Category: Cloud

CloudDevelopmentMobileWeb

Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 released

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The final release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 is now available.  Update 2 brings dozens of significant new features to Visual Studio developers, including tools for Windows Phone 8.1 and universal Windows apps.

You can find a detailed list of included fixes in the associated Support article.

You can download VS2013.2 now or wait for it to show up in the Visual Studio Notifications.

Enjoy!

References

Mobile-first, Cloud-first Development – Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 released, Visual Studio Apache Cordova Tooling preview and the future of .NET for Cloud and Server

Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 CTP2, Team Foundation Server 2013 Update 2 RC and TypeScript 1.0 RC

Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC: Windows Phone 8.1 Tools, Shared Projects and Universal Windows Apps

CloudDevelopmentWeb

Windows Azure Web Sites: How Application Strings and Connection Strings Work

Great article on how Windows Azure Web Sites: How Application Strings and Connection Strings Work.

Windows Azure Web Sites has a handy capability whereby developers can store key-value string pairs in Azure as part of the configuration information associated with a website.  At runtime, Windows Azure Web Sites automatically retrieves these values for you and makes them available to code running in your website.  Developers can store plain vanilla key-value pairs as well as key-value pairs that will be used as connection strings.

Since the key-value pairs are stored behind the scenes in the Windows Azure Web Sites configuration store, the key-value pairs don’t need to be stored in the file content of your web application.  From a security perspective that is a nice side benefit since sensitive information such as Sql connection strings with passwords never show up as cleartext in a web.config or php.ini file.

 

Enjoy!

CloudDevelopmentMobile

What Windows 8 Developers Should Know About The Cloud

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Great post by Bruno Terkaly on What Windows 8 Developers Should Know About The Cloud.

  1. Client-side developers do need to embrace the cloud. The increasing popularity of connected devices like tablet computers and smartphones is having a direct effect on the adoption rate of personal cloud services. You can expect both connected devices and cloud services to grow together.
  2. This trend has been accelerating over the past couple of years. Mobile and portable devices have limited internal storage and rely heavily on cloud services.

Enjoy!

CloudDevelopmentMobileWeb

Windows Azure Mobile Services – Backend for Your Windows 8, iOS, and Android Apps

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Mobile app developers don’t need to care about servers and clouds, push notification services and databases. Windows Azure Mobile Services is a cloud-based offering that provides a complete backend for mobile apps including data access and push notifications, enabling you to focus on the mobile app infrastructure and code and forget about the server management intricacies. In this talk we’ll build a backend for a Windows 8 app, an iOS app, and an Android app — all accessing the same data store and server-side triggers.

Video: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/WindowsAzure/AzureConf2012/B01

References

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/mobile/

CloudDatabaseDesignDevelopment

Top 12 of Visual Studio 2012

I’ve been using Visual Studio 2012 for just over a week now and I’m really liking all the new features and functionality that comes with it. However I’m still not a huge fan of the new light/dark themes. I would like to use the Dark theme, but find it’s just too dark. It would be nice if they made it a few shades lighter.

Anyway I came across the following blog post on Jason Zander’s blog about the Top 12 of Visual Studio 2012 and I thought I would share it.

In summary, with Visual Studio 2012 you can:

  1. Develop for Windows 8
  2. Develop for the Web
  3. Developer for Windows Phone 8
  4. Develop for Windows Azure
  5. Develop Business Applications
  6. Develop Games and other 3D Applications
  7. Take advantage of the latest language enhancements
  8. Performance, Reliability and Compatibility Improvements
  9. New IDE Productivity Features
  10. Improve your code quality with enhanced testing tools
  11. Reduce cycle times using tools for agile practices
  12. Deliver Cloud-Based Services with Smoother Collaboration between Operations and Engineering

Checkout Jason Zander’s blog post for the full article the Top 12 of Visual Studio 2012.

If you have access to Visual Studio 2012, I highly recommend you give it a try. You can always work in both Visual Studio 2010 and 2012 as they are backwards compatible with one another.

Happy Coding!

