t require major changes to your existing dev workflow.  It is also supports a rich extensibility API that enables you to customize it however you want. You can easily take advantage of this new support within ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET Web Pages based applications. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I use Twitter to-do quick posts and share links. My Twitter handle is: @scottgu

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  • Windows Azure Mobile Services: New support for iOS apps, Facebook/Twitter/Google identity, Emails, SMS, Blobs, Service Bus and more

    - by ScottGu
    A few weeks ago I blogged about Windows Azure Mobile Services - a new capability in Windows Azure that makes it incredibly easy to connect your client and mobile applications to a scalable cloud backend. Earlier today we delivered a number of great improvements to Windows Azure Mobile Services.  New features include: iOS support – enabling you to connect iPhone and iPad apps to Mobile Services Facebook, Twitter, and Google authentication support with Mobile Services Blob, Table, Queue, and Service Bus support from within your Mobile Service Sending emails from your Mobile Service (in partnership with SendGrid) Sending SMS messages from your Mobile Service (in partnership with Twilio) Ability to deploy mobile services in the West US region All of these improvements are now live in production and available to start using immediately. Below are more details on them: iOS Support This week we delivered initial support for connecting iOS based devices (including iPhones and iPads) to Windows Azure Mobile Services.  Like the rest of our Windows Azure SDK, we are delivering the native iOS libraries to enable this under an open source (Apache 2.0) license on GitHub.  We’re excited to get your feedback on this new library through our forum and GitHub issues list, and we welcome contributions to the SDK. To create a new iOS app or connect an existing iOS app to your Mobile Service, simply select the “iOS” tab within the Quick Start view of a Mobile Service within the Windows Azure Portal – and then follow either the “Create a new iOS app” or “Connect to an existing iOS app” link below it: Clicking either of these links will expand and display step-by-step instructions for how to build an iOS application that connects with your Mobile Service: Read this getting started tutorial to walkthrough how you can build (in less than 5 minutes) a simple iOS “Todo List” app that stores data in Windows Azure.  Then follow the below tutorials to explore how to use the iOS client libraries to store data and authenticate users. Get Started with data in Mobile Services for iOS Get Started with authentication in Mobile Services for iOS Facebook, Twitter, and Google Authentication Support Our initial preview of Mobile Services supported the ability to authenticate users of mobile apps using Microsoft Accounts (formerly called Windows Live ID accounts).  This week we are adding the ability to also authenticate users using Facebook, Twitter, and Google credentials.  These are now supported with both Windows 8 apps as well as iOS apps (and a single app can support multiple forms of identity simultaneously – so you can offer your users a choice of how to login). The below tutorials walkthrough how to register your Mobile Service with an identity provider: How to register your app with Microsoft Account How to register your app with Facebook How to register your app with Twitter How to register your app with Google The tutorials above walkthrough how to obtain a client ID and a secret key from the identity provider. You can then click on the “Identity” tab of your Mobile Service (within the Windows Azure Portal) and save these values to enable server-side authentication with your Mobile Service: You can then write code within your client or mobile app to authenticate your users to the Mobile Service.  For example, below is the code you would write to have them login to the Mobile Service using their Facebook credentials: Windows Store App (using C#): var user = await App.MobileService                     .LoginAsync(MobileServiceAuthenticationProvider.Facebook); iOS app (using Objective C): UINavigationController *controller = [self.todoService.client     loginViewControllerWithProvider:@"facebook"     completion:^(MSUser *user, NSError *error) {        //... }]; Learn more about authenticating Mobile Services using Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter, and Google from these tutorials: Get started with authentication in Mobile Services for Windows Store (C#) Get started with authentication in Mobile Services for Windows Store (JavaScript) Get started with authentication in Mobile Services for iOS Using Windows Azure Blob, Tables and ServiceBus with your Mobile Services Mobile Services provide a simple but powerful way to add server logic using server scripts. These scripts are associated with the individual CRUD operations on your mobile service’s tables. Server scripts are great for data validation, custom authorization logic (e.g. does this user participate in this game session), augmenting CRUD operations, sending push notifications, and other similar scenarios.   Server scripts are written in JavaScript and are executed in a secure server-side scripting environment built using Node.js.  You can edit these scripts and save them on the server directly within the Windows Azure Portal: In this week’s release we have added the ability to work with other Windows Azure services from your Mobile Service server scripts.  This is supported using the existing “azure” module within the Windows Azure SDK for Node.js.  For example, the below code could be used in a Mobile Service script to obtain a reference to a Windows Azure Table (after which you could query it or insert data into it):     var azure = require('azure');     var tableService = azure.createTableService("<< account name >>",                                                 "<< access key >>"); Follow the tutorials on the Windows Azure Node.js dev center to learn more about working with Blob, Tables, Queues and Service Bus using the azure module. Sending emails from your Mobile Service In this week’s release we have also added the ability to easily send emails from your Mobile Service, building on our partnership with SendGrid. Whether you want to add a welcome email upon successful user registration, or make your app alert you of certain usage activities, you can do this now by sending email from Mobile Services server scripts. To get started, sign up for SendGrid account at http://sendgrid.com . Windows Azure customers receive a special offer of 25,000 free emails per month from SendGrid. To sign-up for this offer, or get more information, please visit http://www.sendgrid.com/azure.html . One you signed up, you can add the following script to your Mobile Service server scripts to send email via SendGrid service:     var sendgrid = new SendGrid('<< account name >>', '<< password >>');       sendgrid.send({         to: '<< enter email address here >>',         from: '<< enter from address here >>',         subject: 'New to-do item',         text: 'A new to-do was added: ' + item.text     }, function (success, message) {         if (!success) {             console.error(message);         }     }); Follow the Send email from Mobile Services with SendGrid tutorial to learn more. Sending SMS messages from your Mobile Service SMS is a key communication medium for mobile apps - it comes in handy if you want your app to send users a confirmation code during registration, allow your users to invite their friends to install your app or reach out to mobile users without a smartphone. Using Mobile Service server scripts and Twilio’s REST API, you can now easily send SMS messages to your app.  To get started, sign up for Twilio account. Windows Azure customers receive 1000 free text messages when using Twilio and Windows Azure together. Once signed up, you can add the following to your Mobile Service server scripts to send SMS messages:     var httpRequest = require('request');     var account_sid = "<< account SID >>";     var auth_token = "<< auth token >>";       // Create the request body     var body = "From=" + from + "&To=" + to + "&Body=" + message;       // Make the HTTP request to Twilio     httpRequest.post({         url: "https://" + account_sid + ":" + auth_token +              "@api.twilio.com/2010-04-01/Accounts/" + account_sid + "/SMS/Messages.json",         headers: { 'content-type': 'application/x-www-form-urlencoded' },         body: body     }, function (err, resp, body) {         console.log(body);     }); I’m excited to be speaking at the TwilioCon conference this week, and will be showcasing some of the cool scenarios you can now enable with Twilio and Windows Azure Mobile Services. Mobile Services availability in West US region Our initial preview of Windows Azure Mobile Services was only supported in the US East region of Windows Azure.  As with every Windows Azure service, overtime we will extend Mobile Services to all Windows Azure regions. With this week’s preview update we’ve added support so that you can now create your Mobile Service in the West US region as well: Summary The above features are all now live in production and are available to use immediately.  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using Mobile Services today. Visit the Windows Azure Mobile Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with Mobile Services. We’ll have even more new features and enhancements coming later this week – including .NET 4.5 support for Windows Azure Web Sites.  Keep an eye out on my blog for details as new features become available. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Announcing: Great Improvements to Windows Azure Web Sites

    - by ScottGu
    I’m excited to announce some great improvements to the Windows Azure Web Sites capability we first introduced earlier this summer.  Today’s improvements include: a new low-cost shared mode scaling option, support for custom domains with shared and reserved mode web-sites using both CNAME and A-Records (the later enabling naked domains), continuous deployment support using both CodePlex and GitHub, and FastCGI extensibility.  All of these improvements are now live in production and available to start using immediately. New “Shared” Scaling Tier Windows Azure allows you to deploy and host up to 10 web-sites in a free, shared/multi-tenant hosting environment. You can start out developing and testing web sites at no cost using this free shared mode, and it supports the ability to run web sites that serve up to 165MB/day of content (5GB/month).  All of the capabilities we introduced in June with this free tier remain the same with today’s update. Starting with today’s release, you can now elastically scale up your web-site beyond this capability using a new low-cost “shared” option (which we are introducing today) as well as using a “reserved instance” option (which we’ve supported since June).  Scaling to either of these modes is easy.  Simply click on the “scale” tab of your web-site within the Windows Azure Portal, choose the scaling option you want to use with it, and then click the “save” button.  Changes take only seconds to apply and do not require any code to be changed, nor the app to be redeployed: Below are some more details on the new “shared” option, as well as the existing “reserved” option: Shared Mode With today’s release we are introducing a new low-cost “shared” scaling mode for Windows Azure Web Sites.  A web-site running in shared mode is deployed in a shared/multi-tenant hosting environment.  Unlike the free tier, though, a web-site in shared mode has no quotas/upper-limit around the amount of bandwidth it can serve.  The first 5 GB/month of bandwidth you serve with a shared web-site is free, and then you pay the standard “pay as you go” Windows Azure outbound bandwidth rate for outbound bandwidth above 5 GB. A web-site running in shared mode also now supports the ability to map multiple custom DNS domain names, using both CNAMEs and A-records, to it.  The new A-record support we are introducing with today’s release provides the ability for you to support “naked domains” with your web-sites (e.g. http://microsoft.com in addition to http://www.microsoft.com).  We will also in the future enable SNI based SSL as a built-in feature with shared mode web-sites (this functionality isn’t supported with today’s release – but will be coming later this year to both the shared and reserved tiers). You pay for a shared mode web-site using the standard “pay as you go” model that we support with other features of Windows Azure (meaning no up-front costs, and you pay only for the hours that the feature is enabled).  A web-site running in shared mode costs only 1.3 cents/hr during the preview (so on average $9.36/month). Reserved Instance Mode In addition to running sites in shared mode, we also support scaling them to run within a reserved instance mode.  When running in reserved instance mode your sites are guaranteed to run isolated within your own Small, Medium or Large VM (meaning no other customers run within it).  You can run any number of web-sites within a VM, and there are no quotas on CPU or memory limits. You can run your sites using either a single reserved instance VM, or scale up to have multiple instances of them (e.g. 2 medium sized VMs, etc).  Scaling up or down is easy – just select the “reserved” instance VM within the “scale” tab of the Windows Azure Portal, choose the VM size you want, the number of instances of it you want to run, and then click save.  Changes take effect in seconds: Unlike shared mode, there is no per-site cost when running in reserved mode.  Instead you pay only for the reserved instance VMs you use – and you can run any number of web-sites you want within them at no extra cost (e.g. you could run a single site within a reserved instance VM or 100 web-sites within it for the same cost).  Reserved instance VMs start at 8 cents/hr for a small reserved VM.  Elastic Scale-up/down Windows Azure Web Sites allows you to scale-up or down your capacity within seconds.  This allows you to deploy a site using the shared mode option to begin with, and then dynamically scale up to the reserved mode option only when you need to – without you having to change any code or redeploy your application. If your site traffic starts to drop off, you can scale back down the number of reserved instances you are using, or scale down to the shared mode tier – all within seconds and without having to change code, redeploy, or adjust DNS mappings.  You can also use the “Dashboard” view within the Windows Azure Portal to easily monitor your site’s load in real-time (it shows not only requests/sec and bandwidth but also stats like CPU and memory usage). Because of Windows Azure’s “pay as you go” pricing model, you only pay for the compute capacity you use in a given hour.  So if your site is running most of the month in shared mode (at 1.3 cents/hr), but there is a weekend when it gets really popular and you decide to scale it up into reserved mode to have it run in your own dedicated VM (at 8 cents/hr), you only have to pay the additional pennies/hr for the hours it is running in the reserved mode.  There is no upfront cost you need to pay to enable this, and once you scale back down to shared mode you return to the 1.3 cents/hr rate.  This makes it super flexible and cost effective. Improved Custom Domain Support Web sites running in either “shared” or “reserved” mode support the ability to associate custom host names to them (e.g. www.mysitename.com).  You can associate multiple custom domains to each Windows Azure Web Site.  With today’s release we are introducing support for A-Records (a big ask by many users). With the A-Record support, you can now associate ‘naked’ domains to your Windows Azure Web Sites – meaning instead of having to use www.mysitename.com you can instead just have mysitename.com (with no sub-name prefix).  Because you can map multiple domains to a single site, you can optionally enable both a www and naked domain for a site (and then use a URL rewrite rule/redirect to avoid SEO problems). We’ve also enhanced the UI for managing custom domains within the Windows Azure Portal as part of today’s release.  Clicking the “Manage Domains” button in the tray at the bottom of the portal now brings up custom UI that makes it easy to manage/configure them: As part of this update we’ve also made it significantly smoother/easier to validate ownership of custom domains, and made it easier to switch existing sites/domains to Windows Azure Web Sites with no downtime. Continuous Deployment Support with Git and CodePlex or GitHub One of the more popular features we released earlier this summer was support for publishing web sites directly to Windows Azure using source control systems like TFS and Git.  This provides a really powerful way to manage your application deployments using source control.  It is really easy to enable this from a website’s dashboard page: The TFS option we shipped earlier this summer provides a very rich continuous deployment solution that enables you to automate builds and run unit tests every time you check in your web-site, and then if they are successful automatically publish to Azure. With today’s release we are expanding our Git support to also enable continuous deployment scenarios and integrate with projects hosted on CodePlex and GitHub.  This support is enabled with all web-sites (including those using the “free” scaling mode). Starting today, when you choose the “Set up Git publishing” link on a website’s “Dashboard” page you’ll see two additional options show up when Git based publishing is enabled for the web-site: You can click on either the “Deploy from my CodePlex project” link or “Deploy from my GitHub project” link to walkthrough a simple workflow to configure a connection between your website and a source repository you host on CodePlex or GitHub.  Once this connection is established, CodePlex or GitHub will automatically notify Windows Azure every time a checkin occurs.  This will then cause Windows Azure to pull the source and compile/deploy the new version of your app automatically.  The below two videos walkthrough how easy this is to enable this workflow and deploy both an initial app and then make a change to it: Enabling Continuous Deployment with Windows Azure Websites and CodePlex (2 minutes) Enabling Continuous Deployment with Windows Azure Websites and GitHub (2 minutes) This approach enables a really clean continuous deployment workflow, and makes it much easier to support a team development environment using Git: Note: today’s release supports establishing connections with public GitHub/CodePlex repositories.  Support for private repositories will be enabled in a few weeks. Support for multiple branches Previously, we only supported deploying from the git ‘master’ branch.  Often, though, developers want to deploy from alternate branches (e.g. a staging or future branch). This is now a supported scenario – both with standalone git based projects, as well as ones linked to CodePlex or GitHub.  This enables a variety of useful scenarios.  For example, you can now have two web-sites - a “live” and “staging” version – both linked to the same repository on CodePlex or GitHub.  You can configure one of the web-sites to always pull whatever is in the master branch, and the other to pull what is in the staging branch.  This enables a really clean way to enable final testing of your site before it goes live. This 1 minute video demonstrates how to configure which branch to use with a web-site. Summary The above features are all now live in production and available to use immediately.  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using them today.  Visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. We’ll have even more new features and enhancements coming in the weeks ahead – including support for the recent Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5 releases (we will enable new web and worker role images with Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5 next month).  Keep an eye out on my blog for details as these new features become available. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • jQuery Globalization Plugin from Microsoft

    - by ScottGu
    Last month I blogged about how Microsoft is starting to make code contributions to jQuery, and about some of the first code contributions we were working on: jQuery Templates and Data Linking support. Today, we released a prototype of a new jQuery Globalization Plugin that enables you to add globalization support to your JavaScript applications. This plugin includes globalization information for over 350 cultures ranging from Scottish Gaelic, Frisian, Hungarian, Japanese, to Canadian English.  We will be releasing this plugin to the community as open-source. You can download our prototype for the jQuery Globalization plugin from our Github repository: http://github.com/nje/jquery-glob You can also download a set of samples that demonstrate some simple use-cases with it here. Understanding Globalization The jQuery Globalization plugin enables you to easily parse and format numbers, currencies, and dates for different cultures in JavaScript. For example, you can use the Globalization plugin to display the proper currency symbol for a culture: You also can use the Globalization plugin to format dates so that the day and month appear in the right order and the day and month names are correctly translated: Notice above how the Arabic year is displayed as 1431. This is because the year has been converted to use the Arabic calendar. Some cultural differences, such as different currency or different month names, are obvious. Other cultural differences are surprising and subtle. For example, in some cultures, the grouping of numbers is done unevenly. In the "te-IN" culture (Telugu in India), groups have 3 digits and then 2 digits. The number 1000000 (one million) is written as "10,00,000". Some cultures do not group numbers at all. All of these subtle cultural differences are handled by the jQuery Globalization plugin automatically. Getting dates right can be especially tricky. Different cultures have different calendars such as the Gregorian and UmAlQura calendars. A single culture can even have multiple calendars. For example, the Japanese culture uses both the Gregorian calendar and a Japanese calendar that has eras named after Japanese emperors. The Globalization Plugin includes methods for converting dates between all of these different calendars. Using Language Tags The jQuery Globalization plugin uses the language tags defined in the RFC 4646 and RFC 5646 standards to identity cultures (see http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5646). A language tag is composed out of one or more subtags separated by hyphens. For example: Language Tag Language Name (in English) en-AU English (Australia) en-BZ English (Belize) en-CA English (Canada) Id Indonesian zh-CHS Chinese (Simplified) Legacy Zu isiZulu Notice that a single language, such as English, can have several language tags. Speakers of English in Canada format numbers, currencies, and dates using different conventions than speakers of English in Australia or the United States. You can find the language tag for a particular culture by using the Language Subtag Lookup tool located here:  http://rishida.net/utils/subtags/ The jQuery Globalization plugin download includes a folder named globinfo that contains the information for each of the 350 cultures. Actually, this folder contains more than 700 files because the folder includes both minified and un-minified versions of each file. For example, the globinfo folder includes JavaScript files named jQuery.glob.en-AU.js for English Australia, jQuery.glob.id.js for Indonesia, and jQuery.glob.zh-CHS for Chinese (Simplified) Legacy. Example: Setting a Particular Culture Imagine that you have been asked to create a German website and want to format all of the dates, currencies, and numbers using German formatting conventions correctly in JavaScript on the client. The HTML for the page might look like this: Notice the span tags above. They mark the areas of the page that we want to format with the Globalization plugin. We want to format the product price, the date the product is available, and the units of the product in stock. To use the jQuery Globalization plugin, we’ll add three JavaScript files to the page: the jQuery library, the jQuery Globalization plugin, and the culture information for a particular language: In this case, I’ve statically added the jQuery.glob.de-DE.js JavaScript file that contains the culture information for German. The language tag “de-DE” is used for German as spoken in Germany. Now that I have all of the necessary scripts, I can use the Globalization plugin to format the product price, date available, and units in stock values using the following client-side JavaScript: The jQuery Globalization plugin extends the jQuery library with new methods - including new methods named preferCulture() and format(). The preferCulture() method enables you to set the default culture used by the jQuery Globalization plugin methods. Notice that the preferCulture() method accepts a language tag. The method will find the closest culture that matches the language tag. The $.format() method is used to actually format the currencies, dates, and numbers. The second parameter passed to the $.format() method is a format specifier. For example, passing “c” causes the value to be formatted as a currency. The ReadMe file at github details the meaning of all of the various format specifiers: http://github.com/nje/jquery-glob When we open the page in a browser, everything is formatted correctly according to German language conventions. A euro symbol is used for the currency symbol. The date is formatted using German day and month names. Finally, a period instead of a comma is used a number separator: You can see a running example of the above approach with the 3_GermanSite.htm file in this samples download. Example: Enabling a User to Dynamically Select a Culture In the previous example we explicitly said that we wanted to globalize in German (by referencing the jQuery.glob.de-DE.js file). Let’s now look at the first of a few examples that demonstrate how to dynamically set the globalization culture to use. Imagine that you want to display a dropdown list of all of the 350 cultures in a page. When someone selects a culture from the dropdown list, you want all of the dates in the page to be formatted using the selected culture. Here’s the HTML for the page: Notice that all of the dates are contained in a <span> tag with a data-date attribute (data-* attributes are a new feature of HTML 5 that conveniently also still work with older browsers). We’ll format the date represented by the data-date attribute when a user selects a culture from the dropdown list. In order to display dates for any possible culture, we’ll include the jQuery.glob.all.js file like this: The jQuery Globalization plugin includes a JavaScript file named jQuery.glob.all.js. This file contains globalization information for all of the more than 350 cultures supported by the Globalization plugin.  At 367KB minified, this file is not small. Because of the size of this file, unless you really need to use all of these cultures at the same time, we recommend that you add the individual JavaScript files for particular cultures that you intend to support instead of the combined jQuery.glob.all.js to a page. In the next sample I’ll show how to dynamically load just the language files you need. Next, we’ll populate the dropdown list with all of the available cultures. We can use the $.cultures property to get all of the loaded cultures: Finally, we’ll write jQuery code that grabs every span element with a data-date attribute and format the date: The jQuery Globalization plugin’s parseDate() method is used to convert a string representation of a date into a JavaScript date. The plugin’s format() method is used to format the date. The “D” format specifier causes the date to be formatted using the long date format. And now the content will be globalized correctly regardless of which of the 350 languages a user visiting the page selects.  You can see a running example of the above approach with the 4_SelectCulture.htm file in this samples download. Example: Loading Globalization Files Dynamically As mentioned in the previous section, you should avoid adding the jQuery.glob.all.js file to a page whenever possible because the file is so large. A better alternative is to load the globalization information that you need dynamically. For example, imagine that you have created a dropdown list that displays a list of languages: The following jQuery code executes whenever a user selects a new language from the dropdown list. The code checks whether the globalization file associated with the selected language has already been loaded. If the globalization file has not been loaded then the globalization file is loaded dynamically by taking advantage of the jQuery $.getScript() method. The globalizePage() method is called after the requested globalization file has been loaded, and contains the client-side code to perform the globalization. The advantage of this approach is that it enables you to avoid loading the entire jQuery.glob.all.js file. Instead you only need to load the files that you need and you don’t need to load the files more than once. The 5_Dynamic.htm file in this samples download demonstrates how to implement this approach. Example: Setting the User Preferred Language Automatically Many websites detect a user’s preferred language from their browser settings and automatically use it when globalizing content. A user can set a preferred language for their browser. Then, whenever the user requests a page, this language preference is included in the request in the Accept-Language header. When using Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can set your preferred language by following these steps: Select the menu option Tools, Internet Options. Select the General tab. Click the Languages button in the Appearance section. Click the Add button to add a new language to the list of languages. Move your preferred language to the top of the list. Notice that you can list multiple languages in the Language Preference dialog. All of these languages are sent in the order that you listed them in the Accept-Language header: Accept-Language: fr-FR,id-ID;q=0.7,en-US;q=0.3 Strangely, you cannot retrieve the value of the Accept-Language header from client JavaScript. Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox support a bevy of language related properties exposed by the window.navigator object, such as windows.navigator.browserLanguage and window.navigator.language, but these properties represent either the language set for the operating system or the language edition of the browser. These properties don’t enable you to retrieve the language that the user set as his or her preferred language. The only reliable way to get a user’s preferred language (the value of the Accept-Language header) is to write server code. For example, the following ASP.NET page takes advantage of the server Request.UserLanguages property to assign the user’s preferred language to a client JavaScript variable named acceptLanguage (which then allows you to access the value using client-side JavaScript): In order for this code to work, the culture information associated with the value of acceptLanguage must be included in the page. For example, if someone’s preferred culture is fr-FR (French in France) then you need to include either the jQuery.glob.fr-FR.js or the jQuery.glob.all.js JavaScript file in the page or the culture information won’t be available.  The “6_AcceptLanguages.aspx” sample in this samples download demonstrates how to implement this approach. If the culture information for the user’s preferred language is not included in the page then the $.preferCulture() method will fall back to using the neutral culture (for example, using jQuery.glob.fr.js instead of jQuery.glob.fr-FR.js). If the neutral culture information is not available then the $.preferCulture() method falls back to the default culture (English). Example: Using the Globalization Plugin with the jQuery UI DatePicker One of the goals of the Globalization plugin is to make it easier to build jQuery widgets that can be used with different cultures. We wanted to make sure that the jQuery Globalization plugin could work with existing jQuery UI plugins such as the DatePicker plugin. To that end, we created a patched version of the DatePicker plugin that can take advantage of the Globalization plugin when rendering a calendar. For example, the following figure illustrates what happens when you add the jQuery Globalization and the patched jQuery UI DatePicker plugin to a page and select Indonesian as the preferred culture: Notice that the headers for the days of the week are displayed using Indonesian day name abbreviations. Furthermore, the month names are displayed in Indonesian. You can download the patched version of the jQuery UI DatePicker from our github website. Or you can use the version included in this samples download and used by the 7_DatePicker.htm sample file. Summary I’m excited about our continuing participation in the jQuery community. This Globalization plugin is the third jQuery plugin that we’ve released. We’ve really appreciated all of the great feedback and design suggestions on the jQuery templating and data-linking prototypes that we released earlier this year.  We also want to thank the jQuery and jQuery UI teams for working with us to create these plugins. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. You can follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Announcing the Release of Visual Studio 2013 and Great Improvements to ASP.NET and Entity Framework

