Did you miss this year’s Microsoft Build 2020 virtual event? Do not worry at all!
Microsoft Canada and our community leaders are getting together to share some of the excitement with you – do join us on June 13th as we plan this Canada wide virtual event – delivered by some of the best we have, from East to the West of Canada!
I’ll be discussing Azure Static Web Apps – go from code to scale in minutes, plus other CI/CD announcements from Build.
During my Global Azure Virtual 2020 live stream on Bringing serverless into the Enterprise, I had a few demo glitches. An inside joke for those that do presentations and demos is that the demo gods are either with you or against you. Some might say I didn’t offer up a satisfying sacrifice to the demo gods. I would argue and say I did but I feel it’s important to reflect and learn what went wrong and how I can be better prepared for the future by learning from our mistakes.
So knowing that I presented on this topic for the Global Azure 2020 Virtual event and had some failed demos, I wanted to explain what happned and why and how to be better prepared for a future talk and hopefully it’s a lesson that you can learn from for your own talks, presentations or just development efforts.
Back in February 2020 I had submitted a few topics for the Global Azure 2020 event. At this point in time COVID-19 was going on but the world hadn’t shut down like it is today and the Global Azure 2020 event was still going to happen. In March I was notified that my topic was selected and I had about 6 weeks to prepare. Fast forward to mid March and everything was starting to be cancelled or made virtual. In the case of our local Global Azure 2020 event it was cancelled, so I didn’t work on my presentation. I was invited to participate in another Global Azure 2020 Virtual Community event in UK and Ireland so I focused on that content.
About 2 weeks prior to the Global Azure 2020 event, I was notified we would be making our local event virtual and I had to confirm if I still wanted to participate. At this point I was not prepared and my wife ended up signing up for a course over the weekend prior to the event – which left me with 3 kids (10 months, 4 yrs and 7 yrs) to manage for 10 hours each day over a 3 day weekend. My initial thought was to excuse myself from the event, but I really wanted to participate and with COVID-19 and everything halted, I found it was important to maintain that community connection even if it was a virtual event.
So this took me back to my college days of doing school, working and squeezing in a project over a tight deadline – not fun but with coffee as my partner, I got the kids to bed and started putting in a couple late nights to get it all done…or so I thought.
With my talk this year being on bringing serverless into the Enterprise, I focused on Azure Functions and my demos were on the following topics to illustrate common enterprise use cases:
Using PowerShell in a Azure Function for automation tasks
Deploy code to Azure using GitHub Actions
Avoiding cold start and latency with Premium Functions
Monitoring logs for your Functions
My PowerShell Azure Function Failure
My first failed demo was something I knew was being problematic going into the talk but I felt it was important to still talk about and I had screenshots of a working state from previous attempts so felt good to proceed. The demo was creating an Azure Function with PowerShell. The issue was that no matter what PowerShell command I tried to run, I kept getting errors that it could not be run successful as shown below and no matter what I did I kept getting an error that the subscription could not be set.
Because you never know if something will go off the edge during a demo, you should always be prepared to go ‘offline’. By that I mean show screenshots of what you were trying to do and the expected outcome. You could even go so far as recording your demo and then switching to that during your talk. I’ve never done this but I’ve heard some people have and it worked perfectly. The audience had no idea the demo was broken and they were able to convey their message.
That might be a bit extreme, but I usually do take some screenshots of the Azure portal as part of my notes I use to prepare the presentation, so I know I can always fall back to that if necessary and in this case that is what I did. It’s unfortunate I could not show the feature working as I intended, but I let the audience know and continue to roll along.
My Premium Function Failure
This was my favorite demo I prepared for the talk and it involved creating an Azure Function and hosting it on the Premium plan and then comparing that to the Consumption plan to show scale, latency and that there is no more cold start in Azure Functions with the Premium plan.
When I prepared this demo it was before I worked on the GitHub Actions demo – which would have come prior to this in my presentation. The order of the demos plays an important role in why this failed so I’ll come back to this later.
In order to show the cold start and latency issues with the Azure Functions Consumption plan and how the Premium plan avoids this I was using a load testing site called Loader.io. This tool required that the host URL be verified with a special token that had to be returned from the site. In order to map my Azure Function result to the expected URL that loader.io wanted I needed to configure and Azure Function Proxy.
When I was setting up the demo I first setup the proxy in the portal, and then I moved it so a proxies.json file in the Visual Studio solution as shown here
When I was testing this demo I was able to verify the token and use loader.io to load test my consumption and premium functions without issue. After getting this demo done I moved on to the GitHub Action demo and took a copy of the code and used that for the CI/CD to push it up into Azure and that demo worked without issue. When I tested the automated deployment, I just tested the function and not the load testing.
You may have an idea of what caused the failed demo, but if not it’s related to the proxies.json file. When I copied the file into my solution I forgot to go to the properties and mark it as content to be deployed. So in the GitHub Actions demo that took place prior to the load testing demo, it would have deployed a fresh copy and removed the Proxy I had originally setup in the portal. This meant that if I needed to validate the token from loader.io, I wouldn’t be able to and thus I saw the following error in my demo and was a bit surprised.
I didn’t have or want to take the time to live debug to find out what was wrong as I feared I would go down a rabbit hole and totally derail my talk. So I moved on and explained as best as I could what would have happened…again I have screenshots but it wasn’t as cool as showing it live.
Testing, rehearse and what went wrong
When I look back at that presentation, I had under 2 weeks to prepare and I was still working on the talk the morning of to finish up a few areas. I would not have left things to the last minute as I did but things were very fluid in Feb/Mar with COVID-19 and I wanted to put my best effort in for the community and felt I could still manage it but under not so ideal circumstances.
