I came across an excellent blog post from the Azure App Service Team BlogFAQ: App Service Domain (preview) and Custom Domains. Lots of great of questions and answers relating to Azure DNS and your custom domains.

If you have any questions or have run into issues with your custom domain and Azure this is a great resource, so check it out!

Reference

Azure App Service Team Blog

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So this week Visual Studio Team Services build and release saved me and my team.

At our company we have configured an on premise continuous integration server along with build agents using TeamCity which is a product from JetBrains. TeamCity Professional is actually a free application that allows you to run 3 build agents. The only cost is the associated hardware and Windows licensing. I fell in love with TeamCity years ago when I set it up at our company and it’s been a very stable and a versatile CI server since. However this week I ran into some issues with our TeamCity server and the fact that it was on premise only added to the problem. Let me explain.

Our build server physical infrastructure is actually located offsite from our office (along with other dev/qa servers), so when I say on premise I really means its dedicated hardware that we own and not up in the cloud. The situation we ran into is that our TeamCity server didn’t restart properly and was unavailable by remote access by the ITOPS team, this meant someone had to go to the offsite location and reboot the server. Now you might be wondering, why don’t you have a backup…a good question and something I’ll be looking into.

What made matters worse is that we we’re nearing the end of a regression cycle and we wanted to deploy later this week. So having our build server drop off the grid was just bad timing and it meant DEV and QA were in a holding pattern while we waited for our build server to be brought back up and hopefully it was ok and not corrupted or worse.

While we waited for our build server to be restarted I started thinking about worse case scenarios like what if our build server is dead and we need to rebuild or restore from a backup (and what do you know it was out of date). None of these options can be done quickly and they require unplanned resources from the ITOPS team and myself.

Having already explored Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) build and release services for my personal development and that of our Live .NET logging tool ReflectInsight, I knew I could easily and quickly get one of our applications setup in that continuous integration pipeline. You will actually be shocked at how quickly I got things going.

Our current build process typically builds the solution, runs unit tests, creates a nuget package and then finally publishes the nuget package to an internal nuget repository that is part of TeamCity. We then have an automated deployment service called Octopus Deploy that picks up this package and can then deploy to any of our QA and/or production systems. Since our TeamCity server is offline, I would need to publish the nuget package to another destination for the time being. I decided to create an Azure Storage account and then copy the nuget package there. I could then pull the nuget package down and manually upload to our Octopus Deploy server.

To get started I headed over to my Visual Studio Team Services account I had setup with my MSDN subscription and I then created a new project to contain my builds. I then clicked on the Build & Release tab and then clicked on the New button to create a new build definition:

image

I then clicked on the ASP.NET (PREVIEW) featured template:

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I then configured the Get sources task to point to our GitHub repository and then I added in the last two steps for generating a NuGet package and to copy the generated NuGet package to an Azure Storage account:

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I wont go into detail for each of these build tasks as their pretty straight forward, but after I had everything setup and tested, I looked at the clock and it was under 15 min from start to finish. That is something I could never have done in our existing on premise build infrastructure and it now looks like I have my backup solution.

One of the nice things about using the hosted agent in VSTS is that it’s located in Azure and its a service that is managed by the Azure team. This means I spend more time focusing on developing my applications and less time worrying about managing the associated build infrastructure and what happens if a server goes down, performing backups, restores and that all hands on deck feeling when your infrastructure goes down at the worse possible time.

Enjoy!

References

TeamCity

Visual Studio Team Services

Azure Storage Explorer

Octopus Deploy

This post will guide you on how to build an Angular 4 app using Visual Studio Team Services and then deploy it to an Azure App Service instance.

So let’s review what we’ll need before we begin:

  1. You will be required to have an active Visual Studio Team Services account. If you don’t have one you can signup for free here.
  2. You will also need to have an active Azure subscription. If you don’t have one you can signup for a free trial here.

Now that we have met the requirements, let’s get started.

