Tag Archives: Azure

New Azure To TFS Deploy Tool Available

Deploy Windows Azure project directly from TFS 2010 Build Server

 

Build Definition Template
DeployToAzure allows automating deployment of Windows Azure project and making it a part of TFS 2010 build process without using PowerShell and Azure Management CmdLets.

Solution includes:

  • A set of custom workflow actions wrapping Azure Management API operations such as GetDeployment, GetOperationStatus, NewDeployment, RemoveDeployment and SetDeploymentStatus;
  • Helper actions such as FindPackageAndConfigurationFiles, LoadCertificate and WaitForOperationToComplete;
  • Designer activity DeployToAzure implementing deployment logic ;
  • Reusable build definition template.

How it works :

Create build definition

Open New Build Definition dialog. Select Process tab. Click New button in Build process template section. Choose Select an existing XAML file option and specify path to DefaultTemplateWithDeploymentToAzure.xaml in your source control.

processtemplate

Deployment to Azure section will appear in Build process parameters. Click Refresh button if you don’t see it.

d2asection

Now define build properties. First ,open 1. Required / Items to build dialog and select your solution and specify configuration to build.

Open Deployment to Azure section and provide following parameters:

  • API Certificate store location – store location of your management certificate. Select LocalMachine if certificate was created by command above.
  • API Certificate Thumbprint – thumbprint of management certificate.
  • API Certificate store – store where management certificate is located. Select Root if certificate was created by command above.
  • Cloud Project – cloud project to be packaged and deployed.  It will be built with the same configuration as the one specified for solution building.
  • Deployment label – label of deployment. Label can contain same set of macros as Build Label.
  • Hosted Service Name – DNS Prefix of Hosted service. You can find it on Windows Azure portal.
  • Service configuration – service configuration to be used for deployment, for example Cloud. Keep this field empty to use default configuration.
  • Slot – select Staging or Production.
  • Storage Service Name – DNS Prefix of storage service which will be used to upload deployment package.
  • Subscription Id – Azure subscription ID.
  • Wait for roles to start – set to true if build should wait for all instances to start.
  • Initialization Timeout – if above is true, specify timeout for build to wait before generate timeout exception.

Contact me at floyd_tomas@yahoo.com for this and other Azure, SharePoint, Office365,  TFS and Agile Tools

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How To : Manually add common consent to your Office 365 APIs Preview app

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Learn how to manually add Microsoft Azure Active Directory common consent to your ASP.NET application so that it can access secured services.

Prerelease content Prerelease content
The features and APIs documented in this article are in preview and are subject to change. Do not use them in production.

In this article, you’ll learn how to build a web application hosted on an Azure website that uses the OneDrive for Business API to access secured folders and files.

You can easily set up access to the OneDrive for Business using the Office 365 API Preview Tools for Visual Studio 2013. If you’re not using the tools, you’ll need to manually set up your app in your development environment, register your app with Microsoft Azure Active Directory, write code to handle tokens, and write the code to work with the OneDrive for Business resources. All these steps are described in this article.

Note Note
This article covers OneDrive for Business apps, but the same steps apply to apps that access any other secured resource.

Before you manually add common consent to your app, make sure that you have the following:

  • An Office 365 account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for an Office 365 developer site.
  • Visual Studio 2012 or Visual Studio 2013.
    Note Note
    The Office 365 API Preview Tools for Visual Studio 2013, which simplify development, are available for Visual Studio 2013 only.
  • A test account to use in your application.

We also recommend that you familiarize yourself with the Authorization Code Grant Flow. This will help you understand the authentication process that takes place in the background between your application, Azure AD, and the Office 365 resource so that you can better troubleshoot as you develop.

If you’ve already created an account within your Azure tenancy, you can use that account. Otherwise, you will have to create a new organizational user account to use in this sample.

To create an organizational user account

  1. Go to https://manage.windowsazure.com/.
  2. Choose the Active Directory icon on the left side in the Azure portal.
  3. Choose Add a user.
  4. Fill in the user name.
  5. Move to the next screen.
  6. Create a user profile. To do this:
    1. Enter a first and last name.
    2. Enter a display name.
    3. Set the Role to Global Administrator.
    4. After you set the role you will be asked for an alternate email address. You can enter the email address that you used to create the subscription, or a different one.
  7. Move to the next screen.
  8. Choose create.
  9. A temporary password is generated. You will use this to sign in later. You will have to change it at that time.
  10. Choose the check mark to finish creating the organizational user account.

The next step is to create the actual app that contains the UI and code needed to work with the OneDrive for Business REST APIs to list the folders and files in the user’s OneDrive.

To create the Visual Studio project

  1. Open Visual Studio 2013 and create a new ASP.NET Web Application project. Name the application Get_Stats. Choose OK.
  2. Choose the MVC template and choose the Change Authentication button. Select the Organization Accounts option. This will display additional options for authentication.
  3. Choose Cloud – Single Organization.
  4. Specify the domain of your Azure AD tenancy.
  5. Set the Access Level to Single Sign On, Read directory data.

    Under More Options, you will see the App ID URI is set automatically.

  6. Choose OK to continue. This brings up a dialog box to authenticate.
    Note Note
    If you receive an invalid domain name error, you might need to implement a workaround by substituting a real domain name, such as *.onmicrosoft.com, from another Azure subscription that you have. When you complete the Visual Studio new project dialog box, Visual Studio creates a temporary app registration entry on the domain that you specify. You can delete that entry later.

    As part of the workaround, you need to adjust the web.config settings and manually register the web app in the correct Azure AD domain.

  7. Enter the credentials of the user you created earlier.
  8. Choose OK to finish creating the new project. Visual Studio will automatically register the new web app in the Azure AD tenant you specified.
  9. Run the Visual Studio project, and sign on using the test account you created earlier. After the project is running, you can verify that single-sign on is working because the test account user name is displayed in the upper right corner of the web app.
  1. Log on with your Azure account.
  2. In the left navigation, choose Active Directory. Your directory will be listed.
  3. Choose your directory.
  4. In the top navigation, choose Applications.
  5. On the Active Directory tab, choose Applications.
  6. Add a new application in your Office 365 domain (created at Office 365 sign up) by choosing the “ADD” icon at the bottom of the portal screen. This will bring up a dialog box to tell Azure about your application.
  7. Choose Add an application my organization is developing.
  8. For the name of the application, enter Get Stats. For the Type, leave Web application and/or Web API. Then choose the arrow to move to step 2.
  9. For the Sign-On URL, enter the localhost URL from your Get_Stats Visual Studio project. To find the URL:
    1. Open your project in Visual Studio.
    2. In Solution Explorer, choose the Get_Status project.
    3. From the Properties window, copy the SSL URL value.
    4. Enter an App ID URI. Because the ID must be unique, it’s a good idea to choose a name that is similar to the app name. For example, you can use your Sign-on URL with your app name, such as https://locahost:44044/Get_Stats.
    5. Choose the checkmark to finish adding the application. You will be notified that the application was added successfully.
  1. Copy the APP ID URI to the clipboard.
  2. In your Get_Stats Visual Studio project, open the web.config file.
  3. Locate the ida:Realm key and paste the APP ID URI for the value.
  4. Locate the ida:AudienceUri key and paste the same APP ID URI for the value.
  5. Locate the audienceUris element and paste the same APP ID URI for the add element’s value.
  6. Locate the wsFederation element, and paste the same APP ID URI for the realm.
  7. In the Azure Portal, copy the federation metadata document URL to the clipboard.
  8. In the web.config file, locate the ida:FederationMetadataLocation key, and paste the URL for the value.
  9. In the Azure Portal, choose the View Endpoints icon at the bottom.
  10. Copy the WS-Federation Sign-On Endpoint to the clipboard.
  11. In the web.config file, locate the wsFederation element and paste the endpoint value for the issuer.
  12. Save your changes and run the project. You will be prompted to sign on. Sign on by using the test account you created earlier. You should see your account user name displayed in the upper right corner of the web app.

Get an application key


Next, you need to generate a key that you can use to identify your application for access tokens.

To get an application key for your app

  1. In the Azure Portal, select the Get_Stats application in the directory.
  2. Choose the Configure command and then locate the keys section.
  3. In the Select duration drop-down box, choose 1 year.
  4. Choose Save.

    The key value is displayed.

    Note Note
    This is the only time that the key is displayed.
  5. In Visual Studio, open the Get_Stats project, and open the web.config file.
  6. Locate the ida:Password element, and paste the key value for the value. Now your project will always send the correct password when it is requested.
  7. Save all files.
Configure API permissions


You need to specify which web APIs your web app needs access to, and what level of access it needs. This determines what scopes and permissions are requested on the consent form for your web app that is displayed for users and admins.

To configure API permissions

  1. In the Azure Portal, select the Get Status application in the directory.
  2. From the top navigation, choose Configure. This displays all the configuration properties.
  3. At the bottom is a web apis section. Notice that your web app has already been granted access to Azure AD.
  4. Choose Office365 SharePoint Online API.
  5. Choose Delegated Permissions and select Read items in all site collections.
    Note Note
    The options activate when you move over them.
  6. Choose Save to save these changes. Your web app will now request these permissions.

    You can also manage permissions by using a manifest. You can download your manifest file by choosing Manage Manifest.

Add the GraphHelper project to your solution


The easiest way to call graph APIs in Azure AD is to use the Graph API Helper Library. The following instructions show how to include the GraphHelper project into your Get_Stats solution.

To configure the Graph API Helper Library

  1. Download the Azure AD Graph API Helper Library.
  2. Copy the C# folder from the Graph API Helper Library to your project folder (i.e. \Projects\Get_Stats\C#.)
  3. Open the Get_Stats solution in Visual Studio.
  4. In the Solution Explorer, choose the Get-Stats solution and choose Add Existing Project.
  5. Go to the C# folder you copied, and open the WindowsAzure.AD.Graph.2013_04_05 folder.
  6. Select the Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.GraphHelper project and choose Open.
  7. If you are prompted with a security warning about adding the project, choose OK to indicate that you trust the project.
  8. Choose the Get_Stats project References folder and then choose Add Reference.
  9. In the Reference Manager dialog box, select Extensions and then select the Microsoft.Data.OData version 5.6.0.0 assembly and the Microsoft.Data.Services.Client version 5.6.0.0 assembly.
  10. In the same Reference Manager dialog box, expand the Solution menu on the left, and then select the checkbox for the Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.GraphHelper.
  11. Choose OK to add the references to your project.
  12. Add the following using directives to the top of HomeController.cs.
    using Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory;
    using Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.GraphHelper;
    using System.Data.Services.Client;
    
    
  13. Save all files.

Add code to manage tokens and requests


Because your web app accesses multiple workloads, you need to write some code to obtain tokens. It’s best to place this code in some helper methods that can be called when needed.Note that the Office 365 API Preview tools will handle all this coding for you.

Your custom code handles the following scenarios:

  • Obtaining an authentication code
  • Using the authentication code to obtain an access token and a multiple resource refresh token
  • Using the multiple resource refresh token to obtain a new access token for a new workload

To create code to manage tokens and requests

  1. Open your Visual Studio project for Get_Stats.
  2. Open the HomeController.cs file.
  3. Create a new method named Stats by using the following code.
    public ActionResult Stats()
    {
        var authorizationEndpoint = "https://login.windows.net/"; // The oauth2 endpoint.
        var resource = "https://graph.windows.net"; // Request access to the AD graph resource.
        var redirectURI = ""; // The URL where the authorization code is sent on redirect.
    
        // Create a request for an authorization code.
        string authorizationUrl = string.Format("{1}common/oauth2/authorize?&response_type=code&client_id={2}&resource={3}&redirect_uri={4}",
               authorizationEndpoint,
               ClaimsPrincipal.Current.FindFirst(TenantIdClaimType).Value,
               AppPrincipalId,
               resource,
               redirectURI);
    
    
  4. The Stats method constructs a request for an authorization code and sends the request to the Oauth2 endpoint. If successful, the redirect returns to the specified CatchCode URL. Next, create a method to handle the redirect to CatchCode.
    public ActionResult CatchCode(string code)
    {}
    
    
  5. Acquire the access token by using the app credentials and the authorization code. Use your project’s correct port number in the following code.
    //  Replace the following port with the correct port number from your own project.
        var appRedirect = "https://localhost:44307/Home/CatchCode";
    
    //  Create an authentication context.
        AuthenticationContext ac = new AuthenticationContext(string.Format("https://login.windows.net/{0}",
        ClaimsPrincipal.Current.FindFirst(TenantIdClaimType).Value));
    
    //  Create a client credential based on the application ID and secret.
    ClientCredential clcred = new ClientCredential(AppPrincipalId, AppKey);
    
    //  Use the authorization code to acquire an access token.
        var arAD = ac.AcquireTokenByAuthorizationCode(code, new Uri(appRedirect), clcred);
    
    
  6. Next use the access token to call the Graph API and get the list of users for the Office 365 tenant. Paste the list into the following code.
    //  Convert token to the ADToken so you can use it in the graphhelper project.
    
        AADJWTToken token = new AADJWTToken();
        token.AccessToken = arAD.AccessToken; 
    
    //  Initialize a graphService instance by using the token acquired in the previous step.
    
        Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.DirectoryDataService graphService = new DirectoryDataService("09f9ea02-9be8-4597-86b9-32935a17723e", token);
        graphService.BaseUri = new Uri("https://graph.windows.net/09f9ea02-9be8-4597-86b9-32935a17723e");
    
    //  Get the list of all users.
    
        var users = graphService.users;
        QueryOperationResponse<Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.User> response;
        response = users.Execute() as QueryOperationResponse<Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.User>;
        List<Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ActiveDirectory.User> userList = response.ToList();
        ViewBag.userList = userList; 
    
    
  7. Now you need to call Microsoft OneDrive for Business, and this requires a new access token. Verify that the current token is a multiple resource refresh token, and then use it to obtain a new token. Paste the token into the following code.
    //  You need a new access token for new workload. Check to determine whether you have the MRRT.
    
        if (arAD.IsMultipleResourceRefreshToken)
        {
            // This is an MRRT so use it to request an access token for SharePoint.
            AuthenticationResult arSP = ac.AcquireTokenByRefreshToken(arAD.RefreshToken, AppPrincipalId, clcred, "https://imgeeky.spo.com/");
        }
    
    
  8. Finally, call Microsoft OneDrive for Business to get a list of files in the Shared with Everyone folder. Paste the list into the following code and replace any placeholders with correct values.
    //  Now make a call to get a list of all files in a folder. 
    //  Replace placeholders in the following string with correct values for your domain and user name. 
        var skyGetAllFilesCommand = "https://YourO365Domain-my.spo.com/personal/YourUserName_YourO365domain_spo_com/_api/web/GetFolderByServerRelativeUrl('/personal/YourUserName_YourO365domain_spo_com/Documents/Shared%20with%20Everyone')/Files";
    
        HttpWebRequest request = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create(skyGetAllFilesCommand);
        request.Method = "GET";
    
        WebResponse wr = request.GetResponse();
    
        ViewBag.test = wr.ToString();
    
        return View(); 
    
    
  9. Create a view for the CatchCode method. In Solution Explorer, expand the Views folder and choose Home, and then choose Add View.
  10. Enter CatchCode as the name of the new view, and choose Add.
  11. Paste the following HTML to render the users and Microsoft OneDrive for Business response from the CatchCode method.
    @{
        ViewBag.Title = "CatchCode";
    }
    <h2>Users</h2>
    <ul id="users">
    
        @foreach (var user in ViewBag.userList)
        {
            <li>@user.displayName</li>
        }
    </ul>
    <h2>OneDrive for Business Response</h2>
    <p>@ViewBag.skyResponse</p>
    
    
  12. Build and run the solution. Verify that you get a list of users, and that you get an XML response from the OneDrive for Business method call. To change the XML response, add files to the OneDrive for Business Share with Everyone folder.

A Look At : DevOps and DNS – What Every Developer Should Know

Over the years I have had the to work alongside many really smart, switched on people in the development community. I’ve learnt from them many intermediate and experienced programming skills. Generally when it comes understanding the very basis of how the internet functions using DNS, most of these very same experienced developers haven’t got a clue.

I wrote this post to hopefully help pay back some of the awesome karma they  have earned helping me over the years, by teaching them something in return. Lets learn about DNS.

imageDNS is a huge part of the inner workings of the internet. spend a considerable amount of man hours a year ensuring the sites they build are fast and respond well to user interaction by setting up expensive CDN’s, recompressing images, minifying script files and much more – but what a lot of us don’t understand is that DNS server configuration can make a big difference to the speed of your site – hopefully at the end of this post you’ll feel empowered to get the most out of this part of your website’s configuration.

What I will in this post:

Why does DNS matter to you?

Well it’s simple – if you are a developer it matters to you because:

  • You own , and up until now your has taken care of your DNS for you – but you need to know what’s going on in case something bad happens…
  • Maybe the you have allows you to manage your own DNS using a web interface, but you haven’t a clue what you are doing.
  • The DNS that your webhost or ISP offers you is probably not the fastest – if your website grows over time, you probably want to setup your own DNS or manage it through a dedicated service such as DNSMadeEasy, ZoneEdit or DynDNS.

First up: How the internet works (DNS)

If you already know how this works feel to step ahead.

image

In really simple terms, when you enter a URL and hit enter, apart from magical unicorns rendering the requested page in your browser window, the interwebs works kinda like this:

  • You want to visit to a domain name, so your PC first checks its internal DNS cache to see if it’s looked it up recently – if so it uses this record
  • Your PC then asks your DNS server (probably configured by your router or ISP when you first started your PC) for the IP address of the server hosting the domain name you want to visit.
  • Your ISP’s DNS server looks up the root DNS servers for the world to find out who takes care of the DNS configuration for the domain you want to visit.
  • Your ISP’s DNS server then asks this authorative DNS server for the domain name you want’s IP information, fetches it, caches it, and then returns it to your PC.
  • Your browser connects to this IP address and asks for a web page.

There are a number of different scenarios that play a role in special circumstances with the above but I’m not really going to cover everything in this post.

What DNS does do:

  • Converts hostnames to IP addresses.
  • Stores mail delivery information for a domain.
  • Stores miscellaneous information against a domain name (TXT records).

What DNS doesn’t/cannot do

  • Redirects users to a different server/site.
  • Configure which port the client is connecting to (not entirely true; SRV records are used for protocol/port mappings for services).

Tools for the Job

One of the coolest things about the tools you’ll need for this blog post, is where I tell you that independent of which operating system you are using, you almost certainly have everything you need to query and test the DNS configuration of your website installed right now without you even knowing

The Swiss Army Knife of DNS inspection is the command line tool NSLOOKUP. This is installed by default in nearly every OS you’ll ever need it on.

NSLOOKUP on Windows

NSLOOKUP on Unix/Linux/Mac OSX

Another cool thing the usage is the same on most platforms as well.

To run NSLOOKUP simply open a terminal/command prompt and type

nslookup

image

The first thing you’ll notice about the pic above is that the first thing NSLOOKUP tells me upon launch is the current DNS server that it will use for its lookups.

By default NSLOOKUP will use your current machine’s DNS settings for its DNS lookups. This can sometimes give you different results from the rest of the world as your internal DNS at your place of work/ISP may be returning different results so they can route, say your office mail, to the internal mail server IP rather than the external internet/DMZ IP address.

Lets change this to use Google’s global DNS server to get a better global view (what others see when they surf the web outside my network) on our DNS queries, by typing;

server 8.8.8.8

Now if I query this blog’s domain name “diaryofaninja.com.” (ensure you place the additional period on the end of this query to avoid any internal DNS suffixes to be added) I should get back the A record for my domain; (A records are the default query type used by NSLOOKUP – I discuss DNS record types further in this post below).

image

An overview of common DNS record types

Below is a simple overview of all the common types of DNS records and some example scenarios.

All records usually share the following common properties:

Value – this is usually the contents of the records. If it is an A record this is the IP address for that A record

TTL – this is the “Time To Live” in seconds for a DNS record and basically means that DNS Clients of Servers accessing the requested record should not cache the record any longer than this value. If this value is set to 3600 this means to cache the returned record’s value for an hour (these values are usually the reason that IT people talk about DNS changes taking “24-48 hours” as these values are usually set quite high on hostnames that are quite static so that they offer the best performance by being kept in cache.

SOA (Start of Authority) records

SOA records (start of authority records) are the root of your domain’s registration. SOA records are created by your domain name registrar in the parent domain’s DNS servers (in the case of a .com domain the SOA record is created in the DNS servers for the .com root domain. In an SOA record the hostnames or IP addresses of your domain’s DNS servers are stored. These tell the internet’s root DNS servers (mother ship DNS servers) where to ask for the rest of your domain’s DNS configuration (such as A, MX and TXT records). When a client (a web browser, a mail server, an FTP client etc.) wants to connect to part of your website, it asks the locally configured DNS server for the record –  the server in turn looks for the SOA records for your domain so it knows which DNS server to ask about it.

Consider these records as the source of “which DNS server stores all the information about the website I want to look up”.

Hostname (A and CNAME) records

A records store information about a hostname record for your domain name. These list the IP address that a client should talk to when using a certain hostname.

If you had an address of http://mywebsite.examplecompany.com into your web browser this would refer to the A record “mywebsite” on the domain “examplecompany.com”.

If you have multiple A records with the same hostname, clients will receive a list of all the records. The order of this list will change with iterate each time you query the DNS server – this is called round-robin DNS and it a simple way to spread load across multiple servers .

AAAA records are the same as A records, only they stores the 128bit IPv6 address of a server instead of the IPv4 IP address – as the world shifts to using IPv6 these records will gain more relevance, but if your webhost supports IPv6 its worth setting these records up now, so that any visitors using IPv6 can access your website.

A CNAME record (Canonical name) is basically  an alias for an A record. This tells whoever is asking, that the DNS information for the requested hostname is stored in another record somewhere else on the internet. This other record might not even be on the same domain name or on the same DNS server. CNAME’s are very powerful as they allow you simplify your domains DNS records by centralising the information somewhere else. ISPs and webhosts commonly use CNAMEs to centralise the DNS configuration storage for things like mail or web server’s by allowing you to keep all the configuration details on a parent domain name.

It is important to note that root records for a domain name (I.e the empty A record for mydomain.com) cannot be a CNAME. The simple hard and fast reason why, is that CNAME’s cannot live on the same node in a DNS forest as any other type of record – because the very nature of a CNAME record defines that all configuration for that node is stored somewhere else, and given you store other information at the root of your domain other than your A record (MX records for mail etc.) this would break every other record’s functionality. This is mentioned specifically in the RFC for DNS, section 3.6.2.

An example of CNAME usage, is when most webhosting company web servers have a hostname such as web0234.mywebhost.com

When setting up your website, your webhost might for instance make the “http://www.yourwebsite.com record for your website a CNAME that has the value web0234.mywebhost.com so that when trying to access “http://www.yourwebsite.com” DNS clients look up the IP address for “web0234.mywebhost.com”. This makes their life easier if the IP address for this web server changes, as they only have to update a single DNS record, instead of updating all their clients DNS records.

To reiterate this to make it crystal clear:
CNAME’s are not a redirection. They are a reference pointer for a hostname. All they tell DNS clients, is that the configuration information for the hostname being queried is the same as can be found by querying the other hostname.

Illustration – Visiting a website

In the case that you want to visit http://www.google.com your computer does the following:

  1. Using the local machine’s DNS client your operating system talks to the locally configured DNS server for your local network/ISP’s network.
  2. This DNS server inturn looks up the DNS server for google.com by first looking up the SOA record for google.com and then connecting to the DNS server listed.
  3. Your local DNS server then asks the DNS server for google.com for the A record listed for www – the google.com DNS server will return an IP address for http://www.google.com. Your ISP or local network’s DNS server, along with returning it to you, will then cache this record for as long as the TTL (time to live) property of the record says.
  4. Your browser then connects to this returned IP address listed on port 80 and asks for the web page.

All of the above happens in milliseconds – but you can understand that if the google.com DNS server is slow in responding this negatively affects your browsing experience.

A records and CNAME records have a TTL (Time To Live) property to indicate how long they can be cached for.

Mail (MX)

MX records are the internets way of telling mail where to be delivered. They list the hostname or IP address of the mail server that handles mail for a given domain name. If a mail server is looking to deliver mail to “examplecompany.com” it will look up the MX record for this domain.

MX records have both a TTL (Time To Live) and a Priority (a weighting to give the order in which they should be looked up).

Illustration – Sending an e-mail to a friend

In the case that you send an email to your friend at myfriend@otherexamplecompany.com your local SMTP mail server (usually at your ISP) does the following:

  1. Your mail server connects to its local network/ISP’s DNS server and asks for the MX record for otherexamplecompany.com.
  2. Your local DNS server or ISP’s DNS server looks up the SOA record for otherexamplecompany.com and then connects to the DNS server listed.
  3. It asks for the MX records for this domain and is returned a list of hostnames.
  4. it grabs the first hostname from the list (order in ascending order by Priority), runs a second query for the IP address of this mail server and returns this IP address to your mail server.
  5. your mail server then connects to this IP address on the SMTP TCP port 25 and delivers your mail.

Text Records (TXT)

TXT records are a powerful addition to the DNS standard that allow the storage of miscellaneous information for a hostname. Many web developers, system admins and the like use TXT records for the storage of information such as SPF records and DKIM public keys.

TXT records have a TTL (Time To Live) property to indicate how long they can be cached for.

Name Server Records (NS)

Name Server Records are placed in your domain’s DNS when you wish to store the configuration of part of your domain’s DNS on a separate DNS server. This can be very handy if you want to give control of a subdomain to another person/entity.

i.e. my site is http://www.widgetsareus.com and I manage all of the DNS for this domain, but I would like support.widgetsareus.com and any child sub domains of this domain to be managed by the company we outsource all of our customer support to – therefore I have setup an NS record for support.widgetsareus.com to point at our support partner’s DNS servers.

Setting up a domain from scratch

If you are setting up a domain you’ve just purchased from scratch you’ll need to do the following:

Setup your website (A records)

  1. Setup a DNS server to store the configuration for yourdomain.com
    This might be at your webhost, or might be a third party service such as DNSMadeEasy, ZoneEdit or DynDNS.
  2. Set the Nameserver SOA records for your domain name to the above DNS server’s IP address or hostname (at your domain registrar)
  3. Create a new root record to point at your webserver’s IP address (this is simply an A record with an empty hostname) in your domain name’s DNS forest.
  4. Create a new www A record that points at your webserver’s IP address in your domain’s DNS server
  5. Setup your webserver’s website to listen for the host-header of your domain name (IIS calls this a “binding”).
  6. Test your DNS as below.
  7. Try and access your site in a web browser.

Testing your website’s A record

In a command prompt/terminal type NSLOOKUP

Enter “yourdomainname.com.” (including the extra period on the end) and hit enter

Check that the returned record value/IP address is that of your web server.

image

Remember to do the same for “www.youdomainname.com.” if you also use www. in your domain name.

Setup your website’s mail (MX record)

  1. Setup a DNS server to store the configuration for yourdomain.com  (Follow steps 1 and 2 above from your website if you haven’t already).
  2. Create a new MX record that points at your mail servers IP address or hostname.
  3. Setup your mail server to listen to receive mail for yourdomain.com
  4. Test that all the above is setup correctly using nslookup as per below.
  5. Try and send and receive email to and from your domain name.
  6. Setup SPF records, to verify your mail server’s ability to send mail on behalf of your domain name

Testing your website’s MX record

In a command prompt/terminal type NSLOOKUP

Enter “set type=mx” and hit enter. This set the query type to MX records.

Enter “yourdomainname.com.” (including the extra period on the end) and hit enter

Check that the returned record value/IP address(es) is that of your mail server.

image

Investigating Common Problems

How do I check what DNS server is authorative for my domain name?

You’ve set up your websites DNS, everything is fine; then one day, everyone visiting your site is directed to a site that isn’t yours!

To check which DNS server is authorative for your domain name, first open a command prompt or terminal.

Type “NSLOOKUP” and hit enter

Type ”set type=ns” and hit enter. This sets the query type to NS (NameServer) records.

Type “yourdomainname.com.” and hit enter (make sure you put the extra dot on the end.)

Confirm that the nameserver’s returned are yours.

image

How do I check what IP address my site is currently pointing at?

In a command prompt/terminal launch NSLOOKUP

Enter “yourdomainname.com.” (including the extra period on the end) and hit enter

Check that the returned record value/IP address is that of your web server.

image

Remember to do the same for “www.youdomainname.com.” if you also use www. in your domain name.

What is split DNS?

Split DNS is when you run a separate DNS forest for a domain name both on your external DNS servers (for everyone else to see) and also internally for staff or local users to see.

This allows you to do things like:

  • Ensure local users talk to your mail server (or any other internal server) using the internal IP address, and internet users talk to your mail server’s external DMZ IP address.
  • Block access to certain sites by giving incorrect or different DNS results for these site’s domain names. This if often how many net nanny etc softwares work.

For some users my sites seems to be served from a different address – how do I check “what the world sees” vs. “what I see”?

Many things can occur that result in some people seeing different DNS results to others:

  • Your ISP/company’s DNS server may have an older cached record to the current live record
  • Your local computer may be caching the DNS record you are requesting
  • Your local DNS server may be fetching the records for your domain from a different authorative DNS server than the rest of the world.

How do you investigate these things?

The easiest way to investigate these things is to query an external DNS server that you know is good for the records you want, to get a better idea of how the rest of the world sees things.

A really good server that is easy to remember are the ones owned by Google. The primary and secondary DNS server for Google’s Public DNS system are “8.8.8.8” and “8.8.4.4” respectively.

You can use whatever DNS servers you think are more likely to see the correct values.

To do this, open a command prompt/console.

Type “NSLOOKUP” and hit enter

Type “server 8.8.8.8” and hit enter. This sets the DNS server we will query to the Google Public DNS server’s address.

Type “yourdomainname.com.” and check the resulting record values.

image

How To : Use Azure BizTalk Services to Integrate with an On-Premises SAP Server

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Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services provides a rich set of integration capabilities enabling organizations to create hybrid solutions such that their customer or partner facing applications are hosted on Azure, while the data related to customers or partners is stored on-premises using LOB applications.

To demonstrate how to integrate applications with an on-premises LOB application using BizTalk Services, let us consider a scenario involving two business partners, Fabrikam and Contoso.

Business Scenario

Contoso sends a purchase order (PO) message to Fabrikam in an X12 Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) format using the PO (X12 850) schema. Fabrikam (that uses an SAP Server to manage partner data), accepts PO from its partners using the ORDERS05 IDOCS.

To enable Contoso to send a PO directly to Fabrikam’s on-premises SAP Server, Fabrikam decides to use Azure’s integration offering, BizTalk Services, to set up a hybrid integration scenario where the integration layer is hosted on and the SAP Server is within the organization’s firewall. Fabrikam uses BizTalk Services in the following ways to enable this hybrid integration scenario:

  1. Fabrikam uses Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services SDK to create a BizTalk Service project. The project includes a XML One-Way Bridge to send messages to a relay endpoint, which in turns sends the message to the on-premise SAP system.
  2. Fabrikam uses the BizTalk Adapter Service component available with BizTalk Services to expose the Send operation on ORDERS05 IDOC as an operation using Service Bus relay endpoint. The XML One-Way Bridge sends messages to this relay endpoint. Fabrikam also creates the schema for Send operation using BizTalk Adapter Service and includes the schema as part of the BizTalk Service project.
    noteNote
    A Send operation on an IDOC is an operation that is exposed by the BizTalk Adapter Pack on any IDOC to send the IDOC to the SAP Server. BizTalk Adapter Service uses BizTalk Adapter Pack to connect to an SAP Server.
  3. Fabrikam uses the Transform component available with BizTalk Services to create a map to transform the PO message in X12 format into the schema required by the SAP Server to invoke the Send operation on the ORDERS05 IDOC.
  4. Fabrikam uses the Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services Portal available with BizTalk Services to create and deploy an EDI agreement under the BizTalk Services subscription that processes the X12 850 PO message. As part of the message processing, the agreement also does the following:
    1. Receives an X12 850 PO message over FTP.
    2. Transforms the X12 PO message into the schema required by the SAP Server using the transform created earlier.
    3. Routes the transformed message to the XML One-Way Bridge that eventually routes the message to a relay endpoint created for sending a PO message to an SAP Server. Fabrikam earlier exposed (as explained in bullet 1 above) the Send operation on ORDERS05 IDOC as a relay endpoint, to enable partners to send PO messages using BizTalk Adapter Service.