    - by ScottGu
    Today we released VS 2013 and .NET 4.5.1. These releases include a ton of great improvements, and include some fantastic enhancements to ASP.NET and the Entity Framework.  You can download and start using them now. Below are details on a few of the great ASP.NET, Web Development, and Entity Framework improvements you can take advantage of with this release.  Please visit http://www.asp.net/vnext for additional release notes, documentation, and tutorials. One ASP.NET With the release of Visual Studio 2013, we have taken a step towards unifying the experience of using the different ASP.NET sub-frameworks (Web Forms, MVC, Web API, SignalR, etc), and you can now easily mix and match the different ASP.NET technologies you want to use within a single application. When you do a File-New Project with VS 2013 you’ll now see a single ASP.NET Project option: Selecting this project will bring up an additional dialog that allows you to start with a base project template, and then optionally add/remove the technologies you want to use in it.  For example, you could start with a Web Forms template and add Web API or Web Forms support for it, or create a MVC project and also enable Web Forms pages within it: This makes it easy for you to use any ASP.NET technology you want within your apps, and take advantage of any feature across the entire ASP.NET technology span. Richer Authentication Support The new “One ASP.NET” project dialog also includes a new Change Authentication button that, when pushed, enables you to easily change the authentication approach used by your applications – and makes it much easier to build secure applications that enable SSO from a variety of identity providers.  For example, when you start with the ASP.NET Web Forms or MVC templates you can easily add any of the following authentication options to the application: No Authentication Individual User Accounts (Single Sign-On support with FaceBook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft ID – or Forms Auth with ASP.NET Membership) Organizational Accounts (Single Sign-On support with Windows Azure Active Directory ) Windows Authentication (Active Directory in an intranet application) The Windows Azure Active Directory support is particularly cool.  Last month we updated Windows Azure Active Directory so that developers can now easily create any number of Directories using it (for free and deployed within seconds).  It now takes only a few moments to enable single-sign-on support within your ASP.NET applications against these Windows Azure Active Directories.  Simply choose the “Organizational Accounts” radio button within the Change Authentication dialog and enter the name of your Windows Azure Active Directory to do this: This will automatically configure your ASP.NET application to use Windows Azure Active Directory and register the application with it.  Now when you run the app your users can easily and securely sign-in using their Active Directory credentials within it – regardless of where the application is hosted on the Internet. For more information about the new process for creating web projects, see Creating ASP.NET Web Projects in Visual Studio 2013. Responsive Project Templates with Bootstrap The new default project templates for ASP.NET Web Forms, MVC, Web API and SPA are built using Bootstrap. Bootstrap is an open source CSS framework that helps you build responsive websites which look great on different form factors such as mobile phones, tables and desktops. For example in a browser window the home page created by the MVC template looks like the following: When you resize the browser to a narrow window to see how it would like on a phone, you can notice how the contents gracefully wrap around and the horizontal top menu turns into an icon: When you click the menu-icon above it expands into a vertical menu – which enables a good navigation experience for small screen real-estate devices: We think Bootstrap will enable developers to build web applications that work even better on phones, tablets and other mobile devices – and enable you to easily build applications that can leverage the rich ecosystem of Bootstrap CSS templates already out there.  You can learn more about Bootstrap here. Visual Studio Web Tooling Improvements Visual Studio 2013 includes a new, much richer, HTML editor for Razor files and HTML files in web applications. The new HTML editor provides a single unified schema based on HTML5. It has automatic brace completion, jQuery UI and AngularJS attribute IntelliSense, attribute IntelliSense Grouping, and other great improvements. For example, typing “ng-“ on an HTML element will show the intellisense for AngularJS: This support for AngularJS, Knockout.js, Handlebars and other SPA technologies in this release of ASP.NET and VS 2013 makes it even easier to build rich client web applications: The screen shot below demonstrates how the HTML editor can also now inspect your page at design-time to determine all of the CSS classes that are available. In this case, the auto-completion list contains classes from Bootstrap’s CSS file. No more guessing at which Bootstrap element names you need to use: Visual Studio 2013 also comes with built-in support for both CoffeeScript and LESS editing support. The LESS editor comes with all the cool features from the CSS editor and has specific Intellisense for variables and mixins across all the LESS documents in the @import chain. Browser Link – SignalR channel between browser and Visual Studio The new Browser Link feature in VS 2013 lets you run your app within multiple browsers on your dev machine, connect them to Visual Studio, and simultaneously refresh all of them just by clicking a button in the toolbar. You can connect multiple browsers (including IE, FireFox, Chrome) to your development site, including mobile emulators, and click refresh to refresh all the browsers all at the same time.  This makes it much easier to easily develop/test against multiple browsers in parallel. Browser Link also exposes an API to enable developers to write Browser Link extensions.  By enabling developers to take advantage of the Browser Link API, it becomes possible to create very advanced scenarios that crosses boundaries between Visual Studio and any browser that’s connected to it. Web Essentials takes advantage of the API to create an integrated experience between Visual Studio and the browser’s developer tools, remote controlling mobile emulators and a lot more. You will see us take advantage of this support even more to enable really cool scenarios going forward. ASP.NET Scaffolding ASP.NET Scaffolding is a new code generation framework for ASP.NET Web applications. It makes it easy to add boilerplate code to your project that interacts with a data model. In previous versions of Visual Studio, scaffolding was limited to ASP.NET MVC projects. With Visual Studio 2013, you can now use scaffolding for any ASP.NET project, including Web Forms. When using scaffolding, we ensure that all required dependencies are automatically installed for you in the project. For example, if you start with an ASP.NET Web Forms project and then use scaffolding to add a Web API Controller, the required NuGet packages and references to enable Web API are added to your project automatically.  To do this, just choose the Add->New Scaffold Item context menu: Support for scaffolding async controllers uses the new async features from Entity Framework 6. ASP.NET Identity ASP.NET Identity is a new membership system for ASP.NET applications that we are introducing with this release. ASP.NET Identity makes it easy to integrate user-specific profile data with application data. ASP.NET Identity also allows you to choose the persistence model for user profiles in your application. You can store the data in a SQL Server database or another data store, including NoSQL data stores such as Windows Azure Storage Tables. ASP.NET Identity also supports Claims-based authentication, where the user’s identity is represented as a set of claims from a trusted issuer. Users can login by creating an account on the website using username and password, or they can login using social identity providers (such as Microsoft Account, Twitter, Facebook, Google) or using organizational accounts through Windows Azure Active Directory or Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). To learn more about how to use ASP.NET Identity visit http://www.asp.net/identity.  ASP.NET Web API 2 ASP.NET Web API 2 has a bunch of great improvements including: Attribute routing ASP.NET Web API now supports attribute routing, thanks to a contribution by Tim McCall, the author of http://attributerouting.net. With attribute routing you can specify your Web API routes by annotating your actions and controllers like this: OAuth 2.0 support The Web API and Single Page Application project templates now support authorization using OAuth 2.0. OAuth 2.0 is a framework for authorizing client access to protected resources. It works for a variety of clients including browsers and mobile devices. OData Improvements ASP.NET Web API also now provides support for OData endpoints and enables support for both ATOM and JSON-light formats. With OData you get support for rich query semantics, paging, $metadata, CRUD operations, and custom actions over any data source. Below are some of the specific enhancements in ASP.NET Web API 2 OData. Support for $select, $expand, $batch, and $value Improved extensibility Type-less support Reuse an existing model OWIN Integration ASP.NET Web API now fully supports OWIN and can be run on any OWIN capable host. With OWIN integration, you can self-host Web API in your own process alongside other OWIN middleware, such as SignalR. For more information, see Use OWIN to Self-Host ASP.NET Web API. More Web API Improvements In addition to the features above there have been a host of other features in ASP.NET Web API, including CORS support Authentication Filters Filter Overrides Improved Unit Testability Portable ASP.NET Web API Client To learn more go to http://www.asp.net/web-api/ ASP.NET SignalR 2 ASP.NET SignalR is library for ASP.NET developers that dramatically simplifies the process of adding real-time web functionality to your applications. Real-time web functionality is the ability to have server-side code push content to connected clients instantly as it becomes available. SignalR 2.0 introduces a ton of great improvements. We’ve added support for Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) to SignalR 2.0. iOS and Android support for SignalR have also been added using the MonoTouch and MonoDroid components from the Xamarin library (for more information on how to use these additions, see the article Using Xamarin Components from the SignalR wiki). We’ve also added support for the Portable .NET Client in SignalR 2.0 and created a new self-hosting package. This change makes the setup process for SignalR much more consistent between web-hosted and self-hosted SignalR applications. To learn more go to http://www.asp.net/signalr. ASP.NET MVC 5 The ASP.NET MVC project templates integrate seamlessly with the new One ASP.NET experience and enable you to integrate all of the above ASP.NET Web API, SignalR and Identity improvements. You can also customize your MVC project and configure authentication using the One ASP.NET project creation wizard. The MVC templates have also been updated to use ASP.NET Identity and Bootstrap as well. An introductory tutorial to ASP.NET MVC 5 can be found at Getting Started with ASP.NET MVC 5. This release of ASP.NET MVC also supports several nice new MVC-specific features including: Authentication filters: These filters allow you to specify authentication logic per-action, per-controller or globally for all controllers. Attribute Routing: Attribute Routing allows you to define your routes on actions or controllers. To learn more go to http://www.asp.net/mvc Entity Framework 6 Improvements Visual Studio 2013 ships with Entity Framework 6, which bring a lot of great new features to the data access space: Async and Task<T> Support EF6’s new Async Query and Save support enables you to perform asynchronous data access and take advantage of the Task<T> support introduced in .NET 4.5 within data access scenarios.  This allows you to free up threads that might otherwise by blocked on data access requests, and enable them to be used to process other requests whilst you wait for the database engine to process operations. When the database server responds the thread will be re-queued within your ASP.NET application and execution will continue.  This enables you to easily write significantly more scalable server code. Here is an example ASP.NET WebAPI action that makes use of the new EF6 async query methods: Interception and Logging Interception and SQL logging allows you to view – or even change – every command that is sent to the database by Entity Framework. This includes a simple, human readable log – which is great for debugging – as well as some lower level building blocks that give you access to the command and results. Here is an example of wiring up the simple log to Debug in the constructor of an MVC controller: Custom Code-First Conventions The new Custom Code-First Conventions enable bulk configuration of a Code First model – reducing the amount of code you need to write and maintain. Conventions are great when your domain classes don’t match the Code First conventions. For example, the following convention configures all properties that are called ‘Key’ to be the primary key of the entity they belong to. This is different than the default Code First convention that expects Id or <type name>Id. Connection Resiliency The new Connection Resiliency feature in EF6 enables you to register an execution strategy to handle – and potentially retry – failed database operations. This is especially useful when deploying to cloud environments where dropped connections become more common as you traverse load balancers and distributed networks. EF6 includes a built-in execution strategy for SQL Azure that knows about retryable exception types and has some sensible – but overridable – defaults for the number of retries and time between retries when errors occur. Registering it is simple using the new Code-Based Configuration support: These are just some of the new features in EF6. You can visit the release notes section of the Entity Framework site for a complete list of new features. Microsoft OWIN Components Open Web Interface for .NET (OWIN) defines an open abstraction between .NET web servers and web applications, and the ASP.NET “Katana” project brings this abstraction to ASP.NET. OWIN decouples the web application from the server, making web applications host-agnostic. For example, you can host an OWIN-based web application in IIS or self-host it in a custom process. For more information about OWIN and Katana, see What's new in OWIN and Katana. Summary Today’s Visual Studio 2013, ASP.NET and Entity Framework release delivers some fantastic new features that streamline your web development lifecycle. These feature span from server framework to data access to tooling to client-side HTML development.  They also integrate some great open-source technology and contributions from our developer community. Download and start using them today! Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 Released

    - by ScottGu
    The final release of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 is now available. Download and Install Today MSDN subscribers, as well as WebsiteSpark/BizSpark/DreamSpark members, can now download the final releases of Visual Studio 2010 and TFS 2010 through the MSDN subscribers download center.  If you are not an MSDN Subscriber, you can download free 90-day trial editions of Visual Studio 2010.  Or you can can download the free Visual Studio express editions of Visual Web Developer 2010, Visual Basic 2010, Visual C# 2010 and Visual C++.  These express editions are available completely for free (and never time out).  If you are looking for an easy way to setup a new machine for web-development you can automate installing ASP.NET 4, ASP.NET MVC 2, IIS, SQL Server Express and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express really quickly with the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (just click the install button on the page). What is new with VS 2010 and .NET 4 Today’s release is a big one – and brings with it a ton of new feature and capabilities. One of the things we tried hard to focus on with this release was to invest heavily in making existing applications, projects and developer experiences better.  What this means is that you don’t need to read 1000+ page books or spend time learning major new concepts in order to take advantage of the release.  There are literally thousands of improvements (both big and small) that make you more productive and successful without having to learn big new concepts in order to start using them.  Below is just a small sampling of some of the improvements with this release: Visual Studio 2010 IDE  Visual Studio 2010 now supports multiple-monitors (enabling much better use of screen real-estate).  It has new code Intellisense support that makes it easier to find and use classes and methods. It has improved code navigation support for searching code-bases and seeing how code is called and used.  It has new code visualization support that allows you to see the relationships across projects and classes within projects, as well as to automatically generate sequence diagrams to chart execution flow.  The editor now supports HTML and JavaScript snippet support as well as improved JavaScript intellisense. The VS 2010 Debugger and Profiling support is now much, much richer and enables new features like Intellitrace (aka Historical Debugging), debugging of Crash/Dump files, and better parallel debugging.  VS 2010’s multi-targeting support is now much richer, and enables you to use VS 2010 to target .NET 2, .NET 3, .NET 3.5 and .NET 4 applications.  And the infamous Add Reference dialog now loads much faster. TFS 2010 is now easy to setup (you can now install the server in under 10 minutes) and enables great source-control, bug/work-item tracking, and continuous integration support.  Testing (both automated and manual) is now much, much richer.  And VS 2010 Premium and Ultimate provide much richer architecture and design tooling support. VB and C# Language Features VB and C# in VS 2010 both contain a bunch of new features and capabilities.  VB adds new support for automatic properties, collection initializers, and implicit line continuation support among many other features.  C# adds support for optional parameters and named arguments, a new dynamic keyword, co-variance and contra-variance, and among many other features. ASP.NET 4 and ASP.NET MVC 2 With ASP.NET 4, Web Forms controls now render clean, semantically correct, and CSS friendly HTML markup. Built-in URL routing functionality allows you to expose clean, search engine friendly, URLs and increase the traffic to your Website.  ViewState within applications can now be more easily controlled and made smaller.  ASP.NET Dynamic Data support has been expanded.  More controls, including rich charting and data controls, are now built-into ASP.NET 4 and enable you to build applications even faster.  New starter project templates now make it easier to get going with new projects.  SEO enhancements make it easier to drive traffic to your public facing sites.  And web.config files are now clean and simple. ASP.NET MVC 2 is now built-into VS 2010 and ASP.NET 4, and provides a great way to build web sites and applications using a model-view-controller based pattern. ASP.NET MVC 2 adds features to easily enable client and server validation logic, provides new strongly-typed HTML and UI-scaffolding helper methods.  It also enables more modular/reusable applications.  The new <%: %> syntax in ASP.NET makes it easier to HTML encode output.  Visual Studio 2010 also now includes better tooling support for unit testing and TDD.  In particular, “Consume first intellisense” and “generate from usage" support within VS 2010 make it easier to write your unit tests first, and then drive your implementation from them. Deploying ASP.NET applications gets a lot easier with this release. You can now publish your Websites and applications to a staging or production server from within Visual Studio itself. Visual Studio 2010 makes it easy to transfer all your files, code, configuration, database schema and data in one complete package. VS 2010 also makes it easy to manage separate web.config configuration files settings depending upon whether you are in debug, release, staging or production modes. WPF 4 and Silverlight 4 WPF 4 includes a ton of new improvements and capabilities including more built-in controls, richer graphics features (cached composition, pixel shader 3 support, layoutrounding, and animation easing functions), a much improved text stack (with crisper text rendering, custom dictionary support, and selection and caret brush options).  WPF 4 also includes a bunch of support to enable you to take advantage of new Windows 7 features – including multi-touch and Windows 7 shell integration. Silverlight 4 will launch this week as well.  You can watch my Silverlight 4 launch keynote streamed live Tuesday (April 13th) at 8am Pacific Time.  Silverlight 4 includes a ton of new capabilities – including a bunch for making it possible to build great business applications and out of the browser applications.  I’ll be doing a separate blog post later this week (once it is live on the web) that talks more about its capabilities. Visual Studio 2010 now includes great tooling support for both WPF and Silverlight.  The new VS 2010 WPF and Silverlight designer makes it much easier to build client applications as well as build great line of business solutions, as well as integrate and bind with data.  Tooling support for Silverlight 4 with the final release of Visual Studio 2010 will be available when Silverlight 4 releases to the web this week. SharePoint and Azure Visual Studio 2010 now includes built-in support for building SharePoint applications.  You can now create, edit, build, and debug SharePoint applications directly within Visual Studio 2010.  You can also now use SharePoint with TFS 2010. Support for creating Azure-hosted applications is also now included with VS 2010 – allowing you to build ASP.NET and WCF based applications and host them within the cloud. Data Access Data access has a lot of improvements coming to it with .NET 4.  Entity Framework 4 includes a ton of new features and capabilities – including support for model first and POCO development, default support for lazy loading, built-in support for pluralization/singularization of table/property names within the VS 2010 designer, full support for all the LINQ operators, the ability to optionally expose foreign keys on model objects (useful for some stateless web scenarios), disconnected API support to better handle N-Tier and stateless web scenarios, and T4 template customization support within VS 2010 to allow you to customize and automate how code is generated for you by the data designer.  In addition to improvements with the Entity Framework, LINQ to SQL with .NET 4 also includes a bunch of nice improvements.  WCF and Workflow WCF includes a bunch of great new capabilities – including better REST, activation and configuration support.  WCF Data Services (formerly known as Astoria) and WCF RIA Services also now enable you to easily expose and work with data from remote clients. Windows Workflow is now much faster, includes flowchart services, and now makes it easier to make custom services than before.  More details can be found here. CLR and Core .NET Library Improvements .NET 4 includes the new CLR 4 engine – which includes a lot of nice performance and feature improvements.  CLR 4 engine now runs side-by-side in-process with older versions of the CLR – allowing you to use two different versions of .NET within the same process.  It also includes improved COM interop support.  The .NET 4 base class libraries (BCL) include a bunch of nice additions and refinements.  In particular, the .NET 4 BCL now includes new parallel programming support that makes it much easier to build applications that take advantage of multiple CPUs and cores on a computer.  This work dove-tails nicely with the new VS 2010 parallel debugger (making it much easier to debug parallel applications), as well as the new F# functional language support now included in the VS 2010 IDE.  .NET 4 also now also has the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) library built-in – which makes it easier to use dynamic language functionality with .NET.  MEF – a really cool library that enables rich extensibility – is also now built-into .NET 4 and included as part of the base class libraries.  .NET 4 Client Profile The download size of the .NET 4 redist is now much smaller than it was before (the x86 full .NET 4 package is about 36MB).  We also now have a .NET 4 Client Profile package which is a pure sub-set of the full .NET that can be used to streamline client application installs. C++ VS 2010 includes a bunch of great improvements for C++ development.  This includes better C++ Intellisense support, MSBuild support for projects, improved parallel debugging and profiler support, MFC improvements, and a number of language features and compiler optimizations. My VS 2010 and .NET 4 Blog Series I’ve been cranking away on a blog series the last few months that highlights many of the new VS 2010 and .NET 4 improvements.  The good news is that I have about 20 in-depth posts already written.  The bad news (for me) is that I have about 200 more to go until I’m done!  I’m going to try and keep adding a few more each week over the next few months to discuss the new improvements and how best to take advantage of them. Below is a list of the already written ones that you can check out today: Clean Web.Config Files Starter Project Templates Multi-targeting Multiple Monitor Support New Code Focused Web Profile Option HTML / ASP.NET / JavaScript Code Snippets Auto-Start ASP.NET Applications URL Routing with ASP.NET 4 Web Forms Searching and Navigating Code in VS 2010 VS 2010 Code Intellisense Improvements WPF 4 Add Reference Dialog Improvements SEO Improvements with ASP.NET 4 Output Cache Extensibility with ASP.NET 4 Built-in Charting Controls for ASP.NET and Windows Forms Cleaner HTML Markup with ASP.NET 4 - Client IDs Optional Parameters and Named Arguments in C# 4 - and a cool scenarios with ASP.NET MVC 2 Automatic Properties, Collection Initializers and Implicit Line Continuation Support with VB 2010 New <%: %> Syntax for HTML Encoding Output using ASP.NET 4 JavaScript Intellisense Improvements with VS 2010 Stay tuned to my blog as I post more.  Also check out this page which links to a bunch of great articles and videos done by others. VS 2010 Installation Notes If you have installed a previous version of VS 2010 on your machine (either the beta or the RC) you must first uninstall it before installing the final VS 2010 release.  I also recommend uninstalling .NET 4 betas (including both the client and full .NET 4 installs) as well as the other installs that come with VS 2010 (e.g. ASP.NET MVC 2 preview builds, etc).  The uninstalls of the betas/RCs will clean up all the old state on your machine – after which you can install the final VS 2010 version and should have everything just work (this is what I’ve done on all of my machines and I haven’t had any problems). The VS 2010 and .NET 4 installs add a bunch of new managed assemblies to your machine.  Some of these will be “NGEN’d” to native code during the actual install process (making them run fast).  To avoid adding too much time to VS setup, though, we don’t NGEN all assemblies immediately – and instead will NGEN the rest in the background when your machine is idle.  Until it finishes NGENing the assemblies they will be JIT’d to native code the first time they are used in a process – which for large assemblies can sometimes cause a slight performance hit. If you run into this you can manually force all assemblies to be NGEN’d to native code immediately (and not just wait till the machine is idle) by launching the Visual Studio command line prompt from the Windows Start Menu (Microsoft Visual Studio 2010->Visual Studio Tools->Visual Studio Command Prompt).  Within the command prompt type “Ngen executequeueditems” – this will cause everything to be NGEN’d immediately. How to Buy Visual Studio 2010 You can can download and use the free Visual Studio express editions of Visual Web Developer 2010, Visual Basic 2010, Visual C# 2010 and Visual C++.  These express editions are available completely for free (and never time out). You can buy a new copy of VS 2010 Professional that includes a 1 year subscription to MSDN Essentials for $799.  MSDN Essentials includes a developer license of Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, SQL Server 2008 DataCenter R2, and 20 hours of Azure hosting time.  Subscribers also have access to MSDN’s Online Concierge, and Priority Support in MSDN Forums. Upgrade prices from previous releases of Visual Studio are also available.  Existing Visual Studio 2005/2008 Standard customers can upgrade to Visual Studio 2010 Professional for a special $299 retail price until October.  You can take advantage of this VS Standard->Professional upgrade promotion here. Web developers who build applications for others, and who are either independent developers or who work for companies with less than 10 employees, can also optionally take advantage of the Microsoft WebSiteSpark program.  This program gives you three copies of Visual Studio 2010 Professional, 1 copy of Expression Studio, and 4 CPU licenses of both Windows 2008 R2 Web Server and SQL 2008 Web Edition that you can use to both develop and deploy applications with at no cost for 3 years.  At the end of the 3 years there is no obligation to buy anything.  You can sign-up for WebSiteSpark today in under 5 minutes – and immediately have access to the products to download. Summary Today’s release is a big one – and has a bunch of improvements for pretty much every developer.  Thank you everyone who provided feedback, suggestions and reported bugs throughout the development process – we couldn’t have delivered it without you.  Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Windows Azure: General Availability of Web Sites + Mobile Services, New AutoScale + Alerts Support, No Credit Card Needed for MSDN