I worked on each demo individually as they weren’t really related except for the GitHub Action demo. I should have done that first because I would have caught the token verification issue right away due to the missing proxy.
Speaking of token verification, it would seem its valid for 24 hours and as I got close to the talk I didn’t want to warm up my functions as I wanted them in a cold state. So not testing them right before my talk I missed out on seeing that the token just expired, which would have shown me that the proxy was missing.
Due to the time crunch when I rehearsed I didn’t do my demos inline with the presentation, I did them separately. Again had I done the demos with the presentation I would have potentially caught the expired token and missing proxy. It’s important to do an end to end test and walk through of the presentation material regardless how comfortable you feel you are.
In retrospect I should have gone back and tried to troubleshoot this issue at the end of my talk. As soon as I looked at the function I noticed the proxy was missing and I was able to add it quickly which would have looked like this…
This would have only taken me 5 minutes to troubleshoot and fix which would have allowed me to show the real demo. All in all the talk went well and I got some really good feedback. No one complained about the broken demos and I mentioned that I would follow up with the blog post to show what was wrong and how I fixed it. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t show this demo live as its pretty awesome to see, so look for a future blog post where I’ll setup a Premium function and throw some load at it – maybe I’ll even record it and post to YouTube.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found something useful. I find it’s important to acknowledge when we do run into issues and how we solve them.
What is the Book of News? The Microsoft Build 2020 Book of News is your guide to the key news items that are announced at Build 2020.
As expected there is a lot of focus on Azure and AI, followed by Microsoft 365, Security, Windows, and Edge & Bing. This year the book of news is interactive instead of being a PDF.
Today is Virtual Azure Community Day and if you missed the sessions, they’re available online here https://azureday.community/#schedule. There are a total of 4 tracks offering lots of content.
Where do all the sessions go when events and meetups are being cancelled all over the world? We thought it would be fun to create a platform where we, as a community, can virtually get together and enjoy those sessions you don’t want to miss out on.
Join us for the first ever Virtual Azure Community Day! No stickers or socks, but 8 hours of technical geekery. There’s multiple streams hosted from Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Central and Eastern European countries.
Microsoft Build focuses on latest trends and future looking technology innovations for leading architects, developers, start-ups and student developers.
Pricing and free child admission
The cost for Build is $2,395 USD and is all-inclusive and provides all access for the full three days or hands-on learning where you can meet with the engineers, and connect with the community.
Just like last year you’re able to bring your aspiring developer (ages 14–21) to the conference, which includes access to the extraordinary Student Zone, for free. There is also a limited number of child passes available.
My Build experience
I had the opportunity to attend my first Microsoft Build conference back in 2018 and I loved it and would recommend it to any developer. I know you can watch almost all of the sessions online from the comfort of your desk or couch but what makes attending Build special is the interaction with the engineers working on Microsoft products like Azure, Office, Windows, Visual Studio and so much more. You also get to meet and share ideas with thousands of other developers from all over the world who have similar passions for building awesome software with Microsoft products.
Back at Microsoft Ignite, it was announced that the Global Azure Bootcamp was going to be rebranded to Global Azure and run across 3 days from Thursday April 23 to Saturday April 25.
This is the same great event but only better. Organizers now have the freedom to host one or more events across the 3 days. All around the world user groups and communities want to learn about Azure and Cloud Computing and providing the community flexibility in terms of when they can host an event or how many events is a win.
Global Azure is the biggest community event about the Microsoft Azure platform.
Microsoft Ignite is the largest tech event of the year with over 26,000 professionals in attendance. During the event there will be plenty of new services news and updates being announced. Microsoft publishes a “book of news” that lists all of the major announcements and links to related sources for more information.
Last week was Canada’s biggest hackathon called Hack the North, where 1,500 students from all around the world at the University of Waterloo to build something amazing over 36 hours. I had the opportunity to be a mentor and help these smart kids out with their creations.
This is my second hackathon, the first being the UofTHacks VI from earlier in the year. Both are very different from one another but had the same drive and passion from the students and it was amazing to see what they were building.
Here is a gallery of the day.
That’s a wrap. I look forward to my next hackathon in 2020.
Registration is now open for Microsoft’s premier developer conference, Microsoft Build, which is taking place May 6-8 in Seattle, WA. At Microsoft Build, you’ll get access to the latest product updates, hear about Microsoft’s strategy and product roadmaps, and get hands-on, ask questions, and learn the best practices.
Some of the benefits for attending Build are:
• Learning from real-world experiences on building, modernizing, and migrating cloud applications
• Add value to your new and/or existing applications with AI
• Collaborative coding with your peers using the latest development tools
• Increasing productivity for your business with DevOps automation, tooling, and processes
• Creating and deploying cross platform applications
• Discovering innovations across Mixed Reality, IoT, and Machine Learning
• Learning new ways to easily customize, build, and extend applications with minimal code
If you’re interested in the content from last year, here is complete listing of the 2018 sessions.
New this year is the ability to bring your student-aged family member (14-21 years old) to the conference for free! For details about this wonderful opportunity, click here. Space is limited, so register today. While attending the event last year, one of the Microsoft Executives brought his two daughters and it was awesome to see them take interest and engage with the speakers and product groups. I’m glad they made this available this year for all eligible students.
I went to Microsoft Build last year for the first time and loved the experience to see and try the latest technologies, to connect with peers, and discover new innovative solutions to build. I’m not able to attend this year but I’m hoping to go again in the near future. If you can’t attend, then you always have the option to watch it on demand.