Once this is set up, Contoso drops an X12 850 PO message to the FTP location. This message is consumed by the EDI receive pipeline, which processes the message, transforms it to an ORDERS05 IDOC, and routes it to the intermediary XML bridge. The bridge then routes the message to the relay endpoint on Service Bus, which is then sent to the on-premises SAP Server. The following illustration represents the same scenario.

SAP Integraiton scenario

How to Use This Article

 

This tutorial is written around a sample, SAPIntegration, which is available as part of the download (SAPIntegration.zip) from the MSDN Code Gallery. You could either use the SAPIntegration sample and go through this tutorial to understand how the sample was built or just use this tutorial to create your own application.

This tutorial is targeted towards the second approach so that you get to understand how this application was built. Also, to be consistent with the sample, the names of artifacts (e.g. schemas, transforms, etc.) used in this tutorial are same as that in the sample.

The sample available from the MSDN code gallery contains only half the solution, which can be developed at design-time on your computer. The sample cannot include the configuration that you must do on the BizTalk Services Portal on Azure.

For that, you must follow the steps in this tutorial to set up your EDI bridge. Even though Microsoft recommends that you follow the tutorial to best understand the concepts and procedures, if you really wish to use the sample, this is what you should do:

  • Download the SAPIntegration.zip package, extract the SAPIntegration sample and make relevant changes like providing your service namespace, issuer name, issuer key, SAP Server details, etc. After changing the sample, deploy the application to get the endpoint URL at which the XML One-Way Bridge is deployed.
  • Use the BizTalk Services Portal to configure the Receive settings as described at Step 5: Create and Deploy the EDI Receive Pipeline and follow the procedures to route messages from the EDI Receive bridge to the XML One-Way Bridge you already deployed.
  • Drop a test message at the FTP location configured as part of the agreement and verify that the application works as expected.
    • If the message is successfully processed, it will be routed to the SAP Server and you can verify the ORDERS IDOC using the SAP GUI.
    • If the EDI agreement fails to process the message, the failure/error messages are routed to a relay endpoint on Service Bus. To receive such messages, you must set up a relay receiver service that receives any message that comes to that specific relay endpoint. More details on why you need this service and how to use it are available at Step 6: Test the Solution.

Steps in the Solution :

 

  • Step 1: Set up Your Computer
  • Step 2: Expose a Relay Endpoint to Invoke Operations on ORDERS05 IDOC
  • Step 3: Transform the X12 850 PO Message to the ORDERS05 Message
  • Step 4: Create and Deploy the XML Bridge
  • Step 5: Create and Deploy the EDI Receive Pipeline
  • Step 6: Test the Solution

Step 1: Set up Your Computer


This topic provides you with instruction and pointers to set up your computer on which you will perform the steps to set up the hybrid integration scenario described in Tutorial: Using Azure BizTalk Services to Integrate with an On-Premises SAP Server. You must do the following to set up your computer:

  • Install Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services SDK. You can download the installer from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=235057. You use this SDK to configure and deploy the XML One-Way Bridge that sits between the EDI agreement and the relay endpoint.
  • Install BizTalk Adapter Service. You use this to expose the Send operation on an IDOC as a relay endpoint on Service Bus.You can download the installer from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=235057. Refer to the BizTalk Services installation guide at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=237092 to install the software prerequisites for BizTalk Services SDK and BizTalk Adapter Service.
  • Install the WCF LOB Adapter SDK. This is required for installing the Adapter Pack on the computer.
  • Install the Adapter Pack. This contains the SAP adapter that is required to establish connectivity to an SAP Server and for exposing SAP artifacts as operations.
  • Install the SAP client libraries. The SAP adapter needs these libraries to connect to an SAP Server. For information on where to install the SAP client libraries from, refer to the Adapter Pack installation guide (BizTalkAdapterPack_InstallationGuide.htm) at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=240161.
  • Download and extract the EDI message schemas (MicrosoftEdiXSDTemplates.zip) available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=235057. This contains the X12 850 Purchase Order message schema that is required for the business scenario we use for this article.

After you have finished installing and downloading these components, you are ready to start setting up the business scenario.

Step 2: Expose a Relay Endpoint to Invoke Operations on ORDERS05 IDOC

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Updated: November 21, 2013

There are two main steps required to expose an SAP artifact as an operation that can be invoked by sending a message over Service Bus – create an LOB Target and an LOB Relay.

  • An LOB Target defines how an Azure application communicates to the Line-of-Business (LOB) system. The LOB Target controls the LOB system connection URI, the operation to perform, and the connection credentials.
  • An LOB Relay is a WCF service running within an organizations firewall and listens to a relay endpoint on the Service Bus. As the name suggests, the LOB Relay acts as a relay between the Service Bus relay endpoint and the LOB system. It receives the message at the Service Bus relay endpoint and passes it on to the relevant LOB system using the LOB Target configuration.

For more information, see BizTalk Adapter Service Architecture. In this topic, we will create an LOB Target and an LOB Relay to expose the Send operation on the ORDERS05 IDOC.

To create an LOB Target and LOB Relay

  1. Open Visual Studio (as an administrator), create a new BizTalk Service project, and name it SAPIntegration.
  2. You first start with adding a BizTalk Adapter Service server. This is the server where you installed the Runtime component of BizTalk Adapter Service. To add a BizTalk Adapter Service server, from the Server Explorer in Visual Studio, right-click BizTalk Adapter Services, and select Add BizTalk Adapter Service. In the Add BizTalk Adapter Service dialog box, enter the URL of the WCF service that monitors that Service Bus relay service, and then click OK.

    Add Service Bus Connect ServerBecause you have all the components of BizTalk Adapter Service installed on the same computer, the URL for that service will be http://localhost:8080/BAService/ManagementService.svc/.

    noteNote
    If you had installed BizTalk Adapter Service Runtime component on a separate computer, you would have replaced ‘localhost’ in the above URL with the name of that computer.
  3. In this tutorial we are creating an application to integrate with SAP, so we must add an SAP target. Expand the newly added server, expand LOB Types, right-click SAP, and select Add SAP Target.

    Add an SAP TargetThe Add a Target wizard starts. Perform the following steps to create an LOB Target.

    1. Read the information on the Before You Begin page, and then click Next.
    2. On the Connection Parameters page, specify the details for the SAP Server to connect to and the credentials to use for the connection. Click Next.
    3. On the Operations page, expand the ORDERSO5 IDOC category (under \IDOC\ORDERS\). There are several versions of the IDOC available. For this tutorial, we’ll select ORDERS05.V3(700). Expand this IDOC, select Send, and then click the right arrow to add it to the Selected Operations box.

      Add Send operation for IDOCClick Next.

    4. In the Runtime Security page, specify the security mechanism to be used by the LOB Server to authenticate the target resource when a message arrives from a client. For this tutorial, select Fixed Username and specify the credentials to connect to the SAP server.
    5. On the Deployment page, you create an LOB Relay and an LOB Target to provide connectivity to your on-premise LOB applications from the cloud.

      Select the Create new option to create a new relay and provide the following values:

      Name Description
      Namespace Specify the Service Bus namespace on which the LOB relay endpoint is created.
      Issuer name Specify the issuer name for the Service Bus namespace
      Issuer secret Specify the issuer secret for the Service Bus namespace
      Relay path Specify a name for the relay. For this tutorial, enter sapintegration01.
      Target sub-path Enter a sub-path to make this target unique. For this tutorial, enter orders.

      The Target runtime URL read-only property displays the URL where the relay is deployed on Service Bus. This is the path where you could send a message to be inserted into the on-premises SAP Server. In our scenario, this is where the bridge sends the message.

      Click Next.

    6. On the Summary page, review the values you specified in the previous steps, and then click Create.
    7. When the wizard completes, click Finish.

      In Visual Studio Server Explorer, you now have an entry under the SAP node. This represents the relay endpoint created in Service Bus to relay PO messages coming from the cloud to the on-premises SAP system.

To add schemas

  1. After adding the relay endpoint to an SAP system, you must add schemas that to send ORDERS05 PO messages to the SAP server. To add the schemas, right-click the relay endpoint and select Add schemas to SAPIntegration. In the dialog box, do the following:
    • Enter a filename prefix that will be included in the name of each schema file that is generated. For this tutorial, specify this as SAPIntegration_.
    • Enter a folder name that will be added to your solution under which all the schemas will be added. For this tutorial, specify the folder name as LOB Schemas.
    • Enter the credentials to connect to an SAP system.

    Add schemas to the projectClick OK. The schemas are added to the project under an LOB Schemas folder.

To use the LOB Target

  1. Right-click anywhere on the BizTalk Service project design surface, select Properties and update the BizTalk Service URL property to include your BizTalk Services name. This is the name that you provided in Azure Management Portal while provisioning the BizTalk Services.
  2. Set the security property for the relay endpoint.
    1. Right-click the LOB Target in Server Explorer and select Properties.
    2. In the Properties grid, click the ellipsis (…) against the Runtime Security property.
    3. In the Edit Security dialog box, select Fixed Username and specify username and password to connect to the SAP Server.
    4. Click OK.
  3. Drag and drop the LOB Target onto the design surface. Note the Entity Name property of the LOB Target. The default value is Relay-Path_target-sub-path. If using the examples above, it will be sapintegration01_orders.
  4. Open the .config file for the LOB Target, which typically has the naming convention as YourRelayPath_target-sub-path.config. Specify the Service Bus issuer name and issuer secret, as shown below:
      <sharedSecret issuerName="owner" issuerSecret="issuer_secret" />
    
    

    Save changes to the config file.

 

Step 3: Transform the X12 850 PO Message to the ORDERS05 Message


Both the X12 850 schemas and ORDERS05 schemas are pretty complex and require functional expertise in the respective domains to understand and create maps between the two schemas.

While you already generated the schema for ORDERS05 IDOC, you can get the schema for X12 PO message (X12_00401_850.xsd) from the MicrosoftEdiXSDTemplates.zip that you must have downloaded and extracted before. You must add the X12_00401_850.xsd schema as well to the SAPIntegration project.

Creating a transform between the X12 850 PO and ORDERS05 PO requires functional domain knowledge of both the X12 schema and the ORDERS05 schema.

Only then one can identify which field in the X12 schema maps to which field in the ORDERS05 schema. In this tutorial, we do not get into such details and instead use an existing transform (AzureTransformations.trfm) between these two schemas. This transform is available as part of the SAPIntegration project that you can download from the MSDN Code Gallery.

To include the transform in the BizTalk Service project, right-click the project name, click Add, click Existing Items, and then navigate to the location where you downloaded the SAPIntegration sample from the MSDN Code Gallery. Select the AzureTransformations.trfm and then click Add.

Step 4: Create and Deploy the XML Bridge


In this topic, you create an XML One-Way Bridge that will act as a connector between the EDI Receive bridge and the relay endpoint for the ORDERS05 IDOC in SAP. After configuring the bridge, you connect it to the SAP relay endpoint, and then deploy the solution.

To configure the XML Bridge

  1. In the SAPIntegration project, from the Solution Explorer, double-click the MessageFlowItinerary.bcs file to open the bridge configuration surface.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the BizTalk Service project design surface, select Properties, and update the BizTalk Service URL property to include your BizTalk Services name. This is the name that you provided in Azure Management Portal while provisioning the BizTalk Services.
  3. From the Toolbox, drag and drop the XML One-Way Bridge component to the bridge design surface.
  4. Right-click the XML One-Way Bridge, select Properties, and change the value for Entity Name and Relative Address properties to B2BConnector. As a result, the complete endpoint URL where the bridge is deployed, which is shown in the Runtime Address property, will resemble https://<mybiztalkservicename>.biztalk.windows.net/default/B2BConnector. This is where the EDI Receive bridge sends the ORDERS05 PO message.
  5. Double-click the XML One-Way Bridge to open the Bridge Configuration design surface. Because this bridge only routes the message from the EDI Receive bridge to the relay endpoint, there’s not much configuration required for each stage in the bridge stage other than specifying the message types of the message that this bridge routes. To specify the message type, on the XML One-Way Bridge design surface, within the Message Types box, click the add icon [ Add icon ] to open the Message Type Picker dialog box.
  6. In the Message Type Picker dialog box, from the Available message types box, select the schema for the request message and then click the right arrow icon [ Arrow Icon ], and then click OK. For this tutorial, select the Send schema (http://Microsoft.LobServices.Sap/2007/03/Idoc/3/ORDERS05//700/Send). The selected schema should now be listed under the Request Message Type box.
  7. Save the bridge configuration.

To connect the bridge to the relay endpoint

  1. In the SAPIntegration project, from the Toolbox, select the Connection component, and connect the XML One-Way Bridge component with the SAP relay endpoint you already added in Step 2: Expose a Relay Endpoint to Invoke Operations on ORDERS05 IDOC.
  2. Set the filter condition on the connection. The routing condition for this scenario is to route all messages to the LOB Target. To do so, select the connecting line, and from the Properties grid, click the ellipsis (…) against the Filter Condition property, and then select Match All. This ensures that all messages that come to the bridge are routed to the relay endpoint.
  3. Set the Route Action property on the connection. Before you set the route action, we must understand why it is required. The message sent from the EDI receive bridge to the relay endpoint must have the Action SOAP header set on it. This header defines what operation must be performed on the SAP system. The message that comes from the EDI receive pipeline does not have this header set. Hence, in this intermediary XML bridge, you set the route action on the message before it is sent the relay endpoint. As part of the route action, you add the required header on the message. Perform the following steps to set the route action.
    1. Find out the value that will be set for the Action SOAP header message. To do so, right-click the SAP relay endpoint from the Server explorer, and from the Properties grid, expand Operations, and copy the value. For this tutorial, the value is http://Microsoft.LobServices.Sap/2007/03/Idoc/3/ORDERS05//700/Send.

      Value for SOAP action

    2. Go back to the bridge configuration surface, select the connection between the bridge and the SAP relay, and from the Properties grid, click the ellipsis (…) against the Route Action property. In the Route Actions dialog box, click Add to open the Add Route Action dialog box. In the Add Route Action dialog box, do the following:
      • Under Property (Read From) section, select Expression and specify the value that you copied earlier.
        ImportantImportant
        Make sure you specify the value for Expression within single quotes.
      • Under Destination (Write-To) section, set the Type to SOAP and the Identifier to Action.

        Set Route Action

      • Click OK in the Add Route Action dialog box to add the route action. Click OK in the Route Actions dialog box and then click Save to save changes to an Enterprise Application Integration project.
  4. Save the project. The final bridge configuration resembles the following:

    Completed bridge configuration

To deploy the solution

  1. In Visual Studio, right click the SAPIntegration solution, and then click Build Solution.
  2. Once the build succeeds, right click the SAPIntegration solution, and then click Deploy Solution.
  3. In the deployment window, the Deployment Endpoint is a read-only property and the value is derived from the BizTalk Service URL/Namespace set in the message flow surface. However, you must provide the ACS Namespace for BizTalk Services, Issuer Name, and Shared Secret.
  4. Click Deploy. The Visual Studio Output pane displays the deployment progress and result. The URL where the bridge is deployed is also displayed in the Output pane. For this tutorial, the bridge is deployed at http://<mybiztalkservicename>.biztalk.windows.net/default/B2BConnector.

 

 

How To : Design the Physical Architecture to Support Collaborative Development and ALM of SharePoint Foundation 2010 Application

Introduction

This article explains the physical architecture which fits best in collaborative development and ALM of SharePoint Foundation 2010 application and what are the servers and tools needed and how they play key roles in ALM of SharePoint Foundation 2010. The purpose of this article is to provide overall understanding of various servers and farms connected to each other in SharePoint Foundation.

Background

Basic understanding of different server OS & SharePoint Foundation 2010 is required.

Solution

Application Life-cycle Management (ALM) is the co-ordination of development life-cycle activities—including requirements, modeling, development, build, and testing. Recently, ALM has expanded beyond the application and the software development life cycle to also include business solution governance, infrastructure management, operations, and support.

You can use ALM to help align your organization in the context of a software solution in business, development, and operations. With an application development platform that supports ALM, you can provide integration between the various tools used and activities performed within each of these capabilities.

There are main four types of staging servers with standalone developer’s environment which plays a key role in ALM of SharePoint 2010 application:

  1. Development SharePoint Farm
  2. Team foundation server
  3. Integration/Testing Farm
  4. Production Farm
    +
    Developer’s Workstation

The below figure is a physical architecture which depicts how each sever is interconnected to support collaborative development and ALM for SharePoint Foundation 2010 application:

Click to enlarge image

Development SharePoint Farm

A SharePoint farm is fundamentally a collection of SharePoint role servers that provide for the base infrastructure required to house SharePoint sites. The farm level is the highest level of SharePoint architecture, providing a distinct operational boundary for a SharePoint environment. Each farm in an environment is a self-encompassing unit made up of one or more servers, such as web servers, service application servers, and SharePoint database servers.

SharePoint development farm needed for the developers in an organization that makes heavy use of SharePoint often need environments to test new applications, web parts, solutions, and other SharePoint customization. These developers often need a sandbox area where these farm level features and solutions can be tested.

I have considered two-tier topology for SharePoint Foundation 2010 farm. However it will be entirely based on the need of your application. If your application is a relatively small intranet application, then you can choose single tier topology or if you are going to integrate other search server with foundation, then you can choose three-tier topology with application server as a middle tier (Remember that SharePoint Foundation 2010 doesn’t include enterprise search). It may make sense to deploy one or more development farms so that developers have the opportunity to run their tests and develop software for SharePoint independent of the existing production environment.

There are basically two types of servers included in two-tier development farm of SharePoint Foundation 2010:

  1. Web server
  2. Content database server

In the above figure, there are three front-end web servers and one SharePoint content database server. However you can choose a single front-end web server connected to content database server based on your application need and architecture of production environment. All web servers share the same content database. This is called two-tier deployment farm where SharePoint server component and content database are installed on separate server. As I mentioned before, you can choose one-tier, two-tier or three-tier deployment topology based on your application architecture and topology of production architecture.

Each web server has SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint extension for TFS 2010 install on it. It needs SharePoint extension for TFS 2010 to connect with Team Foundation Server for source control, build management & project management.

Advantage of Development SharePoint Farm:

  1. Single place where SharePoint Admin can integrate all the final artifacts from multiple developers.
  2. Developer can sync with latest SharePoint site on its standalone developer workstation.
  3. Admin can easily approve artifacts and migrate to integration server.
  4. It is a unit testing environment for developers where they can test dependent functionality or farm level features.

Team Foundation Server

Team Foundation Server plays a key role in ALM which provides source control, build management and work item. You can have TFS installed on the same server which has content database server but if you are going to use build management of TFS, then it is advisable to have separate Team Foundation Server because it utilizes CPU intensively when it processes the builds.

As per the above figure, there are separate Team foundation servers which are connected to SharePoint Farm as well as standalone development workstation so that it can provide source control for customized content as well as developer’s artifacts and resources.

Advantages of TFS
  1. Source control for SharePoint artifacts and customization
  2. Build management for SharePoint
  3. Work item and bug tracking tool for SharePoint
  4. Admin console for all management activity
  5. Easy integration with SharePoint foundation server and VS 2010
  6. Easy check-in & check-out
  7. Web based console to manage ALM activity

Developer’s Workstation

As per the above figure, developers’ environment includes two developers workstation. In practice, you can take as many workstations as your development team size.

Developer workstation should have Windows 7 or Windows vista operating system with standalone SharePoint foundation server with local content database. So that one developer’s work doesn’t affect another developer and he can debug artifacts locally.

Developer workstation will include the following stuff installed:

  1. Windows 7 or Windows vista 64 bit OS
  2. Stand alone SharePoint Foundation server 2010
  3. SharePoint designer 2010
  4. Visual Studio 2010 (connected to TFS)

Developer workstation should be connected to Team Foundation Server 2010 so that when developer finally completes his artifact, then he can check-in his artifact in TFS so that other developers can take the latest code from TFS if needed. This way, parallel development can happen without affecting other developer’s work.

Integration/Testing Farm

Any production SharePoint environment should have a test environment in which new SharePoint web parts, solutions, service packs, patches, and add-ons can be tested. It is critical to deploy test farms, because many SharePoint add-ons could potentially disrupt or corrupt the formatting or structure of a production environment, and trying to test these new solutions on site collections or different web applications is not enough because the solutions often install directly on the SharePoint servers themselves. If there is an issue, the issue will be reflected in the entire farm.

Integration or testing server farm should be similar to the existing environments, with the same add-ons and solutions installed and should ideally include restores of production site collections to make it as similar as possible to the existing production environment. All changes and new products or solutions installed into an environment should subsequently be tested first in this environment.

Integration/testing servers will have final SharePoint sites and site collection as per the business requirements. QA will test all the business functionality here. Customer can also do their ‘User acceptance test’ before going live to the production server.

After user acceptance test passed, all the sites & site collection will be deployed on production server.

Advantage of Integration testing server:

  1. Clean environments and same physical architecture as production
  2. QA can test all dependent business functionality at one place
  3. Customer can participate in UAT
  4. Easy deployment/migration from integration testing server to production server

Production Farm

The final stage is rolling your farm into a production environment. At this stage, you will have incorporated the necessary solution and infrastructure adjustments that were identified during the user acceptance test stage. These servers are generally in the customer’s premises. Development team and testing team do not have control over it.

There are various 3rd party tools available in the market for SharePoint data protection, administration, migration, compliance and integration.

ImageGen[1]

Summary

So this way, you can design physical architecture where Development SharePoint Farm and developer’s workstation are integrated with TFS 2010. TFS and Content database are connected to testing server or testing farm where all the artifacts and content will be integrated in testing server for QA and UAT. Finally after UAT, it will be deployed on production farm.

You can use VM (Virtual Machine) for all the servers and workstation for effective infrastructure because if server crashes due to some reason, then you can quickly create a new VM for the needed OS from images.

Note: In the above figure, integration/Testing farm and production farm is a single server just for clear understanding but it will be as large as development farm with number of front-end web server and content database server in reality. All the server OS is Windows Server 2008 R2 SP2 64 bit. Please visit here for more information on hardware & software requirements for SharePoint Foundation 2010.

How To : Instrument Your Applications in Azure

Overview

Instrumenting your application code should be one of the key Non-Functional Requirements for consideration while building applications in Azure, specifically if they are multi-tenant SaaS-based applications.

windows-azure-c3634

Depending on the size and nature of your application, the following areas of instrumentation should be considered:

  1. Diagnostic Logging
    1. Exception Log
    2. Verbose Log
  2. Custom Performance Metrics
  3. Application Performance Metrics
  4. Service Metering

Diagnostics

Diagnostic Logging in very simple terms could be logging all exceptions that occur in your application. You can create a very simple LogService implementation using log4net. The service can expose methods like Debug, Error, Fatal, Warn, and Info to address various instrumentation needs. The log4net, ILog interface exposes capabilities for each of these as shown in the code below

readonly ILog _logger;
 
        static LogService()
        {
            XmlConfigurator.Configure();
        }
 
        public LogService(Type logClass)
        {
            _logger = LogManager.GetLogger(logClass);
        }
 
        /// 
        /// Log a message object with the Fatal level.
        /// 
        ///The error message.
        public void Fatal(string errorMessage)
        {
            if (_logger.IsFatalEnabled)
                _logger.Fatal(errorMessage);
        } 

InstrumentationFig2[1]

In addition to logging the exceptions caught in the catch block, it is a good idea to provide support for verbose logging and enable it for capturing detailed code flow if needed. To capture verbose log, you must instrument every method entry, including the parameters passed and return values. Important business rules within methods should also be instrumented as deemed necessary.

You can use the Info method to create specific logging entries such as “Method Entry”, “Method Exit” with each of these entries augmented by the parameters passed and returned respectively.

Note that Windows events are captured and logged in the WADLogsTable and WADWindowsEventsLogsTable table stores. They provide additional diagnostic information into issues occurring in the configured roles.

Performance Metrics

Performance metrics are usually twofold. You can use the Telemetry SDK to create custom KPI to be monitored using App Insights. If you do not have App Insights, you can actually create a simple performance monitor for your modules, using a StopWatch and capturing the ElapsedMilliseconds for the operations you intend to participate in a performance session. The key here would be, however, to be asynchronous while capturing performance data. The following class shows a simple PerfLog entity.

public class PerfLog : TableEntity
    {
        private string operationName;
 
        public string OperationName 
        { 
            get 
            {
                return operationName;
            } 
            set 
            {
                operationName = value;
                this.RowKey = string.Format("{0}_{1}", value, this.RowKey);
            } 
        }
    
        public int TenantId { get; set; }
        public string ParamValuesPassed { get; set; }
        public int OperationExecutionDuration { get; set; }
        public string ResultInfo { get; set; }
        public int RecordsReturned { get; set; }
    } 

Second, you can use the Windows Azure Performance Diagnostics part of Windows Azure Diagnostics (WAD) to create and use performance counters in your application.

The WAD framework is built using the Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) framework and the performance counter logs are stored in the WADPerformanceCountersTable storage table.

It is possible to create a custom diagnostic plan for each role using Visual Studio. The following figure illustrates the performance configuration.

Service Metering

If you are building a multi-tenant SaaS-based application, Service Metering is important to gain an understanding of usage and bill customers accordingly. The recently released Cloud Design Patterns guidance by the Patterns and Practices team elaborates on the Service Metering Guidance.

Please note that there is no default mechanism in Azure to perform metering by tenant. The architecture needs to take care of tenant-based metering. An early example of this was released in the Cloud Ninja Metering Block and you can explore the source to understand a tenant metering implementation and apply it in your application. The source is available at http://cnmb.codeplex.com/SourceControl/latest.

 

The Azure Management Portal provides you usage details on each resource and is a great way to find out the resource allocation on roles. The following figure illustrates:

In Depth Look : Private Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Capabilities

saas[1]

 

The primary purpose of a Private Cloud Infrastructure as a Service capability is to provide well managed infrastructure services to the Platform and Software Layers. To achieve this, the Infrastructure Layer, highlighted in the Private Cloud Reference Model diagram below, includes five capabilities.


Figure 1: Private Cloud Reference Model

This document describes these Infrastructure Layer capabilities and the impact of Private Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) patterns on their planning and design. These patterns are defined in the Private Cloud Principles, Concepts, and Patterns document and are summarized here:

  • Resource Pooling: Divides resources into partitions for management purposes.
  • Physical Fault Domain: The group of physical resources dependent on a single point of failure such as an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
  • Upgrade Domain: A group of resources upgraded as a single unit.
  • Reserve Capacity: Unallocated resources, which take over service in the event of a failed Physical Fault Domain.
  • Scale Unit: A collection of resources treated as a single unit of additional capacity.
  • Capacity Plan: A model that enables a private cloud to deliver the perception of infinite capacity.
  • Health Model: Defines how a service or system may remain healthy.
  • Service Class: Defines services delivered by Infrastructure as a Service.
  • Cost Model: The financial breakdown of a private cloud and its services.

The Health Model, Service Class, and Scale Unit patterns directly affect Infrastructure and are detailed in the relevant sections later. Conversely, private cloud infrastructure design directly affects Physical Fault Domains, Upgrade Domains, and the Cost Model. These relationships are shown in Figure 2 below.


Figure 2: Infrastructure Relationship with Patterns

Background

The private cloud principles “perception of continuous availability” and “resiliency over redundancy mindset” are designed to make a private cloud architect think differently.

Traditional solutions rely heavily on redundancy to achieve high availability and avoid failure. But redundancy at the facility (power) and infrastructure (network, server, and storage) layers is very costly. Modern cloud applications are designed with a different, holistic approach to achieving availability. This means shifting focus from building redundancy into the facility and physical infrastructure to engineering the entire solution to handle failures — eliminating them, or at least minimizing their impact.

This approach to availability relies on resilience as well as redundancy. Resilience means rapid, and ideally automatic, recovery from a failure. Redundancy is typically achieved at the application level. (A non-cloud example is Active Directory®, where redundancy is achieved by providing more domain controllers than is needed to handle the load.)

Customer interest in cost reduction will help drive adoption of this approach over the medium term. Removing power redundancy from racks or co-location rooms has a big impact on operational expenses, but this typically occurs only when the hosted application doesn’t have to be highly available, or when high availability is achieved through redundancy at the application layer – for example, Active Directory replication, or application layer mirroring such as SQL Server™ mirroring. Combining reductions in physical redundancy with virtualization results in lower capital and operational expenditure compared to a highly redundant infrastructure.

Applications that depend on a highly available infrastructure will not achieve their Service-Level Agreement (SLA) when placed on the type of infrastructure defined earlier. Customers are therefore likely to develop two environments when designing their private cloud: a standard environment with reduced facility and infrastructure redundancy, and a high-availability environment with traditional levels of redundancy.

Standard Environment

High-Availability Environment

No power redundancy to the rack (for example one in-rack UPS) Redundant power to each server
No network redundancy to the servers (redundant core network) Redundant network connections to each server
Local storage, possibly redundant storage, and storage network Redundant storage presented to each server
Ideally no migration or possibly quick migration Live Migration

These two environments allow a Architect to differentiate service classifications from a high-availability perspective. The standard environment is appropriate for stateless workloads; stateful workloads will require the high availability environments. Stateful and stateless machines are managed differently. Statefulness will likely appear as a characteristic of the service classifications.

Stateless workloads (web servers, for example) are typically redundant at the server level via a load-balanced farm. These servers could easily be hosted in the Standard Environment. If all stateless workloads had an automated build, the Standard Environment could do away with any form of VM migration – and simply deploy another VM after destroying the existing one, thereby saving the cost of shared storage.

Stateful workloads, on the other hand, require a specific management approach and impose higher costs on the consumer. Unless designed for high availability at the application level, they will require some form of redundancy in the infrastructure. Further, the High-Availability Environment requires Live Migration to enable maintenance of the underlying fabric and load balancing of the VMs.

Security

The number one concern of customers considering moving services to the cloud is security. Recent concerns expressed in the industry forums are all well founded and present reasons to think through the end to end scenarios and attack surfaces presented when deploying multiple services from various departments in an organization on a private cloud.

In a cloud-based platform, regardless of whether it is private or public cloud, customers will be working on an essentially virtualized environment. The platform or software will run on top of a shared physical infrastructure managed internally or by the service provider. The security architecture used by the applications will need to move up from the infrastructure to the platform and application layers. In private cloud security this will provide security in addition to the perimeter network.

Public cloud involves handing over control to a third party, sharing services with unrelated business entities or even competitors and requires a high degree of trust in the providers security model and practices. In many ways the security concerns of private cloud and similar those of self-hosted or outsourced datacenter however the move to a virtualized self-service service oriented paradigm inherent in private cloud computing introduces some additional security concerns.

First is the isolation of tenants from each other and the hosting infrastructure at both the compute and network layers. Virtualization is a part of any private cloud strategy and the security of this model is totally dependent on the ability to isolate one tenant from another and prevent the careless or malicious tenant from impacting the stability of the core infrastructure upon which all tenants rely.

Another concern is Authentication, Authorization and Auditing of access to the cloud services. Self-service implies that tenant administrators can initiate management processes and workflows where previously this was accomplished through IT. For any misconfiguration or excessive permissions granted to these users can impact the stability or security of the cloud solution.

Many private cloud security concerns are also shared by traditional datacenter environment which is not surprising since the private cloud is just an evolution of the traditional datacenter model. These include:

  • Impact the confidentiality, integrity or availability through exploitation of software vulnerabilities.
  • Unauthorized access due to weak or misconfiguration.
  • Impact to confidentiality, integrity or availability by malicious code.
  • Impact to confidentiality, integrity or availability of data.
  • Compliance with internal or industry specific regulations and standards.

Secure Virtualization Platform

The biggest risk in running in a multi-tenant virtualized environment is that a tenant running services on the same physical infrastructure as you can break out of its isolating partition and impact the confidentiality, integrity or availability of your workload and data. Therefore the security in virtualization platform is key in the isolation and non-interference between the individual virtual machines running on the infrastructure.

Highly Automated Management, Monitoring and Reporting

Many management tasks involve multiple steps that must be completed in the proper sequence by multiple administrators across multiple systems. Any shortcuts, omissions or errors can leave assets vulnerable to unauthorized access or affect the reliability of components within a solution. By orchestrating discreet management and monitoring tasks into workflows that require proper authorization and approval greatly diminish the chance of mistakes that affect the security of the solution.