    - by ScottGu
    This morning we released a major set of updates to Windows Azure.  These updates included: Web Sites: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Web Sites with SLA Mobile Services: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Mobile Services with SLA Auto-Scale: New automatic scaling support for Web Sites, Cloud Services and Virtual Machines Alerts/Notifications: New email alerting support for all Compute Services (Web Sites, Mobile Services, Cloud Services, and Virtual Machines) MSDN: No more credit card requirement for sign-up All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note: some are still in preview).  Below are more details about them. Web Sites: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Web Sites I’m incredibly excited to announce the General Availability release of Windows Azure Web Sites. The Windows Azure Web Sites service is perfect for hosting a web presence, building customer engagement solutions, and delivering business web apps.  Today’s General Availability release means we are taking off the “preview” tag from the Free and Standard (formerly called reserved) tiers of Windows Azure Web Sites.  This means we are providing: A 99.9% monthly SLA (Service Level Agreement) for the Standard tier Microsoft Support available on a 24x7 basis (with plans that range from developer plans to enterprise Premier support) The Free tier runs in a shared compute environment and supports up to 10 web sites. While the Free tier does not come with an SLA, it works great for rapid development and testing and enables you to quickly spike out ideas at no cost. The Standard tier, which was called “Reserved” during the preview, runs using dedicated per-customer VM instances for great performance, isolation and scalability, and enables you to host up to 500 different Web sites within them.  You can easily scale your Standard instances on-demand using the Windows Azure Management Portal.  You can adjust VM instance sizes from a Small instance size (1 core, 1.75GB of RAM), up to a Medium instance size (2 core, 3.5GB of RAM), or Large instance (4 cores and 7 GB RAM).  You can choose to run between 1 and 10 Standard instances, enabling you to easily scale up your web backend to 40 cores of CPU and 70GB of RAM: Today’s release also includes general availability support for custom domain SSL certificate bindings for web sites running using the Standard tier. Customers will be able to utilize certificates they purchase for their custom domains and use either SNI or IP based SSL encryption. SNI encryption is available for all modern browsers and does not require an IP address.  SSL certificates can be used for individual sites or wild-card mapped across multiple sites (we charge extra for the use of a SSL cert – but the fee is per-cert and not per site which means you pay once for it regardless of how many sites you use it with).  Today’s release also includes the following new features: Auto-Scale support Today’s Windows Azure release adds preview support for Auto-Scaling web sites.  This enables you to setup automatic scale rules based on the activity of your instances – allowing you to automatically scale down (and save money) when they are below a CPU threshold you define, and automatically scale up quickly when traffic increases.  See below for more details. 64-bit and 32-bit mode support You can now choose to run your standard tier instances in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode (previously they only ran in 32-bit mode).  This enables you to address even more memory within individual web applications. Memory dumps Memory dumps can be very useful for diagnosing issues and debugging apps. Using a REST API, you can now get a memory dump of your sites, which you can then use for investigating issues in Visual Studio Debugger, WinDbg, and other tools. Scaling Sites Independently Prior to today’s release, all sites scaled up/down together whenever you scaled any site in a sub-region. So you may have had to keep your proof-of-concept or testing sites in a separate sub-region if you wanted to keep them in the Free tier. This will no longer be necessary.  Windows Azure Web Sites can now mix different tier levels in the same geographic sub-region. This allows you, for example, to selectively move some of your sites in the West US sub-region up to Standard tier when they require the features, scalability, and SLA of the Standard tier. Full pricing details on Windows Azure Web Sites can be found here.  Note that the “Shared Tier” of Windows Azure Web Sites remains in preview mode (and continues to have discounted preview pricing).  Mobile Services: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Mobile Services I’m incredibly excited to announce the General Availability release of Windows Azure Mobile Services.  Mobile Services is perfect for building scalable cloud back-ends for Windows 8.x, Windows Phone, Apple iOS, Android, and HTML/JavaScript applications.  Customers We’ve seen tremendous adoption of Windows Azure Mobile Services since we first previewed it last September, and more than 20,000 customers are now running mobile back-ends in production using it.  These customers range from startups like Yatterbox, to university students using Mobile Services to complete apps like Sly Fox in their spare time, to media giants like Verdens Gang finding new ways to deliver content, and telcos like TalkTalk Business delivering the up-to-the-minute information their customers require.  In today’s Build keynote, we demonstrated how TalkTalk Business is using Windows Azure Mobile Services to deliver service, outage and billing information to its customers, wherever they might be. Partners When we unveiled the source control and Custom API features I blogged about two weeks ago, we enabled a range of new scenarios, one of which is a more flexible way to work with third party services.  The following blogs, samples and tutorials from our partners cover great ways you can extend Mobile Services to help you build rich modern apps: New Relic allows developers to monitor and manage the end-to-end performance of iOS and Android applications connected to Mobile Services. SendGrid eliminates the complexity of sending email from Mobile Services, saving time and money, while providing reliable delivery to the inbox. Twilio provides a telephony infrastructure web service in the cloud that you can use with Mobile Services to integrate phone calls, text messages and IP voice communications into your mobile apps. Xamarin provides a Mobile Services add on to make it easy building cross-platform connected mobile aps. Pusher allows quickly and securely add scalable real-time messaging functionality to Mobile Services-based web and mobile apps. Visual Studio 2013 and Windows 8.1 This week during //build/ keynote, we demonstrated how Visual Studio 2013, Mobile Services and Windows 8.1 make building connected apps easier than ever. Developers building Windows 8 applications in Visual Studio can now connect them to Windows Azure Mobile Services by simply right clicking then choosing Add Connected Service. You can either create a new Mobile Service or choose existing Mobile Service in the Add Connected Service dialog. Once completed, Visual Studio adds a reference to Mobile Services SDK to your project and generates a Mobile Services client initialization snippet automatically. Add Push Notifications Push Notifications and Live Tiles are a key to building engaging experiences. Visual Studio 2013 and Mobile Services make it super easy to add push notifications to your Windows 8.1 app, by clicking Add a Push Notification item: The Add Push Notification wizard will then guide you through the registration with the Windows Store as well as connecting your app to a new or existing mobile service. Upon completion of the wizard, Visual Studio will configure your mobile service with the WNS credentials, as well as add sample logic to your client project and your mobile service that demonstrates how to send push notifications to your app. Server Explorer Integration In Visual Studio 2013 you can also now view your Mobile Services in the the Server Explorer. You can add tables, edit, and save server side scripts without ever leaving Visual Studio, as shown on the image below: Pricing With today’s general availability release we are announcing that we will be offering Mobile Services in three tiers – Free, Standard, and Premium.  Each tier is metered using a simple pricing model based on the # of API calls (bandwidth is included at no extra charge), and the Standard and Premium tiers are backed by 99.9% monthly SLAs.  You can elastically scale up or down the number of instances you have of each tier to increase the # of API requests your service can support – allowing you to efficiently scale as your business grows. The following table summarizes the new pricing model (full pricing details here):   You can find the full details of the new pricing model here. Build Conference Talks The //BUILD/ conference will be packed with sessions covering every aspect of developing connected applications with Mobile Services. The best part is that, even if you can’t be with us in San Francisco, every session is being streamed live. Be sure not to miss these talks: Mobile Services – Soup to Nuts — Josh Twist Building Cross-Platform Apps with Windows Azure Mobile Services — Chris Risner Connected Windows Phone Apps made Easy with Mobile Services — Yavor Georgiev Build Connected Windows 8.1 Apps with Mobile Services — Nick Harris Who’s that user? Identity in Mobile Apps — Dinesh Kulkarni Building REST Services with JavaScript — Nathan Totten Going Live and Beyond with Windows Azure Mobile Services — Kirill Gavrylyuk , Paul Batum Protips for Windows Azure Mobile Services — Chris Risner AutoScale: Dynamically scale up/down your app based on real-world usage One of the key benefits of Windows Azure is that you can dynamically scale your application in response to changing demand. In the past, though, you have had to either manually change the scale of your application, or use additional tooling (such as WASABi or MetricsHub) to automatically scale your application. Today, we’re announcing that AutoScale will be built-into Windows Azure directly.  With today’s release it is now enabled for Cloud Services, Virtual Machines and Web Sites (Mobile Services support will come soon). Auto-scale enables you to configure Windows Azure to automatically scale your application dynamically on your behalf (without any manual intervention) so you can achieve the ideal performance and cost balance. Once configured it will regularly adjust the number of instances running in response to the load in your application. Currently, we support two different load metrics: CPU percentage Storage queue depth (Cloud Services and Virtual Machines only) We’ll enable automatic scaling on even more scale metrics in future updates. When to use Auto-Scale The following are good criteria for services/apps that will benefit from the use of auto-scale: The service/app can scale horizontally (e.g. it can be duplicated to multiple instances) The service/app load changes over time If your app meets these criteria, then you should look to leverage auto-scale. How to Enable Auto-Scale To enable auto-scale, simply navigate to the Scale tab in the Windows Azure Management Portal for the app/service you wish to enable.  Within the scale tab turn the Auto-Scale setting on to either CPU or Queue (for Cloud Services and VMs) to enable Auto-Scale.  Then change the instance count and target CPU settings to configure the Auto-Scale ranges you want to maintain. The image below demonstrates how to enable Auto-Scale on a Windows Azure Web-Site.  I’ve configured the web-site so that it will run using between 1 and 5 VM instances.  The exact # used will depend on the aggregate CPU of the VMs using the 40-70% range I’ve configured below.  If the aggregate CPU goes above 70%, then Windows Azure will automatically add new VMs to the pool (up to the maximum of 5 instances I’ve configured it to use).  If the aggregate CPU drops below 40% then Windows Azure will automatically start shutting down VMs to save me money: Once you’ve turned auto-scale on, you can return to the Scale tab at any point and select Off to manually set the number of instances. Using the Auto-Scale Preview With today’s update you can now, in just a few minutes, have Windows Azure automatically adjust the number of instances you have running  in your apps to keep your service performant at an even better cost. Auto-scale is being released today as a preview feature, and will be free until General Availability. During preview, each subscription is limited to 10 separate auto-scale rules across all of the resources they have (Web sites, Cloud services or Virtual Machines). If you hit the 10 limit, you can disable auto-scale for any resource to enable it for another. Alerts and Notifications Starting today we are now providing the ability to configure threshold based alerts on monitoring metrics. This feature is available for compute services (cloud services, VM, websites and mobiles services). Alerts provide you the ability to get proactively notified of active or impending issues within your application.  You can define alert rules for: Virtual machine monitoring metrics that are collected from the host operating system (CPU percentage, network in/out, disk read bytes/sec and disk write bytes/sec) and on monitoring metrics from monitoring web endpoint urls (response time and uptime) that you have configured. Cloud service monitoring metrics that are collected from the host operating system (same as VM), monitoring metrics from the guest VM (from performance counters within the VM) and on monitoring metrics from monitoring web endpoint urls (response time and uptime) that you have configured. For Web Sites and Mobile Services, alerting rules can be configured on monitoring metrics from monitoring endpoint urls (response time and uptime) that you have configured. Creating Alert Rules You can add an alert rule for a monitoring metric by navigating to the Setting -> Alerts tab in the Windows Azure Management Portal. Click on the Add Rule button to create an alert rule. Give the alert rule a name and optionally add a description. Then pick the service which you want to define the alert rule on: The next step in the alert creation wizard will then filter the monitoring metrics based on the service you selected:   Once created the rule will show up in your alerts list within the settings tab: The rule above is defined as “not activated” since it hasn’t tripped over the CPU threshold we set.  If the CPU on the above machine goes over the limit, though, I’ll get an email notifying me from an Windows Azure Alerts email address ([email protected]). And when I log into the portal and revisit the alerts tab I’ll see it highlighted in red.  Clicking it will then enable me to see what is causing it to fail, as well as view the history of when it has happened in the past. Alert Notifications With today’s initial preview you can now easily create alerting rules based on monitoring metrics and get notified on active or impending issues within your application that require attention. During preview, each subscription is limited to 10 alert rules across all of the services that support alert rules. No More Credit Card Requirement for MSDN Subscribers Earlier this month (during TechEd 2013), Windows Azure announced that MSDN users will get Windows Azure Credits every month that they can use for any Windows Azure services they want. You can read details about this in my previous Dev/Test blog post. Today we are making further updates to enable an easier Windows Azure signup for MSDN users. MSDN users will now not be required to provide payment information (e.g. no credit card) during sign-up, so long as they use the service within the included monetary credit for the billing period. For usage beyond the monetary credit, they can enable overages by providing the payment information and remove the spending limit. This enables a super easy, one page sign-up experience for MSDN users.  Simply sign-up for your Windows Azure trial using the same Microsoft ID that you use to manage your MSDN account, then complete the one page sign-up form below and you will be able to spend your free monthly MSDN credits (up to $150 each month) on any Windows Azure resource for dev/test:   This makes it trivially easy for every MDSN customer to start using Windows Azure today.  If you haven’t signed up yet, I definitely recommend checking it out. Summary Today’s release includes a ton of great features that enable you to build even better cloud solutions.  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today.  Then visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • ASP.NET MVC 3: Layouts and Sections with Razor

    - by ScottGu
    This is another in a series of posts I’m doing that cover some of the new ASP.NET MVC 3 features: Introducing Razor (July 2nd) New @model keyword in Razor (Oct 19th) Layouts with Razor (Oct 22nd) Server-Side Comments with Razor (Nov 12th) Razor’s @: and <text> syntax (Dec 15th) Implicit and Explicit code nuggets with Razor (Dec 16th) Layouts and Sections with Razor (Today) In today’s post I’m going to go into more details about how Layout pages work with Razor.  In particular, I’m going to cover how you can have multiple, non-contiguous, replaceable “sections” within a layout file – and enable views based on layouts to optionally “fill in” these different sections at runtime.  The Razor syntax for doing this is clean and concise. I’ll also show how you can dynamically check at runtime whether a particular layout section has been defined, and how you can provide alternate content (or even an alternate layout) in the event that a section isn’t specified within a view template.  This provides a powerful and easy way to customize the UI of your site and make it clean and DRY from an implementation perspective. What are Layouts? You typically want to maintain a consistent look and feel across all of the pages within your web-site/application.  ASP.NET 2.0 introduced the concept of “master pages” which helps enable this when using .aspx based pages or templates.  Razor also supports this concept with a feature called “layouts” – which allow you to define a common site template, and then inherit its look and feel across all the views/pages on your site. I previously discussed the basics of how layout files work with Razor in my ASP.NET MVC 3: Layouts with Razor blog post.  Today’s post will go deeper and discuss how you can define multiple, non-contiguous, replaceable regions within a layout file that you can then optionally “fill in” at runtime. Site Layout Scenario Let’s look at how we can implement a common site layout scenario with ASP.NET MVC 3 and Razor.  Specifically, we’ll implement some site UI where we have a common header and footer on all of our pages.  We’ll also add a “sidebar” section to the right of our common site layout.  On some pages we’ll customize the SideBar to contain content specific to the page it is included on: And on other pages (that do not have custom sidebar content) we will fall back and provide some “default content” to the sidebar: We’ll use ASP.NET MVC 3 and Razor to enable this customization in a nice, clean way.  Below are some step-by-step tutorial instructions on how to build the above site with ASP.NET MVC 3 and Razor. Part 1: Create a New Project with a Layout for the “Body” section We’ll begin by using the “File->New Project” menu command within Visual Studio to create a new ASP.NET MVC 3 Project.  We’ll create the new project using the “Empty” template option: This will create a new project that has no default controllers in it: Creating a HomeController We will then right-click on the “Controllers” folder of our newly created project and choose the “Add->Controller” context menu command.  This will bring up the “Add Controller” dialog: We’ll name the new controller we create “HomeController”.  When we click the “Add” button Visual Studio will add a HomeController class to our project with a default “Index” action method that returns a view: We won’t need to write any Controller logic to implement this sample – so we’ll leave the default code as-is.  Creating a View Template Our next step will be to implement the view template associated with the HomeController’s Index action method.  To implement the view template, we will right-click within the “HomeController.Index()” method and select the “Add View” command to create a view template for our home page: This will bring up the “Add View” dialog within Visual Studio.  We do not need to change any of the default settings within the above dialog (the name of the template was auto-populated to Index because we invoked the “Add View” context menu command within the Index method).  When we click the “Add” Button within the dialog, a Razor-based “Index.cshtml” view template will be added to the \Views\Home\ folder within our project.  Let’s add some simple default static content to it: Notice above how we don’t have an <html> or <body> section defined within our view template.  This is because we are going to rely on a layout template to supply these elements and use it to define the common site layout and structure for our site (ensuring that it is consistent across all pages and URLs within the site).  Customizing our Layout File Let’s open and customize the default “_Layout.cshtml” file that was automatically added to the \Views\Shared folder when we created our new project: The default layout file (shown above) is pretty basic and simply outputs a title (if specified in either the Controller or the View template) and adds links to a stylesheet and jQuery.  The call to “RenderBody()” indicates where the main body content of our Index.cshtml file will merged into the output sent back to the browser. Let’s modify the Layout template to add a common header, footer and sidebar to the site: We’ll then edit the “Site.css” file within the \Content folder of our project and add 4 CSS rules to it: And now when we run the project and browse to the home “/” URL of our project we’ll see a page like below: Notice how the content of the HomeController’s Index view template and the site’s Shared Layout template have been merged together into a single HTML response.  Below is what the HTML sent back from the server looks like: Part 2: Adding a “SideBar” Section Our site so far has a layout template that has only one “section” in it – what we call the main “body” section of the response.  Razor also supports the ability to add additional "named sections” to layout templates as well.  These sections can be defined anywhere in the layout file (including within the <head> section of the HTML), and allow you to output dynamic content to multiple, non-contiguous, regions of the final response. Defining the “SideBar” section in our Layout Let’s update our Layout template to define an additional “SideBar” section of content that will be rendered within the <div id=”sidebar”> region of our HTML.  We can do this by calling the RenderSection(string sectionName, bool required) helper method within our Layout.cshtml file like below:   The first parameter to the “RenderSection()” helper method specifies the name of the section we want to render at that location in the layout template.  The second parameter is optional, and allows us to define whether the section we are rendering is required or not.  If a section is “required”, then Razor will throw an error at runtime if that section is not implemented within a view template that is based on the layout file (which can make it easier to track down content errors).  If a section is not required, then its presence within a view template is optional, and the above RenderSection() code will render nothing at runtime if it isn’t defined. Now that we’ve made the above change to our layout file, let’s hit refresh in our browser and see what our Home page now looks like: Notice how we currently have no content within our SideBar <div> – that is because the Index.cshtml view template doesn’t implement our new “SideBar” section yet. Implementing the “SideBar” Section in our View Template Let’s change our home-page so that it has a SideBar section that outputs some custom content.  We can do that by opening up the Index.cshtml view template, and by adding a new “SiderBar” section to it.  We’ll do this using Razor’s @section SectionName { } syntax: We could have put our SideBar @section declaration anywhere within the view template.  I think it looks cleaner when defined at the top or bottom of the file – but that is simply personal preference.  You can include any content or code you want within @section declarations.  Notice above how I have a C# code nugget that outputs the current time at the bottom of the SideBar section.  I could have also written code that used ASP.NET MVC’s HTML/AJAX helper methods and/or accessed any strongly-typed model objects passed to the Index.cshtml view template. Now that we’ve made the above template changes, when we hit refresh in our browser again we’ll see that our SideBar content – that is specific to the Home Page of our site – is now included in the page response sent back from the server: The SideBar section content has been merged into the proper location of the HTML response : Part 3: Conditionally Detecting if a Layout Section Has Been Implemented Razor provides the ability for you to conditionally check (from within a layout file) whether a section has been defined within a view template, and enables you to output an alternative response in the event that the section has not been defined.  This provides a convenient way to specify default UI for optional layout sections.  Let’s modify our Layout file to take advantage of this capability.  Below we are conditionally checking whether the “SideBar” section has been defined without the view template being rendered (using the IsSectionDefined() method), and if so we render the section.  If the section has not been defined, then we now instead render some default content for the SideBar:  Note: You want to make sure you prefix calls to the RenderSection() helper method with a @ character – which will tell Razor to execute the HelperResult it returns and merge in the section content in the appropriate place of the output.  Notice how we wrote @RenderSection(“SideBar”) above instead of just RenderSection(“SideBar”).  Otherwise you’ll get an error. Above we are simply rendering an inline static string (<p>Default SideBar Content</p>) if the section is not defined.  A real-world site would more likely refactor this default content to be stored within a separate partial template (which we’d render using the Html.RenderPartial() helper method within the else block) or alternatively use the Html.Action() helper method within the else block to encapsulate both the logic and rendering of the default sidebar. When we hit refresh on our home-page, we will still see the same custom SideBar content we had before.  This is because we implemented the SideBar section within our Index.cshtml view template (and so our Layout rendered it): Let’s now implement a “/Home/About” URL for our site by adding a new “About” action method to our HomeController: The About() action method above simply renders a view back to the client when invoked.  We can implement the corresponding view template for this action by right-clicking within the “About()” method and using the “Add View” menu command (like before) to create a new About.cshtml view template.  We’ll implement the About.cshtml view template like below. Notice that we are not defining a “SideBar” section within it: When we browse the /Home/About URL we’ll see the content we supplied above in the main body section of our response, and the default SideBar content will rendered: The layout file determined at runtime that a custom SideBar section wasn’t present in the About.cshtml view template, and instead rendered the default sidebar content. One Last Tweak… Let’s suppose that at a later point we decide that instead of rendering default side-bar content, we just want to hide the side-bar entirely from pages that don’t have any custom sidebar content defined.  We could implement this change simply by making a small modification to our layout so that the sidebar content (and its surrounding HTML chrome) is only rendered if the SideBar section is defined.  The code to do this is below: Razor is flexible enough so that we can make changes like this and not have to modify any of our view templates (nor make change any Controller logic changes) to accommodate this.  We can instead make just this one modification to our Layout file and the rest happens cleanly.  This type of flexibility makes Razor incredibly powerful and productive. Summary Razor’s layout capability enables you to define a common site template, and then inherit its look and feel across all the views/pages on your site. Razor enables you to define multiple, non-contiguous, “sections” within layout templates that can be “filled-in” by view templates.  The @section {} syntax for doing this is clean and concise.  Razor also supports the ability to dynamically check at runtime whether a particular section has been defined, and to provide alternate content (or even an alternate layout) in the event that it isn’t specified.  This provides a powerful and easy way to customize the UI of your site - and make it clean and DRY from an implementation perspective. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Announcing the release of the Windows Azure SDK 2.1 for .NET