CloudTechnology

The New Office 2013 Customer Preview and Installation

Office 2013 New LogoOn July 16 2012, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the immediate availability of the Customer Preview for the NEW Office 2013! This latest version of Office provides a lot of new features including new support for Touch Input, Cloud services integration (SkyDrive), Social collaboration and the Metro UI.

Office 2013 Customer Preview can be installed in just a few easy steps and installs within minutes and can co-exist and run side-by-side with an existing version of Office, which means there is no need to uninstall your current Office installation to try out the latest version, which is pretty neat.

“Office at Its Best on Windows 8

Touch everywhere. Office responds to touch as naturally as it does to keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger.

Inking. Use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. Handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease.

New Windows 8 applications. OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger.

Included in Windows RT. Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which contains new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft Surface.

Office Is in the Cloud

SkyDrive. Office saves documents to SkyDrive by default, so your content is always available across your tablet, PC and phone. Your documents are also available offline and sync when you reconnect.

Roaming. Once signed in to Office, your personalized settings, including your most recently used files, templates and even your custom dictionary, roam with you across virtually all of your devices. Office even remembers where you last left off and brings you right back to that spot in a single click.

Office on Demand. With a subscription, you can access Office even when you are away from your PC by streaming full-featured applications to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC.

New subscription services. The new Office is available as a cloud-based subscription service. As subscribers, consumers automatically get future upgrades in addition to exciting cloud services including Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices.

Office Is Social

Yammer. Yammer delivers a secure, private social network for businesses. You can sign up for free and begin using social networking instantly. Yammer offers integration with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.

Stay connected. Follow people, teams, documents and sites in SharePoint. View and embed pictures, videos and Office content in your activity feeds to stay current and update your colleagues.

People Card. Have an integrated view of your contacts everywhere in Office. The People Card includes presence information complete with pictures, status updates, contact information and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Skype. The new Office comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.

Office Unlocks New Scenarios

Digital note-taking. Keep your notes handy in the cloud and across multiple devices with OneNote. Use what feels most natural to you — take notes with touch, pen or keyboard, or use them together and switch easily back and forth.

Reading and markup. The Read Mode in Word provides a modern and easy-to-navigate reading experience that automatically adjusts for large and small screens. Zoom in and out of content, stream videos within documents, view revision marks and use touch to turn pages.

Meetings. PowerPoint features a new Presenter View that privately shows your current and upcoming slides, presentation time, and speaker notes in a single glance. While presenting, you can zoom, mark up and navigate your slides with touch and stylus. Lync includes multiparty HD video with presentations, shared OneNote notebooks and a virtual whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming.

Eighty-two-inch touch-enabled displays. Conduct more engaging meetings, presentations and lessons, whether in person or virtually, with these multitouch and stylus-enabled displays from Perceptive Pixel.”

 

Installing the new Office Customer Preview

  1. Before getting started, you should review the Office 2013 System Requirements

  2. To start the Office 2013 Customer Preview installation, visit http://office.com/preview

  3. If you are a home user, click on the "Sign Up" button. Business users can click on the "Office 365 Enterprise"

  4. Complete a new user profile and create a new Microsoft account. Note – If you are currently an Office 365 subscription user, you’ll need to sign up for a new Microsoft account that is different from your Office 365 login credentials to test the Customer Preview

  5. Once you’ve signed up for a new Microsoft account, login to http://portal.microsoftonline.com with your new ID

  6. From the Office 365 Admin home page, click the "Download Software" admin shortcut

  7. Click the "install" button. This will launch the new "Click-to-Run" installer. (What’s Click-to-Run? Here’s a technical overview of this new technology)

  8. The new Office installer will launch via Click-to-Run technology.

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Review the Microsoft Office licensing agreement and then click the “Accept” button in the lower right corner.

Within a few minutes, the core of Office will start to install.

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Then choose a look and feel to personalize your new Office client applications.

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Click on the “Take a look” button if you would like to get a quick introduction to what’s new.

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At this point, you can start to use Office. The rest of the installation will continue in the background and wrap up quickly.

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Installation Complete

After the click-to-run installation completes, you’ll see a new group in the Start menu. Here is where you’ll get to see the new application icons. They are definitely Metro inspired.