Authentication, Authorization and Auditing

Most organizations have a common capability for providing an overarching framework for authentication and access control and then a private cloud introduces all parts of hosting and hosted services that include the hosting infrastructure and the virtual machines workloads that run in that infrastructure. This framework must be designed and possibly extended to provide a single point of managing identities and credentials, authentication services and common security model for access to resources across the private cloud.

Multi-layer Security

Moving to a cloud-based platform requires a change in mind-set of developers and IT security professionals. Some of the risks of the public cloud are mitigated by using a private cloud architecture, however, the perimeter security protecting a private cloud should be seen as an addition to public cloud security practices, not an alternative. You cannot apply the traditional defense-in-depth security models directly to cloud computing, however you should still apply the principal of multiple layers of security. By taking a fresh look at security when you move to a cloud-based model, you should aim for a more secure system rather than accepting security that continues with the current levels.

Security Governance

Enterprise IT systems are now typically well regulated and controlled. The security risks are well documented and therefore proper processes are put in place to develop new applications and systems, or to provision them from 3rd party vendors. It is very unlikely that a department manager would be able to purchase and install software without approval from the IT department.

With public cloud systems and Web browser clients however, it is possible that individual department managers could bypass the IT department and provision public cloud-based software. Indeed, they might use free cloud storage systems as a convenient means to synchronize documents without even considering that they are using public cloud services. Public cloud systems might be appealing to a manager as they could very quickly provision a new system and remove what they might see as unnecessary bureaucracy. They may even be unaware of the security and compliance policies that are in place to protect the organization. In a cloud-based landscape, we must protect corporate systems and data from these unauthorized, untested systems.

Facilities

Facilities represent the physical components – buildings, racks, power, cooling, and physical interconnects – that house or support a private cloud. It is beyond the scope of this document to provide detailed guidance on facilities, but the private cloud principles affect facility design.

The definition of a Scale Unit impacts power, cooling, space, racking, and cabling requirements. The team that defines a Scale Unit should include personnel that design and manage these aspects of the facility in addition to the procurement, Capacity Planning, and Service Delivery teams. The following table lists some ramifications of Scale Unit size choices from a facilities perspective.

Small Scale Unit

Large Scale Unit

Benefit

Trade-off

Benefit

Trade-off

  • Lower amount of physical labor needed to add a Scale Unit
  • Complicates the Resource Pool, Fault Domain, and Reserve Capacity equation
  • Inefficient
  • Stranded power (un-utilized power)
  • Un-utilized space
  • Allocation of full facilities units (for example, UPS, Rack, and Co-location Room) is easy to cost and engineer
  • Reduces under-utilization of power, cooling, and space
  • Higher amount of labor to commission

Knowing how much power, cooling, and space each Scale Unit will consume enables the facilities team to perform effective Capacity Planning and the engineering team to effectively plan resources.

Compute, Network, and Storage Fabric

The term Fabric defines a collection of interconnected compute, network, and storage resources.

The concept of homogenous physical infrastructure, introduced in the Private Cloud Principles, Concepts, and Patterns guide, stipulates that all servers in a Resource Pool should be identical. Homogenizing the compute, storage, and network components in servers allows for predictable scale and performance. In other words, every server in a Resource Pool should have the same processor characteristics such as family (Intel/AMD), number of cores/CPUs, and generation (Xeon 2.6 Gigahertz (GHz)). The homogenized compute concept also stipulates that each server have the same amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) and the same number of connections to Resource Pool storage and networks. With these specifications met, any virtualized service could relocate from one failing or failed physical server to another physical server and continue to function identically.

Physical Server

The physical server hosts the hypervisor and provides access to the network and shared storage. In the Standard Environment, the facilities do not provide power redundancy, so the servers do not require dual power supplies.

Every server will be a member of a single compute Resource Pool and a single Physical Fault Domain. Assuming all servers are homogeneous (as recommended), they will all be members of a single Upgrade Domain.

Capacity Planning must be done for each server specification, as its size (CPU and RAM specification) will determine how many virtual machines it is able to host. This is covered in greater detail in the Private Cloud Planning Guide for Service Delivery.

Server specification selection impacts the Scale Unit, Cost Model, and service class. Scale Units have a finite amount of power and cooling, so server efficiency has an impact on a private cloud. It may be that all power in a Scale Unit is consumed before all physical space. The cost of servers impacts the Cost Model irrespective of whether this cost is passed onto the consumer. Selecting only small one-unit servers will limit the architect’s ability to define a range of service classifications. The server needs to accommodate the largest service classification after the parent partition and hypervisor consume their resources.

Microsoft research shows servers with processors one or two models behind the latest versions offer a better price, performance, and power consumption ratio than the newer processors.

The Private Cloud Reference Architecture dictates that the “concept of homogenization of physical infrastructure” be adopted for each Resource Pool. Server specifications (CPU, RAM) may vary between Resource Pools, but this complicates Fabric Management (defined in the Private Cloud Planning Guide for Systems Management), which spans Resource Pools and Capacity Planning, and may necessitate different service classes for each pool.

Delivering IaaS requires that the service is pre-defined and delivered consistently. To achieve consistent performance, the VMs must have equal resources available to them from each server, in other words, the same CPU cycles and RAM. If servers within a Resource Pool do not provide homogeneous performance and RAM, consistent performance cannot be guaranteed.

Absolute homogenization may be hard to maintain over the long term as server models may be discontinued by the vendor; therefore relationships between Resource Pools, Scale Units, and server model longevity must be considered carefully.

The following table lays out some of the benefits and trade-offs of homogeneous and heterogeneous Resource Pools.

Homogeneous Physical Infrastructure

Heterogeneous Physical Infrastructure

Benefit

Trade-off

Benefit

Trade-off

  • Predictable performance within a Resource Pool
  • Guaranteed Live Migration across the fabric
  • Reuse of existing equipment may not be possible
  • Possible reuse of existing equipment
  • Allows for a broader range of server classes
  • VMs cannot be moved between Resource Pools
  • More upfront work to make sure Live Migration will work appropriately

In addition, servers should support the following requirements to achieve an automated infrastructure and resiliency:

Automated Infrastructure

  • Wake On Local Area Network
  • Remote BIOS Upgrades/Configurations
  • Boot from Flash
  • Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE) for remote imaging
  • Virtualization Support
    • Data Execution and Prevention
    • 64 bit CPUs
  • Standard Environment: 2 Network adapters that support TCP offload (TOE)
    • Management x 1
    • Consumer x 1
  • High-Availability Environment: 4 or 6 redundant network adapters that support TOE
    • Management x 2: Could be teamed for redundancy
    • Live Migration x 2: Could be teamed for redundancy
    • Consumer x 2: Could be teamed for resiliency
  • Standard Environment: Storage connections that meet the required service classification
    • For Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI), 1 x Hardware iSCSI initiators: Could use vendor-specific software to achieve resiliency
    • For Fiber Channel, 1 x Fiber Channel host bus adapter (HBA): – Could use vendor-specific software to achieve resiliency
  • High-Availability Environment: Redundant storage connections that meet the required service classification
    • For iSCSI, 2 x Hardware iSCSI initiators: Could use vendor-specific software to achieve resiliency
    • For Fiber Channel, 2x Fiber Channel HBAs: Could use vendor-specific software to achieve resiliency

To dynamically initiate remediation events in case of failure or impending failure of server components, each server is required to display warnings, errors, and state information for the following:

  • CPU
    • State (Busy/Ready)
    • Utilization
    • Heat
    • Fans
  • RAM
    • Utilization
    • Error-Correcting Code (ECC) Errors
  • Storage
    • Read/Write Failures
    • Predictive Failures
  • Network Interface Cards (NICs)
    • Port State
    • Send/Receive Errors
  • Motherboard
    • Server Post Errors
  • Power Supply
    • State
    • Active / Passive
    • Power Output Variations
  • Fans
    • Speed
    • State

Storage

To achieve the perception of infinite capacity, proactive Capacity Management must be performed, and storage capacity added ahead of demand. The amount of storage added as a single unit (a Storage Scale Unit) will depend on the rate of storage consumption, hardware vendor lead time, and the level of risk the business wishes to assume (that is, weighing remaining unallocated capacity against the possibility of exhausting all capacity). This is detailed in Private Cloud Planning Guide for Service Delivery.

Storage will be placed in Storage Resource Pools, from which it is automatically allocated to consumers. Though Resource Pools are not a new concept for Storage Area Networks (SANs), allowing the infrastructure to allocate storage on-demand based on policy may be a new approach for many organizations. Further, the SAN must present an application programming interface (API) to Fabric Management to allow automation of allocation and provisioning.

The storage provided within a private cloud must be consistent in performance and availability. This means the Input/output (I/O) Operations per Second (IOPS) cannot vary significantly. If there is a need to make different levels of storage performance available to users of a private cloud, it can be accomplished through multiple service classifications. A private cloud is intended, however, to provide a limited set of standardized services; therefore, variances should be carefully considered.

The cost of providing the storage within a private cloud should be clearly defined. This permits metering, and possibly allocation of costs to consumers. If different classes of storage are provided for different levels of performance, their costs should be differentiated. For example, if SAN is being used in an environment, it is possible to have storage tiers where faster Solid State Drives (SSD) are used for more critical workloads. Less-critical workloads can be placed on a Tier 2 Secure Attention Sequence (SAS), and even less-critical workloads on Tier 3 SATA drives.

The Private Cloud Reference Architecture assumes the storage arrays and the storage network are redundant, with no single point of failure beyond the array itself. In this regard, the storage array can be considered a Fault Domain.

The design should adopt some form of de-duplication technology to reduce storage consumption.

As the storage array is a single point of failure, it should display health information to the systems monitoring service to make sure that any outages and their impact are quickly identified. Providing snapshots and mirroring between arrays for continuity is beyond the scope of this guidance.

Physical Storage Switches

If a Architect follows the recommendation to allow any VM to execute on any server in a Resource Pool, Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs) should reside on a SAN. While it is possible to host VHDs locally, the guidance assumes that they are hosted on a SAN.

A key decision in private cloud design is whether to use iSCSI or Fiber Channel for storage. If iSCSI is utilized to house virtual workload storage, it is suggested that each virtualization host include iSCSI HBAs instead of standard NICs for performance reasons.

The purpose of a storage switch is to provide resilient and flexible connectivity between shared storage and physical servers. The storage switch must meet peak storage I/O requirements for the virtual services. In addition, the interconnect speeds between switches should be evaluated to determine the maximum throughput for switch-to-switch communications. This may limit the maximum number of hosts that can be placed on each switch.

While switch throughput is important, attention should also be paid to the number of available switch ports needed to support the physical virtualization hosts. Refer to the switch hardware vendor to make sure it meets these requirements.

Physical storage switch requirements include:

  • Dedicated switch port on each switch for each host and storage processor connection. This is needed for redundancy and I/O optimization.
  • iSCSI traffic separated from all other IP traffic, preferably on its own switched infrastructure or logically through a virtual local area network (VLAN) on a shared IP switch. This segregates data access from traditional network communications for host-to-host and workload operations and provides data security.
  • Redundant power supplies and cooling fans increase the number of faults the storage switch can withstand.
  • Programmatic interface to support firmware upgrades and configuration.

Physical Storage Subsystem

Stateless workloads can be hosted on Direct-Attached Storage (DAS) instead of SAN, driving down the cost of service. The downside is that Fabric Management has to handle transitioning active user connections between VMs homed on different hosts, as VM migration is impossible. This may mean tighter integration with the network than is specified in this document (in order to know when all connections to a VM have been abandoned or terminated before stopping the VM, for example).

SAN storage, while more expensive, provides advantages:

  • The VM can be re-homed to other servers.
  • Live Migration can be employed.
  • Backup (of the VM) can occur out of band (for example, taking snapshots).
  • Capacity can be increased almost limitlessly.

The logical storage configuration (or storage classification) should be designed to meet requirements in the following areas:

  • Capacity: To provide the required storage space for the virtual service data and backups.
  • Performance Delivery: To support the required number of IOPS and throughput.
  • Fault Tolerance: To provide the desired level of protection against hardware failures. If a SAN is used, this may include redundant HBA and switches.
  • Manageability: To provide a high degree of platform self-management. This requires a programmatic interface to provide automated configuration and firmware upgrades.

Additionally, a private cloud must meet the following requirements to make sure that it is highly available and well-managed:

  • Multiple paths to the disk array for redundancy. Should a disk fail, hot or warm spare disks can provide resiliency in the provisioned storage. Consult the storage vendor for specific recommendations.
  • A storage system with automatic data recovery, to allow an automatic background process to rebuild data onto a spare or replacement disk drive when another disk drive in the array fails.
  • Redundant power supplies and cooling fans, to increase the number of faults the Storage Array can withstand.

Network

The Private CLoud Reference Architecture assumes that the network presented to servers is not redundant for the Standard Environment and is redundant for the High-Availability Environment.

The network is tightly coupled with physical servers. Each Compute Resource Pool includes the network switches necessary for the servers to operate; each Scale Unit includes a pre-defined and fixed number of servers and switches.

The switches must be monitored to make sure no workloads saturate the network. A private cloud is designed as a general-purpose infrastructure. Workloads that challenge the network with high utilization may not be good candidates for a private cloud unless separate Resource Pools are created specifically to handle these workloads.

Switches are members of network upgrade domains, but the definition and membership of upgrade domains will likely vary depending on the nature of the upgrade. If switches are not redundant (for example, in the Standard Environment), the whole Resource Pool will need to be taken offline for switch maintenance, which requires switch reboots.

Network hardware (switches and load balancers) must display an API to Fabric Management that enables automated management of networks such as creation of VLANs, Virtual IP addresses (VIP), and addition or removal of hosts from the VIP.

Physical Network

Some key decisions that should be made to increase the bandwidth of the physical networks are related to the use of Live Migration requirements of port security, and the need for link aggregation. Here is a table showing the benefits and trade-offs of using Live Migration:

Use Live Migration

Do Not Use Live Migration

Benefit

Trade-off

Benefit

Trade-off

  • Transparent movement of Stateful applications
  • Transparent infrastructure upgrades
  • Additional network switch ports will be required
  • More network adapters are required per virtualization host
  • Greater Reserve Capacity may be required because of cluster size limitations of 16 nodes
  • Less switch ports are required
  • Fewer network adapters are required per virtualization host
  • Ideal for stateless applications
  • No transparent movement of Stateful applications
  • For Stateful applications, infrastructure upgrades will need to be coordinated with VM owners

To support the dynamic characteristics of a private cloud, a network switch should support a remote programmatic interface – for firmware upgrades, and prioritization of traffic for quality of service. These switches should be dedicated for a private cloud to maintain predictable performance and to minimize risks associated with human interaction. As defined earlier, the servers need to be connected to at least two networks, management and consumer, with live migration (if required). The connections should always be the same; for example, network adapter 1 to management, network adapter 2 to consumer, and network adapter 3 to Live Migration.

If iSCSI is chosen for the storage interconnects, iSCSI traffic should reside in an isolated VLAN in order to maintain security and performance levels. This iSCSI traffic should not share a network adaptor with other traffic, for example the management or consumer network traffic.

The interconnect speeds between switches should be evaluated to determine the maximum bandwidth for communications. This could affect the maximum number of hosts which can be placed on each switch.

When designing network connectivity for a well-managed infrastructure, the virtualization hosts should have the following specific networking requirements:

  • Support for 802.1Q VLAN Tagging: To provide network segmentation for the virtualization hosts, supporting management infrastructure and workloads. This is the preferred method to help secure and isolate data traffic for a private cloud.
  • Remote Out-of-band Management Capability: To monitor and manage servers remotely over the network regardless of whether the server is turned on or off.
  • Support for PXE Version 2 or Later: To facilitate automated server provisioning.

To dynamically initiate remediation events in response to the failure or impending failure of network switch components, each switch is required to display warnings, errors, and state information for the following:

  • CPU
    • Utilization
    • Temperature
  • Flash Memory
    • Utilization
  • Interface Details
    • Port State
    • Port Errors
    • Bandwidth Utilization
  • Power Supply
    • State
    • Active / Passive
    • Power Output Variations
  • Fans
    • Speed
    • State

Storage Switch/Subsystem Health Model

To dynamically initiate remediation events in response to either the failure or impending failure of storage switches and storage subsystem components, each component is required to display warnings, errors, and state information for the following:

Storage Switch

  • CPU
    • Utilization
    • Temperature
  • Flash Memory
    • Utilization
  • Interface Details
    • Port State
    • Port Errors
    • Bandwidth Utilization
  • Power Supply
    • State
    • Active / Passive
    • Power Output Variation
  • Fans
    • Speed
    • State

Storage Subsystem

  • CPU
    • Utilization
    • Temperature
  • Flash Memory
    • Utilization
  • Service Processor
    • State
    • Errors
    • IOPS
  • Disks
    • Read / Write Failures
    • Predictive Failures
  • Power Supply
    • State
    • Active / Passive
    • Power Output Variations
  • Fans
    • Speed
    • State

Hypervisor

The hypervisor exposes the VM services to consumers. It needs to be configured identically on all hosts in a Resource Pool, and ideally all hosts in the private cloud. Fabric Management will orchestrate the addition of virtual switches, machines, and disks.

An architect needs to decide whether the private cloud should use CPU Resource Reservations to make sure of predictable performance of VMs. This table lists the benefits and trade-offs:

Use CPU Resource Reservations

Do Not Use CPU Resource Reservations

Benefit

Trade-off

Benefit

Trade-off

  • Consistent VM performance for consumers
  • Fixed number of VMs per host might lead to low utilization of resources
  • Toolset may not set resource reservations
  • Variable number of VMs per host means resource utilization can be maximized
  • Consumers do not experience consistent VM performance
  • One VM can adversely affect the processing performance of others

The decision is driven by whether efficiency or consistency is more important for the private cloud.

The architect could elect to provide different classes of services – one which uses resource reservations to deliver predictability, and another which shares the resources. Separate Resource Pools could be deployed accordingly, along with differential pricing to incent the consumers to exhibit desired behavior.
Resource reservations will not prevent a host from saturating the network and crippling the performance of other hosts. As stated in the Network section earlier, this needs monitoring.

Parent Partition

The parent partition provides the hypervisor with access to physical resources such as network and storage. It also hosts the hypervisor management interfaces. The parent partition needs to be configured identically on all servers in a Resource Pool.

If an architect elects to create a service classification which depends on consuming LUNs directly (not via the parent partition), the parent partition must be configured to present the pass-through for this storage. Further, this storage must be available to all parent partitions in that Resource Pool to enable VM portability between hosts.

The parent partition displays health information for the server, the parent partition operating system, and the hypervisor. The health monitoring system, in turn, consumes this information to enable Capacity Management and Fabric Management.

Management Layers

Task Execution

Task execution is the low level management operations that can be performed on a platform and generally are surfaced through the command line or Application Programming Interface (API). The capability to execute tasks must not only exist but the usage semantics should be consistent across members of a fault domain to enable automation using a common format. When differences in semantics exist this forces the automation layer to compensate for these differences through custom code in the orchestration or even require using different execution hosts or engines within a fault domain.

Automation

The automation layer is made up of the foundational automation technology plus a series of single purpose commands and scripts that perform operations such as starting or stopping a virtual machine, restarting a server, or applying a software update. These atomic units of automation are combined and executed by higher-level management systems. The modularity of this layered approach dramatically simplifies development, debugging, and maintenance.

Orchestration

In much the same way that an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system manages a business process such as order fulfillment and handles exceptions such as inventory shortages, the orchestration layer provides an engine for IT-process automation and workflow. The orchestration layer is the critical interface between the IT organization and its infrastructure and transforms intent into workflow and automation.

Ideally, the orchestration layer provides a graphical user interface in which complex workflows that consist of events and activities across multiple management-system components can be combined, to form an end-to-end IT business process such as automated patch management or automatic power management. The orchestration layer must provide the ability to design, test, implement, and monitor these IT workflows.

Service Management

Service management provides the means for automating and adapting IT service management best practices, such as those found in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), to provide built-in processes for incident resolution, problem resolution, and change control.

Self Service

Self Service capability is a characteristic of private cloud computing and must be present in any implementation. The intent is to permit users to approach a self-service capability and be presented with options available for provisioning in an organization. The capability may be basic where only provisioning of virtual machine with a pre-defined configuration or may be more advanced allowing configuration options to the base configuration and leading up to a platform capability or service.

Self service capability is a critical business driver that enables members of an organization to become more agile in responding to business needs with IT capabilities to meet those needs in a manner that aligns and conforms with internal business IT requirements and governance.

This means the interface between IT and the business are abstracted to simple, well defined and approved set of service options that are presented as a menu in a portal or available from the command line. The business selects these services from the catalog, begins the provisioning process and notified upon completions, the business is then only charged for what they actually use.

This is analogous to capability available on Public Cloud platforms.

The entities that consume self service capabilities in an organization are individual business units, project teams, or any other department in the organization that have a need to provision IT resources. These entities are referred to as Tenants. In a private cloud tenants are granted the ability to provision compute and storage resources as they need them to run their workload. Connectivity to these resources is managed behind the scenes by the fabric management layers of the private cloud.

Tenant administrators are granted access to a self-service portal where they can initiate workflows to provision virtualized services in the appropriate configuration and capacity. For example compute resources may be available in small, medium or large instance capacities and also storage of the appropriate size and performance characteristics. Resources are provisioned without any intervention from infrastructure personnel in IT and the overall progress is tracked and reported by the fabric management layer and reported through the portal.

A chargeback model is defines how tenants will be charged for using the cloud resources. This is typically the numbers and size of resources provisioned times the amount of time they are provisioned for. This information is available to tenant administrators through the self-service portal and well as the ability to provide cost reporting.

Tenants are granted the ability to manage, monitor and report on the resources that they have provisioned.

Introduction to Cloud Automation


Provision Azure Environment Resources


This is where we can see proof of evolution.

As you saw in the bulleted list of chronological blog posts (above), my first venture into Automating the Public Cloud leveraged Orchestrator + The Integration Pack for Windows Azure. My second releaseleveraged PowerShell and PowerShell Workflow + Windows Azure Cmdlets.

Let’s get down to the goods. And actually, for the first time in a long time, my published example came out a couple days before the blog post / teaser!


Script Center Contribution and Download

The download is the example: New-AzureEnvironmentResources.ps1

Here is a brief description:

This runbook creates a number of Azure Environment Resources (in sequence): Azure Affinity Group, Azure Cloud Service, Azure Storage Account, Azure Storage Container, Azure VM Image, and Azure VM. It also requires the Upload of a VHD to a specified storage container mid-process.

A detained Description, full set of Requirements, and the actual Runbook Contents are available within the Script Center Contribution (not to mention, the actual download).

Download the Provision Azure Environment Resources Example Runbook from Script Center here:

BC-DLButtonDark


A bit more about the Requirements…

Runbook Parameters

  • Azure Connection Name

    REQUIRED. Name of the Azure connection setting that was created in the Automation service.
        This connection setting contains the subscription id and the name of the certificate setting that
        holds the management certificate. It will be passed to the required and nested Connect-Azure runbook.

  • Project Name

    REQUIRED. Name of the Project for the deployment of Azure Environment Resources. This name is leveraged
        throughout the runbook to derive the names of the Azure Environment Resources created.

  • VM Name

    REQUIRED. Name of the Virtual Machine to be created as part of the Project.

  • VM Instance Size

    REQUIRED. Specifies the size of the instance. Supported values are as below with their (cores, memory)
        “ExtraSmall” (shared core, 768 MB),
        “Small”      (1 core, 1.75 GB),
        “Medium”     (2 cores, 3.5 GB),
        “Large”      (4 cores, 7 GB),
        “ExtraLarge” (8 cores, 14GB),
        “A5”         (2 cores, 14GB)
        “A6”         (4 cores, 28GB)
        “A7”         (8 cores, 56 GB)

  • Storage Account Name

    OPTIONAL. This parameter should only be set if the runbook is being re-executed after an existing
    and unique Storage Account Name has already been created, or if a new and unique Storage Account Name
    is desired. If left blank, a new and unique Storage Account Name will be created for the Project. The
    format of the derived Storage Account Names is:
        $ProjectName (lowercase) + [Random lowercase letters and numbers] up to a total Length of 23


Other Requirements

  • An existing connection to an Azure subscription

  • The Upload of a VHD to a specified storage container mid-process. At this point in the process, the runbook will intentionally suspend and notify the user; after the upload, the user simply resumes the runbook and the rest of the creation process continues.

  • Six (6) Automation Assets (to be configured in the Assets tab). These are suggested, but not necessarily required. Replacing the “Get-AutomationVariable” calls within this runbook with static or parameter variables is an alternative method. For this example though, the following dependencies exist:
        VARIABLES SET WITH AUTOMATION ASSETS:
             $AGLocation = Get-AutomationVariable -Name ‘AGLocation’
             $GenericStorageContainerName = Get-AutomationVariable -Name ‘GenericStorageContainer’
             $SourceDiskFileExt = Get-AutomationVariable -Name ‘SourceDiskFileExt’
             $VMImageOS = Get-AutomationVariable -Name ‘VMImageOS’
             $AdminUsername = Get-AutomationVariable -Name ‘AdminUsername’
             $Password = Get-AutomationVariable -Name ‘Password’

Note     The entire runbook is heavily checkpointed and can be run multiple times without resource recreation.


Upload of a VHD

Waaaaait a minute! That seems like a pretty big step, how am I going to accomplish that?

I am so glad you asked.

To make this easier (for all of us), I created a separate PowerShell Workflow Script to take care of this step. In fact, it is the same one I used during the creation and testing of New-AzureEnvironmentResources.ps1.

Here it is (the contents of a file I called Upload-LocalVHDtoAzure.ps1):

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param
(
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true)]
    [string]$AzureSubscriptionName,
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true)]
    [string]$ProjectName,
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true)]
    [string]$StorageAccountName
)

workflow Upload-LocalVHDtoAzure { 

    param 
    ( 
        [string]$StorageContainerName, 
        [string]$VHDName, 
        [string]$SourceVHDPath, 
        [string]$DestinationBlobURI, 
        [bool]$OverWrite 
    ) 
    
    $AzureSubscriptionForWorkflow = Get-AzureSubscription 

    $AzureBlob = Get-AzureStorageBlob -Container $StorageContainerName -Blob $VHDName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue 
    
    if(!$AzureBlob -or $OverWrite) { 

        $AzureBlob = Add-AzureVhd -LocalFilePath $SourceVHDPath -Destination $DestinationBlobURI -OverWrite:$OverWrite 
    } 

    Return $AzureBlob 

}

$GenericStorageContainerName = “vhds”

$SourceDiskName = “toWindowsAzure” 
$SourceDiskFileExt = “vhd” 
$SourceDiskPath = “D:\Drop\Azure\toAzure” 
$SourceVHDName = “{0}.{1}” -f $SourceDiskName,$SourceDiskFileExt 
$SourceVHDPath = “{0}\{1}” -f $SourceDiskPath,$SourceVHDName 

$DesitnationVHDName = “{0}.{1}” -f $ProjectName,$SourceDiskFileExt 
$DestinationVHDPath = https://{0}.blob.core.windows.net/{1}” -f $StorageAccountName,$GenericStorageContainerName 
$DestinationBlobURI = “{0}/{1}” -f $DestinationVHDPath,$DesitnationVHDName 
$OverWrite = $false 

Select-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName $AzureSubscriptionName
Set-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName $AzureSubscriptionName -CurrentStorageAccount $StorageAccountName

$AzureBlobUploadJob = Upload-LocalVHDtoAzure -StorageContainerName $GenericStorageContainerName -VHDName $DesitnationVHDName `
    -SourceVHDPath $SourceVHDPath -DestinationBlobURI $DestinationBlobURI -OverWrite $OverWrite -AsJob 
Receive-Job -Job $AzureBlobUploadJob -AutoRemoveJob -Wait -WriteEvents -WriteJobInResults

Note     This is just one method of uploading a VHD to Azure for a specified Storage Account. I have parameterized the entire script so it could be run from the command line as a PS1 file. Obviously you can do with this as you please.

 


Testing and Proof of Execution

I figured you might want to see the results of my testing during my development of the Provision Azure Environment Resources example…so here are some screen captures from the Azure Automation interface:

Dashboard

image

Runbooks

image

Assets

image

Azure All Items View

You know, to prove that I created something with these scripts…

image

Building Distributed Node.js Apps with Azure Service Bus Queue

Azure Service Bus Queues provides, a queue based, brokered messaging communication between apps, which lets developers build distributed apps on the Cloud and also for hybrid Cloud environments. Azure Service Bus Queue provides First In, First Out (FIFO) messaging infrastructure. Service Bus Queues can be leveraged for communicating between apps, whether the apps are hosted on the cloud or on-premises servers.

windows-azure-c3634

Service Bus Queues are primarily used for distributing application logic into multiple apps. For an example, let’s say, we are building an order processing app where we are building a frontend web app for receiving orders from customers and want to move order processing logic into a backend service where we can implement the order processing logic in an asynchronous manner. In this sample scenario, we can use Azure Service Bus Queue, where we can create an order processing message into Service Bus Queue from frontend app for processing the request. From the backend order processing app, we can receives the message from Queue and can process the request in an efficient manner. This approach also enables better scalability as we can separately scale-up frontend app and backend app.

For this sample scenario, we can deploy the frontend app onto Azure Web Role and backend app onto Azure Worker Role and can separately  scale-up both Web Role and Worker Role apps. We can also use Service Bus Queues for hybrid Cloud scenarios where we can communicate between apps hosted on Cloud and On-premises servers.    

Using Azure Service Bus Queues in Node.js Apps

In order to working with Azure Service Bus, we need to create a Service Bus namespace from Azure portal.

image

We can take the connection information of Service Bus namespace from the Connection Information tab in the bottom section, after choosing the Service Bus namespace.

image

Creating the Service Bus Client

Firstly, we need to install npm module azure to working with Azure services from Node.js app.

npm install azure

The code block below creates a Service Bus client object using the Node.js module azure.

var azure = require('azure');
var config=require('./config');

var serviceBusClient = azure.createServiceBusService(config.sbConnection);

We create the Service Bus client object by using createServiceBusService method of azure. In the above code block, we pass the Service Bus connection info from a config file. The azure module can also read the environment variables AZURE_SERVICEBUS_NAMESPACE and AZURE_SERVICEBUS_ACCESS_KEY for information required to connect with Azure Service Bus where we can call  createServiceBusService method without specifying the connection information.

Creating a Services Bus Queue

The createQueueIfNotExists method of Service Bus client object, returns the queue if it is already exists, or create a new Queue if it is not exists.

var azure = require('azure');
var config=require('./config');
var queue = 'ordersqueue';

var serviceBusClient = azure.createServiceBusService(config.sbConnection);

function createQueue() {
 serviceBusClient.createQueueIfNotExists(queue,
 function(error){
    if(error){
        console.log(error);
    }
    else
    {
        console.log('Queue ' + queue+ ' exists');
    }
});
}

Sending Messages to Services Bus Queue

The below function sendMessage sends a given message to Service Bus Queue

function sendMessage(message) {
    serviceBusClient.sendQueueMessage(queue,message,
 function(error) {
        if (error) {
            console.log(error);
        }
        else
        {
            console.log('Message sent to queue');
        }
    });
}

The following code create the queue and sending a message to Queue by calling the methods createQueue and sendMessage which we have created in the previous steps.

createQueue();
var orderMessage={
 "OrderId":101,
 "OrderDate": new Date().toDateString()
};
sendMessage(JSON.stringify(orderMessage));

We create a JSON object with properties OrderId and OrderDate and send this to the Service Bus Queue. We can send these messages to Queue for communicating with other apps where the receiver apps can read the messages from Queue and perform the application logic based on the messages we have provided.