    - by ScottGu
    Today we released the v2.1 update of the Windows Azure SDK for .NET.  This is a major refresh of the Windows Azure SDK and it includes some great new features and enhancements. These new capabilities include: Visual Studio 2013 Preview Support: The Windows Azure SDK now supports using the new VS 2013 Preview Visual Studio 2013 VM Image: Windows Azure now has a built-in VM image that you can use to host and develop with VS 2013 in the cloud Visual Studio Server Explorer Enhancements: Redesigned with improved filtering and auto-loading of subscription resources Virtual Machines: Start and Stop VM’s w/suspend billing directly from within Visual Studio Cloud Services: New Emulator Express option with reduced footprint and Run as Normal User support Service Bus: New high availability options, Notification Hub support, Improved VS tooling PowerShell Automation: Lots of new PowerShell commands for automating Web Sites, Cloud Services, VMs and more All of these SDK enhancements are now available to start using immediately and you can download the SDK from the Windows Azure .NET Developer Center.  Visual Studio’s Team Foundation Service (http://tfs.visualstudio.com/) has also been updated to support today’s SDK 2.1 release, and the SDK 2.1 features can now be used with it (including with automated builds + tests). Below are more details on the new features and capabilities released today: Visual Studio 2013 Preview Support Today’s Window Azure SDK 2.1 release adds support for the recent Visual Studio 2013 Preview. The 2.1 SDK also works with Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012, and works side by side with the previous Windows Azure SDK 1.8 and 2.0 releases. To install the Windows Azure SDK 2.1 on your local computer, choose the “install the sdk” link from the Windows Azure .NET Developer Center. Then, chose which version of Visual Studio you want to use it with.  Clicking the third link will install the SDK with the latest VS 2013 Preview: If you don’t already have the Visual Studio 2013 Preview installed on your machine, this will also install Visual Studio Express 2013 Preview for Web. Visual Studio 2013 VM Image Hosted in the Cloud One of the requests we’ve heard from several customers has been to have the ability to host Visual Studio within the cloud (avoiding the need to install anything locally on your computer). With today’s SDK update we’ve added a new VM image to the Windows Azure VM Gallery that has Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 Preview, SharePoint 2013, SQL Server 2012 Express and the Windows Azure 2.1 SDK already installed on it.  This provides a really easy way to create a development environment in the cloud with the latest tools. With the recent shutdown and suspend billing feature we shipped on Windows Azure last month, you can spin up the image only when you want to do active development, and then shut down the virtual machine and not have to worry about usage charges while the virtual machine is not in use. You can create your own VS image in the cloud by using the New->Compute->Virtual Machine->From Gallery menu within the Windows Azure Management Portal, and then by selecting the “Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 Preview” template: Visual Studio Server Explorer: Improved Filtering/Management of Subscription Resources With the Windows Azure SDK 2.1 release you’ll notice significant improvements in the Visual Studio Server Explorer. The explorer has been redesigned so that all Windows Azure services are now contained under a single Windows Azure node.  From the top level node you can now manage your Windows Azure credentials, import a subscription file or filter Server Explorer to only show services from particular subscriptions or regions. Note: The Web Sites and Mobile Services nodes will appear outside the Windows Azure Node until the final release of VS 2013. If you have installed the ASP.NET and Web Tools Preview Refresh, though, the Web Sites node will appear inside the Windows Azure node even with the VS 2013 Preview. Once your subscription information is added, Windows Azure services from all your subscriptions are automatically enumerated in the Server Explorer. You no longer need to manually add services to Server Explorer individually. This provides a convenient way of viewing all of your cloud services, storage accounts, service bus namespaces, virtual machines, and web sites from one location: Subscription and Region Filtering Support Using the Windows Azure node in Server Explorer, you can also now filter your Windows Azure services in the Server Explorer by the subscription or region they are in.  If you have multiple subscriptions but need to focus your attention to just a few subscription for some period of time, this a handy way to hide the services from other subscriptions view until they become relevant. You can do the same sort of filtering by region. To enable this, just select “Filter Services” from the context menu on the Windows Azure node: Then choose the subscriptions and/or regions you want to filter by. In the below example, I’ve decided to show services from my pay-as-you-go subscription within the East US region: Visual Studio will then automatically filter the items that show up in the Server Explorer appropriately: With storage accounts and service bus namespaces, you sometimes need to work with services outside your subscription. To accommodate that scenario, those services allow you to attach an external account (from the context menu). You’ll notice that external accounts have a slightly different icon in server explorer to indicate they are from outside your subscription. Other Improvements We’ve also improved the Server Explorer by adding additional properties and actions to the service exposed. You now have access to most of the properties on a cloud service, deployment slot, role or role instance as well as the properties on storage accounts, virtual machines and web sites. Just select the object of interest in Server Explorer and view the properties in the property pane. We also now have full support for creating/deleting/update storage tables, blobs and queues from directly within Server Explorer.  Simply right-click on the appropriate storage account node and you can create them directly within Visual Studio: Virtual Machines: Start/Stop within Visual Studio Virtual Machines now have context menu actions that allow you start, shutdown, restart and delete a Virtual Machine directly within the Visual Studio Server Explorer. The shutdown action enables you to shut down the virtual machine and suspend billing when the VM is not is use, and easily restart it when you need it: This is especially useful in Dev/Test scenarios where you can start a VM – such as a SQL Server – during your development session and then shut it down / suspend billing when you are not developing (and no longer be billed for it). You can also now directly remote desktop into VMs using the “Connect using Remote Desktop” context menu command in VS Server Explorer.  Cloud Services: Emulator Express with Run as Normal User Support You can now launch Visual Studio and run your cloud services locally as a Normal User (without having to elevate to an administrator account) using a new Emulator Express option included as a preview feature with this SDK release.  Emulator Express is a version of the Windows Azure Compute Emulator that runs a restricted mode – one instance per role – and it doesn’t require administrative permissions and uses 40% less resources than the full Windows Azure Emulator. Emulator Express supports both web and worker roles. To run your application locally using the Emulator Express option, simply change the following settings in the Windows Azure project. On the shortcut menu for the Windows Azure project, choose Properties, and then choose the Web tab. Check the setting for IIS (Internet Information Services). Make sure that the option is set to IIS Express, not the full version of IIS. Emulator Express is not compatible with full IIS. On the Web tab, choose the option for Emulator Express. Service Bus: Notification Hubs With the Windows Azure SDK 2.1 release we are adding support for Windows Azure Notification Hubs as part of our official Windows Azure SDK, inside of Microsoft.ServiceBus.dll (previously the Notification Hub functionality was in a preview assembly). You are now able to create, update and delete Notification Hubs programmatically, manage your device registrations, and send push notifications to all your mobile clients across all platforms (Windows Store, Windows Phone 8, iOS, and Android). Learn more about Notification Hubs on MSDN here, or watch the Notification Hubs //BUILD/ presentation here. Service Bus: Paired Namespaces One of the new features included with today’s Windows Azure SDK 2.1 release is support for Service Bus “Paired Namespaces”.  Paired Namespaces enable you to better handle situations where a Service Bus service namespace becomes unavailable (for example: due to connectivity issues or an outage) and you are unable to send or receive messages to the namespace hosting the queue, topic, or subscription. Previously,to handle this scenario you had to manually setup separate namespaces that can act as a backup, then implement manual failover and retry logic which was sometimes tricky to get right. Service Bus now supports Paired Namespaces, which enables you to connect two namespaces together. When you activate the secondary namespace, messages are stored in the secondary queue for delivery to the primary queue at a later time. If the primary container (namespace) becomes unavailable for some reason, automatic failover enables the messages in the secondary queue. For detailed information about paired namespaces and high availability, see the new topic Asynchronous Messaging Patterns and High Availability. Service Bus: Tooling Improvements In this release, the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio contain several enhancements and changes to the management of Service Bus messaging entities using Visual Studio’s Server Explorer. The most noticeable change is that the Service Bus node is now integrated into the Windows Azure node, and supports integrated subscription management. Additionally, there has been a change to the code generated by the Windows Azure Worker Role with Service Bus Queue project template. This code now uses an event-driven “message pump” programming model using the QueueClient.OnMessage method. PowerShell: Tons of New Automation Commands Since my last blog post on the previous Windows Azure SDK 2.0 release, we’ve updated Windows Azure PowerShell (which is a separate download) five times. You can find the full change log here. We’ve added new cmdlets in the following areas: China instance and Windows Azure Pack support Environment Configuration VMs Cloud Services Web Sites Storage SQL Azure Service Bus China Instance and Windows Azure Pack We now support the following cmdlets for the China instance and Windows Azure Pack, respectively: China Instance: Web Sites, Service Bus, Storage, Cloud Service, VMs, Network Windows Azure Pack: Web Sites, Service Bus We will have full cmdlet support for these two Windows Azure environments in PowerShell in the near future. Virtual Machines: Stop/Start Virtual Machines Similar to the Start/Stop VM capability in VS Server Explorer, you can now stop your VM and suspend billing: If you want to keep the original behavior of keeping your stopped VM provisioned, you can pass in the -StayProvisioned switch parameter. Virtual Machines: VM endpoint ACLs We’ve added and updated a bunch of cmdlets for you to configure fine-grained network ACL on your VM endpoints. You can use the following cmdlets to create ACL config and apply them to a VM endpoint: New-AzureAclConfig Get-AzureAclConfig Set-AzureAclConfig Remove-AzureAclConfig Add-AzureEndpoint -ACL Set-AzureEndpoint –ACL The following example shows how to add an ACL rule to an existing endpoint of a VM. Other improvements for Virtual Machine management includes Added -NoWinRMEndpoint parameter to New-AzureQuickVM and Add-AzureProvisioningConfig to disable Windows Remote Management Added -DirectServerReturn parameter to Add-AzureEndpoint and Set-AzureEndpoint to enable/disable direct server return Added Set-AzureLoadBalancedEndpoint cmdlet to modify load balanced endpoints Cloud Services: Remote Desktop and Diagnostics Remote Desktop and Diagnostics are popular debugging options for Cloud Services. We’ve introduced cmdlets to help you configure these two Cloud Service extensions from Windows Azure PowerShell. Windows Azure Cloud Services Remote Desktop extension: New-AzureServiceRemoteDesktopExtensionConfig Get-AzureServiceRemoteDesktopExtension Set-AzureServiceRemoteDesktopExtension Remove-AzureServiceRemoteDesktopExtension Windows Azure Cloud Services Diagnostics extension New-AzureServiceDiagnosticsExtensionConfig Get-AzureServiceDiagnosticsExtension Set-AzureServiceDiagnosticsExtension Remove-AzureServiceDiagnosticsExtension The following example shows how to enable Remote Desktop for a Cloud Service. Web Sites: Diagnostics With our last SDK update, we introduced the Get-AzureWebsiteLog –Tail cmdlet to get the log streaming of your Web Sites. Recently, we’ve also added cmdlets to configure Web Site application diagnostics: Enable-AzureWebsiteApplicationDiagnostic Disable-AzureWebsiteApplicationDiagnostic The following 2 examples show how to enable application diagnostics to the file system and a Windows Azure Storage Table: SQL Database Previously, you had to know the SQL Database server admin username and password if you want to manage the database in that SQL Database server. Recently, we’ve made the experience much easier by not requiring the admin credential if the database server is in your subscription. So you can simply specify the -ServerName parameter to tell Windows Azure PowerShell which server you want to use for the following cmdlets. Get-AzureSqlDatabase New-AzureSqlDatabase Remove-AzureSqlDatabase Set-AzureSqlDatabase We’ve also added a -AllowAllAzureServices parameter to New-AzureSqlDatabaseServerFirewallRule so that you can easily add a firewall rule to whitelist all Windows Azure IP addresses. Besides the above experience improvements, we’ve also added cmdlets get the database server quota and set the database service objective. Check out the following cmdlets for details. Get-AzureSqlDatabaseServerQuota Get-AzureSqlDatabaseServiceObjective Set-AzureSqlDatabase –ServiceObjective Storage and Service Bus Other new cmdlets include Storage: CRUD cmdlets for Azure Tables and Queues Service Bus: Cmdlets for managing authorization rules on your Service Bus Namespace, Queue, Topic, Relay and NotificationHub Summary Today’s release includes a bunch of great features that enable you to build even better cloud solutions.  All the above features/enhancements are shipped and available to use immediately as part of the 2.1 release of the Windows Azure SDK for .NET. If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today.  Then visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Windows Azure: Announcing release of Windows Azure SDK 2.2 (with lots of goodies)

    - by ScottGu
    Earlier today I blogged about a big update we made today to Windows Azure, and some of the great new features it provides. Today I’m also excited to also announce the release of the Windows Azure SDK 2.2. Today’s SDK release adds even more great features including: Visual Studio 2013 Support Integrated Windows Azure Sign-In support within Visual Studio Remote Debugging Cloud Services with Visual Studio Firewall Management support within Visual Studio for SQL Databases Visual Studio 2013 RTM VM Images for MSDN Subscribers Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET Updated Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlets and ScriptCenter The below post has more details on what’s available in today’s Windows Azure SDK 2.2 release.  Also head over to Channel 9 to see the new episode of the Visual Studio Toolbox show that will be available shortly, and which highlights these features in a video demonstration. Visual Studio 2013 Support Version 2.2 of the Window Azure SDK is the first official version of the SDK to support the final RTM release of Visual Studio 2013. If you installed the 2.1 SDK with the Preview of Visual Studio 2013 we recommend that you upgrade your projects to SDK 2.2.  SDK 2.2 also works side by side with the SDK 2.0 and SDK 2.1 releases on Visual Studio 2012: Integrated Windows Azure Sign In within Visual Studio Integrated Windows Azure Sign-In support within Visual Studio is one of the big improvements added with this Windows Azure SDK release.  Integrated sign-in support enables developers to develop/test/manage Windows Azure resources within Visual Studio without having to download or use management certificates.  You can now just right-click on the “Windows Azure” icon within the Server Explorer inside Visual Studio and choose the “Connect to Windows Azure” context menu option to connect to Windows Azure: Doing this will prompt you to enter the email address of the account you wish to sign-in with: You can use either a Microsoft Account (e.g. Windows Live ID) or an Organizational account (e.g. Active Directory) as the email.  The dialog will update with an appropriate login prompt depending on which type of email address you enter: Once you sign-in you’ll see the Windows Azure resources that you have permissions to manage show up automatically within the Visual Studio Server Explorer (and you can start using them): With this new integrated sign in experience you are now able to publish web apps, deploy VMs and cloud services, use Windows Azure diagnostics, and fully interact with your Windows Azure services within Visual Studio without the need for a management certificate.  All of the authentication is handled using the Windows Azure Active Directory associated with your Windows Azure account (details on this can be found in my earlier blog post). Integrating authentication this way end-to-end across the Service Management APIs + Dev Tools + Management Portal + PowerShell automation scripts enables a much more secure and flexible security model within Windows Azure, and makes it much more convenient to securely manage multiple developers + administrators working on a project.  It also allows organizations and enterprises to use the same authentication model that they use for their developers on-premises in the cloud.  It also ensures that employees who leave an organization immediately lose access to their company’s cloud based resources once their Active Directory account is suspended. Filtering/Subscription Management Once you login within Visual Studio, you can filter which Windows Azure subscriptions/regions are visible within the Server Explorer by right-clicking the “Filter Services” context menu within the Server Explorer.  You can also use the “Manage Subscriptions” context menu to mange your Windows Azure Subscriptions: Bringing up the “Manage Subscriptions” dialog allows you to see which accounts you are currently using, as well as which subscriptions are within them: The “Certificates” tab allows you to continue to import and use management certificates to manage Windows Azure resources as well.  We have not removed any functionality with today’s update – all of the existing scenarios that previously supported management certificates within Visual Studio continue to work just fine.  The new integrated sign-in support provided with today’s release is purely additive. Note: the SQL Database node and the Mobile Service node in Server Explorer do not support integrated sign-in at this time. Therefore, you will only see databases and mobile services under those nodes if you have a management certificate to authorize access to them.  We will enable them with integrated sign-in in a future update. Remote Debugging Cloud Resources within Visual Studio Today’s Windows Azure SDK 2.2 release adds support for remote debugging many types of Windows Azure resources. With live, remote debugging support from within Visual Studio, you are now able to have more visibility than ever before into how your code is operating live in Windows Azure.  Let’s walkthrough how to enable remote debugging for a Cloud Service: Remote Debugging of Cloud Services To enable remote debugging for your cloud service, select Debug as the Build Configuration on the Common Settings tab of your Cloud Service’s publish dialog wizard: Then click the Advanced Settings tab and check the Enable Remote Debugging for all roles checkbox: Once your cloud service is published and running live in the cloud, simply set a breakpoint in your local source code: Then use Visual Studio’s Server Explorer to select the Cloud Service instance deployed in the cloud, and then use the Attach Debugger context menu on the role or to a specific VM instance of it: Once the debugger attaches to the Cloud Service, and a breakpoint is hit, you’ll be able to use the rich debugging capabilities of Visual Studio to debug the cloud instance remotely, in real-time, and see exactly how your app is running in the cloud. Today’s remote debugging support is super powerful, and makes it much easier to develop and test applications for the cloud.  Support for remote debugging Cloud Services is available as of today, and we’ll also enable support for remote debugging Web Sites shortly. Firewall Management Support with SQL Databases By default we enable a security firewall around SQL Databases hosted within Windows Azure.  This ensures that only your application (or IP addresses you approve) can connect to them and helps make your infrastructure secure by default.  This is great for protection at runtime, but can sometimes be a pain at development time (since by default you can’t connect/manage the database remotely within Visual Studio if the security firewall blocks your instance of VS from connecting to it). One of the cool features we’ve added with today’s release is support that makes it easy to enable and configure the security firewall directly within Visual Studio.  Now with the SDK 2.2 release, when you try and connect to a SQL Database using the Visual Studio Server Explorer, and a firewall rule prevents access to the database from your machine, you will be prompted to add a firewall rule to enable access from your local IP address: You can simply click Add Firewall Rule and a new rule will be automatically added for you. In some cases, the logic to detect your local IP may not be sufficient (for example: you are behind a corporate firewall that uses a range of IP addresses) and you may need to set up a firewall rule for a range of IP addresses in order to gain access. The new Add Firewall Rule dialog also makes this easy to do.  Once connected you’ll be able to manage your SQL Database directly within the Visual Studio Server Explorer: This makes it much easier to work with databases in the cloud. Visual Studio 2013 RTM Virtual Machine Images Available for MSDN Subscribers Last week we released the General Availability Release of Visual Studio 2013 to the web.  This is an awesome release with a ton of new features. With today’s Windows Azure update we now have a set of pre-configured VM images of VS 2013 available within the Windows Azure Management Portal for use by MSDN customers.  This enables you to create a VM in the cloud with VS 2013 pre-installed on it in with only a few clicks: Windows Azure now provides the fastest and easiest way to get started doing development with Visual Studio 2013. Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET (Preview) Having the ability to automate the creation, deployment, and tear down of resources is a key requirement for applications running in the cloud.  It also helps immensely when running dev/test scenarios and coded UI tests against pre-production environments. Today we are releasing a preview of a new set of Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET.  These new libraries make it easy to automate tasks using any .NET language (e.g. C#, VB, F#, etc).  Previously this automation capability was only available through the Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlets or to developers who were willing to write their own wrappers for the Windows Azure Service Management REST API. Modern .NET Developer Experience We’ve worked to design easy-to-understand .NET APIs that still map well to the underlying REST endpoints, making sure to use and expose the modern .NET functionality that developers expect today: Portable Class Library (PCL) support targeting applications built for any .NET Platform (no platform restriction) Shipped as a set of focused NuGet packages with minimal dependencies to simplify versioning Support async/await task based asynchrony (with easy sync overloads) Shared infrastructure for common error handling, tracing, configuration, HTTP pipeline manipulation, etc. Factored for easy testability and mocking Built on top of popular libraries like HttpClient and Json.NET Below is a list of a few of the management client classes that are shipping with today’s initial preview release: .NET Class Name Supports Operations for these Assets (and potentially more) ManagementClient Locations Credentials Subscriptions Certificates ComputeManagementClient Hosted Services Deployments Virtual Machines Virtual Machine Images & Disks StorageManagementClient Storage Accounts WebSiteManagementClient Web Sites Web Site Publish Profiles Usage Metrics Repositories VirtualNetworkManagementClient Networks Gateways Automating Creating a Virtual Machine using .NET Let’s walkthrough an example of how we can use the new Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET to fully automate creating a Virtual Machine. I’m deliberately showing a scenario with a lot of custom options configured – including VHD image gallery enumeration, attaching data drives, network endpoints + firewall rules setup - to show off the full power and richness of what the new library provides. We’ll begin with some code that demonstrates how to enumerate through the built-in Windows images within the standard Windows Azure VM Gallery.  We’ll search for the first VM image that has the word “Windows” in it and use that as our base image to build the VM from.  We’ll then create a cloud service container in the West US region to host it within: We can then customize some options on it such as setting up a computer name, admin username/password, and hostname.  We’ll also open up a remote desktop (RDP) endpoint through its security firewall: We’ll then specify the VHD host and data drives that we want to mount on the Virtual Machine, and specify the size of the VM we want to run it in: Once everything has been set up the call to create the virtual machine is executed asynchronously In a few minutes we’ll then have a completely deployed VM running on Windows Azure with all of the settings (hard drives, VM size, machine name, username/password, network endpoints + firewall settings) fully configured and ready for us to use: Preview Availability via NuGet The Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET are now available via NuGet. Because they are still in preview form, you’ll need to add the –IncludePrerelease switch when you go to retrieve the packages. The Package Manager Console screen shot below demonstrates how to get the entire set of libraries to manage your Windows Azure assets: You can also install them within your .NET projects by right clicking on the VS Solution Explorer and using the Manage NuGet Packages context menu command.  Make sure to select the “Include Prerelease” drop-down for them to show up, and then you can install the specific management libraries you need for your particular scenarios: Open Source License The new Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET make it super easy to automate management operations within Windows Azure – whether they are for Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Storage Accounts, Web Sites, and more.  Like the rest of the Windows Azure SDK, we are releasing the source code under an open source (Apache 2) license and it is hosted at https://github.com/WindowsAzure/azure-sdk-for-net/tree/master/libraries if you wish to contribute. PowerShell Enhancements and our New Script Center Today, we are also shipping Windows Azure PowerShell 0.7.0 (which is a separate download). You can find the full change log here. Here are some of the improvements provided with it: Windows Azure Active Directory authentication support Script Center providing many sample scripts to automate common tasks on Windows Azure New cmdlets for Media Services and SQL Database Script Center Windows Azure enables you to script and automate a lot of tasks using PowerShell.  People often ask for more pre-built samples of common scenarios so that they can use them to learn and tweak/customize. With this in mind, we are excited to introduce a new Script Center that we are launching for Windows Azure. You can learn about how to scripting with Windows Azure with a get started article. You can then find many sample scripts across different solutions, including infrastructure, data management, web, and more: All of the sample scripts are hosted on TechNet with links from the Windows Azure Script Center. Each script is complete with good code comments, detailed descriptions, and examples of usage. Summary Visual Studio 2013 and the Windows Azure SDK 2.2 make it easier than ever to get started developing rich cloud applications. Along with the Windows Azure Developer Center’s growing set of .NET developer resources to guide your development efforts, today’s Windows Azure SDK 2.2 release should make your development experience more enjoyable and efficient. If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today.  Then visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Windows Azure: Major Updates for Mobile Backend Development