Create a new build definition

We will start by signing into your Visual Studio Team Services account and then navigating to the Build & Release tab from the top navigation links to create a build. From here we will click on the New button to define a new build definition.

image

Next you will choose a template to use for your build. There are a lot of build templates so take a look at what’s available and choose what is most appropriate for your needs. If you don’t see what you want, you can always choose the empty template which is what I’m going to do now and then add the necessary build tasks that make sense for you.

image

After selecting the empty template you will want to name your build definition, connect your source code repository (Github, Visual Studio Team Services, other) and then start adding build tasks:

image

Click on the Get sources link on the left side to wire up your source code for the build. In this demo I’m connecting to my personal Github repository:

image

Now that we have our source code wired up, you’re ready to start defining your build tasks.

Defining your build process tasks

Now that we have our build definition configured to our source repository, it’s time to start adding build process tasks. To do this we click on the Add Task button from the left which will then present a listing of available build tasks (some of which are in preview):

image

In this post I want to build an Angular app, so I will need to use an npm build task. Using the search box I will type in npm and the listing will then filter out to only show me any npm build tasks. At this time there is one, so I will click on it and then the Add button to add it to my build process:

image

This will be the configuration for our npm install task:

image

Next we will need to add another npm build task for running the Angular CLI build command ng build. This will be the configuration for our npm run task:

image

At this point our build is installing all necessary npm packages and then running an npm command to build the Angular app. Once the app is built, I like to archive the build artifacts in a ZIP file. This will be our configuration for our archive files build task:

image

Finally we will deploy our app to an Azure App Service instance. To do this you will want to have your Azure App Service already pre-configured. You can checkout this post for details on creating an Azure App Service.

This will be our configuration for our Azure App Service Deployment build task. There are 3 settings you need to set:

  1. Select you Azure subscription
  2. Select your App Service name
  3. Select the package or folder you wish to deploy

image

Here is a review of the build tasks we created above:

image

Queue a new build

Once we have our build process defined we can kick off a new build by clicking on the Queue button on the top toolbar:

image

This will being up the queue build modal where you can define the agent queue to use, the branch to build or a specific commit along with defining build variables, etc. I will select the Hosted agent queue and my master branch. I will then click on the Queue button to initiate the build:

image

For more information on the differences between the hosted agents, checkout this link for further details.

You should now notice that your build is now queued:

image

Viewing your build process

You can click on your build at anytime and see detailed output for what is happening during the build process along with view and/or download detailed log files:

image

Voila, our build is now finished:

image

Visual Studio Team Services build can also be configured to send out an email when builds succeed and/or fail:

image 

Now that I have a successful build, lets browse and take a look at our deployed Angular app: http://blog-angular-deployment.azurewebsites.net/ .

Wrap up

I hope this post helps your build and deploy your Angular apps to Azure. As you can see it’s very straight forward to setup and requires no build infrastructure on your end to make it happen.

Enjoy!

References

Azure free trial

Visual Studio Team Services

Build and release tasks

Hosted agents

Angular

Angular CLI

The following are a few tips for managing your Azure subscription. Start by navigating to the Subscription blade and then click on a Subscription you wish to manage:

image

From here you have a clear overview of your Subscription ID and the current spending with a breakdown by resource.

Renaming your subscription

To rename your Subscription, in my case I want to change it from “BizSpark-$70” to “MSDN-Professional-$70” as that is a new MSDN subscription I purchased and changing the name properly reflects that subscription and the Azure credits associated with it.

To rename the Subscription, click on the Subscription name:

image

You can now enter in a new Subscription name and when you’re done click on the Save button. The subscription name change can take up to 10 minutes to be reflected on the Azure portal.

image

After the subscription has successfully been renamed, you’ll receive an alert:

image

Configuring email invoices

The Azure portal recently allowed you to opt in and configure email invoices. This means instead of receiving an email each month that your invoice is ready which required you to login to the Azure portal, now you can have the invoice emailed to you instead, which is awesome!