Receiving Messages from Services Bus Queue

Typically, we will be receive the Service Bus Queue messages from a backend app. The code block below receives the messages from Service Bus Queue and extracting information from the JSON data.

var azure = require('azure');
var config=require('./config');
var queue = 'ordersqueue';

var serviceBusClient = azure.createServiceBusService(config.sbConnection);
function receiveMessages() {
    serviceBusClient.receiveQueueMessage(queue,
      function (error, message) {
        if (error) {
            console.log(error);
        } else {
            var message = JSON.parse(message.body);
            console.log('Processing Order# ' + message.OrderId
                + ' placed on ' + message.OrderDate);
        }
    });
}

By default, the messages will be deleted from Service Bus Queue after reading the messages. This behaviour can be changed by specifying the optional parameter isPeekLock as true as sown in the below code block.

function receiveMessages() {
    serviceBusClient.receiveQueueMessage(queue,{ isPeekLock: true },
      function (error, message) {
        if (error) {
            console.log(error);
        } else {
            var message = JSON.parse(message.body);
          console.log('Processing Order# ' + message.OrderId
                + ' placed on ' + message.OrderDate);
          serviceBusService.deleteMessage(message,
        function (deleteError){
            if(!deleteError){
                console.delete('Message deleted from Queue');
             }
           }
          });
        }
    });
}

Here the message will not be automatically deleted from Queue and we can explicitly delete the messages from Queue after reading and successfully implementing the application logic.

SAP Weekend : Part 2 – Using the Microsoft BizTalk Server for B2B Integration with SharePoint

This is Part 2 of my past weekend’s activities with SharePoint and SAP Integration methods.

 

In this post I am looking at how to use the BizTalk Adapter with SharePoint

 

Topics

  • Abstract
  • Goal
  • Business Scenario
  • Environment
  • Document Flow
  • Integration Steps
  • .NET Support
  • Summary

 

Abstract

In the past few years, the whole perspective of doing business has been moved towards implementing Enterprise Resource Planning Systems for the key areas like marketing, sales and manufacturing operations. Today most of the large organizations which deal with all major world markets, heavily rely on such key areas.

Operational Systems of any organization can be achieved from its worldwide network of marketing teams as well as from manufacturing and distribution techniques. In order to provide customers with realistic information, each of these systems need to be integrated as part of the larger enterprise.

This ultimately results into efficient enterprise overall, providing more reliable information and better customer service. This paper addresses the integration of Biztalk Server and Enterprise Resource Planning System and the need for their integration and their role in the current E-Business scenario.

 

Goal

There are several key business drivers like customers and partners that need to communicate on different fronts for successful business relationship. To achieve this communication, various systems need to get integrated that lead to evaluate and develop B2B Integration Capability and E–Business strategy. This improves the quality of business information at its disposal—to improve delivery times, costs, and offer customers a higher level of overall service.

To provide B2B capabilities, there is a need to give access to the business application data, providing partners with the ability to execute global business transactions. Facing internal integration and business–to–business (B2B) challenges on a global scale, organization needs to look for required solution.

To integrate the worldwide marketing, manufacturing and distribution facilities based on core ERP with variety of information systems, organization needs to come up with strategic deployment of integration technology products and integration service capabilities.

 

Business Scenario

Now take the example of this ABC Manufacturing Company: whose success is the strength of its European-wide trading relationships. Company recognizes the need to strengthen these relationships by processing orders faster and more efficiently than ever before.

The company needed a new platform that could integrate orders from several countries, accepting payments in multiple currencies and translating measurements according to each country’s standards. Now, the bottom line for ABC’s e-strategy was to accelerate order processing. To achieve this: the basic necessity was to eliminate the multiple collections of data and the use of invalid data.

By using less paper, ABC would cut processing costs and speed up the information flow. Keeping this long term goal in mind, ABC Manufacturing Company can now think of integrating its four key countries into a new business-to-business (B2B) platform.

 

Here is another example of this XYZ Marketing Company. Users visit on this company’s website to explore a variety of products for its thousands of customers all over the world. Now this company always understood that they could offer greater benefits to customers if they could more efficiently integrate their customers’ back-end systems. With such integration, customers could enjoy the advantages of highly efficient e-commerce sites, where a visitor on the Web could place an order that would flow smoothly from the website to the customer’s order entry system.

 

Some of those back-end order entry systems are built on the latest, most sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system on the market, while others are built on legacy systems that have never been upgraded. Different customers requires information formatted in different ways, but XYZ has no elegant way to transform the information coming out of website to meet customer needs. With the traditional approach:

For each new e-commerce customer on the site, XYZ’s staff needs to work for significant amounts of time creating a transformation application that would facilitate the exchange of information. But with better approach: XYZ needs a robust messaging solution that would provide the flexibility and agility to meet a range of customer needs quickly and effectively. Now again XYZ can think of integrating Customer Backend Systems with the help of business-to-business (B2B) platform.

 

Environment

Many large scale organizations maintain a centralized SAP environment as its core enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The SAP system is used for the management and processing of all global business processes and practices. B2B integration mainly relies on the asynchronous messaging, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and XML document transformation mechanisms to facilitate the transformation and exchange of information between any ERP System and other applications including legacy systems.

For business document routing, transformation, and tracking, existing SAP-XML/EDI technology road map needs XML service engine. This will allow development of complex set of mappings from and to SAP to meet internal and external XML/EDI technology and business strategy. Microsoft BizTalk Server is the best choice to handle the data interchange and mapping requirements. BizTalk Server has the most comprehensive development and management support among business-to-business platforms. Microsoft BizTalk Server and BizTalk XML Framework version 2.0 with Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) version 1.1 provide precisely the kind of messaging solution that is needed to facilitate integration with cost effective manner.

 

Document Flow

Friends, now let’s look at the actual flow of document from Source System to Customer Target System using BizTalk Server. When a document is created, it is sent to a TCP/IP-based Application Linking and Enabling (ALE) port—a BizTalk-based receive function that is used for XML conversion. Then the document passes the XML to a processing script (VBScript) that is running as a BizTalk Application Integration Component (AIC). The following figure shows how BizTalk Server acts as a hub between applications that reside in two different organizations:

The data is serialized to the customer/vendor XML format using the Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) generated from the BizTalk Mapper using a BizTalk channel. The XML document is sent using synchronous Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) or another requested transport protocol such as the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), as specified by the customer.

The following figure shows steps for XML document transformation:

The total serialized XML result is passed back to the processing script that is running as a BizTalk AIC. An XML “receipt” document then is created and submitted to another BizTalk channel that serializes the XML status document into a SAP IDOC status message. Finally, a Remote Function Call (RFC) is triggered to the SAP instance/client using a compiled C++/VB program to update the SAP IDOC status record. A complete loop of document reconciliation is achieved. If the status is not successful, an e-mail message is created and sent to one of the Support Teams that own the customer/vendor business XML/EDI transactions so that the conflict can be resolved. All of this happens instantaneously in a completely event-driven infrastructure between SAP and BizTalk.

Integration Steps

Let’s talk about a very popular Order Entry and tracking scenario while discussing integration hereafter. The following sections describe the high-level steps required to transmit order information from Order Processing pipeline Component into the SAP/R3 application, and to receive order status update information from the SAP/R3 application.

The integration of AFS purchase order reception with SAP is achieved using the BizTalk Adapter for SAP (BTS-SAP). The IDOC handler is used by the BizTalk Adapter to provide the transactional support for bridging tRFC (Transactional Remote Function Calls) to MSMQ DTC (Distributed Transaction Coordinator). The IDOC handler is a COM object that processes IDOC documents sent from SAP through the Com4ABAP service, and ensures their successful arrival at the appropriate MSMQ destination. The handler supports the methods defined by the SAP tRFC protocol. When integrating purchase order reception with the SAP/R3 application, BizTalk Server (BTS) provides the transformation and messaging functionality, and the BizTalk Adapter for SAP provides the transport and routing functionality.

The following two sequential steps indicate how the whole integration takes place:

  • Purchase order reception integration
  • Order Status Update Integration

Purchase Order Reception Integration

  1. Suppose a new pipeline component is added to the Order Processing pipeline. This component creates an XML document that is equivalent to the OrderForm object that is passed through the pipeline. This XML purchase order is in Commerce Server Order XML v1.0 format, and once created, is sent to a special Microsoft Message Queue (MSMQ) queue created specifically for this purpose.Writing the order from the pipeline to MSMQ:>

    The first step in sending order data to the SAP/R3 application involves building a new pipeline component to run within the Order Processing pipeline. This component must perform the following two tasks:

    A] Make an XML-formatted copy of the OrderForm object that is passing through the order processing pipeline. The GenerateXMLForDictionaryUsingSchema method of the DictionaryXMLTransforms object is used to create the copy.

    Private Function IPipelineComponent_Execute(ByVal objOrderForm As Object, _
        ByVal objContext As Object, ByVal lFlags As Long) As Long
    
    On Error GoTo ERROR_Execute
    
    Dim oXMLTransforms As Object
    Dim oXMLSchema As Object
    Dim oOrderFormXML As Object
    
    ' Return 1 for Success.
    IPipelineComponent_Execute = 1
    
    ' Create a DictionaryXMLTransforms object.
    Set oXMLTransforms = CreateObject("Commerce.DictionaryXMLTransforms")
    
    ' Create a PO schema object.
    Set oXMLSchema = oXMLTransforms.GetXMLFromFile(sSchemaLocation)
    
    ' Create an XML version of the order form.
    Set oOrderFormXML = oXMLTransforms.GenerateXMLForDictionaryUsingSchema_
        (objOrderForm, oXMLSchema)
    
    WritePO2MSMQ sQueueName, oOrderFormXML.xml, PO_TO_ERP_QUEUE_LABEL, _
        sBTSServerName, AFS_PO_MAXTIMETOREACHQUEUE
    
    Exit Function
    
    ERROR_Execute:
    App.LogEvent "QueuePO.CQueuePO -> Execute Error: " & _
    vbCrLf & Err.Description, vbLogEventTypeError
    
    ' Set warning level.
    IPipelineComponent_Execute = 2
    Resume Next
    
    End Function

    B] Send the newly created XML order document to the MSMQ queue defined for this purpose.

    Option Explicit
    
    ' MSMQ constants.
    
    ' Access modes.
    Const MQ_RECEIVE_ACCESS = 1
    Const MQ_SEND_ACCESS = 2
    Const MQ_PEEK_ACCESS = 32
    
    ' Sharing modes. Const MQ_DENY_NONE = 0
    Const MQ_DENY_RECEIVE_SHARE = 1
    
    ' Transaction options. Const MQ_NO_TRANSACTION = 0
    Const MQ_MTS_TRANSACTION = 1
    Const MQ_XA_TRANSACTION = 2
    Const MQ_SINGLE_MESSAGE = 3
    
    ' Error messages.
    Const MQ_ERROR_QUEUE_NOT_EXIST = -1072824317
    
    ' MQ Message ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.
    Const MQMSG_ACKNOWLEDGMENT_FULL_REACH_QUEUE = 5
    Const MQMSG_ACKNOWLEDGMENT_FULL_RECEIVE = 14
    Const DEFAULT_MAX_TIME_TO_REACH_QUEUE = 20
    ' MQ Message ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.
    Const MQMSG_ACKNOWLEDGMENT_FULL_REACH_QUEUE = 5
    Const MQMSG_ACKNOWLEDGMENT_FULL_RECEIVE = 14
    
    Function WritePO2MSMQ(sQueueName As String, sMsgBody As String, _
        sMsgLabel As String, sServerName As String, _
        Optional MaxTimeToReachQueue As Variant) As Long
    
    Dim lMaxTime As Long
    
    If IsMissing(MaxTimeToReachQueue) Then
    lMaxTime = DEFAULT_MAX_TIME_TO_REACH_QUEUE
    Else
    lMaxTime = MaxTimeToReachQueue
    End If
    
    Dim objQueueInfo As MSMQ.MSMQQueueInfo
    Dim objQueue As MSMQ.MSMQQueue, objAdminQueue As MSMQ.MSMQQueue
    Dim objQueueMsg As MSMQ.MSMQMessage
    
    On Error GoTo MSMQ_Error
    
    Set objQueueInfo = New MSMQ.MSMQQueueInfo
    objQueueInfo.FormatName = "DIRECT=OS:" & sServerName & "\PRIVATE$\" & sQueueName
    
    Set objQueue = objQueueInfo.Open(MQ_SEND_ACCESS, MQ_DENY_NONE)
    
    Set objQueueMsg = New MSMQ.MSMQMessage
    
    objQueueMsg.Label = sMsgLabel ' Set the message label property
    objQueueMsg.Body = sMsgBody ' Set the message body property
    objQueueMsg.Ack = MQMSG_ACKNOWLEDGMENT_FULL_REACH_QUEUE
    objQueueMsg.MaxTimeToReachQueue = lMaxTime
    
    objQueueMsg.send objQueue, MQ_SINGLE_MESSAGE
    
    objQueue.Close
    
    On Error Resume Next
    Set objQueueMsg = Nothing
    Set objQueue = Nothing
    Set objQueueInfo = Nothing
    
    Exit Function
    
    MSMQ_Error:
    App.LogEvent "Error in WritePO2MSMQ: " & Error
    Resume Next
    
    End Function
    
  2. A BTS MSMQ receive function picks up the document from the MSMQ queue and sends it to a BTS channel that has been configured for this purpose. Receiving the XML order from MSMQ: The second step in sending order data to the SAP/R3 application involves BTS receiving the order data from the MSMQ queue into which it was placed at the end of the first step. You must configure a BTS MSMQ receive function to monitor the MSMQ queue to which the XML order was sent in the previous step. This receive function forwards the XML message to the configured BTS channel for transformation.
  3. The third step in sending order data to the SAP/R3 application involves BTS transforming the order data from Commerce Server Order XML v1.0 format into ORDERS01 IDOC format. A BTS channel must be configured to perform this transformation. After the transformation is complete, the BTS channel sends the resulting ORDERS01 IDOC message to the corresponding BTS messaging port. The BTS messaging port is configured to send the transformed message to an MSMQ queue called the 840 Queue. Once the message is placed in this queue, the BizTalk Adapter for SAP is responsible for further processing. 
  4. BizTalk Adapter for SAP sends the ORDERS01document to the DCOM Connector (Get more information on DCOM Connector from www.sap.com/bapi), which writes the order to the SAP/R3 application. The DCOM Connector is an SAP software product that provides a mechanism to send data to, and receive data from, an SAP system. When an IDOC message is placed in the 840 Queue, the DOM Connector retrieves the message and sends it to SAP for processing. Although this processing is in the domain of the BizTalk Adapter for SAP, the steps involved are reviewed here as background information:
    • Determine the version of the IDOC schema in use and generate a BizTalk Server document specification.
    • Create a routing key from the contents of the Control Record of the IDOC schema.
    • Request a SAP Destination from the Manager Data Store given the constructed routing key.
    • Submit the IDOC message to the SAP System using the DCOM Connector 4.6D Submit functionality.

Order Status Update Integration

Order status update integration can be achieved by providing a mechanism for sending information about updates made within the SAP/R3 application back to the Commerce Server order system.

The following sequence of steps describes such a mechanism:

  1. BizTalk Adapter for SAP processing:
    After a user has updated a purchase order using the SAP client, and the IDOC has been submitted to the appropriate tRFC port, the BizTalk Adapter for SAP uses the DCOM connector to send the resulting information to the 840 Queue, packaged as an ORDERS01 IDOC message. The 840 Queue is an MSMQ queue into which the BizTalk Adapter for SAP places IDOC messages so that they can be retrieved and processed by interested parties. This process is within the domain of the BizTalk Adapter for SAP, and is used by this solution to achieve the order update integration.
  2. Receiving the ORDERS01 IDOC message from MSMQ:
    The second step in updating order status from the SAP/R3 application involves BTS receiving ORDERS01 IDOC message from the MSMQ queue (840 Queue) into which it was placed at the end of the first step. You must configure a BTS MSMQ receive function to monitor the 840 Queue into which the XML order status message was placed. This receive function must be configured to forward the XML message to the configured BTS channel for transformation.
  3. Transforming the order update from IDOC format:
    Using a BTS MSMQ receive function, the document is retrieved and passed to a BTS transformation channel. The BTS channel transforms the ORDERS01 IDOC message into Commerce Server Order XML v1.0 format, and then forwards it to the corresponding BTS messaging port. You must configure a BTS channel to perform this transformation.The following BizTalk Server (BTS) map demonstrates in the prototyping of this solution for transforming an SAP ORDERS01 IDOC message into an XML document in Commerce Server Order XML v1.0 format. It allows a change to an order in the SAP/R3 application to be reflected in the Commerce Server orders database.

    This map used in the prototype only maps the order ID, demonstrating how the order in the SAP/R3 application can be synchronized with the order in the Commerce Server orders database. The mapping of other fields is specific to a particular implementation, and was not done for the prototype.

< xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl='http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform' 
xmlns:msxsl='urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt' xmlns:var='urn:var' 
xmlns:user='urn:user' exclude-result-prefixes='msxsl var user' 
version='1.0'>
< xsl:output method='xml' omit-xml-declaration='yes' />
< xsl:template match='/'>
< xsl:apply-templates select='ORDERS01'/>
< /xsl:template>
< xsl:template match='ORDERS01'>
< orderform>

'Connection from source node "BELNR" to destination node "OrderID"

< xsl:if test='E2EDK02/@BELNR'>
< xsl:attribute name='OrderID'>
; < xsl:value-of select='E2EDK02/@BELNR'/>
< /xsl:attribute>
< /xsl:if>
< /orderform>
< /xsl:template>
< /xsl:stylesheet>

The BTS message port posts the transformed order update document to the configured ASP page for further processing. The configured ASP page retrieves the message posted to it and uses the Commerce Server OrderGroupManager and OrderGroup objects to update the order status information in the Commerce Server orders database.

  • Updating the Commerce Server order system:
    The fourth step in updating order status from the SAP/R3 application involves updating the Commerce Server order system to reflect the change in status. This is accomplished by adding the page _OrderStatusUpdate.asp to the AFS Solution Site and configuring the BTS messaging port to post the transformed XML document to that page. The update is performed using the Commerce Server OrderGroupManager and OrderGroup objects.
  •  

    The routine ProcessOrderStatus is the primary routine in the page. It uses the DOM and XPath to extract enough information to find the appropriate order using the OrderGroupManager object. Once the correct order is located, it is loaded into an OrderGroup object so that any of the entries in the OrderGroup object can be updated as needed.

    The following code implements page _OrderStatusUpdate.asp:

    < %@ Language="VBScript" %>
    
    < % 
    const TEMPORARY_FOLDER = 2
    
    call Main()
    
    Sub Main()
    call ProcessOrderStatus( ParseRequestForm() )
    End Sub
    
    Sub ProcessOrderStatus(sDocument)
    
    Dim oOrderGroupMgr 
    Dim oOrderGroup 
    Dim rs
    Dim sPONum
    Dim oAttr 
    Dim vResult
    Dim vTracking 
    Dim oXML
    Dim dictConfig
    Dim oElement
    
    Set oOrderGroupMgr = Server.CreateObject("CS_Req.OrderGroupManager")
    Set oOrderGroup = Server.CreateObject("CS_Req.OrderGroup")
    
    Set oXML = Server.CreateObject("MSXML.DOMDocument")
    oXML.async = False
    
    If oXML.loadXML (sDocument) Then
    
    ' Get the orderform element.
    Set oElement = oXML.selectSingleNode("/orderform")
    
    ' Get the poNum.
    sPONum = oElement.getAttribute("OrderID")
    
    Set dictConfig = Application("MSCSAppConfig").GetOptionsDictionary("")
    
    ' Use ordergroupmgr to find the order by OrderID.
    oOrderGroupMgr.Initialize (dictConfig.s_CatalogConnectionString)
    Set rs = oOrderGroupMgr.Find(Array("order_requisition_number='" sPONum & "'"), _
        Array(""), Array(""))
    
    If rs.EOF And rs.BOF Then
    'Create a new one. - Not implemented in this version.
    Else
    ' Edit the current one.
    oOrderGroup.Initialize dictConfig.s_CatalogConnectionString, rs("User_ID")
    
    ' Load the found order.
    oOrderGroup.LoadOrder rs("ordergroup_id")
    
    ' For the purposes of prototype, we only update the status
    oOrderGroup.Value.order_status_code = 2 ' 2 = Saved order
    
    ' Save it
    vResult = oOrderGroup.SaveAsOrder(vTracking)
    
    End If
    Else
    WriteError "Unable to load received XML into DOM."
    End If
    
    End Sub Function ParseRequestForm()
    
    Dim PostedDocument
    Dim ContentType
    Dim CharSet
    Dim EntityBody
    Dim Stream
    Dim StartPos
    Dim EndPos
    
    ContentType = Request.ServerVariables( "CONTENT_TYPE" )
    
    ' Determine request entity body character set (default to us-ascii).
    CharSet = "us-ascii"
    StartPos = InStr( 1, ContentType, "CharSet=""", 1)
    If (StartPos > 0 ) then
    StartPos = StartPos + Len("CharSet=""")
    EndPos = InStr( StartPos, ContentType, """",1 )
    CharSet = Mid (ContentType, StartPos, EndPos - StartPos )
    End If
    
    ' Check for multipart MIME message.
    PostedDocument = ""
    
    if ( ContentType = "" or Request.TotalBytes = 0) then
    
    ' Content-Type is required as well as an entity body.
    Response.Status = "406 Not Acceptable"
    Response.Write "Content-type or Entity body is missing" & VbCrlf
    Response.Write "Message headers follow below:" & VbCrlf
    Response.Write Request.ServerVariables("ALL_RAW") & VbCrlf
    Response.End
    Else
    If ( InStr( 1,ContentType,"multipart/" ) >

    .NET Support

    This Multi-Tier Application Environment can be implemented successfully with the help of Web portal which utilizes the Microsoft .NET Enterprise Server model. The Microsoft BizTalk Server Toolkit for Microsoft .NET provides the ability to leverage the power of XML Web services and Visual Studio .NET to build dynamic, transaction-based, fault-tolerant systems with full access to existing applications.

    Summary

    Microsoft BizTalk Server can help organizations quickly establish and manage Internet relationships with other organizations. It makes it possible for them to automate document interchange with any other organization, regardless of the conversion requirements and data formats used. This provides a cost-effective approach for integrating business processes across large Enterprises Resource Planning Systems. Integration process designed to facilitate collaborative e-commerce business processes. The process includes a document interchange engine, a business process execution engine, and a set of business document and server management tools. In addition, a business document editor and mapper tools are provided for managing trading partner relationships, administering server clusters, and tracking transactions.

    References

    All my Web Parts and Apps are now making use of Knockout.JS !! Template also available at very low price!!

    After completing the development of my latest Web Part, the “List Search” Web Part I decided to update all my Web Parts and Apps to using Knockout.JS, starting with the “List Search” Web Part.

    This topic came up when we I looked at some of my older products that includes generic list and library web parts, that would display few common fields like ID, Title, Description, File Url etc. Prior to this request we solved similar issues with OOB list and library web parts with custom XSLT, by creating Visual Studio web part for branding purposes only, or by using Imtech content query web part( which is XSLT solution by design).

    At the end, clients hated XSLT solutions and I hated to create new web part for every new list or library. That’s where Knockout popped. Why don’t we use Knockout for templates instead XSLT.

    I’ll assume that whoever reads this article knows about creating a web part for SharePoint, SharePoint module, java script and html and I will not go into details.

    Background

    A bit about Knockout

    From Knockout web site: “Knockout is a JavaScript library that helps you to create rich, responsive display and editor user interfaces with a clean underlying data model. “

    From Wikipedia:

    Knockout is a standalone JavaScript implementation of the Model-View-ViewModel pattern with templates. The underlying principles are therefore:

    • a clear separation between domain data, view components and data to be displayed
    • the presence of a clearly defined layer of specialized code to manage the relationships between the view components

    Knockout includes the following features:

    • Declarative bindings
    • Automatic UI refresh (when the data model’s state changes, the UI updates automatically)
    • Dependency tracking
    • Templating (using a native template engine although other templating engines can be used, such as jquery.tmpl)

    So what’s the deal?

    First you have your view model:

     var myViewModel = {
         personName: 'Bob',
         personAge: 123
    };

    Then you have a view:

    The name is <span data-bind="text:personName"></span>

    At the end just bind your view to model

     ko.applyBindings(myViewModel);

    We’ll talk about model later.

    Using the code

    Proof of concept

    I’ve created an html mock of our web part. This is useful, because we can prepare java scripts, css files, models and views in advance and test it without SharePoint and visual studio.

    You can download proof of concept as separate download from the link above.

    References

    There would be only two file references.

    One is knockout library itself

    <script type='text/javascript' src="http://knockoutjs.com/downloads/knockout-3.0.0.js"></script>

    and the other is css file I’ve added to this project

    <link href="css/controls.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />

    Model 

    I’ve designed model as Item class. Here it is:

    // Item class definition
    var Item = function (id, title, datecreated,url,description,thumbnail) {
       this.id = id;
       this.title = title;
       this.datecreated = datecreated;
       this.url=url;
       this.description=description;
       this.thumbnail=thumbnail;
    }

    It’s called item and it has 6 properties:

    1. id – ID of the item
    2. title – Title of the item
    3. datecreated – Creation date of the item
    4. url – Url of the item
    5. description – Description of the item
    6. thumbnail – Thumbnail of the item

     

    View model

    Here is the view model

    function viewModel1 (){
        var self = this;
        self.items =  [  
         new Item(2, 'News1 title','21.10.2013','javascript:OpenDialog(2);'
                   ,'Description News 1','img/pic1.jpg'), 
        new Item(1, 'News 2 title','21.02.2013','javascript:OpenDialog(1);',
                   'Description News 2','img/pic2.jpg')
    }

    View model has property items, which in fact is collection of Item objects. For mocking purposes we’ve added two Item objects in this collection (News 1 and News 2);

     

    View

    Here is the view:

    <div class="glwp glwp-central" id="k1">
      <div class="glwpLine"></div>
      <h5><img src="PublishingImages/siteIcon.png" 
              width="28" height="28" align="absmiddle" />
          News</h5>
      <div class="glwpLineGrey"></div>
        <ul data-bind="foreach:items">
          <li>
           <div class="glwpDate"><span data-bind="text: datecreated" ></span>
           <img class="glwpImage" data-bind="attr: { src: thumbnail }" />         
           </div>
           <div class="glwpText glwpText-central" >
            <a data-bind="attr: { href: url, title: title }" style="min-height:70px;">
             <span class="glwpTextTTL" data-bind="text:title"></span><br />
             <span data-bind="text: description"></span>
            </a>
           </div>
           <div class="glwpSep"></div>
          </li>
        </ul>
    </div>

    What we have here:

    It’s pretty simple. We haveunordered list bound to our model. One

    • element would be created for every item of our items collection (data-bind=”foreach: items”).

     

     

    Property binding: 

    •  datecreated">< /span> – This is the simplest data binding. It would write datecreated property of Item object to text of span element (like: <span>11/11/2013</span>)
    • <img class="glwpImage" data-bind="attr: { src: thumbnail }" />. This is a bit more complicated binding. It would take thumbnail property of item object and write it to src attribute of img element.
    • 70px;">. It would take url property and write it as href attribute of the a element, and title property as title attribute.
    • <span class="glwpTextTTL" data-bind="text:title"></span>. Title property would be written as text of span element
    • <span data-bind="text: description"></span>. Description property would be written as text of span element

    So anyone with little knowledge of html and css can customize this template anyway (s)he likes, as long as (s)he provides required properties.

     

    Binding

    ko.applyBindings(viewModel1,document.getElementById('k1'));

    Note second parameter in applyBindings method. It says document.getElementById('k1'). Same id is on the first div in our view (k1″>). This is helpful if you want to have more than one view model in one page. It tells knockout to bind this specific model (viewModel1) to specific template on our page (k1).

     

    What we have from this? We are going to create web part from this code and one of the web part features is that you can put same web part several times on the same page. So it would be possible to put one web part in SharePoint page to display news and one web part to display projects or documents. And they will coexist together.

    If you look at the source you will notice that we have 2 view models (viewModel1 and viewModel2) and two templates (k1 and k2), and two bindings of course. One binding is for news (with images and description) and one binding is for files (no images, and no descriptions). Templates are slightly different.

    Final result

    Here is the final result

    SharePoint Part

    As I said I will assume that you have some experience with SharePoint development so I will not explain how to create the project and add project items. Project type is standard Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Empty Project template.

    SharePoint part consists of following items:

    • Web part item – KnockoutWp. Standard SharePoint Visual Web part project Item
    • Assets module. SharePoint module project item. We are going to use it for deploying of images and css files (0.png – empty container for images and controls.css – css file for our projects).
    • Layouts mapped folder. We’ll put here editor page for template.

    And here is the solution explorer for project:

    Assets

    We are going to deploy 2 files:

    • 0.png – 1×1 pixel transparent image aka placeholder
    • Controls.css – css file for our template

    Both of these items are going to be deployed to Style Library of the SharePoint site collection, so content editors may change it later without need of solution redeployment.

    Here is the elements.xml file:

    So our assets will end to http://oursitecollectionurl/Style Library/wp folder.

    KnockoutWp

    This is Visual Studio 2010 Visual Web part.

    It is consisted of 4 items:

    • KnockoutWp.cs – web part class
    • KnockoutWpUserControl – User control of our web part
    • KnockoutWp.webpart – web part xml file
    • Elements.xml – manifest file

    Properties

    Web part has following properties:

    • ListUrl (string, required) – url of the list we are displaying.
    • TitleField (string, optional) – display name of the field that would be displayed as Title. If it’s blank Title field would be used.
    • DateField (string, optional) – display name of the field that would be displayed as date. If it’s blank Created field would be used.
    • DescriptionField (string, optional) – display name of the field that would be displayed as Description. If it’s blank it would be omitted.
    • ImageField (string, optional) – display name of the field that would be displayed as Thumbnail picture. If it’s blank it would be omitted.
    • NoOfItems (int) – how many items from the list would be displayed
    • ItemTemplate (string) – html template of the web part. Defines the look of our web part.
    • WpPosition (enum) – Used for a three column layouts. Web part has styles for three zones: right, central and left. Difference is in width, padding and margin. Everything is set in css so you can accommodate it to your environment.

    On picture below you can see mapping between Field properties of web part and list item fields.

     

    EditorPart

    I’ve added one more thing to this web part it’s EditorPart class GenericListPartEditorPart. I’m not going into deep with editor parts, but here is quick info. When you create public property for a web part it is automatically displayed in web part edit panel.

    And it is great concept when you need simple properties as strings, numbers and short lists. If you want more complicated scenario (as we want here for our web part) it’s not enough.

    What I wanted here is template editor. It could be reasonably large so idea was to have a button in web part edit panel that would open large dialog window with editor. User would work with our template, click Apply and change ItemTemplate web part property.

    Template editor KnockoutWpUserControl

    This is user control created by Visual Studio, when we added Visual web part project item to the project. It consists of markup ascx file and code behind .ascx.cs file. We will put our markup and our c# code here.

    Markup

    Here is the complete markup:

    <script type='text/javascript' src="http://knockoutjs.com/downloads/knockout-3.0.0.js">
    </script>
    <style type="text/css">  @import url("/Style
    Library/wp/controls.css");  </style>  
    <div class="glwp glwp-<%=PositionClass %>" id="k<%=WpId %>">
      <div class="glwpLine"></div>      
      <h5><img src="<%=Icon %>" width="28" 
        height="28" align="absmiddle"><%=Title %></h5>
        <div class="glwpLineGrey"></div>      
      <asp:Literal ID="LitLayout" runat="server"></asp:Literal>
    </div>  
    
    <script type="text/javascript">    
      function OpenDialog(Url) {
        var options = SP.UI.$create_DialogOptions();        
        options.resizable = 1;        
        options.scroll = 1;        
        options.url = Url;
        SP.UI.ModalDialog.showModalDialog(options);    
    }         
    // Item class         
      var Item = function (id, title, datecreated,url,description,thumbnail) {            
         this.id = id;            
         this.title = title;
         this.datecreated = datecreated;
         this.url=url;
         this.description=description;
         this.thumbnail=thumbnail;
      }         
     //ViewModel goes here (It's created on server)        
     runat="server" ID="LitItems"></asp:Literal>
     
    //Function that opens Template editor. Used only in edit mode of web part       
     function portal_openTemplateEditor(wpid) {       
      var val="";              
      var options = SP.UI.$create_DialogOptions();              
      options.width = 600;             
      options.height = 500;                
      options.url = "/_layouts/KnockoutTemplate/TemplateEditor.aspx?c="+wpid;//"";
      options.dialogReturnValueCallback =
               Function.createDelegate(null,portal_openTemplateEditorClosedCallback);
      SP.UI.ModalDialog.showModalDialog(options);
    }
    </script>

    First Section, of the markup (picture below) has script (knockout, on the remote server) and style references (controls.css in local Document library). Below is html markup that defines the container of the web part (top and bottom borders, width, icon and title). Markup is not the cleanest because I was little lazy and left some public properties in it. Note< %=PositionClass%>, <%=WpId%> and so on.