    - by ScottGu
    This week we released some great updates to Windows Azure that make it significantly easier to develop mobile applications that use the cloud. These new capabilities include: Mobile Services: Custom API support Mobile Services: Git Source Control support Mobile Services: Node.js NPM Module support Mobile Services: A .NET API via NuGet Mobile Services and Web Sites: Free 20MB SQL Database Option for Mobile Services and Web Sites Mobile Notification Hubs: Android Broadcast Push Notification Support All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note: some are still in preview).  Below are more details about them. Mobile Services: Custom APIs, Git Source Control, and NuGet Windows Azure Mobile Services provides the ability to easily stand up a mobile backend that can be used to support your Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android and HTML5 client applications.  Starting with the first preview we supported the ability to easily extend your data backend logic with server side scripting that executes as part of client-side CRUD operations against your cloud back data tables. With today’s update we are extending this support even further and introducing the ability for you to also create and expose Custom APIs from your Mobile Service backend, and easily publish them to your Mobile clients without having to associate them with a data table. This capability enables a whole set of new scenarios – including the ability to work with data sources other than SQL Databases (for example: Table Services or MongoDB), broker calls to 3rd party APIs, integrate with Windows Azure Queues or Service Bus, work with custom non-JSON payloads (e.g. Windows Periodic Notifications), route client requests to services back on-premises (e.g. with the new Windows Azure BizTalk Services), or simply implement functionality that doesn’t correspond to a database operation.  The custom APIs can be written in server-side JavaScript (using Node.js) and can use Node’s NPM packages.  We will also be adding support for custom APIs written using .NET in the future as well. Creating a Custom API Adding a custom API to an existing Mobile Service is super easy.  Using the Windows Azure Management Portal you can now simply click the new “API” tab with your Mobile Service, and then click the “Create a Custom API” button to create a new Custom API within it: Give the API whatever name you want to expose, and then choose the security permissions you’d like to apply to the HTTP methods you expose within it.  You can easily lock down the HTTP verbs to your Custom API to be available to anyone, only those who have a valid application key, only authenticated users, or administrators.  Mobile Services will then enforce these permissions without you having to write any code: When you click the ok button you’ll see the new API show up in the API list.  Selecting it will enable you to edit the default script that contains some placeholder functionality: Today’s release enables Custom APIs to be written using Node.js (we will support writing Custom APIs in .NET as well in a future release), and the Custom API programming model follows the Node.js convention for modules, which is to export functions to handle HTTP requests. The default script above exposes functionality for an HTTP POST request. To support a GET, simply change the export statement accordingly.  Below is an example of some code for reading and returning data from Windows Azure Table Storage using the Azure Node API: After saving the changes, you can now call this API from any Mobile Service client application (including Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android or HTML5 with CORS). Below is the code for how you could invoke the API asynchronously from a Windows Store application using .NET and the new InvokeApiAsync method, and data-bind the results to control within your XAML:     private async void RefreshTodoItems() {         var results = await App.MobileService.InvokeApiAsync<List<TodoItem>>("todos", HttpMethod.Get, parameters: null);         ListItems.ItemsSource = new ObservableCollection<TodoItem>(results);     }    Integrating authentication and authorization with Custom APIs is really easy with Mobile Services. Just like with data requests, custom API requests enjoy the same built-in authentication and authorization support of Mobile Services (including integration with Microsoft ID, Google, Facebook and Twitter authentication providers), and it also enables you to easily integrate your Custom API code with other Mobile Service capabilities like push notifications, logging, SQL, etc. Check out our new tutorials to learn more about to use new Custom API support, and starting adding them to your app today. Mobile Services: Git Source Control Support Today’s Mobile Services update also enables source control integration with Git.  The new source control support provides a Git repository as part your Mobile Service, and it includes all of your existing Mobile Service scripts and permissions. You can clone that git repository on your local machine, make changes to any of your scripts, and then easily deploy the mobile service to production using Git. This enables a really great developer workflow that works on any developer machine (Windows, Mac and Linux). To use the new support, navigate to the dashboard for your mobile service and select the Set up source control link: If this is your first time enabling Git within Windows Azure, you will be prompted to enter the credentials you want to use to access the repository: Once you configure this, you can switch to the configure tab of your Mobile Service and you will see a Git URL you can use to use your repository: You can use this URL to clone the repository locally from your favorite command line: > git clone https://scottgutodo.scm.azure-mobile.net/ScottGuToDo.git Below is the directory structure of the repository: As you can see, the repository contains a service folder with several subfolders. Custom API scripts and associated permissions appear under the api folder as .js and .json files respectively (the .json files persist a JSON representation of the security settings for your endpoints). Similarly, table scripts and table permissions appear as .js and .json files, but since table scripts are separate per CRUD operation, they follow the naming convention of <tablename>.<operationname>.js. Finally, scheduled job scripts appear in the scheduler folder, and the shared folder is provided as a convenient location for you to store code shared by multiple scripts and a few miscellaneous things such as the APNS feedback script. Lets modify the table script todos.js file so that we have slightly better error handling when an exception occurs when we query our Table service: todos.js tableService.queryEntities(query, function(error, todoItems){     if (error) {         console.error("Error querying table: " + error);         response.send(500);     } else {         response.send(200, todoItems);     }        }); Save these changes, and now back in the command line prompt commit the changes and push them to the Mobile Services: > git add . > git commit –m "better error handling in todos.js" > git push Once deployment of the changes is complete, they will take effect immediately, and you will also see the changes be reflected in the portal: With the new Source Control feature, we’re making it really easy for you to edit your mobile service locally and push changes in an atomic fashion without sacrificing ease of use in the Windows Azure Portal. Mobile Services: NPM Module Support The new Mobile Services source control support also allows you to add any Node.js module you need in the scripts beyond the fixed set provided by Mobile Services. For example, you can easily switch to use Mongo instead of Windows Azure table in our example above. Set up Mongo DB by either purchasing a MongoLab subscription (which provides MongoDB as a Service) via the Windows Azure Store or set it up yourself on a Virtual Machine (either Windows or Linux). Then go the service folder of your local git repository and run the following command: > npm install mongoose This will add the Mongoose module to your Mobile Service scripts.  After that you can use and reference the Mongoose module in your custom API scripts to access your Mongo database: var mongoose = require('mongoose'); var schema = mongoose.Schema({ text: String, completed: Boolean });   exports.get = function (request, response) {     mongoose.connect('<your Mongo connection string> ');     TodoItemModel = mongoose.model('todoitem', schema);     TodoItemModel.find(function (err, items) {         if (err) {             console.log('error:' + err);             return response.send(500);         }         response.send(200, items);     }); }; Don’t forget to push your changes to your mobile service once you are done > git add . > git commit –m "Switched to use Mongo Labs" > git push Now our Mobile Service app is using Mongo DB! Note, with today’s update usage of custom Node.js modules is limited to Custom API scripts only. We will enable it in all scripts (including data and custom CRON tasks) shortly. New Mobile Services NuGet package, including .NET 4.5 support A few months ago we announced a new pre-release version of the Mobile Services client SDK based on portable class libraries (PCL). Today, we are excited to announce that this new library is now a stable .NET client SDK for mobile services and is no longer a pre-release package. Today’s update includes full support for Windows Store, Windows Phone 7.x, and .NET 4.5, which allows developers to use Mobile Services from ASP.NET or WPF applications. You can install and use this package today via NuGet. Mobile Services and Web Sites: Free 20MB Database for Mobile Services and Web Sites Starting today, every customer of Windows Azure gets one Free 20MB database to use for 12 months free (for both dev/test and production) with Web Sites and Mobile Services. When creating a Mobile Service or a Web Site, simply chose the new “Create a new Free 20MB database” option to take advantage of it: You can use this free SQL Database together with the 10 free Web Sites and 10 free Mobile Services you get with your Windows Azure subscription, or from any other Windows Azure VM or Cloud Service. Notification Hubs: Android Broadcast Push Notification Support Earlier this year, we introduced a new capability in Windows Azure for sending broadcast push notifications at high scale: Notification Hubs. In the initial preview of Notification Hubs you could use this support with both iOS and Windows devices.  Today we’re excited to announce new Notification Hubs support for sending push notifications to Android devices as well. Push notifications are a vital component of mobile applications.  They are critical not only in consumer apps, where they are used to increase app engagement and usage, but also in enterprise apps where up-to-date information increases employee responsiveness to business events.  You can use Notification Hubs to send push notifications to devices from any type of app (a Mobile Service, Web Site, Cloud Service or Virtual Machine). Notification Hubs provide you with the following capabilities: Cross-platform Push Notifications Support. Notification Hubs provide a common API to send push notifications to iOS, Android, or Windows Store at once.  Your app can send notifications in platform specific formats or in a platform-independent way.  Efficient Multicast. Notification Hubs are optimized to enable push notification broadcast to thousands or millions of devices with low latency.  Your server back-end can fire one message into a Notification Hub, and millions of push notifications can automatically be delivered to your users.  Devices and apps can specify a number of per-user tags when registering with a Notification Hub. These tags do not need to be pre-provisioned or disposed, and provide a very easy way to send filtered notifications to an infinite number of users/devices with a single API call.   Extreme Scale. Notification Hubs enable you to reach millions of devices without you having to re-architect or shard your application.  The pub/sub routing mechanism allows you to broadcast notifications in a super-efficient way.  This makes it incredibly easy to route and deliver notification messages to millions of users without having to build your own routing infrastructure. Usable from any Backend App. Notification Hubs can be easily integrated into any back-end server app, whether it is a Mobile Service, a Web Site, a Cloud Service or an IAAS VM. It is easy to configure Notification Hubs to send push notifications to Android. Create a new Notification Hub within the Windows Azure Management Portal (New->App Services->Service Bus->Notification Hub): Then register for Google Cloud Messaging using https://code.google.com/apis/console and obtain your API key, then simply paste that key on the Configure tab of your Notification Hub management page under the Google Cloud Messaging Settings: Then just add code to the OnCreate method of your Android app’s MainActivity class to register the device with Notification Hubs: gcm = GoogleCloudMessaging.getInstance(this); String connectionString = "<your listen access connection string>"; hub = new NotificationHub("<your notification hub name>", connectionString, this); String regid = gcm.register(SENDER_ID); hub.register(regid, "myTag"); Now you can broadcast notification from your .NET backend (or Node, Java, or PHP) to any Windows Store, Android, or iOS device registered for “myTag” tag via a single API call (you can literally broadcast messages to millions of clients you have registered with just one API call): var hubClient = NotificationHubClient.CreateClientFromConnectionString(                   “<your connection string with full access>”,                   "<your notification hub name>"); hubClient.SendGcmNativeNotification("{ 'data' : {'msg' : 'Hello from Windows Azure!' } }", "myTag”); Notification Hubs provide an extremely scalable, cross-platform, push notification infrastructure that enables you to efficiently route push notification messages to millions of mobile users and devices.  It will make enabling your push notification logic significantly simpler and more scalable, and allow you to build even better apps with it. Learn more about Notification Hubs here on MSDN . Summary The above features are now live and available to start using immediately (note: some of the services are still in preview).  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using them today.  Visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Announcing release of ASP.NET MVC 3, IIS Express, SQL CE 4, Web Farm Framework, Orchard, WebMatrix

    - by ScottGu
    I’m excited to announce the release today of several products: ASP.NET MVC 3 NuGet IIS Express 7.5 SQL Server Compact Edition 4 Web Deploy and Web Farm Framework 2.0 Orchard 1.0 WebMatrix 1.0 The above products are all free. They build upon the .NET 4 and VS 2010 release, and add a ton of additional value to ASP.NET (both Web Forms and MVC) and the Microsoft Web Server stack. ASP.NET MVC 3 Today we are shipping the final release of ASP.NET MVC 3.  You can download and install ASP.NET MVC 3 here.  The ASP.NET MVC 3 source code (released under an OSI-compliant open source license) can also optionally be downloaded here. ASP.NET MVC 3 is a significant update that brings with it a bunch of great features.  Some of the improvements include: Razor ASP.NET MVC 3 ships with a new view-engine option called “Razor” (in addition to continuing to support/enhance the existing .aspx view engine).  Razor minimizes the number of characters and keystrokes required when writing a view template, and enables a fast, fluid coding workflow. Unlike most template syntaxes, with Razor you do not need to interrupt your coding to explicitly denote the start and end of server blocks within your HTML. The Razor parser is smart enough to infer this from your code. This enables a compact and expressive syntax which is clean, fast and fun to type.  You can learn more about Razor from some of the blog posts I’ve done about it over the last 6 months Introducing Razor New @model keyword in Razor Layouts with Razor Server-Side Comments with Razor Razor’s @: and <text> syntax Implicit and Explicit code nuggets with Razor Layouts and Sections with Razor Today’s release supports full code intellisense support for Razor (both VB and C#) with Visual Studio 2010 and the free Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. JavaScript Improvements ASP.NET MVC 3 enables richer JavaScript scenarios and takes advantage of emerging HTML5 capabilities. The AJAX and Validation helpers in ASP.NET MVC 3 now use an Unobtrusive JavaScript based approach.  Unobtrusive JavaScript avoids injecting inline JavaScript into HTML, and enables cleaner separation of behavior using the new HTML 5 “data-“ attribute convention (which conveniently works on older browsers as well – including IE6). This keeps your HTML tight and clean, and makes it easier to optionally swap out or customize JS libraries.  ASP.NET MVC 3 now includes built-in support for posting JSON-based parameters from client-side JavaScript to action methods on the server.  This makes it easier to exchange data across the client and server, and build rich JavaScript front-ends.  We think this capability will be particularly useful going forward with scenarios involving client templates and data binding (including the jQuery plugins the ASP.NET team recently contributed to the jQuery project).  Previous releases of ASP.NET MVC included the core jQuery library.  ASP.NET MVC 3 also now ships the jQuery Validate plugin (which our validation helpers use for client-side validation scenarios).  We are also now shipping and including jQuery UI by default as well (which provides a rich set of client-side JavaScript UI widgets for you to use within projects). Improved Validation ASP.NET MVC 3 includes a bunch of validation enhancements that make it even easier to work with data. Client-side validation is now enabled by default with ASP.NET MVC 3 (using an onbtrusive javascript implementation).  Today’s release also includes built-in support for Remote Validation - which enables you to annotate a model class with a validation attribute that causes ASP.NET MVC to perform a remote validation call to a server method when validating input on the client. The validation features introduced within .NET 4’s System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations namespace are now supported by ASP.NET MVC 3.  This includes support for the new IValidatableObject interface – which enables you to perform model-level validation, and allows you to provide validation error messages specific to the state of the overall model, or between two properties within the model.  ASP.NET MVC 3 also supports the improvements made to the ValidationAttribute class in .NET 4.  ValidationAttribute now supports a new IsValid overload that provides more information about the current validation context, such as what object is being validated.  This enables richer scenarios where you can validate the current value based on another property of the model.  We’ve shipped a built-in [Compare] validation attribute  with ASP.NET MVC 3 that uses this support and makes it easy out of the box to compare and validate two property values. You can use any data access API or technology with ASP.NET MVC.  This past year, though, we’ve worked closely with the .NET data team to ensure that the new EF Code First library works really well for ASP.NET MVC applications.  These two posts of mine cover the latest EF Code First preview and demonstrates how to use it with ASP.NET MVC 3 to enable easy editing of data (with end to end client+server validation support).  The final release of EF Code First will ship in the next few weeks. Today we are also publishing the first preview of a new MvcScaffolding project.  It enables you to easily scaffold ASP.NET MVC 3 Controllers and Views, and works great with EF Code-First (and is pluggable to support other data providers).  You can learn more about it – and install it via NuGet today - from Steve Sanderson’s MvcScaffolding blog post. Output Caching Previous releases of ASP.NET MVC supported output caching content at a URL or action-method level. With ASP.NET MVC V3 we are also enabling support for partial page output caching – which allows you to easily output cache regions or fragments of a response as opposed to the entire thing.  This ends up being super useful in a lot of scenarios, and enables you to dramatically reduce the work your application does on the server.  The new partial page output caching support in ASP.NET MVC 3 enables you to easily re-use cached sub-regions/fragments of a page across multiple URLs on a site.  It supports the ability to cache the content either on the web-server, or optionally cache it within a distributed cache server like Windows Server AppFabric or memcached. I’ll post some tutorials on my blog that show how to take advantage of ASP.NET MVC 3’s new output caching support for partial page scenarios in the future. Better Dependency Injection ASP.NET MVC 3 provides better support for applying Dependency Injection (DI) and integrating with Dependency Injection/IOC containers. With ASP.NET MVC 3 you no longer need to author custom ControllerFactory classes in order to enable DI with Controllers.  You can instead just register a Dependency Injection framework with ASP.NET MVC 3 and it will resolve dependencies not only for Controllers, but also for Views, Action Filters, Model Binders, Value Providers, Validation Providers, and Model Metadata Providers that you use within your application. This makes it much easier to cleanly integrate dependency injection within your projects. Other Goodies ASP.NET MVC 3 includes dozens of other nice improvements that help to both reduce the amount of code you write, and make the code you do write cleaner.  Here are just a few examples: Improved New Project dialog that makes it easy to start new ASP.NET MVC 3 projects from templates. Improved Add->View Scaffolding support that enables the generation of even cleaner view templates. New ViewBag property that uses .NET 4’s dynamic support to make it easy to pass late-bound data from Controllers to Views. Global Filters support that allows specifying cross-cutting filter attributes (like [HandleError]) across all Controllers within an app. New [AllowHtml] attribute that allows for more granular request validation when binding form posted data to models. Sessionless controller support that allows fine grained control over whether SessionState is enabled on a Controller. New ActionResult types like HttpNotFoundResult and RedirectPermanent for common HTTP scenarios. New Html.Raw() helper to indicate that output should not be HTML encoded. New Crypto helpers for salting and hashing passwords. And much, much more… Learn More about ASP.NET MVC 3 We will be posting lots of tutorials and samples on the http://asp.net/mvc site in the weeks ahead.  Below are two good ASP.NET MVC 3 tutorials available on the site today: Build your First ASP.NET MVC 3 Application: VB and C# Building the ASP.NET MVC 3 Music Store We’ll post additional ASP.NET MVC 3 tutorials and videos on the http://asp.net/mvc site in the future. Visit it regularly to find new tutorials as they are published. How to Upgrade Existing Projects ASP.NET MVC 3 is compatible with ASP.NET MVC 2 – which means it should be easy to update existing MVC projects to ASP.NET MVC 3.  The new features in ASP.NET MVC 3 build on top of the foundational work we’ve already done with the MVC 1 and MVC 2 releases – which means that the skills, knowledge, libraries, and books you’ve acquired are all directly applicable with the MVC 3 release.  MVC 3 adds new features and capabilities – it doesn’t obsolete existing ones. You can upgrade existing ASP.NET MVC 2 projects by following the manual upgrade steps in the release notes.  Alternatively, you can use this automated ASP.NET MVC 3 upgrade tool to easily update your  existing projects. Localized Builds Today’s ASP.NET MVC 3 release is available in English.  We will be releasing localized versions of ASP.NET MVC 3 (in 9 languages) in a few days.  I’ll blog pointers to the localized downloads once they are available. NuGet Today we are also shipping NuGet – a free, open source, package manager that makes it easy for you to find, install, and use open source libraries in your projects. It works with all .NET project types (including ASP.NET Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC, WPF, WinForms, Silverlight, and Class Libraries).  You can download and install it here. NuGet enables developers who maintain open source projects (for example, .NET projects like Moq, NHibernate, Ninject, StructureMap, NUnit, Windsor, Raven, Elmah, etc) to package up their libraries and register them with an online gallery/catalog that is searchable.  The client-side NuGet tools – which include full Visual Studio integration – make it trivial for any .NET developer who wants to use one of these libraries to easily find and install it within the project they are working on. NuGet handles dependency management between libraries (for example: library1 depends on library2). It also makes it easy to update (and optionally remove) libraries from your projects later. It supports updating web.config files (if a package needs configuration settings). It also allows packages to add PowerShell scripts to a project (for example: scaffold commands). Importantly, NuGet is transparent and clean – and does not install anything at the system level. Instead it is focused on making it easy to manage libraries you use with your projects. Our goal with NuGet is to make it as simple as possible to integrate open source libraries within .NET projects.  NuGet Gallery This week we also launched a beta version of the http://nuget.org web-site – which allows anyone to easily search and browse an online gallery of open source packages available via NuGet.  The site also now allows developers to optionally submit new packages that they wish to share with others.  You can learn more about how to create and share a package here. There are hundreds of open-source .NET projects already within the NuGet Gallery today.  We hope to have thousands there in the future. IIS Express 7.5 Today we are also shipping IIS Express 7.5.  IIS Express is a free version of IIS 7.5 that is optimized for developer scenarios.  It works for both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC project types. We think IIS Express combines the ease of use of the ASP.NET Web Server (aka Cassini) currently built-into Visual Studio today with the full power of IIS.  Specifically: It’s lightweight and easy to install (less than 5Mb download and a quick install) It does not require an administrator account to run/debug applications from Visual Studio It enables a full web-server feature set – including SSL, URL Rewrite, and other IIS 7.x modules It supports and enables the same extensibility model and web.config file settings that IIS 7.x support It can be installed side-by-side with the full IIS web server as well as the ASP.NET Development Server (they do not conflict at all) It works on Windows XP and higher operating systems – giving you a full IIS 7.x developer feature-set on all Windows OS platforms IIS Express (like the ASP.NET Development Server) can be quickly launched to run a site from a directory on disk.  It does not require any registration/configuration steps. This makes it really easy to launch and run for development scenarios.  You can also optionally redistribute IIS Express with your own applications if you want a lightweight web-server.  The standard IIS Express EULA now includes redistributable rights. Visual Studio 2010 SP1 adds support for IIS Express.  Read my VS 2010 SP1 and IIS Express blog post to learn more about what it enables.  SQL Server Compact Edition 4 Today we are also shipping SQL Server Compact Edition 4 (aka SQL CE 4).  SQL CE is a free, embedded, database engine that enables easy database storage. No Database Installation Required SQL CE does not require you to run a setup or install a database server in order to use it.  You can simply copy the SQL CE binaries into the \bin directory of your ASP.NET application, and then your web application can use it as a database engine.  No setup or extra security permissions are required for it to run. You do not need to have an administrator account on the machine. Just copy your web application onto any server and it will work. This is true even of medium-trust applications running in a web hosting environment. SQL CE runs in-memory within your ASP.NET application and will start-up when you first access a SQL CE database, and will automatically shutdown when your application is unloaded.  SQL CE databases are stored as files that live within the \App_Data folder of your ASP.NET Applications. Works with Existing Data APIs SQL CE 4 works with existing .NET-based data APIs, and supports a SQL Server compatible query syntax.  This means you can use existing data APIs like ADO.NET, as well as use higher-level ORMs like Entity Framework and NHibernate with SQL CE.  This enables you to use the same data programming skills and data APIs you know today. Supports Development, Testing and Production Scenarios SQL CE can be used for development scenarios, testing scenarios, and light production usage scenarios.  With the SQL CE 4 release we’ve done the engineering work to ensure that SQL CE won’t crash or deadlock when used in a multi-threaded server scenario (like ASP.NET).  This is a big change from previous releases of SQL CE – which were designed for client-only scenarios and which explicitly blocked running in web-server environments.  Starting with SQL CE 4 you can use it in a web-server as well. There are no license restrictions with SQL CE.  It is also totally free. Tooling Support with VS 2010 SP1 Visual Studio 2010 SP1 adds support for SQL CE 4 and ASP.NET Projects.  Read my VS 2010 SP1 and SQL CE 4 blog post to learn more about what it enables.  Web Deploy and Web Farm Framework 2.0 Today we are also releasing Microsoft Web Deploy V2 and Microsoft Web Farm Framework V2.  These services provide a flexible and powerful way to deploy ASP.NET applications onto either a single server, or across a web farm of machines. You can learn more about these capabilities from my previous blog posts on them: Introducing the Microsoft Web Farm Framework Automating Deployment with Microsoft Web Deploy Visit the http://iis.net website to learn more and install them. Both are free. Orchard 1.0 Today we are also releasing Orchard v1.0.  Orchard is a free, open source, community based project.  It provides Content Management System (CMS) and Blogging System support out of the box, and makes it possible to easily create and manage web-sites without having to write code (site owners can customize a site through the browser-based editing tools built-into Orchard).  Read these tutorials to learn more about how you can setup and manage your own Orchard site. Orchard itself is built as an ASP.NET MVC 3 application using Razor view templates (and by default uses SQL CE 4 for data storage).  Developers wishing to extend an Orchard site with custom functionality can open and edit it as a Visual Studio project – and add new ASP.NET MVC Controllers/Views to it.  WebMatrix 1.0 WebMatrix is a new, free, web development tool from Microsoft that provides a suite of technologies that make it easier to enable website development.  It enables a developer to start a new site by browsing and downloading an app template from an online gallery of web applications (which includes popular apps like Umbraco, DotNetNuke, Orchard, WordPress, Drupal and Joomla).  Alternatively it also enables developers to create and code web sites from scratch. WebMatrix is task focused and helps guide developers as they work on sites.  WebMatrix includes IIS Express, SQL CE 4, and ASP.NET - providing an integrated web-server, database and programming framework combination.  It also includes built-in web publishing support which makes it easy to find and deploy sites to web hosting providers. You can learn more about WebMatrix from my Introducing WebMatrix blog post this summer.  Visit http://microsoft.com/web to download and install it today. Summary I’m really excited about today’s releases – they provide a bunch of additional value that makes web development with ASP.NET, Visual Studio and the Microsoft Web Server a lot better.  A lot of folks worked hard to share this with you today. On behalf of my whole team – we hope you enjoy them! Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • VS 2010 SP1 and SQL CE