If you haven’t already setup email invoices, from the Azure Subscription blade, click on Invoices:

image

From the Invoices blade, you can now click on the Invoices button and then from here you can opt-in and configure it:

image

If you already opted in, you can review your current configuration and also configure the list of recipients (maybe you want the invoice sent to your accounting department also). When done, click the Done button at the bottom:

image

Enjoy!

Resources

Azure Portal

Azure Functions Updates

April 30, 2017

New Release of Azure Functions

A new release of Azure Functions is now available, version 1.0.10917. The main things in this release are:

  • Application Insights integration (Preview)
  • Native TypeScript support (preview)
  • Improvements to binding extensibility for binding authors
  • JavaScript transpiler API/extension model
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements

New Experience for Azure Functions

The Azure Functions portal was also completely re-vamped with a new UI experience. Some of the improvements are:

  • A dedicated browse blade for Function Apps.
  • A tree view that allows viewing and managing multiple Function Apps
  • Filters on subscription and app name, as well as an option to scope the view to just one app
  • One-click access to all App Service platform features
  • A convenient way to manage features that have already been configured
  • Overall UI enhancements to be more consistent with the rest of the Azure portal

image

You can read more about the portal changes in the announcement blog.

Enjoy!

References

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/appserviceteam/2017/05/01/april-2017-app-service-update/

Earlier this month Azure Functions was updated to have direct integration with Application Insights and is currently only available on the “beta” version of Azure Functions. At this time it’s recommended to only try this out in non-production Azure Function apps until it’s a more stable release.

Getting Started

Before we can enable Azure Function Application Insights integration, we will need to setup an Application Insights instance. If you already have one skip to the next step.

  1. Create an Application Insights instance and Application Type should be General. Once your Application Insights is setup, copy the instrumentation key which we’ll need in the next step.
    image
    image
  2. Next you will need to update your Azure Function Application Settings to configure your function to run under the “beta” version and then to set your Application Insights Instrumentation Key.image
  3. Now go to Application Settings and then update App Setting “FUNCTIONS_EXTENSION_VERSION” from “~1” to “beta” and then add a new key named “APPINSIGHTS_INSTRUMENTATIONKEY” and set the value to the Application Insights Instrumentation key you copied in step 1. Now click Save to update your Azure Function.
    image 

Once this is done, your Application Insights instance will start collecting telemetry from your Azure Function without any code changes.

Using Application Insights

Going to your Application Insights, you can start to see some metrics showing up on the overview blade:image

Live Metrics Stream

You can get a lot more insights to real-time telemetry from the Live Metrics Stream to see what’s happening right now:
image

Analytics

Another great resource of Application Insights is the Analytics portal, which provides you the ability to write your own custom queries.
image

Alerts

The previous two options are great to see what is happening or what happened historically, but Alerts will tell you what’s happening. I suggest you checkout Alerts from the Application Insights blade, where you can define alerts based on a wide array of metrics.

image

Summary

You can now add Application Insights to your Azure Functions with minimal effort, which is a powerful tool for monitoring your applications. Keep in mind that this is currently only available in the “beta” version of Azure Functions, but is something that should be coming to the production release in the near future now that it’s been merged into the develop branch on github.

Enjoy!

References

Azure Functions integration with Application Insights

Azure Functions now has direct integration with Application Insights

Application Insights

Live Metrics Stream docs

image

Test your coding skills and learn how to build solutions using Azure Functions at the same time. Earn badges for every challenge you complete and brag to your friends! You can code these challenges in the FREE Azure Functions experience or using your existing Azure subscription. Don’t worry, Azure Functions has more than enough free executions for you to last the whole challenge experience!

Also check out the new Visual Studio Tools for Azure Functions. Use it to build and debug your function locally and then publish or zip deploy to your test function. If you already have an Azure subscription, you can also remotely debug your functions.

Azure Functions is an event-based serverless compute experience that scales based on your demand and you only pay for the resources used.

Click here to get started with the Azure Functions Code Challenge!

Enjoy!

Resources

Get started using the Try Functions experience here.

Already have an Azure Subscription, then get started with your existing account here.

Download the Visual Studio Tools for Azure Functions here.

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