    There are all public properties of the user control and they are used for presentation:

    • PositionClass – depending on WpPosition web part property (right, central or left) adds appropriate css class to markup and that way defines width, padding and margin of web part WpId is guid of the web part. It is used to uniquely identify the web part, because we can put several web parts of the same type and everything would crush without this identificator.
    • Icon – is a url to icon that would be displayed on web part. Web part property Title Icon Image URL is used here (this is OOB property)
    • Title –title text of the web part. Text that was entered in the title area of the web part. Web part property Title is used here (this is OOB property)

    Last interesting thing here is Literal control LitLayout. This control would hold our ItemTemplate property (html template of our web part).

    Second section, is a java script function that opens list item in a dialog window. It is used when underlying list is not document library.

    Third section consists of knockout view model (java script). Item class definition is self-explanatory (defines 6 properties only). The rest of the model is created on the server side so now there is only LitItems Literal control there.

    Fourth section is just a java script function that is used when editing web part properties. This function opens template editor in dialog window.

    Code

    Properties:

    • Properties from web part
      • Icon – url to the icon
      • Title – title of the web part
      • ListUrl – url to the list
      • TitleField – Title field in the list
      • DateField – Date field in the list
      • ImageField – Image field in the list
      • DescriptionField – Description field in the list
      • NoOfItems – number of items to return
      • Position – position of the web part (right, left or central)
      • ItemTemplate – html template of the web part
      • WpId – guid id of the web part ·
    • UC’s properties
      • PositionClass – css class based on position
      • ColumnMap – dictionary that holds internal names of the list item fields.

    Methods: File has only one method Page_Load. Code is executing with elevated privileges.

    In that method we:

    1. Resolve list by the supplied URL (ListUrl property) SPList annList = annWeb.GetList(ListUrl);
    2. Get internal names of the list columns by their Display names SpHelper.GetFieldsInternals(annWeb, annList.Title, TitleField, DateField, DescriptionField, ImageField, columnMap );
    3. Create CAML Query SpHelper.GetGenericQuery(annList, q, NoOfItems);
    4. Execute it
    5. Iterate over SPListItemCollection (coll) and create required JavaScript
    Helper class

    SPHelper is helper class and you can find it in Helpers directory.

    It has 3 responsibilities:

    1. To retrieve List Columns Internal names based on supplied List Columns display names (WP properties – TitleField – Title field, DateField, ImageField , DescriptionField ) – GetFieldsInternals method
    2. To create Caml query for retrieving list items – GetGenericQuery method
    3. To retrieve values from SharePoint columns based on their types – GetFieldValue method

     

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2012 as Private Cloud Enabler (2/5): Fabric, Oh, Fabric

    Aside from public cloud, private cloud, and something in between, the essence of cloud computing is fabric. The 2nd article of this 5-part series is to annotate the concept and methodology of forming a private cloud fabric with VMM 2012. Notice that throughout this article, I use the following pairs of terms interchangeably:

    • Application and service
    • User and consumer

    And this series includes:

    • Part 1. Private Cloud Concepts
    • Part 2. Fabric, Oh, Fabric (This article)
    • Part 3. Deployment with Service Template
    • Part 4. Working with Service Templates
    • Part 5. App Controller 

    Fabric in Windows Azure Platform: A Simplistic, Yet Remarkable View of Cloud imageIn cloud computing, fabric is a frequently used term. It is nevertheless not a product, nor a packaged solution that we can simply unwrap and deploy. Fabric is an abstraction, an architectural concept, and a state of manageability to conceptually denote the ability to discover, identify, and manage the lifecycle of instances and resources of a service. In an oversimplified analogy, fabric is a collection of hardware, software, wiring, configurations, profiles, instances, diagnostics, connectivity, and everything else that all together form the datacenter(s) where a cloud is running. While Fabric Controller (FC, a terminology coined by Windows Azure Platform) is also an abstraction to signify the ability and designate the authority to manage the fabric in a datacenter and all intendances and associated resources supported by the fabric. As far as a service is concerned, FC is the quintessential owner of fabric, datacenters, and the world, so to speak. Hence, without the need to explain the underlying physical and logical complexities in a datacenter of how hardware is identified and allocated, how a virtual machine (VM) is deployed to and remotely booted form bare-metal, how application code is loaded and initialized, how a service is started and reports its status, how required storage is acquired and allocated, and on and on, we can now summarize the 3,500-step process, for example, to bring up a service instance in Windows Azure Platform by virtually saying that FC deploy a service instance with fabric. Fundamentally a PaaS user expects is a subscribed runtime (or “platform” as preferred) environment is in place so cloud applications can be developed and run. And for an IaaS user, it is the ability to provision and deploy VMs on demand. How a service provider, in a private cloud setting that normally means corporate IT, makes PaaS and IaaS available is not a concern for either user. As a consumer of PaaS or IaaS, this is significantly helpful and allows a user to focus on what one really cares, which is a predictable runtime to develop applications and the ability to provision infrastructure as needed, respectively. In other words, what happens under the hood of cloud computing is collectively abstracted and gracefully presented to users as “fabric.” This simplicity brings so much clarity and elegance by shielding extraordinary, if not chaotic, technical complexities from users. The stunning beauty unveiled by this abstraction is just breathtaking.

    Fabric Concept and VMM 2012

    imageSimilar to what is in Windows Azure Platform, fabric in VMM 2012 is an abstraction to hide the underlying complexities from users and signify the ability to define and resources pools as a whole. This concept is explicitly presented in the UI of VMM 2012 admin console as shown here on the right. There should be no mystery at all what is fabric of a private cloud in VMM 2012. And a major task in the process of building a private cloud is to define/configure this fabric using VMM 2012 admin console. Specifically, there are 3 definable resource pools:

    • Servers (i.e. Compute)
    • Networking
    • Storage

    Clearly the magnitude and complexities are not on the same scale comparing the fabric in Windows Azure Platform in public cloud and that in VMM 2012 in private cloud. Further there are also other implementation details like replicating FC throughout geo-disbursed fabric, etc. not covered here to complicate the FC in Windows Azure Platform even more. The ideas of abstracting those details not relevant to what a user is trying to accomplish are nevertheless very much the same in both technologies. In a sense, VMM 2012 is a FC (in a simplistic form) of the defined fabric consisting of Servers, Networking, and Storage pools. And in these pools, there are functional components and logical constructs to collectively constitute the fabric of a private cloud.

    Servers Pool

    This pool embodies containers hosting the runtime execution resources of a service. Host groups contains virtualization hosts as the destinations where imagevirtual machines can be deployed based on authorization and service configurations. Library servers are the repositories of building blocks like images, iso files, templates, etc. for composing VMs. To automatically deploy images and boot a VM from bare-metal remotely via networks, pre-boot execution environment (PXE) servers are used to initiate the operating system installation on a physical computer. Update servers like WSUS are for servicing VMs automatically and based on compliance policies. For interoperability, VMM 2012 admin console can add VMware vCenter Servers to enable the management of VMware ESX hosts. And of course, the consoles will have visibility to all authorized VMM servers which forms the backbone of Microsoft virtualization management solution.

    Networking Pool

    In VMM 2012, the Networking pool is where to define logical networks, assign pools of static IPs and MAC addresses, integrate load balancers, etc. to mash up the fabric. Logical networks are user-defined groupings of IP subnets and VLANs to organize and simplify network assignments. For instance, HIGH, MEDIUM, and LOW can be the definitions of three logical networks such that real-time applications are connected with HIGH and batch processes with LOW based based on specified class of service. Logical networks provide an abstraction of the underlying physical infrastructure and enables an administrator to provision and isolate network traffic cablednetworkbased on selected criteria like connectivity properties, service-level agreements (SLAs), etc. By default, when adding a Hyper-V host to a VMM 2012 server, VMM 2012 automatically creates logical networks that match the first DNS suffix label of the connection-specific DNS suffix on each host network adapter.

    In VMM 2012, you can configure static IP address pools and static MAC address pools. This functionality enables you to easily allocate the addresses for Windows-based virtual machines that are running on any managed Hyper-V, VMware ESX or Citrix XenServer host. This feature gives much room for creativities in managing network addresses. VMM 2012 also supports adding hardware load balancers to the VMM console, and creating associated virtual IP (VIP) templates which contains load balancer-related configuration settings for a specific type of network traffic. Those readers with networking or load-balancing interests are highly encouraged to experiment and assess the networking features of VMM 2012.

    Storage Pool

    With VMM 2012 admin console, an administrator can discover, classify, and provision remote storage on supported storage arrays. VMM 2012 uses the new Microsoft Storage Management Service (installed by default during the installation of VMM 2012) to communicate with external arrays. An administrator must install a supported Storage Management Initiative – Specification (SMI-S) provider on an available server, followed by adding the provider to VMM 2012. SMI-S is a storage standard for operating among heterogeneous storage systems. VMM 2012 automates the assignment of storage to a Hyper-V host or Hyper-V host cluster, and tracks the storage that is managed by VMM.  Notice that storage automation through VMM 2012 is only supported for Hyper-V hosts.

    Where There Is A Private Cloud, There Are  IT Pros

    Aside from public cloud, private cloud, and something in between, the essence of cloud computing is fabric. And when it comes to a private cloud, it is largely about constructing/configuring fabric. VMM 2012 has laid it all out what fabric is concerning a private cloud and a prescriptive guidance of how to build it by populating the Servers, Networking, and Storage resource pools. I hope it is clear at this time that, particularly for a private cloud, forming fabric is not a programming commission, but one relying much on the experience and expertise of IT pros in building, operating, and maintaining an enterprise infrastructure. It’s about integrating IT tasks of building images, deploying VMs, automating processes, managing certificates, hardening securities, configuring networks, setting IPsec, isolating traffic, walking through traces, tuning performance, subscribing events, shipping logs, restoring tables, etc., etc., etc. with the three resource pools. And yes, it’s about what IT professionals do everyday to keep the system running. And that brings us to one conclusion.

    Private cloud is the future of IT pros. And let the truth be told “Where there is a private cloud, there are IT pros.”

    – See more at: http://blogs.technet.com/b/yungchou/archive/2011/08/29/system-center-virtual-machine-manager-vmm-2012-as-private-cloud-enabler-2-5-fabric-oh-fabric.aspx#sthash.xG3tXINR.dpuf

    New Web Part released – List Search Web Part now available!!

    The List Search Web Part reads the entries from a Sharepoint List or Library (located anywhere in the site collection) and displays the selected user fields in a grid with an optional interactive search filter.

    It can be used for WSS3.0, MOSS 2007, Sharepoint 2010 and Sharepoint 2013.

     Imagea

    The following parameters can be configured:

    • Sharepoint Site
    • List Columns to be displayed
    • Filtering, Grouping, Searching, Paging and Sorting of rows
    • AZ Index
    • optional Header text

    Installation Instructions:

    1. download the List Search Web Part Installation Instructions
    2. either install the web part manually or deploy the feature to your server/farm as described in the instructions. 
    3. Security Note:
      if you get the following error message: “Only an administrator may enumerate through all user profiles“, you will need to grant the application pool account(s) for the web application(s) „Manage User Profiles” permissions within the User Profile Sevice (SSP in case of MOSS2007).  
      This ensures that the application pool is able to retrieve the list of user profiles. 
      To assign this permission, access your active “User Profile Service” (SP 2010 Server ) or the “Shared Services Provider” (MOSS2007) via Central Admin. 
      From the „User Profiles and My Sites” group, click “Personalization services permissions”.  
      Add the „Manage User Profiles” permission to  your application pool account(s).
    4. Configure the following Web Part properties in the Web Part Editor “Miscellaneous” pane section as needed:
      • Site Name: Enter the name of the site that contains the List or Library:
        – leave this field empty if the List is in the current site (eg. the Web Part is placed in the same site)
        – Enter a “/” character if the List is contained in the top site
        – Enter a path if the List in in a subsite of the current site (eg. in the form of “current site/subsite”)
      • List Name: Enter the name of the desired Sharepoint List or Library
        Example: Project Documents
      • View Name: Optionally enter the desired List View of the list specified above. A List View allows you to specify specific data filtering and sorting. 
        Leave this field empty if you want to use the List default view.
      • Field Template: Enter the List columns to be displayed (separated by semicolons).
        Pictures can be attached (via File Upload) to the Sharepoint List items and displayed using the symbolic “Picture” column name.
        If you want to allow users to edit their own entries, please add the symbolic “Username” column name to the Field Template. An “Edit” symbol will then displayed to allow the user to navigate to the corresponding Edit Form:Example:
        Type;Name;Title;Modified;Modified By;Created By

        Friendly Header Names:
        If you would like to display a “friendly header name” instead of the default property name please append it to the User property, separated by the “|” pipe symbol.

        Example:
        Picture;LastName|Last Name;FirstName;Department;Email|Email Address

        Hiding individual columns:
        You can hide a column by prefixing it with a “!” character. 
        The following example hides the “Department” column: 
        LastName;FirstName;!Department;WorkEmail

        Suppress Column wrapping:
        You can suppress the wrapping of text inside a column by prefixing it with a “^” character.
        LastName;FirstName;Department;^AboutMe

        Showing the E-Mail address as plain text:
        You can opt to display the plain e-mail address (instead of the envelope icon) by appending “/plain” to the WorkEmail column:
        LastName;WorkEmail/plain;Department

      • Group By: enter an optional User property to group the rows.
      • Sort By: enter the List column(s) to define the default sort order. You can add multiple properties separated by commas. Append “/desc” to sort the column descending.
        Examples:
        Department
        Department,LastName
        Lastname
        /desc

        The columns headings can be clicked by the users to manually define the sort order.
      • AZ Index Column: enter an optional List column to display the AZ filter in the list header. 
        If an “!” character is appended to the property name, the “A” index will be forced when visiting the page.
        Example: LastName! 

         
         Image  
      • Search Box: enter one or more List columns (separated by semicolons) to allow for interactive searching.Example: LastName;FirstName

        If you want to display a search filter as a dropdown combo, please enter it with a leading “@” character:
        LastName;FirstName;Department;@Office

        Friendly Search Box Labels:
        If you would like to display a “friendly label” instead of the default property name please append it to the User property, separated by the “|” pipe symbol.
        Example:
        WorkPhone|Office Phone;Office|Office Nbr

         

      • Align Search Filters vertically: allows you to align the seach input boxes vertically to save horizontal space:
      • Rows per page: the Staff Directory web part supports paging and lets you specify the desired number of rows per page. 
      • Image Height: specify the image height in pixels if you include the “Picture” property. 
        Enter “0” if you want to use the default picture size.
      • Header Text: enter an optional header text. Please note that you can embed HTML tags if needed. You can additionally specify the text to be displayed if the “Show all entries” option is unchecked and the users has not performed a search yet by appending a “|” character followed by the text.
        Example:
        This is the regular header text|This text is only shown if the user has not yet performed a search
      • Detail View Page: enter an optional column name prefixed by “detailview=” to link a column to the item detail view page. Append the “/popup” option if you want to open the detail page in a Sharepoint 2010/2013 dialog popup window.
        Examples:
        detailview=LastName
        detailview/popup=Title
      • Alternating Row Color: enter the optional color of the alternating row background (leave blank to use default).
        Enter either the HTML color names (as eg. “red” etc.) or use hexadecimal RRGGBB coding (as eg. “#CCFFCC”). Enter the values without the double quotes.
        You can also change the default background color of the non-alternating rows by appending a second color value separated by a semicolon.
        Example: #ffffcc;#ffff99 

        The default Header style can be changed by adding the “AESD_Headerstyle” appSettings variable to the web.config “appSettings” section:

        <appSettings>
        <
        add key=AESD_Headerstyle value=background:green;font-size:10pt;color:white
         />
        <
        appSettings
        >

         

      • Show Column Headers: either show or suppress the List column header row.
      • Header Row CSS Style: enter the optionall header row CSS style(s) as needed.
        Example:
        color:blue;white-space:nowrap
      • Show Groups collapsed: either show the groups (if you specify a column in the “Group By” setting) collapsed or expanded when entering the page.
      • Enforce Security: hides the web part if user has no access to the site or the list. This avoids a login prompt if the user has not at least “View” permission on the list or site containing the list.
      • Show all entries: either show all directory entries or none when first visiting the page. 
        You can append a specific text to the “Header Text” field (see above) which is only displayed if this option is unchecked and no search has yet been performed by the user.
      • Open Links in new window: either open the links in a new window or in the same browser window.
      • Link Documents to Office365: open the Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents in the Office365 web viewer.
      • Show ‘Add New Item’ Button: either show or suppress the “Add new item button” to let users add new items to the list (this option is security-trimmed).
      • Export to CSV: Show/hide the “Export” button for Excel CSV File Export
      • CSV Separator: Enter the desired CSV field separator character (Default=Comma). Use a semicolon in countries which use the commas as a decimal separator.
      • Localization: enter the following 4 values (separated by semicolons) in your local language if you need to override the English strings corresponding to the 
        – Search button text, 
        – A..Z menu “View all” option, 
         the text displayed for Hyperlink columns 
        – the optional “Group By” name (if grouping is enabled)Default:
        Search;View all;Visit

      • License Key: enter your Product License Key (as supplied after purchase of the “Staff Directory Web Part” license key).
        Leave this field empty if you are using the free 30 day evaluation version.

     Contact me now at tomas.floyd@outlook.com for the List Search Web Part and other Free & Paid Web Parts and Apps for SharePoint 2010, 2013, Azure, Office 365, SharePoint Online

    Thoughts on : Customizing the Public Website of Office 365

    image_thumb

    blog-office365

     

    Recently, I attempted a migration from my ASP.NET based Azure website to Office 365. The reason was that I wanted to use SharePoint 2013 for in-page editing and simply try to get the platform to take care of all my business needs.

    After a few days, I have reverted back to the Azure web host as I am not satisfied that the service will fulfill my requirements. Here is a recollection of my experiences of the shortcomings in the platform and the points that should be addressed.

    Master page editing in the public Office 365 site is not much different from the rest of Office 365 and SharePoint 2013. You have access to the Design Manager and you can open the site with SharePoint Designer.

    lekman-365

    On the up-side, you can create master pages, create page layouts and add Rich Text areas using the “Multi-Area Page” that allows up to four separate rich text areas. I managed to get the site to look virtually the same when published.

    On the down-side, the page contained all the scripts and CSS styles from standard SharePoint and caused the responsive design to break for tablets and phones. I could probably have fixed some of the issues but the difference in page and load time is as follows:

    Azure .NET Office 365
    Total page weight 305.2K 727K
    Total non-cached file size 7.2K 54K
    Total number of script files 7 12
    Average page load time during load test 1.67 sec 3.46s

    I then amended the blog layout. The comments feature from blogs in standard SharePoint is not available so it uses Facebook instead. I replaced this with a Disqus control instead. Later on, I started running in to several issues when trying to add features.

    Issue #1: You cannot define your own content types

    The site administration does not contain a link to allow modification of content types or site fields. Trying to navigate to the URL manually presents you with a 403 error. Adding custom content types for your page layouts seems like a simple request. I then tried to inject these using sandbox solutions.

    Issue # 2: Sandboxed solutions are not supported

    Yes, this link is also gone. You cannot navigate to “Solutions” but you can manually enter the URL. I found a helpful and informative post by Jason Cribbet on the topic and was able to activate my feature. This is, however, not supported by Microsoft and I am now in “not supported” land with my website.

    Issue # 3: You cannot create subsites

    I was fairly happy until I started to create more content and restricted areas. There is no way to create subsites using the interface. You need to use SharePoint Designer. Again, this is not supported by Microsoft.

    Issue # 4: You cannot control feature activation

    Yes, features can not be changed either. This means that you cannot add or remove any functionality outside of apps to the site.

    Issue # 5: What is going on with the blog framework and managed navigation?

    I could live with the “hacks” and continued to style the blog area. This, in itself, has a number of very strange issues:

    • If you remove the “Blog Tools” web part from the page then the links to blog posts will not work.
    • The pages does not seem to understand changing page layouts. I first had to change the page layout, then disconnect the page from the layout in SharePoint Designer.
    • Managed navigation allows you to use the blog as “/Blog/Post/1/My-Blog-Title” and “/Blog/Date/2013/” etc. The page configuration, however, does not allow to be changed. If you rename a page then the entire navigation framework will stop working. Just don’t.
    • The blog and blog category lists can still be accessed using the forms URL at “/Lists/Posts/AllItems.aspx” and you cannot change the anonymous behavior. As you cannot change features, then the lockdown feature is out of bounds. I guess you can inject redirects on the pages or try to use PowerShell to reactivate the forms lockdown page feature but I did not attempt this.

    Issue # 6: You cannot recreate the site

    So finally, you have hacked this puppy to pieces. You want to recreate the site, you go into SharePoint administration for Office 365 and delete the site collection. But wait… there is no option to recreate the site? This rectified itself on my test tenant after 24 hours and allowed me to create the public site. It did, however, not fully recreate. Now the site has no web template applied and I get the error message “Sorry, something went wrong: There is no site in the current site subscription matching the HiddenSiteSelection control’s value.”.

    Summary

    Office 365 has a long way to go before it can offer any kind of enterprise solutions for public web. And in a sense, it seems that they are just about there but have intentionally limited themselves to support basic usage only. But if that was the case, why allow SharePoint Designer and Design Manager access at all?

    I hope that the public website will be improved in upcoming releases and would really like to run my site and blog using SharePoint technology.

    Microsoft Application Insights – A comprehensive guide : Part 1 – Getting Started

    Application Insights Overview

    With Application Insights, we have the same excellent capabilities from the Application Performance Monitoring (APM) feature (formerly AviCode) available in SCOM 2012 R2 – with the exception that it’s all run from the cloud as part of Visual Studio Online. With this type of monitoring for your applications, you can ensure that they are available and performing optimally, while leveraging usage data to drive improvements and trends.

    In relation to the Microsoft Management Agent used for both Application Insights and SCOM 2012 R2, they share the same source code but have a slight difference with serialization that determines which REST interface and location the agent sends its performance data to.

    Application Insights supports both .NET and Java web applications. On the Java side of the house, it supports monitoring Tomcat 6, Tomcat 7 or JBoss 6. For the purposes of this deep-dive series however, I’m going to concentrate on demonstrating its capabilities monitoring .NET web applications and I’ll save the Java monitoring for a later post.

    You can use Application Insights to monitor web applications that are running in an on-premise/virtual machine scenario and of course, it’s also fully supported to monitor web applications running as a web role in Windows Azure Cloud Services. If you’re a Windows Phone app developer, you might be interested in the capability to view usage trends and other analytical data as users download and use your app on a daily basis.

    The method of getting these different environments monitored varies depending on scenario but typically, it’s a straight-forward enough process as you’ll understand when you read through this blog series.

    Regardless of the environment you’re monitoring with Application Insights, you can ensure you’re kept up to date with any performance issues (slow responses, uncaught exceptions etc.) by enabling email notification direct to your inbox. If you want to use Visual Studio to view the stack trace to help triage the problem, then this is an easy option too.

    So, that’s a high-level overview of what Application Insights can do, now let’s get started!

    Creating Your Account

    The first thing you’ll need to do is to create a new Visual Studio Online account by clicking on the following link to sign up:

    http://www.visualstudio.com/products/visual-studio-online-overview-vs

    Click on the ‘Ready to Go?’ tile

    Enter your Microsoft Account (formerly Windows Live ID) details, then click the Sign In button. If you don’t yet have a Microsoft Account, you can sign up for a new one here.

    Input all your details into the ‘Create a Visual Studio Online Account’ window, then hit the Create Account button to move on.

    Once you’ve created your Visual Studio Online account, you’ll need to specify a name for your first project. Call it what you want, then hit the Create Project button to finish.

    Now, at the Overview screen of your Home page, you should see a Blue tile titled ‘Try Application Insights’ as shown below. If you can’t see the Blue AI tile, then click the Help button and choose the ‘Display Announcement’ option from the resulting menu.

    Click on the Blue tile and you’ll be taken to the *Insights view where you’ll be prompted for an invitation code to gain access

    Invitation Code? I hear you ask.
    Don’t worry if you don’t have one, even though AI is still only available as a Preview, the good folks over at Microsoft have made a public code available at the following link:
    Type in your code, then hit the Get Started button to enter the new world of Application Insights!
    That’s it for Part 1 of this series. In Part 2, we’ll start work on building a demo .NET web application environment for us to give our new Application Insights account a test drive in.

    SharePoint Development roles urgently needs to be filled at MS Gold Partner – Contact me now for more information (Sorry, No recruiters, i am filling private positions)

    Senior SharePoint Developers needed urgently for MS Gold Partner in Sandton/Bryanston :

    3 – 5 years of development experience.

    2 year experience in SharePoint.

    3 years experience in C#.

    A minimum of 3 years experience in Visual Studio .NET 2005 – 2008.

    A minimum of 3 years experience in ASP.NET , HTML web development.

    A minimum of 3 years experience with Javascript.

    A minimum of 3 years experience with Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista.

    A minimum of 3 years experience in relational database design and implementation with SQL Server
    Advantageous (nice-to-have):

    • Windows SharePoint Server.
    • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.
    • BizTalk
    • Web Analytics
    • Microsoft CRM
    • K2

    Getting Started with Apps for Office : The Javascript API for Office

    This section briefly describes the subset of the JavaScript API for Office you can call from content and task pane apps. See Understanding the JavaScript API for Office for an overview of the features of the entire API, and Apps for Office code samples for additional examples.

    Before reading this section, use the links below to explore API diagrams that show the members of the API supported in content and task pane apps and the Office host applications that support these app types.

    Explore by app type: Explore by host application:
    Zoom into the Office object model for content apps Content apps

    ZoomIt

    Zoom into the object model for task pane apps Task pane apps

    ZoomIt

    Download the set of maps

    for each app type and host application.

    Zoom into the app object model for Excel Excel

    ZoomIt

    Zoom into the app object model for PowerPoint PowerPoint

    ZoomIt

    Zoom into the app object model for Project Project

    ZoomIt

    Zoom into the app object model for Word Word

    ZoomIt

    You can categorize the primary objects and methods supported by content and task pane apps as follows:

    1. Common objects shared with other apps for Office

      These objects include Office, Context, and AsyncResult. The Office object is the root object of the JavaScript API for Office. The Context object represents the app’s runtime environment. Both Office and Context are the fundamental objects for any app for Office. The AsyncResult object represents the results of an asynchronous operation, such as the data returned to the getSelectedDataAsync method, which reads what a user has selected in a document.

    2. The Document object

      The majority of the API available to content and task pane apps is exposed through the methods, properties, and events of the Document object. Using this subset of the API, your content or task pane app can perform the tasks described later in this topic.

      A content or task pane app can use the Office.context.document property to access the Document object, and through it, can access the key members of the API for working with data in documents, such as the Bindings and CustomXmlParts objects, and the getSelectedDataAsync, setSelectedDataAsync, and getFileAsync methods. The Document object also provides the mode property for determining whether a document is read-only or in edit mode, the url property to get the URL of the current document, and access to the Settings object. The Document object also supports adding event handlers for the SelectionChanged event, so you can detect when a user changes his or her selection in the document.

      A content or task pane app can access the Document object only after the DOM and run-time environment has been loaded, typically in the event handler for the Office.initialize event. For information about the flow of events when an app is initialized, and how to check that the DOM and runtime and loaded successfully, see Loading the DOM and runtime environment.

    3. Objects for working with specific features

      To work with specific features of the API, your content or task pane app can work with the following objects and methods:

      • Use the methods of the Bindings object to create or get bindings, and then work with their data using the methods and properties of the Binding object.
      • Use the CustomXmlParts, CustomXmlPart and associated objects to create and manipulate custom XML parts in Word documents.
      • Use the File and Slice objects to create a copy of the entire document, break it into chunks or “slices”, and then read or transmit the data in those slices.
      • Use the Settings object to save custom data, such as user preferences, and app state.

    Important: Some of the API members described in this topic aren’t supported across all Office applications that can host content and task pane apps. To determine which members are supported, see any of the following resources:

    For a high-level summary of the JavaScript API for Office support available across Office host applications, see the API support matrix in the “Understanding the JavaScript API for Office” topic.

    The following sections highlight the fundamental concepts for creating content and task pane apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Project. For more details about a concept, see the references at the end of the concept, and also the Additional resources section.

    You can read or write to the user’s current selection in a document, spreadsheet, or presentation. Depending on the host application for your app, you can specify the type of data structure to read or write as a parameter in the getSelectedDataAsync and setSelectedDataAsync methods of the Document object. For example, you can specify any type of data (text, HTML, tabular data, or Office Open XML) for Word, text and tabular data for Excel, and text for PowerPoint and Project. You can also create event handlers to detect changes to the user’s selection. The following example gets data from the selection as text using the getSelectedDataAsync method.

    Copy
    Office.context.document.getSelectedDataAsync(
        Office.CoercionType.Text, function (asyncResult) {
            if (asyncResult.status == Office.AsyncResultStatus.Failed) {
                write('Action failed. Error: ' + asyncResult.error.message);
            }
            else {
                write('Selected data: ' + asyncResult.value);
            }
        });
    
    // Function that writes to a div with id='message' on the page.
    function write(message){
        document.getElementById('message').innerText += message; 
    }

    For more details and examples, see Reading and writing data to the active selection in a document or spreadsheet.

    As described in the previous section, you can use the getSelectedDataAsync and setSelectedDataAsync methods to read or write to the user’s current selection in a document, spreadsheet, or presentation. However, if you would like to access the same region in a document across sessions of running your app without requiring the user to make a selection, you should first bind to that region. You can also subscribe to data and selection change events for that bound region.

    You can add a binding by using addFromNamedItemAsync, addFromPromptAsync, or addFromSelectionAsync methods of the Bindings object. These methods return an identifier that you can use to access data in the binding, or to subscribe to its data change or selection change events.

    The following is an example that adds a binding to the currently selected text in a document, by using the Bindings.addFromSelectionAsync method.

    Copy
    Office.context.document.bindings.addFromSelectionAsync(
        Office.BindingType.Text, { id: 'myBinding' }, function (asyncResult) {
        if (asyncResult.status == Office.AsyncResultStatus.Failed) {
            write('Action failed. Error: ' + asyncResult.error.message);
        } else {
            write('Added new binding with type: ' +
                asyncResult.value.type + ' and id: ' + asyncResult.value.id);
        }
    });
    
    // Function that writes to a div with id='message' on the page.
    function write(message){
        document.getElementById('message').innerText += message; 
    }

    For more details and examples, see Binding to regions in a document or spreadsheet.

    If your task pane app runs in PowerPoint or Word, you can use the Document.getFileAsync, File.getSliceAsync, and File.closeAsync methods to get an entire presentation or document.

    When you call Document.getFileAsync, you get a copy of the document in a File object. The File object provides access to the document in “chunks” represented as Slice objects. When you call getFileAsync, you can specify the file type (text or compressed Open Office XML format), and size of the slices (up to 4MB). To access the contents of the File object, you then call File.getSliceAsync which returns the raw data in the Slice.data property. If you specified compressed format, you will get the file data as a byte array. If you are transmitting the file to a web service, you can transform the compressed raw data to a base64-encoded string before submission. Finally, when you are finished getting slices of the file, use the File.closeAsync method to close the document.

    For more details, see how to get the whole document from an app for PowerPoint or Word.

    Using the Open Office XML file format and content controls, you can add custom XML parts to a Word document and bind elements in the XML parts to content controls in that document. When you open the document, Word reads and automatically populates bound content controls with data from the custom XML parts. Users can also write data into the content controls, and when the user saves the document, the data in the controls will be saved to the bound XML parts. Task pane apps for Word, can use the Document.customXmlParts property, CustomXmlParts, CustomXmlPart, and CustomXmlNode objects to read and write data dynamically to the document.

    Custom XML parts may be associated with namespaces. To get data from custom XML parts in a namespace, use the CustomXmlParts.getByNamespaceAsync method.

    You can also use the CustomXmlParts.getByIdAsync method to access custom XML parts by their GUIDs. After getting a custom XML part, use the CustomXmlPart.getXmlAsync method to get the XML data.

    To add a new custom XML part to a document, use the Document.customXmlParts property to get the custom XML parts that are in the document, and call the CustomXmlParts.addAsync method.