    - by ScottGu
    Last month we released the Beta of VS 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1).  You can learn more about the VS 2010 SP1 Beta from Jason Zander’s two blog posts about it, and from Scott Hanselman’s blog post that covers some of the new capabilities enabled with it.   You can download and install the VS 2010 SP1 Beta here. Last week I blogged about the new Visual Studio support for IIS Express that we are adding with VS 2010 SP1. In today’s post I’m going to talk about the new VS 2010 SP1 tooling support for SQL CE, and walkthrough some of the cool scenarios it enables.  SQL CE – What is it and why should you care? SQL CE is a free, embedded, database engine that enables easy database storage. No Database Installation Required SQL CE does not require you to run a setup or install a database server in order to use it.  You can simply copy the SQL CE binaries into the \bin directory of your ASP.NET application, and then your web application can use it as a database engine.  No setup or extra security permissions are required for it to run. You do not need to have an administrator account on the machine. Just copy your web application onto any server and it will work. This is true even of medium-trust applications running in a web hosting environment. SQL CE runs in-memory within your ASP.NET application and will start-up when you first access a SQL CE database, and will automatically shutdown when your application is unloaded.  SQL CE databases are stored as files that live within the \App_Data folder of your ASP.NET Applications. Works with Existing Data APIs SQL CE 4 works with existing .NET-based data APIs, and supports a SQL Server compatible query syntax.  This means you can use existing data APIs like ADO.NET, as well as use higher-level ORMs like Entity Framework and NHibernate with SQL CE.  This enables you to use the same data programming skills and data APIs you know today. Supports Development, Testing and Production Scenarios SQL CE can be used for development scenarios, testing scenarios, and light production usage scenarios.  With the SQL CE 4 release we’ve done the engineering work to ensure that SQL CE won’t crash or deadlock when used in a multi-threaded server scenario (like ASP.NET).  This is a big change from previous releases of SQL CE – which were designed for client-only scenarios and which explicitly blocked running in web-server environments.  Starting with SQL CE 4 you can use it in a web-server as well. There are no license restrictions with SQL CE.  It is also totally free. Easy Migration to SQL Server SQL CE is an embedded database – which makes it ideal for development, testing, and light-usage scenarios.  For high-volume sites and applications you’ll probably want to migrate your database to use SQL Server Express (which is free), SQL Server or SQL Azure.  These servers enable much better scalability, more development features (including features like Stored Procedures – which aren’t supported with SQL CE), as well as more advanced data management capabilities. We’ll ship migration tools that enable you to optionally take SQL CE databases and easily upgrade them to use SQL Server Express, SQL Server, or SQL Azure.  You will not need to change your code when upgrading a SQL CE database to SQL Server or SQL Azure.  Our goal is to enable you to be able to simply change the database connection string in your web.config file and have your application just work. New Tooling Support for SQL CE in VS 2010 SP1 VS 2010 SP1 includes much improved tooling support for SQL CE, and adds support for using SQL CE within ASP.NET projects for the first time.  With VS 2010 SP1 you can now: Create new SQL CE Databases Edit and Modify SQL CE Database Schema and Indexes Populate SQL CE Databases within Data Use the Entity Framework (EF) designer to create model layers against SQL CE databases Use EF Code First to define model layers in code, then create a SQL CE database from them, and optionally edit the DB with VS Deploy SQL CE databases to remote servers using Web Deploy and optionally convert them to full SQL Server databases You can take advantage of all of the above features from within both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC based projects. Download You can enable SQL CE tooling support within VS 2010 by first installing VS 2010 SP1 (beta). Once SP1 is installed, you’ll also then need to install the SQL CE Tools for Visual Studio download.  This is a separate download that enables the SQL CE tooling support for VS 2010 SP1. Walkthrough of Two Scenarios In this blog post I’m going to walkthrough how you can take advantage of SQL CE and VS 2010 SP1 using both an ASP.NET Web Forms and an ASP.NET MVC based application. Specifically, we’ll walkthrough: How to create a SQL CE database using VS 2010 SP1, then use the EF4 visual designers in Visual Studio to construct a model layer from it, and then display and edit the data using an ASP.NET GridView control. How to use an EF Code First approach to define a model layer using POCO classes and then have EF Code-First “auto-create” a SQL CE database for us based on our model classes.  We’ll then look at how we can use the new VS 2010 SP1 support for SQL CE to inspect the database that was created, populate it with data, and later make schema changes to it.  We’ll do all this within the context of an ASP.NET MVC based application. You can follow the two walkthroughs below on your own machine by installing VS 2010 SP1 (beta) and then installing the SQL CE Tools for Visual Studio download (which is a separate download that enables SQL CE tooling support for VS 2010 SP1). Walkthrough 1: Create a SQL CE Database, Create EF Model Classes, Edit the Data with a GridView This first walkthrough will demonstrate how to create and define a SQL CE database within an ASP.NET Web Form application.  We’ll then build an EF model layer for it and use that model layer to enable data editing scenarios with an <asp:GridView> control. Step 1: Create a new ASP.NET Web Forms Project We’ll begin by using the File->New Project menu command within Visual Studio to create a new ASP.NET Web Forms project.  We’ll use the “ASP.NET Web Application” project template option so that it has a default UI skin implemented: Step 2: Create a SQL CE Database Right click on the “App_Data” folder within the created project and choose the “Add->New Item” menu command: This will bring up the “Add Item” dialog box.  Select the “SQL Server Compact 4.0 Local Database” item (new in VS 2010 SP1) and name the database file to create “Store.sdf”: Note that SQL CE database files have a .sdf filename extension. Place them within the /App_Data folder of your ASP.NET application to enable easy deployment. When we clicked the “Add” button above a Store.sdf file was added to our project: Step 3: Adding a “Products” Table Double-clicking the “Store.sdf” database file will open it up within the Server Explorer tab.  Since it is a new database there are no tables within it: Right click on the “Tables” icon and choose the “Create Table” menu command to create a new database table.  We’ll name the new table “Products” and add 4 columns to it.  We’ll mark the first column as a primary key (and make it an identify column so that its value will automatically increment with each new row): When we click “ok” our new Products table will be created in the SQL CE database. Step 4: Populate with Data Once our Products table is created it will show up within the Server Explorer.  We can right-click it and choose the “Show Table Data” menu command to edit its data: Let’s add a few sample rows of data to it: Step 5: Create an EF Model Layer We have a SQL CE database with some data in it – let’s now create an EF Model Layer that will provide a way for us to easily query and update data within it. Let’s right-click on our project and choose the “Add->New Item” menu command.  This will bring up the “Add New Item” dialog – select the “ADO.NET Entity Data Model” item within it and name it “Store.edmx” This will add a new Store.edmx item to our solution explorer and launch a wizard that allows us to quickly create an EF model: Select the “Generate From Database” option above and click next.  Choose to use the Store.sdf SQL CE database we just created and then click next again.  The wizard will then ask you what database objects you want to import into your model.  Let’s choose to import the “Products” table we created earlier: When we click the “Finish” button Visual Studio will open up the EF designer.  It will have a Product entity already on it that maps to the “Products” table within our SQL CE database: The VS 2010 SP1 EF designer works exactly the same with SQL CE as it does already with SQL Server and SQL Express.  The Product entity above will be persisted as a class (called “Product”) that we can programmatically work against within our ASP.NET application. Step 6: Compile the Project Before using your model layer you’ll need to build your project.  Do a Ctrl+Shift+B to compile the project, or use the Build->Build Solution menu command. Step 7: Create a Page that Uses our EF Model Layer Let’s now create a simple ASP.NET Web Form that contains a GridView control that we can use to display and edit the our Products data (via the EF Model Layer we just created). Right-click on the project and choose the Add->New Item command.  Select the “Web Form from Master Page” item template, and name the page you create “Products.aspx”.  Base the master page on the “Site.Master” template that is in the root of the project. Add an <h2>Products</h2> heading the new Page, and add an <asp:gridview> control within it: Then click the “Design” tab to switch into design-view. Select the GridView control, and then click the top-right corner to display the GridView’s “Smart Tasks” UI: Choose the “New data source…” drop down option above.  This will bring up the below dialog which allows you to pick your Data Source type: Select the “Entity” data source option – which will allow us to easily connect our GridView to the EF model layer we created earlier.  This will bring up another dialog that allows us to pick our model layer: Select the “StoreEntities” option in the dropdown – which is the EF model layer we created earlier.  Then click next – which will allow us to pick which entity within it we want to bind to: Select the “Products” entity in the above dialog – which indicates that we want to bind against the “Product” entity class we defined earlier.  Then click the “Enable automatic updates” checkbox to ensure that we can both query and update Products.  When you click “Finish” VS will wire-up an <asp:EntityDataSource> to your <asp:GridView> control: The last two steps we’ll do will be to click the “Enable Editing” checkbox on the Grid (which will cause the Grid to display an “Edit” link on each row) and (optionally) use the Auto Format dialog to pick a UI template for the Grid. Step 8: Run the Application Let’s now run our application and browse to the /Products.aspx page that contains our GridView.  When we do so we’ll see a Grid UI of the Products within our SQL CE database. Clicking the “Edit” link for any of the rows will allow us to edit their values: When we click “Update” the GridView will post back the values, persist them through our EF Model Layer, and ultimately save them within our SQL CE database. Learn More about using EF with ASP.NET Web Forms Read this tutorial series on the http://asp.net site to learn more about how to use EF with ASP.NET Web Forms.  The tutorial series uses SQL Express as the database – but the nice thing is that all of the same steps/concepts can also now also be done with SQL CE.   Walkthrough 2: Using EF Code-First with SQL CE and ASP.NET MVC 3 We used a database-first approach with the sample above – where we first created the database, and then used the EF designer to create model classes from the database.  In addition to supporting a designer-based development workflow, EF also enables a more code-centric option which we call “code first development”.  Code-First Development enables a pretty sweet development workflow.  It enables you to: Define your model objects by simply writing “plain old classes” with no base classes or visual designer required Use a “convention over configuration” approach that enables database persistence without explicitly configuring anything Optionally override the convention-based persistence and use a fluent code API to fully customize the persistence mapping Optionally auto-create a database based on the model classes you define – allowing you to start from code first I’ve done several blog posts about EF Code First in the past – I really think it is great.  The good news is that it also works very well with SQL CE. The combination of SQL CE, EF Code First, and the new VS tooling support for SQL CE, enables a pretty nice workflow.  Below is a simple example of how you can use them to build a simple ASP.NET MVC 3 application. Step 1: Create a new ASP.NET MVC 3 Project We’ll begin by using the File->New Project menu command within Visual Studio to create a new ASP.NET MVC 3 project.  We’ll use the “Internet Project” template so that it has a default UI skin implemented: Step 2: Use NuGet to Install EFCodeFirst Next we’ll use the NuGet package manager (automatically installed by ASP.NET MVC 3) to add the EFCodeFirst library to our project.  We’ll use the Package Manager command shell to do this.  Bring up the package manager console within Visual Studio by selecting the View->Other Windows->Package Manager Console menu command.  Then type: install-package EFCodeFirst within the package manager console to download the EFCodeFirst library and have it be added to our project: When we enter the above command, the EFCodeFirst library will be downloaded and added to our application: Step 3: Build Some Model Classes Using a “code first” based development workflow, we will create our model classes first (even before we have a database).  We create these model classes by writing code. For this sample, we will right click on the “Models” folder of our project and add the below three classes to our project: The “Dinner” and “RSVP” model classes above are “plain old CLR objects” (aka POCO).  They do not need to derive from any base classes or implement any interfaces, and the properties they expose are standard .NET data-types.  No data persistence attributes or data code has been added to them.   The “NerdDinners” class derives from the DbContext class (which is supplied by EFCodeFirst) and handles the retrieval/persistence of our Dinner and RSVP instances from a database. Step 4: Listing Dinners We’ve written all of the code necessary to implement our model layer for this simple project.  Let’s now expose and implement the URL: /Dinners/Upcoming within our project.  We’ll use it to list upcoming dinners that happen in the future. We’ll do this by right-clicking on our “Controllers” folder and select the “Add->Controller” menu command.  We’ll name the Controller we want to create “DinnersController”.  We’ll then implement an “Upcoming” action method within it that lists upcoming dinners using our model layer above.  We will use a LINQ query to retrieve the data and pass it to a View to render with the code below: We’ll then right-click within our Upcoming method and choose the “Add-View” menu command to create an “Upcoming” view template that displays our dinners.  We’ll use the “empty” template option within the “Add View” dialog and write the below view template using Razor: Step 4: Configure our Project to use a SQL CE Database We have finished writing all of our code – our last step will be to configure a database connection-string to use. We will point our NerdDinners model class to a SQL CE database by adding the below <connectionString> to the web.config file at the top of our project: EF Code First uses a default convention where context classes will look for a connection-string that matches the DbContext class name.  Because we created a “NerdDinners” class earlier, we’ve also named our connectionstring “NerdDinners”.  Above we are configuring our connection-string to use SQL CE as the database, and telling it that our SQL CE database file will live within the \App_Data directory of our ASP.NET project. Step 5: Running our Application Now that we’ve built our application, let’s run it! We’ll browse to the /Dinners/Upcoming URL – doing so will display an empty list of upcoming dinners: You might ask – but where did it query to get the dinners from? We didn’t explicitly create a database?!? One of the cool features that EF Code-First supports is the ability to automatically create a database (based on the schema of our model classes) when the database we point it at doesn’t exist.  Above we configured  EF Code-First to point at a SQL CE database in the \App_Data\ directory of our project.  When we ran our application, EF Code-First saw that the SQL CE database didn’t exist and automatically created it for us. Step 6: Using VS 2010 SP1 to Explore our newly created SQL CE Database Click the “Show all Files” icon within the Solution Explorer and you’ll see the “NerdDinners.sdf” SQL CE database file that was automatically created for us by EF code-first within the \App_Data\ folder: We can optionally right-click on the file and “Include in Project" to add it to our solution: We can also double-click the file (regardless of whether it is added to the project) and VS 2010 SP1 will open it as a database we can edit within the “Server Explorer” tab of the IDE. Below is the view we get when we double-click our NerdDinners.sdf SQL CE file.  We can drill in to see the schema of the Dinners and RSVPs tables in the tree explorer.  Notice how two tables - Dinners and RSVPs – were automatically created for us within our SQL CE database.  This was done by EF Code First when we accessed the NerdDinners class by running our application above: We can right-click on a Table and use the “Show Table Data” command to enter some upcoming dinners in our database: We’ll use the built-in editor that VS 2010 SP1 supports to populate our table data below: And now when we hit “refresh” on the /Dinners/Upcoming URL within our browser we’ll see some upcoming dinners show up: Step 7: Changing our Model and Database Schema Let’s now modify the schema of our model layer and database, and walkthrough one way that the new VS 2010 SP1 Tooling support for SQL CE can make this easier.  With EF Code-First you typically start making database changes by modifying the model classes.  For example, let’s add an additional string property called “UrlLink” to our “Dinner” class.  We’ll use this to point to a link for more information about the event: Now when we re-run our project, and visit the /Dinners/Upcoming URL we’ll see an error thrown: We are seeing this error because EF Code-First automatically created our database, and by default when it does this it adds a table that helps tracks whether the schema of our database is in sync with our model classes.  EF Code-First helpfully throws an error when they become out of sync – making it easier to track down issues at development time that you might otherwise only find (via obscure errors) at runtime.  Note that if you do not want this feature you can turn it off by changing the default conventions of your DbContext class (in this case our NerdDinners class) to not track the schema version. Our model classes and database schema are out of sync in the above example – so how do we fix this?  There are two approaches you can use today: Delete the database and have EF Code First automatically re-create the database based on the new model class schema (losing the data within the existing DB) Modify the schema of the existing database to make it in sync with the model classes (keeping/migrating the data within the existing DB) There are a couple of ways you can do the second approach above.  Below I’m going to show how you can take advantage of the new VS 2010 SP1 Tooling support for SQL CE to use a database schema tool to modify our database structure.  We are also going to be supporting a “migrations” feature with EF in the future that will allow you to automate/script database schema migrations programmatically. Step 8: Modify our SQL CE Database Schema using VS 2010 SP1 The new SQL CE Tooling support within VS 2010 SP1 makes it easy to modify the schema of our existing SQL CE database.  To do this we’ll right-click on our “Dinners” table and choose the “Edit Table Schema” command: This will bring up the below “Edit Table” dialog.  We can rename, change or delete any of the existing columns in our table, or click at the bottom of the column listing and type to add a new column.  Below I’ve added a new “UrlLink” column of type “nvarchar” (since our property is a string): When we click ok our database will be updated to have the new column and our schema will now match our model classes. Because we are manually modifying our database schema, there is one additional step we need to take to let EF Code-First know that the database schema is in sync with our model classes.  As i mentioned earlier, when a database is automatically created by EF Code-First it adds a “EdmMetadata” table to the database to track schema versions (and hash our model classes against them to detect mismatches between our model classes and the database schema): Since we are manually updating and maintaining our database schema, we don’t need this table – and can just delete it: This will leave us with just the two tables that correspond to our model classes: And now when we re-run our /Dinners/Upcoming URL it will display the dinners correctly: One last touch we could do would be to update our view to check for the new UrlLink property and render a <a> link to it if an event has one: And now when we refresh our /Dinners/Upcoming we will see hyperlinks for the events that have a UrlLink stored in the database: Summary SQL CE provides a free, embedded, database engine that you can use to easily enable database storage.  With SQL CE 4 you can now take advantage of it within ASP.NET projects and applications (both Web Forms and MVC). VS 2010 SP1 provides tooling support that enables you to easily create, edit and modify SQL CE databases – as well as use the standard EF designer against them.  This allows you to re-use your existing skills and data knowledge while taking advantage of an embedded database option.  This is useful both for small applications (where you don’t need the scalability of a full SQL Server), as well as for development and testing scenarios – where you want to be able to rapidly develop/test your application without having a full database instance.  SQL CE makes it easy to later migrate your data to a full SQL Server or SQL Azure instance if you want to – without having to change any code in your application.  All we would need to change in the above two scenarios is the <connectionString> value within the web.config file in order to have our code run against a full SQL Server.  This provides the flexibility to scale up your application starting from a small embedded database solution as needed. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Windows Azure: Import/Export Hard Drives, VM ACLs, Web Sockets, Remote Debugging, Continuous Delivery, New Relic, Billing Alerts and More