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Here is the new Word splash screen which is briefly displayed as Word loads up.

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Word 2013

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Excel 2013

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OneNote 2013

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Final Thoughts

I really like the new Office 2013 experience. You should try it out for yourself.

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CloudTechnology

SkyDrive Gets Updated and a New Logo

The other day there was an automatic update for SkyDrive for Windows, which added performance improvements, reliability and better integration with Windows.

Among the changes are a new logo, an updated white icon for the system tray for Windows 7 and 8, and a new status window.

A New Logo

This update brought us a new SkyDrive logo, which  falls in line with the Metro look and feel that is coming in Windows 8.

New SkyDrive Logo

A New Status Window

Part of this update includes a new status window to see what is going on with SkyDrive and whether everything is up to date. You can see this new status window by clicking on the SkyDrive icon in the system tray. This status windows lets you know if SkyDrive it up to date, provides you the time it last was updated and also information on the size and files being synchronized.

You may also notice the all white system tray icon “Cloud”.

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We also see the new logo in the Windows Explorer:

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Apart from the above, most of what changed in this update is not visible to users. “As with most updates,  "this one improves performance, reliability, and compatibility of SkyDrive," so people depending on the service can rely on the system to automatically sync files.” – Mike Torres, from Microsoft.

If you have SkyDrive for Windows installed, then you should get this update automatically. If you don’t have SkyDrive for Windows…I recommend you go and download it now from the SkyDrive web site.

CloudDatabaseDevelopment

WebsiteSpark Members Now Have Access To Windows Azure Benefits

Microsoft’s WebsiteSpark program has been updated to now include Windows Azure benefits. If you’re a member of this program then you should have or will be receiving an email to update your account.

You will need to login to your WebsiteSpark account and then click to update your account to include the new Windows Azure benefits.

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Here is what is included…

WebsiteSpark members can now get up to $1400 in annual Windows Azure resources to design, develop and deploy their site in the cloud. You will also get to keep at no charge, an Expression Web license upon completion of the 3 year program.

Here is additional information about the WebsiteSpark Azure Offer Details:

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In order to take advantage of these additional program benefits, you will need to do this prior to 12/18/2012.

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CloudDatabaseDevelopment

Exploring Windows Azure

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If you don’t already know what Windows Azure is, then it’s Microsoft’s public cloud.

Microsoft’s Windows Azure is flexible, open and rock solid. Windows Azure allows you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any OS, Language, Database or Tool and it has a 99.95% monthly SLA.

One of the new features I noticed is FREE Web Sites. It allows you to start for free and scale as you go.

When they say open, they have greatly expanded the development languages, framework and tools available, all of which are open source and available on github. Cool!

There are also changes in what servers you can use. Apart from Windows, you can now also install Linux as well in virtual machines.

Azure is really transforming into a cloud that isn’t just limited to the Microsoft technology stack, not that there is nothing wrong with that. I love Microsoft technologies, but I think Microsoft make a smart decision to open up and allows Linux, mySql and other languages to be used.

Speaking of languages, there is now support for 5 major languages and then some.

Languages

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Developer Features

Data Storage

  • Blob Service
  • Table Service
  • SQL Database
  • SQL Reporting
  • Hadoop

Messaging and Integration

  • Service Bus Queues
  • Service Bus Topics
  • Queue Service
  • Service Bus Relay

Additional Features

  • Caching (AppFabric)
  • Access Control
  • Diagnostics
  • Autoscaling
  • Media Services
  • SendGrid Email Service
  • Twilio

Free Trial

With the free trial you can…

  • Quickly deploy websites to a highly scalable cloud environment
  • Easily deploy and manage virtual machines running Windows Server and Linux
  • Create highly scalable applications in a rich PaaS environment
  • Create, manage and distribute media in the cloud

The free trial contains:

compute 750 small compute hours per month
web sites 10 shared web sites
relational database 1 GB SQL database instance
storage 20 GB with 1,000,000 storage transactions
bandwidth unlimited inbound and 20 GB outbound

There is a lot that can be done with Windows Azure and the only way to know if it’s right for you and your organization is to give it a try and see what you think.

Get started now:

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