    For detailed information about how to work with custom XML parts with a task pane app, see Creating Better Apps for Word with Office Open XML.

    Often you need to save custom data for your app, such as a user’s preferences or the app’s state, and access that data the next time the app is opened. You can use common web programming techniques to save that data, such as browser cookies or HTML 5 web storage. Alternatively, if your app runs in Excel, PowerPoint, or Word, you can use the methods of the Document.Settings object. Data created with the Settings object is stored in the spreadsheet, presentation, or document that the app was inserted into and saved with. This data is available to only the app that created it.

    To avoid roundtrips to the server where the document is stored, data created with the Settings object is managed in memory at runtime. Previously saved settings data is loaded into memory when the app is initialized, and changes to that data are only saved back to the document when you call the Settings.saveAsync method. Internally, the data is stored in a serialized JSON object as name/value pairs. You use the get, set, and remove methods of the Settings object, to read, write, and delete items from the in-memory copy of the data. The following line of code shows how to create a setting named themeColor and set its value to ‘green’.

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    Office.context.document.settings.set('themeColor', 'green');

    Because settings data created or deleted with the set and remove methods is acting on an in-memory copy of the data, you must call saveAsync to persist changes to settings data into the document your app is working with.

    For more details about working with custom data using the methods of the Settings object, see Persisting app state and settings.

    If your task pane app runs in Project, your app can read data from some of the project fields, resource, and task fields in the active project. To do that, you use the methods and events of the ProjectDocument object which extends the Document object to provide additional Project-specific functionality.

    For examples of reading Project data, see How to: Create your first task pane app for Project 2013 by using a text editor

    Your app uses the Permissions element in its manifest to request permission to access the level of functionality it requires from the JavaScript API for Office. For example, if your app requires read/write access to the document, its manifest must specify ReadWriteDocument as the text value in its Permissions element. Because permissions exist to protect a user’s privacy and security, as a best practice you should request the minimum level of permissions it needs for its features. The following example shows how to request the ReadDocument permission in a task pane’s manifest.

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    <!--?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    
    …
      ReadDocument
    …

    Figure 1 shows the 5 levels of permissions that you can specify for a task pane app. For more information, see Requesting permissions for task pane apps.

    Figure 1. The 5-level permission model for task pane apps

    Levels of permissions for task pane apps

    Figure 2 shows the 4 levels of permissions available to a content app. For more information, see Requesting permissions for content apps.

    Figure 2. The 4-level permission model for content apps

    Levels of permissions for content apps

    Using OpenXML to build Office 365 Apps (OOXML)

    If you’re building apps for Office to run in Word, you might already know that the JavaScript API for Office (Office.js) offers several formats for reading and writing document content. These are called coercion types, and they include plain text, tables, HTML, and Office Open XML (OOXML).

    So what are your options when you need to add rich content to a document, such as images, formatted tables, charts, or even just formatted text?

    You can use HTML for inserting some types of rich content, such as pictures. Depending on your scenario, there can be drawbacks to HTML coercion, such as limitations in the formatting and positioning options available to your content.

    Because Office Open XML is the language in which Word documents (such as .docx and .dotx) are written, you can insert virtually any type of content that a user can add to a Word document, with virtually any type of formatting the user can apply. Determining the Office Open XML markup you need to get it done is easier than you might think.

    Note Note

    Office Open XML is also the language behind PowerPoint and Excel (and, as of Office 2013, Visio) documents. However, currently, you can coerce content as Office Open XML only in apps for Office created for Word. For more information about Office Open XML, including the complete language reference documentation, see Additional resources.

    To begin, take a look at some of the content types you can insert using OOXML coercion.

    Download the code sample Loading and Writing Office Open XML, which contains the Office Open XML markup and Office.js code required for inserting any of the following examples into Word.

    Note Note

    Throughout this article, the terms content types and rich content refer to the types of rich content you can insert into a Word document.

    Figure 1. Text with direct formatting.

    Text with direct formatting applied.

    You can use direct formatting to specify exactly what the text will look like regardless of existing formatting in the user’s document.

    Figure 2. Text formatted using a style.

    Text formatted with paragraph style.

    You can use a style to automatically coordinate the look of text you insert with the user’s document.

    Figure 3. A simple image.

    Image of a logo.

    You can use the same method for inserting any Office-supported image format.

    Figure 4. An image formatted using picture styles and effects.

    Formatted image in Word 2013.

    Adding high quality formatting and effects to your images requires much less markup than you might expect.

    Figure 5. A content control.

    Text within a bound content control.

    You can use content controls with your app to add content at a specified (bound) location rather than at the selection.

    Figure 6. A text box with WordArt formatting.

    Text formatted with WordArt text effects.

    Text effects are available in Word for text inside a text box (as shown here) or for regular body text.

    Figure 7. A shape.

    An Office 2013 drawing shape in Word 2013.

    You can insert built-in or custom drawing shapes, with or without text and formatting effects.

    Figure 8. A table with direct formatting.

    A formatted table in Word 2013.

    You can include text formatting, borders, shading, cell sizing, or any table formatting you need.

    Figure 9. A table formatted using a table style.

    A formatted table in Word 2013.

    You can use built-in or custom table styles just as easily as using a paragraph style for text.

    Figure 10. A SmartArt diagram.

    A dynamic SmartArt diagram in Word 2013.

    Office 2013 offers a wide array of SmartArt diagram layouts (and you can use Office Open XML to create your own).

    Figure 11. A chart.

    A chart in Word 2013.

    You can insert Excel charts as live charts in Word documents, which also means you can use them in your app for Word.

    As you can see by the preceding examples, you can use OOXML coercion to insert essentially any type of content that a user can insert into their own document.

    There are two simple ways to get the Office Open XML markup you need. Either add your rich content to an otherwise blank Word 2013 document and then save the file in Word XML Document format or use a test app with the getSelectedDataAsync method to grab the markup. Both approaches provide essentially the same result.

    Note Note

    An Office Open XML document is actually a compressed package of files that represent the document contents. Saving the file in the Word XML Document format gives you the entire Office Open XML package flattened into one XML file, which is also what you get when using getSelectedDataAsync to retrieve the Office Open XML markup.

    If you save the file to an XML format from Word, note that there are two options under the Save as Type list in the Save As dialog box for .xml format files. Be sure to choose Word XML Document and not the Word 2003 option.

    Download the code sample named Get, Set, and Edit Office Open XML, which you can use as a tool to retrieve and test your markup.

    So is that all there is to it? Well, not quite. Yes, for many scenarios, you could use the full, flattened Office Open XML result you see with either of the preceding methods and it would work. The good news is that you probably don’t need most of that markup.

    If you’re one of the many app developers seeing Office Open XML markup for the first time, trying to make sense of the massive amount of markup you get for the simplest piece of content might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

    In this topic, we’ll use some common scenarios we’ve been hearing from the apps for Office developer community to show you techniques for simplifying Office Open XML for use in your app. We’ll explore the markup for some types of content shown earlier along with the information you need for minimizing the Office Open XML payload. We’ll also look at the code you need for inserting rich content into a document at the active selection and how to use Office Open XML with the bindings object to add or replace content at specified locations.

    When you use getSelectedDataAsync to retrieve the Office Open XML for a selection of content (or when you save the document in Word XML Document format), what you’re getting is not just the markup that describes your selected content; it’s an entire document with many options and settings that you almost certainly don’t need. In fact, if you use that method from a document that contains a task pane app, the markup you get even includes your task pane.

    Even a simple Word document package includes parts for document properties, styles, theme (formatting settings), web settings, fonts, and then some—in addition to parts for the actual content.

    For example, say that you want to insert just a paragraph of text with direct formatting, as shown earlier in Figure 1. When you grab the Office Open XML for the formatted text using using getSelectedDataAsync, you see a large amount of markup. That markup includes a package element that represents an entire document, which contains several parts (commonly referred to as document parts or, in the Office Open XML, as package parts), as you see listed in Figure 13. Each part represents a separate file within the package.

    Tip Tip

    You can edit Office Open XML markup in a text editor like Notepad. If you open it in Visual Studio 2012, you can use Edit >Advanced > Format Document (Ctrl+K, Ctrl+D) to format the package for easier editing. Then you can collapse or expand document parts or sections of them, as shown in Figure 12, to more easily review and edit the content of the Office Open XML package. Each document part begins with a pkg:part tag.

    Figure 12. Collapse and expand package parts for easier editing in Visual Studio 2012.

    Office Open XML code snippet for a package part.

    Figure 13. The parts included in a basic Word Office Open XML document package.

    Office Open XML code snippet for a package part.

    With all that markup, you might be surprised to discover that the only elements you actually need to insert the formatted text example are pieces of the .rels part and the document.xml part.

    Note Note

    The two lines of markup above the package tag (the XML declarations for version and Office program ID) are assumed when you use the OOXML coercion type, so you don’t need to include them. Keep them if you want to open your edited markup as a Word document to test it.

    Several of the other types of content shown at the start of this topic require additional parts as well (beyond those shown in Figure 13), and we’ll address those later in this topic. Meanwhile, since you’ll see most of the parts shown in Figure 13 in the markup for any Word document package, here’s a quick summary of what each of these parts is for and when you need it:

    • Inside the package tag, the first part is the .rels file, which defines relationships between the top-level parts of the package (these are typically the document properties, thumbnail (if any), and main document body). Some of the content in this part is always required in your markup because you need to define the relationship of the main document part (where your content resides) to the document package.

    • The document.xml.rels part defines relationships for additional parts required by the document.xml (main body) part, if any.

    Important note Important

    The .rels files in your package (such as the top-level .rels, document.xml.rels, and others you may see for specific types of content) are an extremely important tool that you can use as a guide for helping you quickly edit down your Office Open XML package. To learn more about how to do this, see Creating your own markup: best practices later in this topic.

    • The document.xml part is the content in the main body of the document. You need elements of this part, of course, since that’s where your content appears. But, you don’t need everything you see in this part. We’ll look at that in more detail later.

    • Many parts are automatically ignored by the Set methods when inserting content into a document using OOXML coercion, so you might as well remove them. These include the theme1.xml file (the document’s formatting theme), the document properties parts (core, app, and thumbnail), and setting files (including settings, webSettings, and fontTable).

    • In the Figure 1 example, text formatting is directly applied (that is, each font and paragraph formatting setting applied individually). But, if you use a style (such as if you want your text to automatically take on the formatting of the Heading 1 style in the destination document) as shown earlier in Figure 2, then you would need part of the styles.xml part as well as a relationship definition for it. For more information, see the topic section Adding objects that use additional Office Open XML parts.

    Let’s take a look at the minimal Office Open XML markup required for the formatted text example shown in Figure 1 and the JavaScript required for inserting it at the active selection in the document.

    Simplified Office Open XML markup

    We’ve edited the Office Open XML example shown here, as described in the preceding section, to leave just required document parts and only required elements within each of those parts. We’ll walk through how to edit the markup yourself (and explain a bit more about the pieces that remain here) in the next section of the topic.

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    <pkg:package xmlns:pkg="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/2006/xmlPackage">
      <pkg:part pkg:name="/_rels/.rels" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-package.relationships+xml" pkg:padding="512">
        <pkg:xmlData>
          <Relationships xmlns="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/package/2006/relationships">
            <Relationship Id="rId1" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/relationships/officeDocument" Target="word/document.xml"/>
          </Relationships>
        </pkg:xmlData>
      </pkg:part>
      <pkg:part pkg:name="/word/document.xml" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document.main+xml">
        <pkg:xmlData>
          <w:document xmlns:w="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/wordprocessingml/2006/main" >
            <w:body>
              <w:p>
                <w:pPr>
                  <w:spacing w:before="360" w:after="0" w:line="480" w:lineRule="auto"/>
                  <w:rPr>
                    <w:color w:val="70AD47" w:themeColor="accent6"/>
                    <w:sz w:val="28"/>
                  </w:rPr>
                </w:pPr>
                <w:r>
                  <w:rPr>
                    <w:color w:val="70AD47" w:themeColor="accent6"/>
                    <w:sz w:val="28"/>
                  </w:rPr>
                  <w:t>This text has formatting directly applied to achieve its font size, color, line spacing, and paragraph spacing.</w:t>
                </w:r>
              </w:p>
            </w:body>
          </w:document>
        </pkg:xmlData>
      </pkg:part>
    </pkg:package>
    
    NoteNote

    If you add the markup shown here to an XML file along with the XML declaration tags for version and mso-application at the top of the file (shown in Figure 13), you can open it in Word as a Word document. Or, without those tags, you can still open it using File> Open in Word. You’ll see Compatibility Mode on the title bar in Word 2013, because you removed the settings that tell Word this is a 2013 document. Since you’re adding this markup to an existing Word 2013 document, that won’t affect your content at all.

    JavaScript for using setSelectedDataAsync

    Once you save the preceding Office Open XML as an XML file that’s accessible from your solution, you can use the following function to set the formatted text content in the document using OOXML coercion.

    In this function, notice that all but the last line are used to get your saved markup for use in the setSelectedDataAsync method call at the end of the function. setSelectedDataASync requires only that you specify the content to be inserted and the coercion type.

    Note Note

    Replace yourXMLfilename with the name and path of the XML file as you’ve saved it in your solution. If you’re not sure where to include XML files in your solution or how to reference them in your code, see the Loading and Writing Office Open XML code sample for examples of that and a working example of the markup and JavaScript shown here.

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    function writeContent() {
        var myOOXMLRequest = new XMLHttpRequest();
        var myXML;
        myOOXMLRequest.open('GET', ‘yourXMLfilename’, false);
        myOOXMLRequest.send();
        if (myOOXMLRequest.status === 200) {
            myXML = myOOXMLRequest.responseText;
        }
        Office.context.document.setSelectedDataAsync(myXML, { coercionType: 'ooxml' });
    }
    

    Let’s take a closer look at the markup you need to insert the preceding formatted text example.

    For this example, start by simply deleting all document parts from the package other than .rels and document.xml. Then, we’ll edit those two required parts to simplify things further.

    Important note Important

    Use the .rels parts as a map to quickly gauge what’s included in the package and determine what parts you can delete completely (that is, any parts not related to or referenced by your content). Remember that every document part must have a relationship defined in the package and those relationships appear in the .rels files. So you should see all of them listed in either .rels, document.xml.rels, or a content-specific .rels file.

    The following markup shows the required .rels part before editing. Since we’re deleting the app and core document property parts, and the thumbnail part, we need to delete those relationships from .rels as well. Notice that this will leave only the relationship (with the relationship ID “rID1” in the following example) for document.xml.

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      <pkg:part pkg:name="/_rels/.rels" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-package.relationships+xml" pkg:padding="512">
        <pkg:xmlData>
          <Relationships xmlns="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/package/2006/relationships">
            <Relationship Id="rId3" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/package/2006/relationships/metadata/core-properties" Target="docProps/core.xml"/>
            <Relationship Id="rId2" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/package/2006/relationships/metadata/thumbnail" Target="docProps/thumbnail.emf"/>
            <Relationship Id="rId1" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/relationships/officeDocument" Target="word/document.xml"/>
            <Relationship Id="rId4" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/relationships/extended-properties" Target="docProps/app.xml"/>
          </Relationships>
        </pkg:xmlData>
      </pkg:part>
    
    Important noteImportant

    Remove the relationships (that is, the <Relationship…> tag) for any parts that you completely remove from the package. Including a part without a corresponding relationship, or excluding a part and leaving its relationship in the package, will result in an error.

    The following markup shows the document.xml part—which includes our sample formatted text content—before editing.

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    <pkg:part pkg:name="/word/document.xml" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document.main+xml">
        <pkg:xmlData>
          <w:document mc:Ignorable="w14 w15 wp14" xmlns:wpc="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2010/wordprocessingCanvas" xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006" xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:r="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/relationships" xmlns:m="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/math" xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" xmlns:wp14="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2010/wordprocessingDrawing" xmlns:wp="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/drawingml/2006/wordprocessingDrawing" xmlns:w10="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns:w="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/wordprocessingml/2006/main" xmlns:w14="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2010/wordml" xmlns:w15="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2012/wordml" xmlns:wpg="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2010/wordprocessingGroup" xmlns:wpi="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2010/wordprocessingInk" xmlns:wne="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2006/wordml" xmlns:wps="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2010/wordprocessingShape">
            <w:body>
              <w:p>
                <w:pPr>
                  <w:spacing w:before="360" w:after="0" w:line="480" w:lineRule="auto"/>
                  <w:rPr>
                    <w:color w:val="70AD47" w:themeColor="accent6"/>
                    <w:sz w:val="28"/>
                  </w:rPr>
                </w:pPr>
                <w:r>
                  <w:rPr>
                    <w:color w:val="70AD47" w:themeColor="accent6"/>
                    <w:sz w:val="28"/>
                  </w:rPr>
                  <w:t>This text has formatting directly applied to achieve its font size, color, line spacing, and paragraph spacing.</w:t>
                </w:r>
                <w:bookmarkStart w:id="0" w:name="_GoBack"/>
                <w:bookmarkEnd w:id="0"/>
              </w:p>
              <w:p/>
              <w:sectPr>
                <w:pgSz w:w="12240" w:h="15840"/>
                <w:pgMar w:top="1440" w:right="1440" w:bottom="1440" w:left="1440" w:header="720" w:footer="720" w:gutter="0"/>
                <w:cols w:space="720"/>
              </w:sectPr>
            </w:body>
          </w:document>
        </pkg:xmlData>
      </pkg:part>
    

    Since document.xml is the primary document part where you place your content, let’s take a quick walk through that part. (Figure 14, which follows this list, provides a visual reference to show how some of the core content and formatting tags explained here relate to what you see in a Word document.)

    • The opening w:document tag includes several namespace (xmlns) listings. Many of those namespaces refer to specific types of content and you only need them if they’re relevant to your content.

      Notice that the prefix for the tags throughout a document part refers back to the namespaces. In this example, the only prefix used in the tags throughout the document.xml part is w:, so the only namespace that we need to leave in the opening w:document tag is xmlns:w.

    TipTip

    If you’re editing your markup in Visual Studio 2012, after you delete namespaces in any part, look through all tags of that part. If you’ve removed a namespace that’s required for your markup, you’ll see a red squiggly underline on the relevant prefix for affected tags. Also note that, if you remove the xmlns:mc namespace, you must also remove the mc:Ignorable attribute that precedes the namespace listings.

    • Inside the opening body tag, you see a paragraph tag (w:p), which includes our sample content for this example.

    • The w:pPr tag includes properties for directly-applied paragraph formatting, such as space before or after the paragraph, paragraph alignment, or indents. (Direct formatting refers to attributes that you apply individually to content rather than as part of a style.) This tag also includes direct font formatting that’s applied to the entire paragraph, in a nested w:rPr (run properties) tag, which contains the font color and size set in our sample.

    NoteNote

    You might notice that font sizes and some other formatting settings in Word Office Open XML markup look like they’re double the actual size. That’s because paragraph and line spacing, as well some section formatting properties shown in the preceding markup, are specified in twips (one-twentieth of a point).

    Depending on the types of content you work with in Office Open XML, you may see several additional units of measure, including English Metric Units (914,400 EMUs to an inch), which are used for some Office Art (drawingML) values and 100,000 times actual value, which is used in both drawingML and PowerPoint markup. PowerPoint also expresses some values as 100 times actual and Excel commonly uses actual values.

    • Within a paragraph, any content with like properties is included in a run (w:r), such as is the case with the sample text. Each time there’s a change in formatting or content type, a new run starts. (That is, if just one word in the sample text was bold, it would be separated into its own run.) In this example, the content includes just the one text run.

      Notice that, because the formatting included in this sample is font formatting (that is, formatting that can be applied to as little as one character), it also appears in the properties for the individual run.

    • Also notice the tags for the hidden “_GoBack” bookmark (w:bookmarkStart and w:bookmarkEnd), which appear in Word 2013 documents by default. You can always delete the start and end tags for the GoBack bookmark from your markup.

    • The last piece of the document body is the w:sectPr tag, or section properties. This tag includes settings such as margins and page orientation. The content you insert using setSelectedDataAsync will take on the active section properties in the destination document by default. So, unless your content includes a section break (in which case you’ll see more than one w:sectPr tag), you can delete this tag.

    Figure 14. How common tags in document.xml relate to the content and layout of a Word document.

    Office Open XML elements in a Word document.

    TipTip

    In markup you create, you might see another attribute in several tags that includes the characters w:rsid, which you don’t see in the examples used in this topic. These are revision identifiers. They’re used in Word for the Combine Documents feature and they’re on by default. You’ll never need them in markup you’re inserting with your app and turning them off makes for much cleaner markup. You can easily remove existing RSID tags or disable the feature (as described in the following procedure) so that they’re not added to your markup for new content.

    Be aware that if you use the co-authoring capabilities in Word (such as the ability to simultaneously edit documents with others), you should enable the feature again when finished generating the markup for your app.

    To turn off RSID attributes in Word for documents you create going forward, do the following:

    1. In Word 2013, choose File and then choose Options.

    2. In the Word Options dialog box, choose Trust Center and then choose Trust Center Settings.

    3. In the Trust Center dialog box, choose Privacy Options and then disable the setting Store Random Number to Improve Combine Accuracy.

    To remove RSID tags from an existing document, try the following shortcut with the document open in Word:

    1. With your insertion point in the main body of the document, press Ctrl+Home to go to the top of the document.

    2. On the keyboard, press Spacebar, Delete, Spacebar. Then, save the document.

    After removing the majority of the markup from this package, we’re left with the minimal markup that needs to be inserted for the sample, as shown in the preceding section.

    Several types of rich content require only the .rels and document.xml components shown in the preceding example, including content controls, Office drawing shapes and text boxes, and tables (unless a style is applied to the table). In fact, you can reuse the same edited package parts and swap out just the <body> content in document.xml for the markup of your content.

    To check out the Office Open XML markup for the examples of each of these content types shown earlier in Figures 5 through 8, explore the Loading and Writing Office Open XML code sample referenced in the Overview section.

    Before we move on, let’s take a look at differences to note for a couple of these content types and how to swap out the pieces you need.

    Understanding drawingML markup (Office graphics) in Word: What are fallbacks?

    If the markup for your shape or text box looks far more complex than you would expect, there is a reason for it. With the release of Office 2007, we saw the introduction of the Office Open XML Formats as well as the introduction of a new Office graphics engine that PowerPoint and Excel fully adopted. In the 2007 release, Word only incorporated part of that graphics engine—adopting the updated Excel charting engine, SmartArt graphics, and advanced picture tools. For shapes and text boxes, Word 2007 continued to use legacy drawing objects (VML). It was in the 2010 release that Word took the additional steps with the graphics engine to incorporate updated shapes and drawing tools.

    So, to support shapes and text boxes in Office Open XML Format Word documents when opened in Word 2007, shapes (including text boxes) require fallback VML markup.

    Typically, as you see for the shape and text box examples included in the Loading and Writing Office Open XML code sample, the fallback markup can be removed. Word 2013 automatically adds missing fallback markup to shapes when a document is saved. However, if you prefer to keep the fallback markup to ensure that you’re supporting all user scenarios, there’s no harm in retaining it.

    Note also that, if you have grouped drawing objects included in your content, you’ll see additional (and apparently repetitive) markup, but this must be retained. Portions of the markup for drawing shapes are duplicated when the object is included in a group.

    Important note Important

    When working with text boxes and drawing shapes, be sure to check namespaces carefully before removing them from document.xml. (Or, if you’re reusing markup from another object type, be sure to add back any required namespaces you might have previously removed from document.xml.) A substantial portion of the namespaces included by default in document.xml are there for drawing object requirements.

    Note about graphic positioning

    In the code samples Loading and Writing Office Open XMLand Get, Set, and Edit Office Open XML, the text box and shape are setup using different types of text wrapping and positioning settings. (Also be aware that the image examples in those code samples are setup using in line with text formatting, which positions a graphic object on the text baseline.)

    The shape in those code samples is positioned relative to the right and bottom page margins. Relative positioning lets you more easily coordinate with a user’s unknown document setup because it will adjust to the user’s margins and run less risk of looking awkward because of paper size, orientation, or margin settings. To retain relative positioning settings when you insert a graphic object, you must retain the paragraph mark (w:p) in which the positioning (known in Word as an anchor) is stored. If you insert the content into an existing paragraph mark rather than including your own, you may be able to retain the same initial visual, but many types of relative references that enable the positioning to automatically adjust to the user’s layout may be lost.

    Working with content controls

    Content controls are an important feature in Word 2013 that can greatly enhance the power of your app for Word in multiple ways, including giving you the ability to insert content at designated places in the document rather than only at the selection.

    In Word, find content controls on the Developer tab of the ribbon, as shown here in Figure 15.

    Figure 15. The Controls group on the Developer tab in Word.

    Content Controls group on the Word 2013 ribbon.

    Types of content controls in Word include rich text, plain text, picture, building block gallery, check box, dropdown list, combo box, date picker, and repeating section.

    • Use the Properties command, shown in Figure 15, to edit the title of the control and to set preferences such as hiding the control container.

    • Enable Design Mode to edit placeholder content in the control.

    If your app works with a Word template, you can include controls in that template to enhance the behavior of the content. You can also use XML data binding in a Word document to bind content controls to data, such as document properties, for easy form completion or similar tasks. (Find controls that are already bound to built-in document properties in Word on the Insert tab, under Quick Parts.)

    When you use content controls with your app, you can also greatly expand the options for what your app can do using a different type of binding. You can bind to a content control from within the app and then write content to the binding rather than to the active selection.

    Note Note

    Don’t confuse XML data binding in Word with the ability to bind to a control via your app. These are completely separate features. However, you can include named content controls in the content you insert via your app using OOXML coercion and then use code in the app to bind to those controls.

    Also be aware that both XML data binding and Office.js can interact with custom XML parts in your app—so it is possible to integrate these powerful tools. To learn about working with custom XML parts in the Office JavaScript API, see the Additional resources section of this topic.

    Working with bindings in your Word app is covered in the next section of the topic. First, let’s take a look at an example of the Office Open XML required for inserting a rich text content control that you can bind to using your app.

    Important note Important

    Rich text controls are the only type of content control you can use to bind to a content control from within your app.

    Copy
    <pkg:package xmlns:pkg="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/2006/xmlPackage">
      <pkg:part pkg:name="/_rels/.rels" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-package.relationships+xml" pkg:padding="512">
        <pkg:xmlData>
          <Relationships xmlns="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/package/2006/relationships">
            <Relationship Id="rId1" Type="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/officeDocument/2006/relationships/officeDocument" Target="word/document.xml"/>
          </Relationships>
        </pkg:xmlData>
      </pkg:part>
      <pkg:part pkg:name="/word/document.xml" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document.main+xml">
        <pkg:xmlData>
          <w:document xmlns:w="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/wordprocessingml/2006/main" xmlns:w15="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/word/2012/wordml" >
            <w:body>
              <w:p/>
              <w:sdt>
                  <w:sdtPr>
                    <w:alias w:val="MyContentControlTitle"/>
                    <w:id w:val="1382295294"/>
                    <w15:appearance w15:val="hidden"/>
                    <w:showingPlcHdr/>
                  </w:sdtPr>
                  <w:sdtContent>
                    <w:p>
                      <w:r>
                      <w:t>[This text is inside a content control that has its container hidden. You can bind to a content control to add or interact with content at a specified location in the document.]</w:t>
                    </w:r>
                    </w:p>
                  </w:sdtContent>
                </w:sdt>
              </w:body>
          </w:document>
        </pkg:xmlData>
      </pkg:part>
     </pkg:package>
    

    As already mentioned, content controls—like formatted text—don’t require additional document parts, so only edited versions of the .rels and document.xml parts are included here.

    The w:sdt tag that you see within the document.xml body represents the content control. If you generate the Office Open XML markup for a content control, you’ll see that several attributes have been removed from this example, including the tag and document part properties. Only essential (and a couple of best practice) elements have been retained, including the following:

    • The alias is the title property from the Content Control Properties dialog box in Word. This is a required property (representing the name of the item) if you plan to bind to the control from within your app.

    • The unique id is a required property. If you bind to the control from within your app, the ID is the property the binding uses in the document to identify the applicable named content control.

    • The appearance attribute is used to hide the control container, for a cleaner look. This is a new feature in Word 2013, as you see by the use of the w15 namespace. Because this property is used, the w15 namespace is retained at the start of the document.xml part.

    • The showingPlcHdr attribute is an optional setting that sets the default content you include inside the control (text in this example) as placeholder content. So, if the user clicks or taps in the control area, the entire content is selected rather than behaving like editable content in which the user can make changes.

    • Although the empty paragraph mark (<w:p/>) that precedes the sdt tag is not required for adding a content control (and will add vertical space above the control in the Word document), it ensures that the control is placed in its own paragraph. This may be important, depending upon the type and formatting of content that will be added in the control.

    • If you intend to bind to the control, the default content for the control (what’s inside the sdtContent tag) must include at least one complete paragraph (as in this example), in order for your binding to accept multi-paragraph rich content.

    NoteNote

    The document part attribute that was removed from this sample w:sdt tag may appear in a content control to reference a separate part in the package where placeholder content information can be stored (parts located in a glossary directory in the Office Open XML package). Although document part is the term used for XML parts (that is, files) within an Office Open XML package, the term document parts as used in the sdt property refers to the same term in Word that is used to describe some content types including building blocks and document property quick parts (for example, built-in XML data-bound controls). If you see parts under a glossary directory in your Office Open XML package, you may need to retain them if the content you’re inserting includes these features. For a typical content control that you intend to use to bind to from your app, they’re not required. Just remember that, if you do delete the glossary parts from the package, you must also remove the document part attribute from the w:sdt tag.

    The next section will discuss how to create and use bindings in your Word app.

    We’ve already looked at how to insert content at the active selection in a Word document. If you bind to a named content control that’s in the document, you can insert any of the same content types into that control.

    So when might you want to use this approach?

    • When you need to add or replace content at specified locations in a template, such as to populate portions of the document from a database

    • When you want the option to replace content that you’re inserting at the active selection, such as to provide design element options to the user

    • When you want the user to add data in the document that you can access for use with your app, such as to populate fields in the task pane based upon information the user adds in the document

    Download the code sample Add and Populate a Binding in Word , which provides a working example of how to insert and bind to a content control, and how to populate the binding.

    Add and bind to a named content control

    As you examine the JavaScript that follows, consider these requirements:

    • As previously mentioned, you must use a rich text content control in order to bind to the control from your Word app.

    • The content control must have a name (this is the Title field in the Content Control Properties dialog box, which corresponds to the Alias tag in the Office Open XML markup). This is how the code identifies where to place the binding.

    • You can have several named controls and bind to them as needed. Use a unique content control name, unique content control ID, and a unique binding ID.

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    function addAndBindControl() {
            Office.context.document.bindings.addFromNamedItemAsync("MyContentControlTitle", "text", { id: 'myBinding' }, function (result) {
                if (result.status == "failed") {
                    if (result.error.message == "The named item does not exist.")
                        var myOOXMLRequest = new XMLHttpRequest();
                        var myXML;
                        myOOXMLRequest.open('GET', '../../Snippets_BindAndPopulate/ContentControl.xml', false);
                        myOOXMLRequest.send();
                        if (myOOXMLRequest.status === 200) {
                            myXML = myOOXMLRequest.responseText;
                        }
                        Office.context.document.setSelectedDataAsync(myXML, { coercionType: 'ooxml' }, function (result) {
                            Office.context.document.bindings.addFromNamedItemAsync("MyContentControlTitle", "text", { id: 'myBinding' });
                        });
                }
                });
            }
    

    The code shown here takes the following steps:

    • Attempts to bind to the named content control, using addFromNamedItemAsync.

      Take this step first if there is a possible scenario for your app where the named control could already exist in the document when the code executes. For example, you’ll want to do this if the app was inserted into and saved with a template that’s been designed to work with the app, where the control was placed in advance. You also need to do this if you need to bind to a control that was placed earlier by the app.

    • The callback in the first call to the addFromNamedItemAsync method checks the status of the result to see if the binding failed because the named item doesn’t exist in the document (that is, the content control named MyContentControlTitle in this example). If so, the code adds the control at the active selection point (using setSelectedDataAsync) and then binds to it.

    NoteNote

    As mentioned earlier and shown in the preceding code, the name of the content control is used to determine where to create the binding. However, in the Office Open XML markup, the code adds the binding to the document using both the name and the ID attribute of the content control.