    - by ScottGu
    Two weeks ago we released a giant set of improvements to Windows Azure, as well as a significant update of the Windows Azure SDK. This morning we released another massive set of enhancements to Windows Azure.  Today’s new capabilities include: Storage: Import/Export Hard Disk Drives to your Storage Accounts HDInsight: General Availability of our Hadoop Service in the cloud Virtual Machines: New VM Gallery, ACL support for VIPs Web Sites: WebSocket and Remote Debugging Support Notification Hubs: Segmented customer push notification support with tag expressions TFS & GIT: Continuous Delivery Support for Web Sites + Cloud Services Developer Analytics: New Relic support for Web Sites + Mobile Services Service Bus: Support for partitioned queues and topics Billing: New Billing Alert Service that sends emails notifications when your bill hits a threshold you define All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note that some features are still in preview).  Below are more details about them. Storage: Import/Export Hard Disk Drives to Windows Azure I am excited to announce the preview of our new Windows Azure Import/Export Service! The Windows Azure Import/Export Service enables you to move large amounts of on-premises data into and out of your Windows Azure Storage accounts. It does this by enabling you to securely ship hard disk drives directly to our Windows Azure data centers. Once we receive the drives we’ll automatically transfer the data to or from your Windows Azure Storage account.  This enables you to import or export massive amounts of data more quickly and cost effectively (and not be constrained by available network bandwidth). Encrypted Transport Our Import/Export service provides built-in support for BitLocker disk encryption – which enables you to securely encrypt data on the hard drives before you send it, and not have to worry about it being compromised even if the disk is lost/stolen in transit (since the content on the transported hard drives is completely encrypted and you are the only one who has the key to it).  The drive preparation tool we are shipping today makes setting up bitlocker encryption on these hard drives easy. How to Import/Export your first Hard Drive of Data You can read our Getting Started Guide to learn more about how to begin using the import/export service.  You can create import and export jobs via the Windows Azure Management Portal as well as programmatically using our Server Management APIs. It is really easy to create a new import or export job using the Windows Azure Management Portal.  Simply navigate to a Windows Azure storage account, and then click the new Import/Export tab now available within it (note: if you don’t have this tab make sure to sign-up for the Import/Export preview): Then click the “Create Import Job” or “Create Export Job” commands at the bottom of it.  This will launch a wizard that easily walks you through the steps required: For more comprehensive information about Import/Export, refer to Windows Azure Storage team blog.  You can also send questions and comments to the [email protected] email address. We think you’ll find this new service makes it much easier to move data into and out of Windows Azure, and it will dramatically cut down the network bandwidth required when working on large data migration projects.  We hope you like it. HDInsight: 100% Compatible Hadoop Service in the Cloud Last week we announced the general availability release of Windows Azure HDInsight. HDInsight is a 100% compatible Hadoop service that allows you to easily provision and manage Hadoop clusters for big data processing in Windows Azure.  This release is now live in production, backed by an enterprise SLA, supported 24x7 by Microsoft Support, and is ready to use for production scenarios. HDInsight allows you to use Apache Hadoop tools, such as Pig and Hive, to process large amounts of data in Windows Azure Blob Storage. Because data is stored in Windows Azure Blob Storage, you can choose to dynamically create Hadoop clusters only when you need them, and then shut them down when they are no longer required (since you pay only for the time the Hadoop cluster instances are running this provides a super cost effective way to use them).  You can create Hadoop clusters using either the Windows Azure Management Portal (see below) or using our PowerShell and Cross Platform Command line tools: The import/export hard drive support that came out today is a perfect companion service to use with HDInsight – the combination allows you to easily ingest, process and optionally export a limitless amount of data.  We’ve also integrated HDInsight with our Business Intelligence tools, so users can leverage familiar tools like Excel in order to analyze the output of jobs.  You can find out more about how to get started with HDInsight here. Virtual Machines: VM Gallery Enhancements Today’s update of Windows Azure brings with it a new Virtual Machine gallery that you can use to create new VMs in the cloud.  You can launch the gallery by doing New->Compute->Virtual Machine->From Gallery within the Windows Azure Management Portal: The new Virtual Machine Gallery includes some nice enhancements that make it even easier to use: Search: You can now easily search and filter images using the search box in the top-right of the dialog.  For example, simply type “SQL” and we’ll filter to show those images in the gallery that contain that substring. Category Tree-view: Each month we add more built-in VM images to the gallery.  You can continue to browse these using the “All” view within the VM Gallery – or now quickly filter them using the category tree-view on the left-hand side of the dialog.  For example, by selecting “Oracle” in the tree-view you can now quickly filter to see the official Oracle supplied images. MSDN and Supported checkboxes: With today’s update we are also introducing filters that makes it easy to filter out types of images that you may not be interested in. The first checkbox is MSDN: using this filter you can exclude any image that is not part of the Windows Azure benefits for MSDN subscribers (which have highly discounted pricing - you can learn more about the MSDN pricing here). The second checkbox is Supported: this filter will exclude any image that contains prerelease software, so you can feel confident that the software you choose to deploy is fully supported by Windows Azure and our partners. Sort options: We sort gallery images by what we think customers are most interested in, but sometimes you might want to sort using different views. So we’re providing some additional sort options, like “Newest,” to customize the image list for what suits you best. Pricing information: We now provide additional pricing information about images and options on how to cost effectively run them directly within the VM Gallery. The above improvements make it even easier to use the VM Gallery and quickly create launch and run Virtual Machines in the cloud. Virtual Machines: ACL Support for VIPs A few months ago we exposed the ability to configure Access Control Lists (ACLs) for Virtual Machines using Windows PowerShell cmdlets and our Service Management API. With today’s release, you can now configure VM ACLs using the Windows Azure Management Portal as well. You can now do this by clicking the new Manage ACL command in the Endpoints tab of a virtual machine instance: This will enable you to configure an ordered list of permit and deny rules to scope the traffic that can access your VM’s network endpoints. For example, if you were on a virtual network, you could limit RDP access to a Windows Azure virtual machine to only a few computers attached to your enterprise. Or if you weren’t on a virtual network you could alternatively limit traffic from public IPs that can access your workloads: Here is the default behaviors for ACLs in Windows Azure: By default (i.e. no rules specified), all traffic is permitted. When using only Permit rules, all other traffic is denied. When using only Deny rules, all other traffic is permitted. When there is a combination of Permit and Deny rules, all other traffic is denied. Lastly, remember that configuring endpoints does not automatically configure them within the VM if it also has firewall rules enabled at the OS level.  So if you create an endpoint using the Windows Azure Management Portal, Windows PowerShell, or REST API, be sure to also configure your guest VM firewall appropriately as well. Web Sites: Web Sockets Support With today’s release you can now use Web Sockets with Windows Azure Web Sites.  This feature enables you to easily integrate real-time communication scenarios within your web based applications, and is available at no extra charge (it even works with the free tier).  Higher level programming libraries like SignalR and socket.io are also now supported with it. You can enable Web Sockets support on a web site by navigating to the Configure tab of a Web Site, and by toggling Web Sockets support to “on”: Once Web Sockets is enabled you can start to integrate some really cool scenarios into your web applications.  Check out the new SignalR documentation hub on www.asp.net to learn more about some of the awesome scenarios you can do with it. Web Sites: Remote Debugging Support The Windows Azure SDK 2.2 we released two weeks ago introduced remote debugging support for Windows Azure Cloud Services. With today’s Windows Azure release we are extending this remote debugging support to also work with Windows Azure Web Sites. With live, remote debugging support inside of Visual Studio, you are able to have more visibility than ever before into how your code is operating live in Windows Azure. It is now super easy to attach the debugger and quickly see what is going on with your application in the cloud. Remote Debugging of a Windows Azure Web Site using VS 2013 Enabling the remote debugging of a Windows Azure Web Site using VS 2013 is really easy.  Start by opening up your web application’s project within Visual Studio. Then navigate to the “Server Explorer” tab within Visual Studio, and click on the deployed web-site you want to debug that is running within Windows Azure using the Windows Azure->Web Sites node in the Server Explorer.  Then right-click and choose the “Attach Debugger” option on it: When you do this Visual Studio will remotely attach the debugger to the Web Site running within Windows Azure.  The debugger will then stop the web site’s execution when it hits any break points that you have set within your web application’s project inside Visual Studio.  For example, below I set a breakpoint on the “ViewBag.Message” assignment statement within the HomeController of the standard ASP.NET MVC project template.  When I hit refresh on the “About” page of the web site within the browser, the breakpoint was triggered and I am now able to debug the app remotely using Visual Studio: Note above how we can debug variables (including autos/watchlist/etc), as well as use the Immediate and Command Windows. In the debug session above I used the Immediate Window to explore some of the request object state, as well as to dynamically change the ViewBag.Message property.  When we click the the “Continue” button (or press F5) the app will continue execution and the Web Site will render the content back to the browser.  This makes it super easy to debug web apps remotely. Tips for Better Debugging To get the best experience while debugging, we recommend publishing your site using the Debug configuration within Visual Studio’s Web Publish dialog. This will ensure that debug symbol information is uploaded to the Web Site which will enable a richer debug experience within Visual Studio.  You can find this option on the Web Publish dialog on the Settings tab: When you ultimately deploy/run the application in production we recommend using the “Release” configuration setting – the release configuration is memory optimized and will provide the best production performance.  To learn more about diagnosing and debugging Windows Azure Web Sites read our new Troubleshooting Windows Azure Web Sites in Visual Studio guide. Notification Hubs: Segmented Push Notification support with tag expressions In August we announced the General Availability of Windows Azure Notification Hubs - a powerful Mobile Push Notifications service that makes it easy to send high volume push notifications with low latency from any mobile app back-end.  Notification hubs can be used with any mobile app back-end (including ones built using our Mobile Services capability) and can also be used with back-ends that run in the cloud as well as on-premises. Beginning with the initial release, Notification Hubs allowed developers to send personalized push notifications to both individual users as well as groups of users by interest, by associating their devices with tags representing the logical target of the notification. For example, by registering all devices of customers interested in a favorite MLB team with a corresponding tag, it is possible to broadcast one message to millions of Boston Red Sox fans and another message to millions of St. Louis Cardinals fans with a single API call respectively. New support for using tag expressions to enable advanced customer segmentation With today’s release we are adding support for even more advanced customer targeting.  You can now identify customers that you want to send push notifications to by defining rich tag expressions. With tag expressions, you can now not only broadcast notifications to Boston Red Sox fans, but take that segmenting a step farther and reach more granular segments. This opens up a variety of scenarios, for example: Offers based on multiple preferences—e.g. send a game day vegetarian special to users tagged as both a Boston Red Sox fan AND a vegetarian Push content to multiple segments in a single message—e.g. rain delay information only to users who are tagged as either a Boston Red Sox fan OR a St. Louis Cardinal fan Avoid presenting subsets of a segment with irrelevant content—e.g. season ticket availability reminder to users who are tagged as a Boston Red Sox fan but NOT also a season ticket holder To illustrate with code, consider a restaurant chain app that sends an offer related to a Red Sox vs Cardinals game for users in Boston. Devices can be tagged by your app with location tags (e.g. “Loc:Boston”) and interest tags (e.g. “Follows:RedSox”, “Follows:Cardinals”), and then a notification can be sent by your back-end to “(Follows:RedSox || Follows:Cardinals) && Loc:Boston” in order to deliver an offer to all devices in Boston that follow either the RedSox or the Cardinals. This can be done directly in your server backend send logic using the code below: var notification = new WindowsNotification(messagePayload); hub.SendNotificationAsync(notification, "(Follows:RedSox || Follows:Cardinals) && Loc:Boston"); In your expressions you can use all Boolean operators: AND (&&), OR (||), and NOT (!).  Some other cool use cases for tag expressions that are now supported include: Social: To “all my group except me” - group:id && !user:id Events: Touchdown event is sent to everybody following either team or any of the players involved in the action: Followteam:A || Followteam:B || followplayer:1 || followplayer:2 … Hours: Send notifications at specific times. E.g. Tag devices with time zone and when it is 12pm in Seattle send to: GMT8 && follows:thaifood Versions and platforms: Send a reminder to people still using your first version for Android - version:1.0 && platform:Android For help on getting started with Notification Hubs, visit the Notification Hub documentation center.  Then download the latest NuGet package (or use the Notification Hubs REST APIs directly) to start sending push notifications using tag expressions.  They are really powerful and enable a bunch of great new scenarios. TFS & GIT: Continuous Delivery Support for Web Sites + Cloud Services With today’s Windows Azure release we are making it really easy to enable continuous delivery support with Windows Azure and Team Foundation Services.  Team Foundation Services is a cloud based offering from Microsoft that provides integrated source control (with both TFS and Git support), build server, test execution, collaboration tools, and agile planning support.  It makes it really easy to setup a team project (complete with automated builds and test runners) in the cloud, and it has really rich integration with Visual Studio. With today’s Windows Azure release it is now really easy to enable continuous delivery support with both TFS and Git based repositories hosted using Team Foundation Services.  This enables a workflow where when code is checked in, built successfully on an automated build server, and all tests pass on it – I can automatically have the app deployed on Windows Azure with zero manual intervention or work required. The below screen-shots demonstrate how to quickly setup a continuous delivery workflow to Windows Azure with a Git-based ASP.NET MVC project hosted using Team Foundation Services. Enabling Continuous Delivery to Windows Azure with Team Foundation Services The project I’m going to enable continuous delivery with is a simple ASP.NET MVC project whose source code I’m hosting using Team Foundation Services.  I did this by creating a “SimpleContinuousDeploymentTest” repository there using Git – and then used the new built-in Git tooling support within Visual Studio 2013 to push the source code to it.  Below is a screen-shot of the Git repository hosted within Team Foundation Services: I can access the repository within Visual Studio 2013 and easily make commits with it (as well as branch, merge and do other tasks).  Using VS 2013 I can also setup automated builds to take place in the cloud using Team Foundation Services every time someone checks in code to the repository: The cool thing about this is that I don’t have to buy or rent my own build server – Team Foundation Services automatically maintains its own build server farm and can automatically queue up a build for me (for free) every time someone checks in code using the above settings.  This build server (and automated testing) support now works with both TFS and Git based source control repositories. Connecting a Team Foundation Services project to Windows Azure Once I have a source repository hosted in Team Foundation Services with Automated Builds and Testing set up, I can then go even further and set it up so that it will be automatically deployed to Windows Azure when a source code commit is made to the repository (assuming the Build + Tests pass).  Enabling this is now really easy.  To set this up with a Windows Azure Web Site simply use the New->Compute->Web Site->Custom Create command inside the Windows Azure Management Portal.  This will create a dialog like below.  I gave the web site a name and then made sure the “Publish from source control” checkbox was selected: When we click next we’ll be prompted for the location of the source repository.  We’ll select “Team Foundation Services”: Once we do this we’ll be prompted for our Team Foundation Services account that our source repository is hosted under (in this case my TFS account is “scottguthrie”): When we click the “Authorize Now” button we’ll be prompted to give Windows Azure permissions to connect to the Team Foundation Services account.  Once we do this we’ll be prompted to pick the source repository we want to connect to.  Starting with today’s Windows Azure release you can now connect to both TFS and Git based source repositories.  This new support allows me to connect to the “SimpleContinuousDeploymentTest” respository we created earlier: Clicking the finish button will then create the Web Site with the continuous delivery hooks setup with Team Foundation Services.  Now every time someone pushes source control to the repository in Team Foundation Services, it will kick off an automated build, run all of the unit tests in the solution , and if they pass the app will be automatically deployed to our Web Site in Windows Azure.  You can monitor the history and status of these automated deployments using the Deployments tab within the Web Site: This enables a really slick continuous delivery workflow, and enables you to build and deploy apps in a really nice way. Developer Analytics: New Relic support for Web Sites + Mobile Services With today’s Windows Azure release we are making it really easy to enable Developer Analytics and Monitoring support with both Windows Azure Web Site and Windows Azure Mobile Services.  We are partnering with New Relic, who provide a great dev analytics and app performance monitoring offering, to enable this - and we have updated the Windows Azure Management Portal to make it really easy to configure. Enabling New Relic with a Windows Azure Web Site Enabling New Relic support with a Windows Azure Web Site is now really easy.  Simply navigate to the Configure tab of a Web Site and scroll down to the “developer analytics” section that is now within it: Clicking the “add-on” button will display some additional UI.  If you don’t already have a New Relic subscription, you can click the “view windows azure store” button to obtain a subscription (note: New Relic has a perpetually free tier so you can enable it even without paying anything): Clicking the “view windows azure store” button will launch the integrated Windows Azure Store experience we have within the Windows Azure Management Portal.  You can use this to browse from a variety of great add-on services – including New Relic: Select “New Relic” within the dialog above, then click the next button, and you’ll be able to choose which type of New Relic subscription you wish to purchase.  For this demo we’ll simply select the “Free Standard Version” – which does not cost anything and can be used forever:  Once we’ve signed-up for our New Relic subscription and added it to our Windows Azure account, we can go back to the Web Site’s configuration tab and choose to use the New Relic add-on with our Windows Azure Web Site.  We can do this by simply selecting it from the “add-on” dropdown (it is automatically populated within it once we have a New Relic subscription in our account): Clicking the “Save” button will then cause the Windows Azure Management Portal to automatically populate all of the needed New Relic configuration settings to our Web Site: Deploying the New Relic Agent as part of a Web Site The final step to enable developer analytics using New Relic is to add the New Relic runtime agent to our web app.  We can do this within Visual Studio by right-clicking on our web project and selecting the “Manage NuGet Packages” context menu: This will bring up the NuGet package manager.  You can search for “New Relic” within it to find the New Relic agent.  Note that there is both a 32-bit and 64-bit edition of it – make sure to install the version that matches how your Web Site is running within Windows Azure (note: you can configure your Web Site to run in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode using the Web Site’s “Configuration” tab within the Windows Azure Management Portal): Once we install the NuGet package we are all set to go.  We’ll simply re-publish the web site again to Windows Azure and New Relic will now automatically start monitoring the application Monitoring a Web Site using New Relic Now that the application has developer analytics support with New Relic enabled, we can launch the New Relic monitoring portal to start monitoring the health of it.  We can do this by clicking on the “Add Ons” tab in the left-hand side of the Windows Azure Management Portal.  Then select the New Relic add-on we signed-up for within it.  The Windows Azure Management Portal will provide some default information about the add-on when we do this.  Clicking the “Manage” button in the tray at the bottom will launch a new browser tab and single-sign us into the New Relic monitoring portal associated with our account: When we do this a new browser tab will launch with the New Relic admin tool loaded within it: We can now see insights into how our app is performing – without having to have written a single line of monitoring code.  The New Relic service provides a ton of great built-in monitoring features allowing us to quickly see: Performance times (including browser rendering speed) for the overall site and individual pages.  You can optionally set alert thresholds to trigger if the speed does not meet a threshold you specify. Information about where in the world your customers are hitting the site from (and how performance varies by region) Details on the latency performance of external services your web apps are using (for example: SQL, Storage, Twitter, etc) Error information including call stack details for exceptions that have occurred at runtime SQL Server profiling information – including which queries executed against your database and what their performance was And a whole bunch more… The cool thing about New Relic is that you don’t need to write monitoring code within your application to get all of the above reports (plus a lot more).  The New Relic agent automatically enables the CLR profiler within applications and automatically captures the information necessary to identify these.  This makes it super easy to get started and immediately have a rich developer analytics view for your solutions with very little effort. If you haven’t tried New Relic out yet with Windows Azure I recommend you do so – I think you’ll find it helps you build even better cloud applications.  Following the above steps will help you get started and deliver you a really good application monitoring solution in only minutes. Service Bus: Support for partitioned queues and topics With today’s release, we are enabling support within Service Bus for partitioned queues and topics. Enabling partitioning enables you to achieve a higher message throughput and better availability from your queues and topics. Higher message throughput is achieved by implementing multiple message brokers for each partitioned queue and topic.  The  multiple messaging stores will also provide higher availability. You can create a partitioned queue or topic by simply checking the Enable Partitioning option in the custom create wizard for a Queue or Topic: Read this article to learn more about partitioned queues and topics and how to take advantage of them today. Billing: New Billing Alert Service Today’s Windows Azure update enables a new Billing Alert Service Preview that enables you to get proactive email notifications when your Windows Azure bill goes above a certain monetary threshold that you configure.  This makes it easier to manage your bill and avoid potential surprises at the end of the month. With the Billing Alert Service Preview, you can now create email alerts to monitor and manage your monetary credits or your current bill total.  To set up an alert first sign-up for the free Billing Alert Service Preview.  Then visit the account management page, click on a subscription you have setup, and then navigate to the new Alerts tab that is available: The alerts tab allows you to setup email alerts that will be sent automatically once a certain threshold is hit.  For example, by clicking the “add alert” button above I can setup a rule to send myself email anytime my Windows Azure bill goes above $100 for the month: The Billing Alert Service will evolve to support additional aspects of your bill as well as support multiple forms of alerts such as SMS.  Try out the new Billing Alert Service Preview today and give us feedback. Summary Today’s Windows Azure release enables a ton of great new scenarios, and makes building applications hosted in the cloud even easier. If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today.  Then visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • ASP.NET MVC 2 Released

    - by ScottGu
    I’m happy to announce that the final release of ASP.NET MVC 2 is now available for VS 2008/Visual Web Developer 2008 Express with ASP.NET 3.5.  You can download and install it from the following locations: Download ASP.NET MVC 2 using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer Download ASP.NET MVC 2 from the Download Center The final release of VS 2010 and Visual Web Developer 2010 will have ASP.NET MVC 2 built-in – so you won’t need an additional install in order to use ASP.NET MVC 2 with them.  ASP.NET MVC 2 We shipped ASP.NET MVC 1 a little less than a year ago.  Since then, almost 1 million developers have downloaded and used the final release, and its popularity has steadily grown month over month. ASP.NET MVC 2 is the next significant update of ASP.NET MVC. It is a compatible update to ASP.NET MVC 1 – so all the knowledge, skills, code, and extensions you already have with ASP.NET MVC continue to work and apply going forward. Like the first release, we are also shipping the source code for ASP.NET MVC 2 under an OSI-compliant open-source license. ASP.NET MVC 2 can be installed side-by-side with ASP.NET MVC 1 (meaning you can have some apps built with V1 and others built with V2 on the same machine).  We have instructions on how to update your existing ASP.NET MVC 1 apps to use ASP.NET MVC 2 using VS 2008 here.  Note that VS 2010 has an automated upgrade wizard that can automatically migrate your existing ASP.NET MVC 1 applications to ASP.NET MVC 2 for you. ASP.NET MVC 2 Features ASP.NET MVC 2 adds a bunch of new capabilities and features.  I’ve started a blog series about some of the new features, and will be covering them in more depth in the weeks ahead.  Some of the new features and capabilities include: New Strongly Typed HTML Helpers Enhanced Model Validation support across both server and client Auto-Scaffold UI Helpers with Template Customization Support for splitting up large applications into “Areas” Asynchronous Controllers support that enables long running tasks in parallel Support for rendering sub-sections of a page/site using Html.RenderAction Lots of new helper functions, utilities, and API enhancements Improved Visual Studio tooling support You can learn more about these features in the “What’s New in ASP.NET MVC 2” document on the www.asp.net/mvc web-site.  We are going to be posting a lot of new tutorials and videos shortly on www.asp.net/mvc that cover all the features in ASP.NET MVC 2 release.  We will also post an updated end-to-end tutorial built entirely with ASP.NET MVC 2 (much like the NerdDinner tutorial that I wrote that covers ASP.NET MVC 1).  Summary The ASP.NET MVC team delivered regular V2 preview releases over the last year to get feedback on the feature set.  I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who tried out the previews and sent us suggestions/feedback/bug reports.  We hope you like the final release! Scott

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  • April 14th Links: ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API and Visual Studio

    - by ScottGu
    Here is the latest in my link-listing blog series: ASP.NET Easily overlooked features in VS 11 Express for Web: Good post by Scott Hanselman that highlights a bunch of easily overlooked improvements that are coming to VS 11 (and specifically the free express editions) for web development: unit testing, browser chooser/launcher, IIS Express, CSS Color Picker, Image Preview in Solution Explorer and more. Get Started with ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms: Good 5-part tutorial that walks-through building an application using ASP.NET Web Forms and highlights some of the nice improvements coming with ASP.NET 4.5. What is New in Razor V2 and What Else is New in Razor V2: Great posts by Andrew Nurse, a dev on the ASP.NET team, about some of the new improvements coming with ASP.NET Razor v2. ASP.NET MVC 4 AllowAnonymous Attribute: Nice post from David Hayden that talks about the new [AllowAnonymous] filter introduced with ASP.NET MVC 4. Introduction to the ASP.NET Web API: Great tutorial by Stephen Walher that covers how to use the new ASP.NET Web API support built-into ASP.NET 4.5 and ASP.NET MVC 4. Comprehensive List of ASP.NET Web API Tutorials and Articles: Tugberk Ugurlu links to a huge collection of articles, tutorials, and samples about the new ASP.NET Web API capability. Async Mashups using ASP.NET Web API: Nice post by Henrik on how you can use the new async language support coming with .NET 4.5 to easily and efficiently make asynchronous network requests that do not block threads within ASP.NET. ASP.NET and Front-End Web Development Visual Studio 11 and Front End Web Development - JavaScript/HTML5/CSS3: Nice post by Scott Hanselman that highlights some of the great improvements coming with VS 11 (including the free express edition) for front-end web development. HTML5 Drag/Drop and Async Multi-file Upload with ASP.NET Web API: Great post by Filip W. that demonstrates how to implement an async file drag/drop uploader using HTML5 and ASP.NET Web API. Device Emulator Guide for Mobile Development with ASP.NET: Good post from Rachel Appel that covers how to use various device emulators with ASP.NET and VS to develop cross platform mobile sites. Fixing these jQuery: A Guide to Debugging: Great presentation by Adam Sontag on debugging with JavaScript and jQuery.  Some really good tips, tricks and gotchas that can save a lot of time. ASP.NET and Open Source Getting Started with ASP.NET Web Stack Source on CodePlex: Fantastic post by Henrik (an architect on the ASP.NET team) that provides step by step instructions on how to work with the ASP.NET source code we recently open sourced. Contributing to ASP.NET Web Stack Source on CodePlex: Follow-on to the post above (also by Henrik) that walks-through how you can submit a code contribution to the ASP.NET MVC, Web API and Razor projects. Overview of the WebApiContrib project: Nice post by Pedro Reys on the new open source WebApiContrib project that has been started to deliver cool extensions and libraries for use with ASP.NET Web API. Entity Framework Entity Framework 5 Performance Improvements and Performance Considerations for EF5:  Good articles that describes some of the big performance wins coming with EF5 (which will ship with both .NET 4.5 and ASP.NET MVC 4). Automatic compilation of LINQ queries will yield some significant performance wins (up to 600% faster). ASP.NET MVC 4 and EF Database Migrations: Good post by David Hayden that covers the new database migrations support within EF 4.3 which allows you to easily update your database schema during development - without losing any of the data within it. Visual Studio What's New in Visual Studio 11 Unit Testing: Nice post by Peter Provost (from the VS team) that talks about some of the great improvements coming to VS11 for unit testing - including built-in VS tooling support for a broad set of unit test frameworks (including NUnit, XUnit, Jasmine, QUnit and more) Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Silverlight 4 Released