    After code execution, if you examine the markup of the document in which your app created bindings, you’ll see two parts to each binding. In the markup for the content control where a binding was added (in document.xml), you’ll see the attribute <w15:webExtensionLinked/>.

    In the document part named webExtensions1.xml, you’ll see a list of the bindings you’ve created. Each is identified using the binding ID and the ID attribute of the applicable control, such as the following—where the appref attribute is the content control ID:<we:binding id=”myBinding” type=”text” appref=”1382295294″/>.

    Important noteImportant

    You must add the binding at the time you intend to act upon it. Don’t include the markup for the binding in the Office Open XML for inserting the content control because the process of inserting that markup will strip the binding.

    Populate a binding

    The code for writing content to a binding is similar to that for writing content to a selection.

    Copy
    function populateBinding(filename) {
            var myOOXMLRequest = new XMLHttpRequest();
            var myXML;
            myOOXMLRequest.open('GET', filename, false);
                myOOXMLRequest.send();
                if (myOOXMLRequest.status === 200) {
                    myXML = myOOXMLRequest.responseText;
                }
                Office.select("bindings#myBinding").setDataAsync(myXML, { coercionType: 'ooxml' });
            }
    

    As with setSelectedDataAsync, you specify the content to be inserted and the coercion type. The only additional requirement for writing to a binding is to identify the binding by ID. Notice how the binding ID used in this code (bindings#myBinding) corresponds to the binding ID established (myBinding) when the binding was created in the previous function.

    NoteNote

    The preceding code is all you need whether you are initially populating or replacing the content in a binding. When you insert a new piece of content at a bound location, the existing content in that binding is automatically replaced. Check out an example of this in the previously-referenced code sample Add and Populate a Binding in Word, which provides two separate content samples that you can use interchangeably to populate the same binding.

    Many types of content require additional document parts in the Office Open XML package, meaning that they either reference information in another part or the content itself is stored in one or more additional parts and referenced in document.xml.

    For example, consider the following:

    • Content that uses styles for formatting (such as the styled text shown earlier in Figure 2 or the styled table shown in Figure 9) requires the styles.xml part.

    • Images (such as those shown in Figures 3 and 4) include the binary image data in one (and sometimes two) additional parts.

    • SmartArt diagrams (such as the one shown in Figure 10) require multiple additional parts to describe the layout and content.

    • Charts (such as the one shown in Figure 11) require multiple additional parts, including their own relationship (.rels) part.

    You can see edited examples of the markup for all of these content types in the previously-referenced code sample Loading and Writing Office Open XML. You can insert all of these content types using the same JavaScript code shown earlier (and provided in the referenced code samples) for inserting content at the active selection and writing content to a specified location using bindings.

    Before you explore the samples, let’s take a look at few tips for working with each of these content types.

    Important note Important

    Remember, if you are retaining any additional parts referenced in document.xml, you will need to retain document.xml.rels and the relationship definitions for the applicable parts you’re keeping, such as styles.xml or an image file.

    Working with styles

    The same approach to editing the markup that we looked at for the preceding example with directly-formatted text applies when using paragraph styles or table styles to format your content. However, the markup for working with paragraph styles is considerably simpler, so that is the example described here.

    Editing the markup for content using paragraph styles

    The following markup represents the body content for the styled text example shown in Figure 2.

    Copy
    <w:body>
      <w:p>
        <w:pPr>
          <w:pStyle w:val="Heading1"/>
        </w:pPr>
        <w:r>
          <w:t>This text is formatted using the Heading 1 paragraph style.</w:t>
        </w:r>
      </w:p>
    </w:body>
    
    NoteNote

    As you see, the markup for formatted text in document.xml is considerably simpler when you use a style, because the style contains all of the paragraph and font formatting that you otherwise need to reference individually. However, as explained earlier, you might want to use styles or direct formatting for different purposes: use direct formatting to specify the appearance of your text regardless of the formatting in the user’s document; use a paragraph style (particularly a built-in paragraph style name, such as Heading 1 shown here) to have the text formatting automatically coordinate with the user’s document.

    Use of a style is a good example of how important it is to read and understand the markup for the content you’re inserting, because it’s not explicit that another document part is referenced here. If you include the style definition in this markup and don’t include the styles.xml part, the style information in document.xml will be ignored regardless of whether or not that style is in use in the user’s document.

    However, if you take a look at the styles.xml part, you’ll see that only a small portion of this long piece of markup is required when editing markup for use in your app:

    • The styles.xml part includes several namespaces by default. If you are only retaining the required style information for your content, in most cases you only need to keep the xmlns:w namespace.

    • The w:docDefaults tag content that falls at the top of the styles part will be ignored when your markup is inserted via the app and can be removed.

    • The largest piece of markup in a styles.xml part is for the w:latentStyles tag that appears after docDefaults, which provides information (such as appearance attributes for the Styles pane and Styles gallery) for every available style. This information is also ignored when inserting content via your app and so it can be removed.

    • Following the latent styles information, you see a definition for each style in use in the document from which you’re markup was generated. This includes some default styles that are in use when you create a new document and may not be relevant to your content. You can delete the definitions for any styles that aren’t used by your content.

    NoteNote

    Each built-in heading style has an associated Char style that is a character style version of the same heading format. Unless you’ve applied the heading style as a character style, you can remove it. If the style is used as a character style, it appears in document.xml in a run properties tag (w:rPr) rather than a paragraph properties (w:pPr) tag. This should only be the case if you’ve applied the style to just part of a paragraph, but it can occur inadvertently if the style was incorrectly applied.

    • If you’re using a built-in style for your content, you don’t have to include a full definition. You only must include the style name, style ID, and at least one formatting attribute in order for the coerced OOXML to apply the style to your content upon insertion.

      However, it’s a best practice to include a complete style definition (even if it’s the default for built-in styles). If a style is already in use in the destination document, your content will take on the resident definition for the style, regardless of what you include in styles.xml. If the style isn’t yet in use in the destination document, your content will use the style definition you provide in the markup.

    So, for example, the only content we needed to retain from the styles.xml part for the sample text shown in Figure 2, which is formatted using Heading 1 style, is the following.

    NoteNote

    A complete Word 2013 definition for the Heading 1 style has been retained in this example.

    Copy
    <pkg:part pkg:name="/word/styles.xml" pkg:contentType="application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.styles+xml">
      <pkg:xmlData>
        <w:styles xmlns:w="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/wordprocessingml/2006/main" >
          <w:style w:type="paragraph" w:styleId="Heading1">
            <w:name w:val="heading 1"/>
            <w:basedOn w:val="Normal"/>
            <w:next w:val="Normal"/>
            <w:link w:val="Heading1Char"/>
            <w:uiPriority w:val="9"/>
            <w:qFormat/>
            <w:pPr>
              <w:keepNext/>
              <w:keepLines/>
              <w:spacing w:before="240" w:after="0" w:line="259" w:lineRule="auto"/>
              <w:outlineLvl w:val="0"/>
            </w:pPr>
            <w:rPr>
              <w:rFonts w:asciiTheme="majorHAnsi" w:eastAsiaTheme="majorEastAsia" w:hAnsiTheme="majorHAnsi" w:cstheme="majorBidi"/>
              <w:color w:val="2E74B5" w:themeColor="accent1" w:themeShade="BF"/>
              <w:sz w:val="32"/>
              <w:szCs w:val="32"/>
            </w:rPr>
          </w:style>
        </w:styles>
      </pkg:xmlData>
    </pkg:part>
    

    Editing the markup for content using table styles

    When your content uses a table style, you need the same relative part of styles.xml as described for working with paragraph styles. That is, you only need to retain the information for the style you’re using in your content—and you must include the name, ID, and at least one formatting attribute—but are better off including a complete style definition to address all potential user scenarios.

    However, when you look at the markup both for your table in document.xml and for your table style definition in styles.xml, you see enormously more markup than when working with paragraph styles.

    • In document.xml, formatting is applied by cell even if it’s included in a style. Using a table style won’t reduce the volume of markup. The benefit of using table styles for the content is for easy updating and easily coordinating the look of multiple tables.

    • In styles.xml, you’ll see a substantial amount of markup for a single table style as well, because table styles include several types of possible formatting attributes for each of several table areas, such as the entire table, heading rows, odd and even banded rows and columns (separately), the first column, etc.

    Working with images

    The markup for an image includes a reference to at least one part that includes the binary data to describe your image. For a complex image, this can be hundreds of pages of markup and you can’t edit it. Since you don’t ever have to touch the binary part(s), you can simply collapse it if you’re using a structured editor such as Visual Studio 2012, so that you can still easily review and edit the rest of the package.

    If you check out the example markup for the simple image shown earlier in Figure 3, available in the previously-referenced code sample Loading and Writing Office Open XML, you’ll see that the markup for the image in document.xml includes size and position information as well as a relationship reference to the part that contains the binary image data. That reference is included in the <a:blip> tag, as follows:

    Copy
    <a:blip r:embed="rId4" cstate="print">
    

    Be aware that, because a relationship reference is explicitly used (r:embed=”rID4″) and that related part is required in order to render the image, if you don’t include the binary data in your Office Open XML package, you will get an error. This is different from styles.xml, explained previously, which won’t throw an error if omitted since the relationship is not explicitly referenced and the relationship is to a part that provides attributes to the content (formatting) rather than being part of the content itself.

    NoteNote

    When you review the markup, notice the additional namespaces used in the a:blip tag. You’ll see in document.xml that the xlmns:a namespace (the main drawingML namespace) is dynamically placed at the beginning of the use of drawingML references rather than at the top of the document.xml part. However, the relationships namespace (r) must be retained where it appears at the start of document.xml. Check your picture markup for additional namespace requirements. Remember that you don’t have to memorize which types of content require what namespaces—you can easily tell by reviewing the prefixes of the tags throughout document.xml.

    Understanding additional image parts and formatting

    When you use some Office picture formatting effects on your image—such as for the image shown in Figure 4, which uses adjusted brightness and contrast settings (in addition to picture styling)—a second binary data part for an HD format copy of the image data may be required. This additional HD format is required for formatting considered a layering effect, and the reference to it appears in document.xml similar to the following:

    Copy
    <a14:imgLayer r:embed="rId5">
    

    See the required markup for the formatted image shown in Figure 4 (which uses layering effects among others) in the Loading and Writing Office Open XML code sample.

    Working with SmartArt diagrams

    A SmartArt diagram has four associated parts, but only two are always required. You can examine an example of SmartArt markup in the Loading and Writing Office Open XML code sample. First, take a look at a brief description of each of the parts and why they are or are not required:

    Note Note

    If your content includes more than one diagram, they will be numbered consecutively, replacing the 1 in the file names listed here.

    • layout1.xml: This part is required. It includes the markup definition for the layout appearance and functionality.

    • data1.xml: This part is required. It includes the data in use in your instance of the diagram.

    • drawing1.xml: This part is not always required but if you apply custom formatting to elements in your instance of a diagram—such as directly formatting individual shapes—you might need to retain it.

    • colors1.xml: This part is not required. It includes color style information, but the colors of your diagram will coordinate by default with the colors of the active formatting theme in the destination document, based on the SmartArt color style you apply from the SmartArt Tools design tab in Word before saving out your Office Open XML markup.

    • quickStyles1.xml: This part is not required. Similar to the colors part, you can remove this as your diagram will take on the definition of the applied SmartArt style that’s available in the destination document (that is, it will automatically coordinate with the formatting theme in the destination document).

    Tip Tip

    The SmartArt layout1.xml file is a good example of places you may be able to further trim your markup but might not be worth the extra time to do so (because it removes such a small amount of markup relative to the entire package). If you would like to get rid of every last line you can of markup, you can delete the <dgm:sampData…> tag and its contents. This sample data defines how the thumbnail preview for the diagram will appear in the SmartArt styles galleries. However, if it’s omitted, default sample data is used.

    Be aware that the markup for a SmartArt diagram in document.xml contains relationship ID references to the layout, data, colors, and quick styles parts. You can delete the references in document.xml to the colors and styles parts when you delete those parts and their relationship definitions (and it’s certainly a best practice to do so, since you’re deleting those relationships), but you won’t get an error if you leave them, since they aren’t required for your diagram to be inserted into a document. Find these references in document.xml in the dgm:relIds tag. Regardless of whether or not you take this step, retain the relationship ID references for the required layout and data parts.

    Working with charts

    Similar to SmartArt diagrams, charts contain several additional parts. However, the setup for charts is a bit different from SmartArt, in that a chart has its own relationship file. Following is a description of required and removable document parts for a chart:

    Note Note

    As with SmartArt diagrams, if your content includes more than one chart, they will be numbered consecutively, replacing the 1 in the file names listed here.

    • In document.xml.rels, you’ll see a reference to the required part that contains the data that describes the chart (chart1.xml).

    • You also see a separate relationship file for each chart in your Office Open XML package, such as chart1.xml.rels.

      There are three files referenced in chart1.xml.rels, but only one is required. These include the binary Excel workbook data (required) and the color and style parts (colors1.xml and styles1.xml) that you can remove.

    Charts that you can create and edit natively in Word 2013 are Excel 2013 charts, and their data is maintained on an Excel worksheet that’s embedded as binary data in your Office Open XML package. Like the binary data parts for images, this Excel binary data is required, but there’s nothing to edit in this part. So you can just collapse the part in the editor to avoid having to manually scroll through it all to examine the rest of your Office Open XML package.

    However, similar to SmartArt, you can delete the colors and styles parts. If you’ve used the chart styles and color styles available in to format your chart, the chart will take on the applicable formatting automatically when it is inserted into the destination document.

    See the edited markup for the example chart shown in Figure 11 in the Loading and Writing Office Open XML code sample.

    You’ve already seen how to identify and edit the content in your markup. If the task still seems difficult when you take a look at the massive Open XML package generated for your document, following is a quick summary of recommended steps to help you edit that package down quickly:

    Note Note

    Remember that you can use all .rels parts in the package as a map to quickly check for document parts that you can remove.

    1. Open the flattened XML file in Visual Studio 2012 and press Ctrl+K, Ctrl+D to format the file. Then use the collapse/expand buttons on the left to collapse the parts you know you need to remove. You might also want to collapse long parts you need, but know you won’t need to edit (such as the base64 binary data for an image file), making the markup faster and easier to visually scan.

    2. There are several parts of the document package that you can almost always remove when you are preparing Open XML markup for use in your app. You might want to start by removing these (and their associated relationship definitions), which will greatly reduce the package right away. These include the theme1, fontTable, settings, webSettings, thumbnail, both the core and app properties files, and any taskpane or webExtension parts.

    3. Remove any parts that don’t relate to your content, such as footnotes, headers, or footers that you don’t require. Again, remember to also delete their associated relationships.

    4. Review the document.xml.rels part to see if any files referenced in that part are required for your content, such as an image file, the styles part, or SmartArt diagram parts. Delete the relationships for any parts your content doesn’t require and confirm that you have also deleted the associated part. If your content doesn’t require any of the document parts referenced in document.xml.rels, you can delete that file also.

    5. If your content has an additional .rels part (such as chart#.xml.rels), review it to see if there are other parts referenced there that you can remove (such as quick styles for charts) and delete both the relationship from that file as well as the associated part.

    6. Edit document.xml to remove namespaces not referenced in the part, section properties if your content doesn’t include a section break, and any markup that’s not related to the content that you want to insert. If inserting shapes or text boxes, you might also want to remove extensive fallback markup.

    7. Edit any additional required parts where you know that you can remove substantial markup without affecting your content, such as the styles part.

    After you’ve taken the preceding seven steps, you’ve likely cut between about 90 and 100 percent of the markup you can remove, depending on your content. In most cases, this is likely to be as far as you want to trim.

    Regardless of whether you leave it here or choose to delve further into your content to find every last line of markup you can cut, remember that you can use the previously-referenced code sample Get, Set, and Edit Office Open XML as a scratch pad to quickly and easily test your edited markup.

    Tip Tip

    If you update an OOXML snippet in an existing solution while developing, clear temporary Internet files before you run the solution again to update the Open XML used by your code. Markup that’s included in your solution in XML files is cached on your computer.

    You can, of course, clear temporary Internet files from your default web browser. To access Internet options and delete these settings from inside Visual Studio 2012, on the Debug menu, choose Options and Settings. Then, under Environment, choose Web Browser and then choose Internet Explorer Options.

    In this topic, you’ve seen several examples of what you can do with Open XML in your apps for . We’ve looked at a wide range of rich content type examples that you can insert into documents by using the OOXML coercion type, together with the JavaScript methods for inserting that content at the selection or to a specified (bound) location.

    So, what else do you need to know if you’re creating your app both for stand-alone use (that is, inserted from the Store or a proprietary server location) and for use in a pre-created template that’s designed to work with your app? The answer might be that you already know all you need.

    The markup for a given content type and methods for inserting it are the same whether your app is designed to stand-alone or work with a template. If you are using templates designed to work with your app, just be sure that your JavaScript includes callbacks that account for scenarios where referenced content might already exist in the document (such as demonstrated in the binding example shown in the section Add and bind to a named content control).

    When using templates with your app—whether the app will be resident in the template at the time that the user created the document or the app will be inserting a template—you might also want to incorporate other elements of the API to help you create a more robust, interactive experience. For example, you may want to include identifying data in a customXML part that you can use to determine the template type in order to provide template-specific options to the user. To learn more about how to work with customXML in your apps, see the additional resources that follow.

    For more information, see the following resources:

    Free e-book can help you develop a location-based Windows Store app

    If you need help getting started on developing a location-based Windows Store app, there’s a new, free e-book you can , “Location Intelligence for Windows Store Apps.”

    Written by Ricky Brundritt, the e-book dives into location intelligence and the different for creating location-aware apps for Windows 8.1.

    The first half of the book focuses on the inner workings of Window Store apps and available location-related tools available (e.g., sensors and the Bing Maps SDK).

    The second half goes through the process of creating location-intelligent apps, with code samples provided in JavaScript, C# and Visual Basic.

    Head over to the Bing Dev Center Team Blog to read more about this e-book.

     

     

    How To : Get data from Windows Azure Marketplace into your Office application

    ImageThis post walks through a published app for Office, along the way showing you everything you need to get started building your own app for Office that uses a data service from the Windows Azure Marketplace.

    Ever wondered how to get premium, curated data from Windows Azure Marketplace, into your Office applications, to create a rich and powerful experience for your users? If you have, you are in luck.

    Introducing the first ever app for Office that builds this integration with the Windows Azure Marketplace – US Crime Stats. This app enables users to insert crime statistics, provided by DATA.GOV, right into an Excel spreadsheet, without ever having to leave the Office client.

    One challenge faced by Excel users is finding the right set of data, and apps for Office provides a great opportunity to create rich, immersive experiences by connecting to premium data sources from the Windows Azure Marketplace.

    What is the Windows Azure Marketplace?

    The Windows Azure Marketplace (also called Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket or just DataMarket) is a marketplace for datasets, data services and complete applications. Learn more about Windows Azure Marketplace.

    This blog article is organized into two sections:

    1. The U.S. Crime Stats Experience
    2. Writing your own Office Application that gets data from the Windows Azure Marketplace

    The US Crime Stats Experience

    You can find the app on the Office Store. Once you add the US Crime Stats app to your collection, you can go to Excel 2013, and add the US Crime Stats app to your spreadsheet.

    Figure 1. Open Excel 2013 spreadsheet

    blog_CrimeStats_fig01

    Once you choose US Crime Stats, the application is shown in the right pane. You can search for crime statistics based on City, State, and Year.

    Figure 2. US Crime Stats app is shown in the right task pane

    blog_CrimeStats_fig02

    Once you enter the city, state, and year, click ‘Insert Crime Data’ and the data will be inserted into your spreadsheet.

    Figure 3. Data is inserted into an Excel 2013 spreadsheet

    blog_CrimeStats_fig03

    What is going on under the hood?

    In short, when the ‘Insert Crime Data’ button is chosen, the application takes the input (city, state, and year) and makes a request to the DataMarket services endpoint for DATA.GOV in the form of an OData Call. When the response is received, it is then parsed, and inserted into the spreadsheet using the JavaScript API for Office.

    Writing your own Office application that gets data from the Windows Azure Marketplace

    Prerequisites for writing Office applications that get data from Windows Azure Marketplace

    How to write Office applications using data from Windows Azure Marketplace

    The MSDN article, Create a Marketplace application, covers everything necessary for creating a Marketplace application, but below are the steps in order.

    1. Register with the Windows Azure Marketplace:
      • You need to register your application first on the Windows Azure Marketplace Application Registration page. Instructions on how to register your application for the Windows Azure Marketplace are found in the MSDN topic, Register your Marketplace Application.
    2. Authentication:
    3. Receiving Data from the Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket service

    New “Filter My ListView” SharePoint Web Part and App now available for SP 2010 & 2013 On-premise and Office 365!!

    What is it?

    The “Filter My ListView” Web Part / App is a SharePoint WebPart enables you to create custom filter to find information in SharePoint list or document library.

    my listview

    Why do you need it?

    In working with SharePoint and with large lists or document libraries containing 100K+ items, users frequently found that there is no usable tool for filtering data.

    SharePoint let us create views, but their functionality doesn’t meet the requirements of users. And most popular reason is this: list view is static and users can’t modify it on the fly.

    On the other hand the “Filter My List” web part may filter data representing in the current view’s columns. But user can’t apply multiple filter to list and others (date range, filter criteria, …).

    All this leads to the fact that we have to have custom solution this solving these limitations.

    Usage

    The “Filter My ListView” Web Part / App is a simple to use SharePoint list view filter. It enables your to create custom filter form, composed from all list fields (not only fields containing in current list view).

    Supported field types

    • Simple text

    jQuery UI is used for using autocomplete!

    • Text with options enables select filtering type

    Text with filtering options

    • Date

    • DateRange

    • Boolean

    • DropDown list represents unique values of field

    • User or Group
    • Taxonomy Term Picker

    • Multi-select CheckBoxList

    The “Filter My ListView” Web Part / App builds a filter form using different types of controls:

    • TextBox. “Contains” criteria filter
    • TextBox with autocomplete
    • TextBox with options. Allows user to choose filter criteria that can be one of these:
      • Equals
      • Not equals
      • Contains
      • Begins with
    • Date
    • Date Range
    • DropDownList
    • DropDownList with multiple selection
    • People picker
    • MetaData picker

    Relation between field type and supported filter types is represented in this matrix:

    Contact me now through my blog, https://sharepointsamurai.wordpress.com or at tomas.floyd@outlook.com for this and more SharePoint and Office 365 custom developed Web Parts and Apps

    New Office 365 Tool available to help you re-design for the App Model

    Learn about a tool that analyzes your SharePoint full-trust code solutions and Office add-ins and macros to help you redesign them for the app model. Security is important to us—your code remains private while using the tool.

    The app model is a great tool that fully embraces the benefits of moving to the cloud, but migrating to the model can be a time-consuming task. SharePoint is a complex enterprise-level collaboration system, and custom solutions built on top of the SharePoint platform using full trust code don’t easily map to a cloud-based deployment. Similarly, Office client solutions – managed add-ins and VBA macros built on individual client object models – are widely deployed on desktops and need to be ported to work in the cloud. We understand that creating these solutions required a significant investment. We want to help you translate these solutions to cloud-friendly apps as painlessly as possible.

    The SharePoint and VBA Code Analyzer—a tool to help you understand how you can refactor your SharePoint and Office client solutions to Office 365. Working with Mobilize.net, one of our long-standing partners, we’ve created a web portal where you can upload your SharePoint and Office client solutions and get a complete analysis of the existing code. We’ll provide guidance and recommendations on what level of effort needs to be invested to move them to the cloud, so you can start refactoring your custom business solutions as soon as possible.

    “But, wait!” you think. “I can’t send my company’s code where external parties look at it!” No worries—we have put several security measures in place to prevent unauthorized access, and the code runs through a completely black-box process. The analysis is done with automated tools which only collect metadata about files, lines of code, ASP.NET application pages, web parts, libraries, workflows, and other platform-dependent objects. We then use this data to generate reports on how you can map your existing code to the new model.

    The tool is also hosted behind a digital certificate-enabled site, which ensures that everything that goes across the wire to our black box process is encrypted.

    Create a new Search Service Application in SharePoint 2013 using PowerShell

    The search architecture in SharePoint 2013 has changed quite a bit when compared to SharePoint 2010. In fact the Search Service in SharePoint 2013 is completely overhauled. It is a combination of FAST Search and SharePoint Search components.

    apxvsdik

    As you can see the query and crawl topologies are merged into a single topology, simply called “Search topology”. Provisioning of the search service application creates 4 databases:

    • SP2013_Enterprise_Search – This is a search administration database. It contains configuration and topology information
    • SP2013_Enterprise_Search_AnalyticsReportingStore – This database stores the result of usage analysis
    • SP2013_Enterprise_Search_CrawlStore – The crawl database contains detailed tracking and historical information about crawled items
    • SP2013_Enterprise_Search_LinksStore – Stores the information extracted by the content processing component and also stores click-through information

    # Create a new Search Service Application in SharePoint 2013

    Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

    Settings    $IndexLocation = “C:\Data\Search15Index” #Location must be empty, will be deleted during the process!     $SearchAppPoolName = “Search App Pool”     $SearchAppPoolAccountName = “Contoso\administrator”     $SearchServerName = (Get-ChildItem env:computername).value     $SearchServiceName = “Search15”     $SearchServiceProxyName = “Search15 Proxy”     $DatabaseName = “Search15_ADminDB”     Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow “Checking if Search Application Pool exists”     $SPAppPool = Get-SPServiceApplicationPool -Identity $SearchAppPoolName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

    if (!$SPAppPool)    {         Write-Host -ForegroundColor Green “Creating Search Application Pool”         $spAppPool = New-SPServiceApplicationPool -Name $SearchAppPoolName -Account $SearchAppPoolAccountName -Verbose     }

    Start Services search service instance    Write-host “Start Search Service instances….”     Start-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceInstance $SearchServerName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue     Start-SPEnterpriseSearchQueryAndSiteSettingsServiceInstance $SearchServerName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

    Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow “Checking if Search Service Application exists”    $ServiceApplication = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication -Identity $SearchServiceName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

    if (!$ServiceApplication)    {         Write-Host -ForegroundColor Green “Creating Search Service Application”         $ServiceApplication = New-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication -Partitioned -Name $SearchServiceName -ApplicationPool $spAppPool.Name  -DatabaseName $DatabaseName     }

    Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow “Checking if Search Service Application Proxy exists”    $Proxy = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplicationProxy -Identity $SearchServiceProxyName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

    if (!$Proxy)    {         Write-Host -ForegroundColor Green “Creating Search Service Application Proxy”         New-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplicationProxy -Partitioned -Name $SearchServiceProxyName -SearchApplication $ServiceApplication     }

    $ServiceApplication.ActiveTopology     Write-Host $ServiceApplication.ActiveTopology

    Clone the default Topology (which is empty) and create a new one and then activate it    Write-Host “Configuring Search Component Topology….”     $clone = $ServiceApplication.ActiveTopology.Clone()     $SSI = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceInstance -local     New-SPEnterpriseSearchAdminComponent –SearchTopology $clone -SearchServiceInstance $SSI     New-SPEnterpriseSearchContentProcessingComponent –SearchTopology $clone -SearchServiceInstance $SSI     New-SPEnterpriseSearchAnalyticsProcessingComponent –SearchTopology $clone -SearchServiceInstance $SSI     New-SPEnterpriseSearchCrawlComponent –SearchTopology $clone -SearchServiceInstance $SSI

    Remove-Item -Recurse -Force -LiteralPath $IndexLocation -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue    mkdir -Path $IndexLocation -Force

    New-SPEnterpriseSearchIndexComponent –SearchTopology $clone -SearchServiceInstance $SSI -RootDirectory $IndexLocation    New-SPEnterpriseSearchQueryProcessingComponent –SearchTopology $clone -SearchServiceInstance $SSI     $clone.Activate()

    Write-host “Your search service application $SearchServiceName is now ready”

    Update

    To configure failover server(s) for Search DBs, use the following PowerShell:

    Thanks to Marcel Jeanneau for sharing this!

    #Admin Database   $ssa = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication “Search Service Application”    Set-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication –Identity $ssa –FailoverDatabaseServer <failoverserveralias\instance>

    #Crawl Database   $CrawlDatabase0 = ([array]($ssa | Get-SPEnterpriseSearchCrawlDatabase))[0]    Set-SPEnterpriseSearchCrawlDatabase -Identity $CrawlDatabase0 -SearchApplication $ssa -FailoverDatabaseServer <failoverserveralias\instance>

    #Links Database   $LinksDatabase0 = ([array]($ssa | Get-SPEnterpriseSearchLinksDatabase))[0]     Set-SPEnterpriseSearchLinksDatabase -Identity $LinksDatabase0 -SearchApplication $ssa -FailoverDatabaseServer <failoverserveralias\instance>

    #Analytics database   $AnalyticsDB = Get-SPDatabase –Identity     $AnalyticsDB.AddFailOverInstance(“failover alias\instance”)    $AnalyticsDB.Update()

    You can always change the default content access account using the following command:

    $password = Read-Host –AsSecureString**********Set-SPEnterpriseSearchService -id “SSA name” –DefaultContentAccessAccountName Contoso\account –DefaultContentAccessAccountPassword $password

    Look out for my Powershell Web Part and Google Analytics Web Part and App that is under Development and available soon for purchase!!

    Image

    Free Oracle Trial available on Azure! Run your Java Applications on Azure!

    6 simple steps

    1. Create a new virtual machine
    2. Select the Oracle software you want
    3. Configure your virtual machine
    4. Select a virtual machine mode
    5. Create an endpoint and review legal terms
    6. Connect to your new virtual machine

    icrosoft and Oracle now provide best in class, end to end, support for customers running mission critical Oracle on Windows Azure and Windows Server Hyper-V. Use your existing licenses to run Oracle software on Windows Azure and receive full support from Oracle.

    Or, use license-included instances of Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic Server, or the Java development environment on Windows Server – now in preview. Whether you’re an Oracle admin or a Java developer, you now have increased flexibility and choice in where to deploy your and the safety and security that comes from knowing you will be fully supported by Oracle.

     

    What are the key aspects of this partnership?

    • Customers can run supported Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure.
    • Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to run Oracle software on Windows Azure.
    • Microsoft has added images with popular configurations of Oracle software including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server to the Windows Azure image gallery.
    • Microsoft now offers fully licensed and supported Java in Windows Azure.
    • Oracle now offers Oracle Linux, with a variety of Oracle software, as preconfigured images on Windows Azure.
     When will these new capabilities be available to customers?

    • Effective immediately, customers can use their existing Oracle software licenses on Windows Azure – and we have now made this even easier with pre-configured images in the gallery. Oracle fully supports its software running on Windows Azure.
    • License-included instances of Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server are now in preview. General availability has been set for March 12, 2014.

    Is Java a first class citizen on Windows Azure?

    • Yes. Microsoft’s goal with Windows Azure has always been to embrace and provide development platforms that meet the needs of developers and IT pros.
    • With this partnership, we’re furthering our commitment to providing a heterogeneous development environment on Windows Azure.
    • Fully licensed and supported Java is now available to Windows Azure customers.

    Oracle Database virtual machine images

    • Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • Oracle Database 12c Standard Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • Oracle Database 11g R2 Enterprise Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Oracle Database 11g R2 Standard Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2008 R2

    Oracle WebLogic Server virtual machine images

    • Oracle WebLogic Server 12c Enterprise Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • Oracle WebLogic Server 12c Standard Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • Oracle WebLogic Server 11g Enterprise Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Oracle WebLogic Server 11g Standard Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2008 R2

    Oracle Database and WebLogic Server virtual machine images

    • Oracle Database 12c and WebLogic Server 12c Enterprise Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • Oracle Database 12c and WebLogic Server 12c Standard Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • Oracle Database 11g and WebLogic Server 11g Enterprise Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Oracle Database 11g and WebLogic Server 11g Standard Edition (Preview) on Windows Server 2008 R2

    Java virtual machine images

    • JDK 7 (Preview) on Windows Server 2012
    • JDK 6 (Preview) on Windows Server 2012

    To install a Java application server on your virtual machine

    You can copy a Java application server to your virtual machine, or install a Java application server through an installer.

    For purposes of this tutorial, Tomcat will be installed.