    - by ScottGu
    The final release of Silverlight 4 is now available. What is in the Silverlight 4 Release Silverlight 4 contains a ton of new features and capabilities.  In particular we focused on three scenarios with this release: Further enhancing media support Building great business applications Enabling out of the browser experiences On Tuesday I gave a 60 minute keynote about Silverlight 4 which showed off many of the new features and capabilities now available.  You can watch my keynote to learn more about Silverlight 4 and see a ton of great demos of it in action. Also check out these three great posts by Tim Heuer that talk about the new features and provide a guide to the new Silverlight 4 capabilities: Silverlight 4 Beta – A Guide to the New Features Silverlight 4 RC – What was updated Silverlight 4 Released Also read David Anson’s great Silverlight 4 Toolkit post to learn more about the new controls and functionality also available within the Silverlight Toolkit release we also made available today.  Also visit this page to learn more about the new Pivot functionality in Silverlight 4 – which makes it really easy to visualize and interact with collections of images using Silverlight. Lastly – make sure to visit the www.silverlight.net web-site and visit the “Get Started” section to find free tutorials that you can use. Download and Install Silverlight 4 Tools for VS 2010 To develop Silverlight 4 applications you should first download and install Visual Studio 2010 or download and install the free Visual Web Developer 2010 Express edition. Then install the Silverlight Tools RC2 for Visual Studio 2010.  This setup includes the Silverlight 4 Developer Runtime, Silverlight 4 SDK, RIA Services, and VS 2010 tools support.  Once installed you can do File->New Project and choose Silverlight Application to create your first Silverlight 4 project.  You can then use the new WYSIWYG Silverlight designer in Visual Studio 2010 to design and build rich Silverlight 4 applications. Important: If you previously installed the Silverlight 4 Beta or RC build on your machine, please make sure to go into Add/Remove programs and uninstall the “Update for Visual Studio 2010 (KB976272)” package prior to installing the Silverlight Tools RC2 for Visual Studio 2010 setup.  Note that while Silverlight 4 is released, the “Silverlight 4 Tools for VS 2010” is currently in “RC2” mode (meaning we are going to keep an eye out for any remaining issues before finally calling it done).  We’ll update the tools to be “final” in a few weeks once we verify that no last minute issues/bugs remain. Download and Install Expression Blend 4 Release Candidate You can also download and install the Expression Blend 4 RC to create and design great Silverlight 4 applications.  Blend contains “Sketchflow” support – which makes it really easy to rapidly prototype ideas and applications.  To learn more about Sketchflow watch this 90 second video of it in action. Summary Today’s release is the fourth release of Silverlight that we’ve shipped in the last 2.5 years.  The team has done a great job of advancing it quickly and staying focused.  We think today’s Silverlight 4 release opens up a ton of new opportunities to build great solutions for both consumers and business scenarios.  We are looking forward to seeing what you build with it! Hope this helps, Scott

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  • VS 2010 SP1 (Beta) and IIS Express

    - by ScottGu
    Last month we released the VS 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta.  You can learn more about the VS 2010 SP1 Beta from Jason Zander’s two blog posts about it, and from Scott Hanselman’s blog post that covers some of the new capabilities enabled with it.  You can download and install the VS 2010 SP1 Beta here. IIS Express Earlier this summer I blogged about IIS Express.  IIS Express is a free version of IIS 7.5 that is optimized for developer scenarios.  We think it combines the ease of use of the ASP.NET Web Server (aka Cassini) currently built-into VS today with the full power of IIS.  Specifically: It’s lightweight and easy to install (less than 5Mb download and a quick install) It does not require an administrator account to run/debug applications from Visual Studio It enables a full web-server feature set – including SSL, URL Rewrite, and other IIS 7.x modules It supports and enables the same extensibility model and web.config file settings that IIS 7.x support It can be installed side-by-side with the full IIS web server as well as the ASP.NET Development Server (they do not conflict at all) It works on Windows XP and higher operating systems – giving you a full IIS 7.x developer feature-set on all Windows OS platforms IIS Express (like the ASP.NET Development Server) can be quickly launched to run a site from a directory on disk.  It does not require any registration/configuration steps. This makes it really easy to launch and run for development scenarios. Visual Studio 2010 SP1 adds support for IIS Express – and you can start to take advantage of this starting with last month’s VS 2010 SP1 Beta release. Downloading and Installing IIS Express IIS Express isn’t included as part of the VS 2010 SP1 Beta.  Instead it is a separate ~4MB download which you can download and install using this link (it uses WebPI to install it).  Once IIS Express is installed, VS 2010 SP1 will enable some additional IIS Express commands and dialog options that allow you to easily use it. Enabling IIS Express for Existing Projects Visual Studio today defaults to using the built-in ASP.NET Development Server (aka Cassini) when running ASP.NET Projects: Converting your existing projects to use IIS Express is really easy.  You can do this by opening up the project properties dialog of an existing project, and then by clicking the “web” tab within it and selecting the “Use IIS Express” checkbox. Or even simpler, just right-click on your existing project, and select the “Use IIS Express…” menu command: And now when you run or debug your project you’ll see that IIS Express now starts up and runs automatically as your web-server: You can optionally right-click on the IIS Express icon within your system tray to see/browse all of sites and applications running on it: Note that if you ever want to revert back to using the ASP.NET Development Server you can do this by right-clicking the project again and then select the “Use Visual Studio Development Server” option (or go into the project properties, click the web tab, and uncheck IIS Express).  This will revert back to the ASP.NET Development Server the next time you run the project. IIS Express Properties Visual Studio 2010 SP1 exposes several new IIS Express configuration options that you couldn’t previously set with the ASP.NET Development Server.  Some of these are exposed via the property grid of your project (select the project node in the solution explorer and then change them via the property window): For example, enabling something like SSL support (which is not possible with the ASP.NET Development Server) can now be done simply by changing the “SSL Enabled” property to “True”: Once this is done IIS Express will expose both an HTTP and HTTPS endpoint for the project that we can use: SSL Self Signed Certs IIS Express ships with a self-signed SSL cert that it installs as part of setup – which removes the need for you to install your own certificate to use SSL during development.  Once you change the above drop-down to enable SSL, you’ll be able to browse to your site with the appropriate https:// URL prefix and it will connect via SSL. One caveat with self-signed certificates, though, is that browsers (like IE) will go out of their way to warn you that they aren’t to be trusted: You can mark the certificate as trusted to avoid seeing dialogs like this – or just keep the certificate un-trusted and press the “continue” button when the browser warns you not to trust your local web server. Additional IIS Settings IIS Express uses its own per-user ApplicationHost.config file to configure default server behavior.  Because it is per-user, it can be configured by developers who do not have admin credentials – unlike the full IIS.  You can customize all IIS features and settings via it if you want ultimate server customization (for example: to use your own certificates for SSL instead of self-signed ones). We recommend storing all app specific settings for IIS and ASP.NET within the web.config file which is part of your project – since that makes deploying apps easier (since the settings can be copied with the application content).  IIS (since IIS 7) no longer uses the metabase, and instead uses the same web.config configuration files that ASP.NET has always supported – which makes xcopy/ftp based deployment much easier. Making IIS Express your Default Web Server Above we looked at how we can convert existing sites that use the ASP.NET Developer Web Server to instead use IIS Express.  You can configure Visual Studio to use IIS Express as the default web server for all new projects by clicking the Tools->Options menu  command and opening up the Projects and Solutions->Web Projects node with the Options dialog: Clicking the “Use IIS Express for new file-based web site and projects” checkbox will cause Visual Studio to use it for all new web site and projects. Summary We think IIS Express makes it even easier to build, run and test web applications.  It works with all versions of ASP.NET and supports all ASP.NET application types (including obviously both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC applications).  Because IIS Express is based on the IIS 7.5 codebase, you have a full web-server feature-set that you can use.  This means you can build and run your applications just like they’ll work on a real production web-server.  In addition to supporting ASP.NET, IIS Express also supports Classic ASP and other file-types and extensions supported by IIS – which also makes it ideal for sites that combine a variety of different technologies. Best of all – you do not need to change any code to take advantage of it.  As you can see above, updating existing Visual Studio web projects to use it is trivial.  You can begin to take advantage of IIS Express today using the VS 2010 SP1 Beta. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Announcing Entity Framework Code-First (CTP5 release)

    - by ScottGu
    This week the data team released the CTP5 build of the new Entity Framework Code-First library.  EF Code-First enables a pretty sweet code-centric development workflow for working with data.  It enables you to: Develop without ever having to open a designer or define an XML mapping file Define model objects by simply writing “plain old classes” with no base classes required Use a “convention over configuration” approach that enables database persistence without explicitly configuring anything Optionally override the convention-based persistence and use a fluent code API to fully customize the persistence mapping I’m a big fan of the EF Code-First approach, and wrote several blog posts about it this summer: Code-First Development with Entity Framework 4 (July 16th) EF Code-First: Custom Database Schema Mapping (July 23rd) Using EF Code-First with an Existing Database (August 3rd) Today’s new CTP5 release delivers several nice improvements over the CTP4 build, and will be the last preview build of Code First before the final release of it.  We will ship the final EF Code First release in the first quarter of next year (Q1 of 2011).  It works with all .NET application types (including both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC projects). Installing EF Code First You can install and use EF Code First CTP5 using one of two ways: Approach 1) By downloading and running a setup program.  Once installed you can reference the EntityFramework.dll assembly it provides within your projects.      or: Approach 2) By using the NuGet Package Manager within Visual Studio to download and install EF Code First within a project.  To do this, simply bring up the NuGet Package Manager Console within Visual Studio (View->Other Windows->Package Manager Console) and type “Install-Package EFCodeFirst”: Typing “Install-Package EFCodeFirst” within the Package Manager Console will cause NuGet to download the EF Code First package, and add it to your current project: Doing this will automatically add a reference to the EntityFramework.dll assembly to your project:   NuGet enables you to have EF Code First setup and ready to use within seconds.  When the final release of EF Code First ships you’ll also be able to just type “Update-Package EFCodeFirst” to update your existing projects to use the final release. EF Code First Assembly and Namespace The CTP5 release of EF Code First has an updated assembly name, and new .NET namespace: Assembly Name: EntityFramework.dll Namespace: System.Data.Entity These names match what we plan to use for the final release of the library. Nice New CTP5 Improvements The new CTP5 release of EF Code First contains a bunch of nice improvements and refinements. Some of the highlights include: Better support for Existing Databases Built-in Model-Level Validation and DataAnnotation Support Fluent API Improvements Pluggable Conventions Support New Change Tracking API Improved Concurrency Conflict Resolution Raw SQL Query/Command Support The rest of this blog post contains some more details about a few of the above changes. Better Support for Existing Databases EF Code First makes it really easy to create model layers that work against existing databases.  CTP5 includes some refinements that further streamline the developer workflow for this scenario. Below are the steps to use EF Code First to create a model layer for the Northwind sample database: Step 1: Create Model Classes and a DbContext class Below is all of the code necessary to implement a simple model layer using EF Code First that goes against the Northwind database: EF Code First enables you to use “POCO” – Plain Old CLR Objects – to represent entities within a database.  This means that you do not need to derive model classes from a base class, nor implement any interfaces or data persistence attributes on them.  This enables the model classes to be kept clean, easily testable, and “persistence ignorant”.  The Product and Category classes above are examples of POCO model classes. EF Code First enables you to easily connect your POCO model classes to a database by creating a “DbContext” class that exposes public properties that map to the tables within a database.  The Northwind class above illustrates how this can be done.  It is mapping our Product and Category classes to the “Products” and “Categories” tables within the database.  The properties within the Product and Category classes in turn map to the columns within the Products and Categories tables – and each instance of a Product/Category object maps to a row within the tables. The above code is all of the code required to create our model and data access layer!  Previous CTPs of EF Code First required an additional step to work against existing databases (a call to Database.Initializer<Northwind>(null) to tell EF Code First to not create the database) – this step is no longer required with the CTP5 release.  Step 2: Configure the Database Connection String We’ve written all of the code we need to write to define our model layer.  Our last step before we use it will be to setup a connection-string that connects it with our database.  To do this we’ll add a “Northwind” connection-string to our web.config file (or App.Config for client apps) like so:   <connectionStrings>          <add name="Northwind"          connectionString="data source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Integrated Security=SSPI;AttachDBFilename=|DataDirectory|\northwind.mdf;User Instance=true"          providerName="System.Data.SqlClient" />   </connectionStrings> EF “code first” uses a convention where DbContext classes by default look for a connection-string that has the same name as the context class.  Because our DbContext class is called “Northwind” it by default looks for a “Northwind” connection-string to use.  Above our Northwind connection-string is configured to use a local SQL Express database (stored within the \App_Data directory of our project).  You can alternatively point it at a remote SQL Server. Step 3: Using our Northwind Model Layer We can now easily query and update our database using the strongly-typed model layer we just built with EF Code First. The code example below demonstrates how to use LINQ to query for products within a specific product category.  This query returns back a sequence of strongly-typed Product objects that match the search criteria: The code example below demonstrates how we can retrieve a specific Product object, update two of its properties, and then save the changes back to the database: EF Code First handles all of the change-tracking and data persistence work for us, and allows us to focus on our application and business logic as opposed to having to worry about data access plumbing. Built-in Model Validation EF Code First allows you to use any validation approach you want when implementing business rules with your model layer.  This enables a great deal of flexibility and power. Starting with this week’s CTP5 release, EF Code First also now includes built-in support for both the DataAnnotation and IValidatorObject validation support built-into .NET 4.  This enables you to easily implement validation rules on your models, and have these rules automatically be enforced by EF Code First whenever you save your model layer.  It provides a very convenient “out of the box” way to enable validation within your applications. Applying DataAnnotations to our Northwind Model The code example below demonstrates how we could add some declarative validation rules to two of the properties of our “Product” model: We are using the [Required] and [Range] attributes above.  These validation attributes live within the System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations namespace that is built-into .NET 4, and can be used independently of EF.  The error messages specified on them can either be explicitly defined (like above) – or retrieved from resource files (which makes localizing applications easy). Validation Enforcement on SaveChanges() EF Code-First (starting with CTP5) now automatically applies and enforces DataAnnotation rules when a model object is updated or saved.  You do not need to write any code to enforce this – this support is now enabled by default.  This new support means that the below code – which violates our above rules – will automatically throw an exception when we call the “SaveChanges()” method on our Northwind DbContext: The DbEntityValidationException that is raised when the SaveChanges() method is invoked contains a “EntityValidationErrors” property that you can use to retrieve the list of all validation errors that occurred when the model was trying to save.  This enables you to easily guide the user on how to fix them.  Note that EF Code-First will abort the entire transaction of changes if a validation rule is violated – ensuring that our database is always kept in a valid, consistent state. EF Code First’s validation enforcement works both for the built-in .NET DataAnnotation attributes (like Required, Range, RegularExpression, StringLength, etc), as well as for any custom validation rule you create by sub-classing the System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.ValidationAttribute base class. UI Validation Support A lot of our UI frameworks in .NET also provide support for DataAnnotation-based validation rules. For example, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Dynamic Data, and Silverlight (via WCF RIA Services) all provide support for displaying client-side validation UI that honor the DataAnnotation rules applied to model objects. The screen-shot below demonstrates how using the default “Add-View” scaffold template within an ASP.NET MVC 3 application will cause appropriate validation error messages to be displayed if appropriate values are not provided: ASP.NET MVC 3 supports both client-side and server-side enforcement of these validation rules.  The error messages displayed are automatically picked up from the declarative validation attributes – eliminating the need for you to write any custom code to display them. Keeping things DRY The “DRY Principle” stands for “Do Not Repeat Yourself”, and is a best practice that recommends that you avoid duplicating logic/configuration/code in multiple places across your application, and instead specify it only once and have it apply everywhere. EF Code First CTP5 now enables you to apply declarative DataAnnotation validations on your model classes (and specify them only once) and then have the validation logic be enforced (and corresponding error messages displayed) across all applications scenarios – including within controllers, views, client-side scripts, and for any custom code that updates and manipulates model classes. This makes it much easier to build good applications with clean code, and to build applications that can rapidly iterate and evolve. Other EF Code First Improvements New to CTP5 EF Code First CTP5 includes a bunch of other improvements as well.  Below are a few short descriptions of some of them: Fluent API Improvements EF Code First allows you to override an “OnModelCreating()” method on the DbContext class to further refine/override the schema mapping rules used to map model classes to underlying database schema.  CTP5 includes some refinements to the ModelBuilder class that is passed to this method which can make defining mapping rules cleaner and more concise.  The ADO.NET Team blogged some samples of how to do this here. Pluggable Conventions Support EF Code First CTP5 provides new support that allows you to override the “default conventions” that EF Code First honors, and optionally replace them with your own set of conventions. New Change Tracking API EF Code First CTP5 exposes a new set of change tracking information that enables you to access Original, Current & Stored values, and State (e.g. Added, Unchanged, Modified, Deleted).  This support is useful in a variety of scenarios. Improved Concurrency Conflict Resolution EF Code First CTP5 provides better exception messages that allow access to the affected object instance and the ability to resolve conflicts using current, original and database values.  Raw SQL Query/Command Support EF Code First CTP5 now allows raw SQL queries and commands (including SPROCs) to be executed via the SqlQuery and SqlCommand methods exposed off of the DbContext.Database property.  The results of these method calls can be materialized into object instances that can be optionally change-tracked by the DbContext.  This is useful for a variety of advanced scenarios. Full Data Annotations Support EF Code First CTP5 now supports all standard DataAnnotations within .NET, and can use them both to perform validation as well as to automatically create the appropriate database schema when EF Code First is used in a database creation scenario.  Summary EF Code First provides an elegant and powerful way to work with data.  I really like it because it is extremely clean and supports best practices, while also enabling solutions to be implemented very, very rapidly.  The code-only approach of the library means that model layers end up being flexible and easy to customize. This week’s CTP5 release further refines EF Code First and helps ensure that it will be really sweet when it ships early next year.  I recommend using NuGet to install and give it a try today.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how awesome it is. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Free Video Training: ASP.NET MVC 3 Features

    - by ScottGu
    A few weeks ago I blogged about a great ASP.NET MVC 3 video training course from Pluralsight that was made available for free for 48 hours for people to watch.  The feedback from the people that had a chance to watch it was really fantastic.  We also received feedback from people who really wanted to watch it – but unfortunately weren’t able to within the 48 hour window. The good news is that we’ve worked with Pluralsight to make the course available for free again until March 18th.  You can watch any of the course modules for free, through March 18th, on the www.asp.net/mvc website here: The 6 videos in this course are a total of 3 hours and 17 minutes long, and provide a nice overview of the new features introduced with ASP.NET MVC 3 including: Razor, Unobtrusive JavaScript, Richer Validation, ViewBag, Output Caching, Global Action Filters, NuGet, Dependency Injection, and much more.  Scott Allen is the presenter, and the format, video player, and cadence of the course is really excellent. It provides a great way to quickly come up to speed with all of the new features introduced with the new ASP.NET MVC 3 release. Introductory ASP.NET MVC 3 course also coming soon The above course provides a good way for people already familiar with ASP.NET MVC to quickly learn the new features in the V3 release. Pluralsight is also working on a new introductory ASP.NET MVC 3 course series designed for developers who are brand new to ASP.NET MVC, and who want an end to end training curriculum on how to come up to speed with it.  It will cover all of the basics of ASP.NET MVC (including the new Razor view engine), how to use EF code first for data access, using JavaScript/AJAX with MVC, security scenarios with MVC, unit testing applications, deploying applications, and more. I’m excited to pre-announce that we’ll also make this new introductory series free on the www.asp.net/mvc web-site for anyone to watch. I’ll do another blog post linking to it once it is live and available. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • A few announcements for those in the UK

    - by ScottGu
    This a quick post to announce a few upcoming events for those in the UK. I’ll be presenting in Glasgow, Scotland on March 25th I’m doing a free 5 hour presentation in Glasgow on March 25th. I’ll be covering VS 2010, ASP.NET 4, ASP.NET Web Forms 4, ASP.NET MVC 2, Silverlight and potentially show off a few new things that haven’t been announced yet. You can learn more about the event and register for free here.  There are only a few spots left – so register quickly.  When the event fills up there will be a wait-list – please add yourself to this as we’ll be encouraging people who won’t be able to attend to let us know ahead of time so that we can add more people to the event. I’ll be presenting in Birmingham, England on March 26th I’m doing a free 5 hour presentation in Birmingham (UK) on March 26th. I’ll be covering VS 2010, ASP.NET 4, ASP.NET Web Forms 4, ASP.NET MVC 2, Silverlight and also potentially show off a few new things that haven’t been announced yet. You can learn more about the event and register for free here. The event unfortunately filled up immediately (even before I had a chance to blog it) – but there is a waitlist.  If you’d like to attend please add yourself to it as hopefully a number of people will be able to attend off of it. UK Party at MIX If you are going to MIX and are from the UK send mail to [email protected] (or tweet him @plip) for an invite to a party being organized for UK MIX attendees next Sunday (March 14th).  Knowing the people involved I’m sure the party will be fun. <g> Hope this helps, Scott

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  • “Unplugged” Chat with Me this Thursday

    - by ScottGu
    This Thursday (May 13th) I’m going to be doing another online LIDNUG chat session.  The chat will be from 10:00am to 11:30am Pacific Time. You can learn more about it here and join the chat at the appropriate time with this link. I do these chats a few times a year and they tend to be pretty fun.  Attendees can listen to me talk live via LiveMeeting, and can submit any questions they want to me.  I then answer as many of them as I can in the 90 minutes.  We’ll probably talk a lot about the new features in VS 2010, .NET 4, Silverlight 4, Windows Phone 7, ASP.NET 4 and ASP.NET MVC 2 this week. Hope to get a chance to chat with some of you there! Scott

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  • Special 48-Hour Offer: Free ASP.NET MVC 3 Video Training

    - by ScottGu
    The Virtual ASP.NET MVC Conference (MVCConf) happened earlier today.  Several thousand developers attended the event online, and had the opportunity to watch 27 great talks presented by the community. All of the live presentations were recorded, and videos of them will be posted shortly so that everyone can watch them (for free).  I’ll do a blog post with links to them once they are available. Special Pluralsight Training Available for Next 48 Hours In my MVCConf keynote this morning, I also mentioned a special offer that Pluralsight (a great .NET training partner) is offering – which is the opportunity to watch their excellent ASP.NET MVC 3 Fundamentals course free of charge for the next 48 hours.  This training is 3 hours and 17 minutes long and covers the new features introduced with ASP.NET MVC 3 including: Razor, Unobtrusive JavaScript, Richer Validation, ViewBag, Output Caching, Global Action Filters, NuGet, Dependency Injection, and much more. Scott Allen is the presenter, and the format, video player, and cadence of the course is really great.  It provides an excellent way to quickly come up to speed with all of the new features introduced with the new ASP.NET MVC 3 release. Click here to watch the Pluralsight training - available free of charge for the next 48 hours (until Thursday at 9pm PST). Other Beginning ASP.NET MVC Tutorials We will be publishing a bunch of new ASP.NET MVC 3 content, training and samples on the http://asp.net/mvc web-site in the weeks ahead.  We’ll include content that is tailored to developers brand-new to ASP.NET MVC, as well as content for advanced ASP.NET MVC developers looking to get the most out of it. Below are two tutorials available today that provide nice introductory step-by-step ASP.NET MVC 3 tutorials: Build your First ASP.NET MVC 3 Application ASP.NET MVC Music Store Tutorial I recommend reviewing both of the above tutorials if you are looking to get started with ASP.NET MVC 3 and want to learn the core concepts and features behind it. Hope this helps, Scott

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