    1. While logged on to your virtual machine, open a browser session to http://tomcat.apache.org/download-70.cgi.
    2. Double-click the link for 32-bit/64-bit Windows Service Installer. Using this technique, Tomcat will be installed as a Windows service.
    3. When prompted, choose to run the installer.
    4. Within the Apache Tomcat Setup wizard, follow the prompts to install Tomcat. For purposes of this tutorial, accepting the defaults is fine. When you reach the Completing the Apache Tomcat Setup Wizard dialog, you can optionally check Run Apache Tomcat, to have Tomcat started now. Click Finish to complete the Tomcat setup process.

    To start Tomcat

    If you did not choose to run Tomcat in the Completing the Apache Tomcat Setup Wizard dialog, start it by opening a command prompt on your virtual machine and running net start Tomcat7.

    You should now see Tomcat running if you run the virtual machine’s browser and open http://localhost:8080.

    To see Tomcat running from external machines, you’ll need to create an endpoint and open a port.

    To create an endpoint for your virtual machine

    1. Log in to the Management Portal.
    2. Click Virtual machines.
    3. Click the name of the virtual machine that is running your Java application server.
    4. Click Endpoints.
    5. Click Add.
    6. In the Add endpoint dialog, ensure Add standalone endpoint is checked and then click Next.
    7. In the New endpoint details dialog:
      1. Specify a name for the endpoint; for example, HttpIn.
      2. Specify TCP for the protocol.
      3. Specify 80 for the public port.
      4. Specify 8080 for the private port.
      5. Click the Complete button to close the dialog. Your endpoint will now be created.

    To open a port in the firewall for your virtual machine

    1. Log in to your virtual machine.
    2. Click Windows Start.
    3. Click Control Panel.
    4. Click System and Security, click Windows Firewall, and then click Advanced Settings.
    5. Click Inbound Rules and then click New Rule.

    New inbound rule

    1. For the new rule, select Port for the Rule type and then click Next.

    New inbound rule port

    1. Select TCP for the protocol and specify 8080 for the port, and then click Next.

    New inbound rule

    1. Choose Allow the connection and then click Next.

    New inbound rule action

    1. Ensure Domain, Private, and Public are checked for the profile and then click Next.

    New inbound rule profile

    1. Specify a name for the rule, such as HttpIn (the rule name is not required to match the endpoint name, however), and then click Finish.

    New inbound rule name

    At this point, your Tomcat web site should now be viewable from an external browser, using a URL of the form http://your_DNS_name.cloudapp.net, where your_DNS_name is the DNS name you specified when you created the virtual machine.

    Application lifecycle considerations

    • You could create your own application web archive (WAR) and add it to the webapps folder. For example, create a basic Java Service Page (JSP) dynamic web project and export it as a WAR file, copy the WAR to the Apache Tomcat webapps folder on the virtual machine, then run it in a browser.
    • By default when the Tomcat service is installed, it will be set to start manually. You can switch it to start automatically by using the Services snap-in. Start the Services snap-in by clicking Windows Start, Administrative Tools, and then Services. To set Tomcat to start automatically, double-click the Apache Tomcat service in the Services snap-in and set Startup type to Automatic, as shown in the following.

      Setting a service to start automatically

      The benefit of having Tomcat start automatically is it will start again if the virtual machine is rebooted (for example, after software updates that require a reboot are installed).

    Must have Tool for BizTalk : Introduction to BizTalk 360

    BizTalk 360 was announced for public technology preview yesterday, you can read more about it here http://www.biztalk360.com

    Why BizTalk 360?

    There is one common problem across all the BizTalk customers. i.e there is no proper support tool for BizTalk. It’s a reality people are more passionate and interested in designing, architecting and developing the software and not enough attention is given to the afterlife of that application once it reaches production. It’s very important to focus on a production application, which represents customers business and credibility. BizTalk 360 is all about managing that application that’s in production. There are some of common problems most of the BizTalk server customers face, BizTalk 360 tries to address them

    Introduction

    BizTalk 360 is a web based rich internet application built using Microsoft Silverlight and WCF. Web based application means, you can centrally deploy it and no necessity to install all the BizTalk administration components on individual support persons desktop. Also, it comes with rich authorization module, which allows to give fine grained authorization to support people. No more remote desktop (RDP) access to all production servers, restrict users to only few BizTalk applications, or even provide only read-only access in the environment. The choice is yours.

    Let’s see some brief introduction to some of the key modules of BizTalk 360

    BizTalk Environment Dashboard

    env-dash-org-small

    This is the home screen of the application, as soon as you access an environment, you are presented with the environment dashboard showing various part of the system and their health status.It shows the number of applications, number of hosts, number of message boxes etc. in the environment. The green and red represents their respective health status, red is error, green is healthy. If there are any suspended instances in the environment, a red bar will appear with the count of total suspended instances and the last suspended date time.

    BizTalk Application Dashboard

    application-dash-org-small

    BizTalk application dashboard provides a single view into a particular BizTalk applications. The artifact headings are colour coded to represent their overall health. If there are suspended instances it will be highlighted on the dashboard.

    Diagrammatic representation of Send Port

    send-port-picture-org-small

    A picture is worth more than 1000 words, BizTalk 360 come with diagrammatic representation of send ports (only send ports for V1, road map to include other artifacts like orchestrations, receive ports etc)

    Artifact Properties

    image

    BizTalk 360 allows to view the properties of all the BizTalk artifacts like send port, receive port, receive location, map, schema, application, pipeline, etc

    Governance/Auditing

    SNAGHTML1a6f95a4

    SNAGHTML1a7040e1

    Lack of tooling around “who did what” in the system is the number one challenge. In a production application it’s vital to log this information for various reason. BizTalk 360 handles it seamlessly and provides views out of the box to see this information in your fingertips.

    User Access Policy

    If you are running one of your “AAA” rated application on BizTalk server, you want to control the user access in a fine grained way. You don’t want one of your junior analyst supporting the application to have administrator rights on production environment. You want to control things like

    • Giving only read-only access to certain people,
    • Blocking certain areas of the application like, not allowing user to suspend/terminate instances,
    • Restricting users to only few BizTalk applications etc.
    • Restricting users from starting/stopping application artifacts like (send port, receive location, orchestration) and host instances etc.

    BizTalk 360 takes care of all these requirements seamlessly with a full admin panel to control it, and also audit it.

    Topology

    topology-multi-small

    BizTalk server is targeted for enterprise customers, so a typical BizTalk environment will have at least 4 servers (2 BizTalk, 2 SQL) in most of the cases
    to support high availability. It’s vital to know your topology any time without digging through out of sync Visio documents. BizTalk 360 provides a graphical view of your topology dynamically generated from your environment.

    Advanced Event Viewer

    aev-org

    One of the other problem application support people face maintaining BizTalk production environment is probing through various event logs across multiple servers in the group to diagnose problems. This is both time consuming and also a security risk allowing support people to have full access to the servers. BizTalk 360 tackles this issue by providing a centralized event viewer functionality. It understand the topology of the environment, pulls all the event log information and presents it in a central place. The query builder is powerful as shown in the above picture.

    Business Activity Monitoring portal

    image

    BizTalk 360 also comes with a simple BAM portal, which allows users to get to BAM data from a single UI. Users can search for activities, see permission and activities time window. BizTalk 360 utilizes the security mechanism provided by BizTalk BAM infrastructure, hence this will nicely complement your existing BAM investment.

    Host Container View

    image

    BizTalk host is a logical container for various BizTalk artifacts. When it comes to scalability, administrator normally create multiple host and host instances and deploy them in various BizTalk servers.  BizTalk 360 provides a Host Dashboard, which allow users to see what’s running inside the host (host instance) at any point in time. From the above picture you can see it list the orchestrations, send port and receive ports that run inside a particular host.

     

    BizTalk Server Characteristics

    image

    In a typical production BizTalk environment you’ll have 2 or more servers performing various activities like sending, receive, processing and tracking based on your requirements.

    BizTalk 360′s BizTalk Server dashboard provides the characteristics of that server and it clearly shows “how the server is been utilized”. Apart from this the server dash board shows various other things like host instances running in the server, event viewer data, whether its web server etc.

     

    Advanced Windows User/Role based Authorization

    Define your own NT roles and dictate how user can access the environment.

     
    Restrict users/groups to limited applications

    Restrict users/groups to limited applications

    You may want to restrict users to certain application(s) in a shared environment.

     
    Restricted view for certain users/groups

    Restricted view for certain users/groups

    Make the environment look as simple as what’s shown here. Just couple of applications with Topology. It’s fully customizable.

     
    Read-Only Access

    Read-Only Access

    Note there are no buttons to start/stop.. anything in the Send port

     
    Super User View

    Super User View

    Of course super users and user with correct rights can start/stop…

     
    Restriction to resume/terminate instances

    Restriction to resume/terminate instances

    You don’t want all of your support staff to resume/terminate instances. What happens if someone termintated that $1million worth message.

     
    Restricted access to messages

    Restricted access to messages

    Are you dealing with confidential messages (Health record, multi million $$ deals etc), you don’t want all your support people to view it right. Then please restrict it!

     

    Query Service Instances

     
    msg

    Rich Query Builder

    Build your complex queries using the user friendly query builder.

     
    adba_v

    Query Results (with KB)

    See the service instance details with the ability to resume/terminate the instance. A knowledgebase article can be attached any service instance with error code.

     

    adba_v

    Service Instance Details

    Service Detail window will show the complete details of the service instance like error information, messages referenced etc.

     
     
     
    Prepackaged Queries

    Prepackaged Queries

    BizTalk360 comes with a set of useful admin queries out of the box. We will be adding more queries in the upcoming releases.

     
    Add/Modify/View/Delete Custom SQL Queries

    Add/Modify/View/Delete Custom SQL Queries

    Administrators normally keep a bunch of SQL queries in their toolbelt for some of their regular operations. With BizTalk360 they are managed completely within the UI. Only SELECT statements are allowed; the system will reject any other statements like INSERT or UPDATE

     
    Execute SQL Queries within the UI

    Execute SQL Queries within the UI

    Users don’t need to have access to external SQL tools like SQL Management Studio to run the custom queries. They can execute and see results directly from within the UI. This avoids giving rights for the users to various SQL servers.

     
    Permission

    Permission

    Super-user at the flick of a button can either grant or revoke permissions to manage / execute custom SQL queries for users.

       
     

    Contrary to popular beliefs – The SAME skills are used to develop SharePoint On-premise and SharePoint Online Apps

    Taking an on-premise application and deploying it on a Windows Azure Virtual Machine should be straight forward. The majority of modifications required, include changing configurations in order to accommodate differences in the Virtual Machine’s configuration.

    Going to the cloud on a single Virtual Machine is like crossing the ocean on a row boat. You’ll probably get there, but I can’t guarantee anything.

    row boat

    Once you’ve deployed your application to the cloud, things get interesting because you have opportunities that allow you to solidify your application.

    If you are building your application on the Cloud instead of building your application for the Cloud, you’re doing it wrong!

    Taking advantage of services offered on Windows Azure allows you concentrate on creating value for your business. The Windows Azure teams takes care of lots of boring stuff like disaster recovery. To me, build applications for the cloud is equivalent of going from a row boat to a fleet of navy destroyers. (Alright, I may be a little overconfident, but you get the picture.)

    going to war

    Preparing applications to go web scale isn’t a trivial task. Each application is unique and requires different services. You will need to go over your objectives and build accordingly.

    Although the planning phase isn’t trivial, augmenting your applications with cloud services isn’t as complicated as some might think. The Windows Azure teams provide an amazing amount of support materials like hands on labs, tutorials and a rich collection of documentation.

    Architectural Considerations

    Throughout the planning phase of an application on the cloud there are a few architectural strategies that require some extra attention.

    Cloud Design Patterns

    While designing or augmenting cloud based applications, the following patterns should be consider. While this list isn’t complete, it should be used as a starting point.

    For more patterns, take a look at the resources listed at the bottom of this post.

    • Cache-aside Pattern – This is a common technique that we can use to improve the performance and scalability of a cloud solution by temporarily copying frequently accessed data to fast storage located close to the application.
    • Queue-based Load Leveling Pattern – Cloud solutions are submitted to very unpredictable loads and require protection against their own success. By placing queues between clients and the workers who execute tasks, you are protecting yourself against spikes.
    • Competing Consumers Pattern – Enable multiple Cloud Service instances to retrieve messages from the same source.
    • Compute Resource Consolidation Pattern – Consolidate multiple tasks or operations into a single computational unit (Roles, Virtual Machines, Web Sites).
    • Eventual Consistency – Cloud solutions use data that’s dispersed and duplicated across data stores, managing and maintaining data consistency can become a major bottleneck.
    • Leader Election Pattern – A great way to coordinate actions being performed by a group of Cloud Service instances is to elect a leader that can act as the coordinator. This is extremely useful for maintenance tasks and singleton tasks that need fallbacks.
    • Materialized View Pattern – This has got to be one of my favorite cloud patterns. The solutions’ data may not be formatted in a way that favors our query requirements. In order to optimize our queries, it may be desirable to generate pre-populated views whose shapes correspond with our requirements.
    • Pipes and Filters Pattern – We should strive to decompose complex tasks into a series of discrete elements that can be reused.

    Succeeding on the cloud is all about architecture, using the right service for the right reasons. This can be a challenge because cloud platforms are continuously evolving. Windows Azure is currently (Jan 2014) on a 3 week release cycle and it can be quite a challenge for all of us to keep up. Fortunately there are blogs, podcasts and online courses that help us along the way.

    Learn More

    My Subscriptions Alert – New SharePoint 2013 Web Part available

    This web part shows the current logged in user what lists or libraries the user had subscribed for it.

    It will show gold bell icon beside the list name; which means you subscribed for this list.

    If there is silver colour bell beside the list name; this means you didn’t subscribe to this list. To subscribe, you can click the list name, it will popup the “New Alert” SharePoint OOB model dialog.

    Also in this dialog you will have many options of when to receive alerts and on what changes exactly.

    In the Tool Part of the Web Part, user can select the lists on current site that the user have permission to only to see it displayed in the web part to subscribe to it.

    Below is screen shot:

    Contact me at tomas.floyd@outlook.com for more information on this and other custom developed SharePoint Web Parts and Apps

    Building a Cloud Business App: Kudos

    Office 365 is an ideal business app platform providing a core set of services expected in today’s business apps and a central location for installing, discovering, and managing apps. Office 365 makes these business apps available where users already spend their time – in SharePoint and Office.

    Visual Studio 2013 streamlines modern business app development for Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 with the Cloud Business App project. This walkthrough will show how you can build social, touch-centric, cross-platform Office 365 business applications that run well on modern devices.

    What we’re going to build

    In our scenario, let’s say my organization is on Office 365. The company encourages cross-team collaboration and would like to build an app that allows employees to send kudos to fellow employees.

    An employee can find the app on SharePoint. He or she can launch the app on desktop browsers or different mobile devices. The app allows a user to send kudos to a coworker and shows a list of kudos users sent and received.

    Figure 1. The kudos app we will be building in this walkthrough
    Figure 1. The kudos app we will be building in this walkthrough

    Let’s build this app with Cloud Business App!

    Create a Cloud Business App project

    Let’s create a Cloud Business App project. We are creating an app for Office 365, so you can find the Cloud Business App template under Office/SharePoint for both VB and C#. This categorization is based on the language used in the middle tier; the client is HTML and JavaScript.

    Let’s name the project KudosApp and choose OK.

    Figure 2. Create a new Cloud Business App project in Visual Studio     Figure 2. Create a new Cloud Business App project in Visual Studio

    You first need an Office 365 developer site to start building apps for Office/SharePoint. If you don’t have an account for development, you can sign up for free 30-day trial at dev.office.com. If you are a MSDN subscriber, you will receive the subscription as a benefit.

    Enter your SharePoint development site here and choose OK.

    Figure 3. Enter your Office 365 developer site     Figure 3. Enter your Office 365 developer site

    Once created, you will find a Cloud Business App is comprised of four projects in the solution:

    1. Server project, which is a basic ASP.NET project used to add tables and connect to data sources
    2. Standard SharePoint project, which provides a connection to Office 365
    3. HTML client project, a JavaScript project in which you define the UI for your app
    4. A Cloud Business App project, which ties all the other projects together
    Figure 4. Solution Explorer     Figure 4. Solution Explorer

    Define data

    Let’s start by defining the data model for our app. In Cloud Business App, you can create new tables or attach to external data sources such as SQL, Odata, and SharePoint assets. In our scenario, we send and receive kudos, so let’s create a table for kudos. Choose Create new table.

    Figure 5. Add a new table in the Table Design     Figure 5. Add a new table in the Table Designer

    Name the table Kudos and add two fields:

    • KudosTo (Person)
    • Message (String)

    The Table Designer provides a set of business types, such as PhoneNumber, Email, and Person. They include specific validation logic and visualizations both in the tooling and runtime.

    Figure 6. Add some fields in the Table Designer     Figure 6. Add some fields in the Table Designer

    There is a growing trend in integrating social features into modern business applications. Cloud Business App makes it easy by integrating with the SharePoint Newsfeed feature.

    With the title of the Kudos table selected, you can enable social under the Social category in Properties window. Select Post when Created. When a kudos is created, the app will post the activity to Newsfeed.

    Figure 7. Enable Social feature in your a     Figure 7. Enable Social feature in your app

    Create queries

    In our app, we want to show kudos sent by me, as well as the kudos I received. We can create two queries for these. Choose Add Query button in the tool bar of the Table Designer.

    Figure 8. Choose "Query" button to add a custom query for this table     Figure 8. Choose “Query” button to add a custom query for this table

    In Query Designer, name the query KudosSent. We want the query to return all kudos created by me, so let’s filter it by setting CreatedBy equals to Current User. Let’s also sort it by the Created field.

    Figure 9. Customize the query with the Query Designer     Figure 9. Customize the query with the Query Designer

    We will create another query via the context menu of the Kudos table in Solution Explorer.

    Figure 10. Add another query via the context menu     Figure 10. Add another query via the context menu

    This time, we will name the query KudosReceived and filter by setting KudosTo equals Current User.

    Figure 11. Customize another query     Figure 11. Customize another query

    Create a browse screen

    Now that we’ve defined the data model, let’s design the UI for the app. Create a screen via the context menu on Screens node in Solution Explorer.

    Figure 12. Add a screen via the context menu     Figure 12. Add a screen via the context menu

    The Add New Screen dialog box will appear. Cloud Business App provides three screen templates that represent common UI patterns for browsing, viewing, adding, and editing data. Let’s start with a browse screen that shows all kudos sent by me.

    Select Browse Data Screen, name the screen WelcomeToKudos and select KudosSent query as the screen data. Choose OK.

    Figure 13. Create a screen by choosing a screen template     Figure 13. Create a screen by choosing a screen template

    A screen is created for you. In the Screen Designer, you see a Screen Content Tree in the middle that represents the visual elements in the UI. Visual elements are bound to a data on the Data Members List on the left.

    For example, in this screen, we have list visual showing values from the KudosSent data set.

    Figure 14. Your UI elements are laid out in the Screen Designer     Figure 14. Your UI elements are laid out in the Screen Designer

    We can also choose to render the data set as a Table or a Tile List visual. Let’s use Tile List.

    Figure 15. Change the visual control     Figure 15. Change the visual control

    The node under the Tile List indicates what fields will show up in a tile.

    Figure 16. We will display kudos as a tile list     Figure 16. We will display kudos as a tile list

    Since this is a list of kudos sent by me, let’s delete the Created By field. We will also delete the ModifiedBy and Modified fields.

    Figure 17. Customize the tile list     Figure 17. Customize the tile list

    You may have noticed that Cloud Business App automatically created audit fields for you (Created, CreatedBy, Modified, and ModifiedBy). It is a common requirement in business apps, so the tool handles it for you (you can turn it off in the Table Designer).

    In the tile, the Kudos To field is rendered with a Person Viewer control. We can customize what will show up in the Person Viewer via the Properties window. Change the Display Mode to Name with picture and title.

    Figure 18. Customize the look-and-feel of a visual control     Figure 18. Customize the look-and-feel of a visual control

    Let’s also change the font and alignment of the Created field. Select Created. In Properties window, change Font Style to Small and Text Alignment to Right.

    Figure 19. Customize the font and alignment of a visual control     Figure 19. Customize the font and alignment of a visual control

    Create an add screen

    We have a list of kudos sent by me. Let’s create some UI to add kudos. In WelcomeToKudos screen, add a button in the Command Bar.

    Figure 20. Add a button to the screen     Figure 20. Add a button to the screen

    The Add Button dialog box will appear.

    Figure 21. Add Button dialog box     Figure 21. Add Button dialog box

    You can write your own method for this button using JavaScript code or, in our case, we can select from a set of commonly used features. In the Choose an existing method dropdown menu, select KudosSent.addAndEditNew.

    We are saying that, when the button is chosen, we will add a new record to the KudosSent data set via a new screen we are about to create. Choose OK.

    Figure 22. Choose an existing method     Figure 22. Choose an existing method

    The tool will guide us to create a new screen for adding a kudos. Name the screen SendKudos and choose OK.

    Figure 23. Create a screen to add a kudo     Figure 23. Create a screen to add a kudo

    A new screen (SendKudos) is now created.

    Figure 24. New screen created in the Screen Designer     Figure 24. New screen created in the Screen Designer

    Let’s check what we’ve got so far! Press F5 to run the app.

    Figure 25. Run the application     Figure 25. Run the application

    We have an empty list and an add button on the screen. Let’s add a kudos. Choose Add Kudos. The Send Kudos screen (rendered as a dialog box) will appear.

    Figure 26. UI to add a kudo     Figure 26. UI to add a kudo

    Note that all layouts adapt well to different form factors. Resizing the browser window gives you an idea of how the app looks on a phone or tablet. Everything is optimized for touch, but works equally well on a desktop browser using keyboard and mouse.

    Figure 27. App in a small form factor     Figure 27. App in a small form factor

    Customize the UI while running in the browser

    In the Send Kudos dialog box, Message is rendered as a text box. We want to change it to a text area. Also, since we only have two fields in the screen, we don’t need to show two columns in bigger form factors. For these types of UI tweaks on the screen, I can quickly make these changes without closing the browser and press F5 again.

    Go back to the designer (without closing the browser) and change the Message fields to use Text Area control.

    Figure 28. Customize the UI in Visual Studio while the app is running     Figure 28. Customize the UI in Visual Studio while the app is running

    Let’s also change the KudosTo display mode to show picture and title.

    Figure 29. Customize the visual control     Figure 29. Customize the visual control

    Now, let’s remove the columns. Drag Kudos To and Message out of the columns layout, then delete columns layout.

    Figure 30. Customize the UI layout     Figure 30. Customize the UI layout

    Choose Save All in the designer and refresh the browser. Choose Add Kudos again. All the UI changes are now reflected in the app. This provides an efficient iterative design experience.

    Let’s add a Kudos. The Kudos To value can be selected using an auto-complete text box based on Active Directory.

    Figure 31. Choose a person from the auto complete text box     Figure 31. Choose a person from the auto complete text box

    Choose Save and the newly added kudos will appear in the list.

    Figure 32. A kudo is created in the app     Figure 32. A kudo is created in the app

    Notice, you can see additional Office 365 integration here. When you hover your mouse over the person, it shows presence information. You can send an IM, e-mail, or schedule a meeting right here.

    Figure 33. Presence information inside of the tile     Figure 33. Presence information inside of the tile

    Create a screen tab

    Now we have a list of kudos sent by me. Let’s also add a list of kudos I received. We can show the two lists on the same screen using two different screen tabs.

    Close the browser and return to Visual Studio. Open the WelcomeToKudos screen. Notice our tile list is currently under a screen tab called Kudos List. By default, every screen has one screen tab. The tab UI will not show in the app unless you have more than one screen tab.

    Figure 34. By default, there is one screen tab in the screen     Figure 34. By default, there is one screen tab in the screen

    Let’s add another screen tab. Choose the Tabs node and select Add Tab.

    Figure 35. Add a new screen tab     Figure 35. Add a new screen tab

    A new screen tab is now added.

    Figure 36. New screen tab is created     Figure 36. New screen tab is created

    In Properties window, change the Display Name of first screen tab to Kudos Sent and the second screen tab to Kudos Received.

    Figure 37. Change the display name of the screen tabs     Figure 37. Change the display name of the screen tabs

    Add new data to the screen

    Now, we need to add the list of kudos I received under the newly created screen tab. Recall we created a KudosReceived query earlier. Let’s include that query on the screen. Choose Add Data Item button in the toolbar.

    Figure 38. Add a data member to the screen     Figure 38. Add a data member to the screen

    In the Add Data Item dialog box, select KudosReceived and choose OK.

    Figure 39. Select a data member to add to the screen     Figure 39. Select a data member to add to the screen

    The query now appears in the Data Members List.

    Figure 40. A new data member is added to the sc     Figure 40. A new data member is added to the screen

    Drag the query under the second screen tab on the Screen Content Tree.

    Figure 41. Create UI for the newly added data member     Figure 41. Create UI for the newly added data member

    Like we did with the first list, let’s change the Kudos Received list to a Tile List. Customize the tile to show only Created By, Message, and Created.

    Figure 42. Customize the tile list     Figure 42. Customize the tile list

    Press F5 again to see the changes. Now, there are two screen tabs on the screen.

    Figure 43. App displays 2 screen tabs     Figure 43. App displays 2 screen tabs

    If you send a kudos to yourself, you will see it in the second screen tab.

    Figure 44. Kudos Received tab shows all kudos created by the current user     Figure 44. Kudos Received tab shows all kudos created by the current user

    Remember when we created the Kudos table, we enabled the social feature. Now, if we open the Newsfeed page, we will see some posts by the app.

    Write business logic

    So far, we have a completely functional app now without writing a single line of code!

    Cloud Business App lets you focus your energy on the unique value of the app: the business logic. Let’s say we don’t want you to be able to send kudos to yourself and we want to write some validation logic for that.

    Open the Kudos table. Business logic is written on the middle tier, which is represented by the server project in your solution. The Table Designer provides you with entry points into the data pipeline of your app.

    Open the Write Code dropdown menu in the tool bar, you will find a list of code entry points for business logic. Choose KudosSet_Validate.

    Figure 45. Entry points for writing business logic     Figure 45. Entry points for writing business logic

    It will take you to the code entry point in the Code Editor.

    Figure 46. Write validation logic     Figure 46. Write validation logic

    Write the following code.

    if (entity.KudosTo == Application.Current.User.Email)
    {
      results.AddPropertyError("You cannot send kudos to yourself", 
      entity.Details.Properties.KudosTo);
    }

    Now, run the app and try to send a kudos to yourself. You will get the validation error.

    Figure 47. Validation logic is invoked in the running app   Figure 47. Validation logic is invoked in the running app

    Publish the app

    Finally, when I’m ready to publish this app to my organization, I can choose the Cloud Business App project and select Publish. I can follow the Publish Wizard to step through different deployment options.

    Figure 48. Publish your app   Figure 48. Publish your app

    The app is in the app catalog and can be installed on one or more sites for people to use.

    Figure 49. The app is published to the app catalog   Figure 49. The app is published to the app catalog

    Conclusion

    To summarize, you saw a highly productive experience for defining data and screens that enable you to quickly get an app up and running. The app has a professional looking UI that blends with SharePoint and is integrated with a set of Office 365 services. This allows you to focus on your business logic and get more done.

    To learn more about Cloud Business Apps, visit Apps for Office and SharePoint Dev Center and Cloud Business Apps on MSDN.

    New “Spotlight On” Web Part Released and Available!!

    The “Spotlight On..” Web Part selects a random entry from the specified Sharepoint Library and displays a picture, a title and an abstract of the selected person or item.
    The Web Part can be used with Windows Sharepoint Services V3, MOSS 2007, Sharepoint 2010 and Sharepoint 2013.You can configure the following web part properties:

    • the Sharepoint Library
    • the List fields corresponding to the picture, title, abstract and detail link
    • enable or suppress the “Details..” URL.
    • show a new entry every day or on every page refresh

    This allows you to display random data contained in any Sharepoint List by specifying the desired Sharepoint List name and the desired list column names.

    Image

    Image

     Instructions:

    1. download the Spotlight On Web Part Installation Instructions (PDF file, see above)
    2. either install the web part manually or deploy the feature to your server/farm as described in the instructions.
    3. Create a new Sharepoint Picture Library if you do not intend to use an existing Picture Library.
      If you decide to create a new Sharepoint list to store the Spotlight entries, create a new Sharepoint Picture Library anywhere in the Sharepoint site collection (the web part is able to access any picture library within the site collection).
      The list needs the following columns to hold the entries:
      – Title
      – Abstract
      – optional Detail Link URL
    1. You also can use a Sharepoint List (as opposed to a picture library). In this case please add the pictures as list attachments.
    2. Configure the following relevant Web Part properties in the Web Part Editor “Miscellaneous” pane section as needed:
      • Site Name: Enter the name of the site that contains the Spotlight Picture Library:
        – leave this field empty if the Library is in the current site (eg. the Web Part is placed in the same site)
        – Enter a “/” character if the Library is contained in the top site
        – Enter a path if the Library is in a subsite of the current site (eg. in the form of “current site/subsite”)
      • List Name: Enter the desired Sharepoint Picture Library
      • View Name: Optionally enter the desired List View of the list specified above. A List View allows you to specify specific data filtering and sorting.
        Leave this field empty if you want to use the List default view.
      • Title Field Name: Enter the desired Library Column name that contains the titles (Default=”Title”)
      • Abstract Field Name: Enter the desired Library Column name that contains the abstracts (Default=”Abstract”)

      Image

    You can alternatively specify a “Field Template” by entering the desired Library fields (surrounded by curly braces). You can specify HTML tags and CSS styles to freely format the text.
    Example:

    <strong>{JobTitle}</strong>
    <br>{Description}

    5px; margin-top:5px; background-color:orange”>

    <strong>Schools:</strong><br>
    {Bio}
    </div>

    Image
    • The above example assumes that the Sharepoint Library includes a “JobTitle”, a “Description” and a “Bio” column.
    • Details URL Field Name: (optional) Enter the desired Library Column name that contains the Detail page links (Default=”DetailURL”). Leave this field empty if you don’t want to provide a detail link.
      If you want to automatically link to the corresponding Sharepoint List Detail View page, enter the keyword “DetailView” into this field.
      If you want to automatically link to the corresponding user’s “MySite” page, enter the keyword “MySite” into this field.
    • Open Details Link in new window: opens the link in a new browser window.
    • Details Caption: allows to localize the “Details..” link displayed in the lower right part of the web part (if a “Details” link is specified).
    • Text Layout: specify the placing of the Text with respect to the Image:
      – Right
      – Wrap
      – Bottom
      – Left
      – WrapLeft
    • Image Height: specify the image height in pixels. Enter “0” if you want to use the default picture size.
    • Default User Image: (optional) specify a default user picture (if there is no user picture available) by entering a relative URL to the image
    • Example:
      /yoursite/yourPictureLibrary/yourDefaultUser.jpg
    • Title CSS Style: enter optional CSS styles to format the Title (default: bold)
    • Text CSS Style:  enter optional CSS styles to format the Body Text (default: none)
    • Background Color (optional):  To set the desired Web Part Background color, enter either a HTML color name (as eg. “yellow”) or a hexadecimal RGB color value (as eg. “#ffcc33”). Leave this field empty if you don’t want to use a specific background color.
    • Show new Entry: shows a new entry depending on the below setting:
      – always (a new entry is displayed on every page refresh)
      – every Day
      – every Week
      – every Month
      – top Entry (the most recently added entry unless a View is used with a specific custom sorting order)
    • Show specific Entry: optionally enter the List ID of the List Item to be displayed.
    • Nbr. of Items to show: optionally enter two ore more items to be displayed side by side:
    • Center Web Part: horizontally centers the Web Part within the available space.
    • License Key: enter your Product License Key (as supplied after purchase of the “Spotlight On Web Part” license key).
      Leave this field empty if you are using the free 30 day evaluation version. You can check the evaluation period via the web part configuration pane.

    Image

    Contact me now on tomas.floyd@outlook.com to get o trial/copy of this Web Part (Also available as an Apo)

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    Profile synchronization guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Remote BLOB storage for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Upgrading to SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Getting Started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 1
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 2
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    Planning guide for server farms and environments for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    XPS
    DOC
    Capacity planning for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    XPS
    DOC
    5 Tips for a Smooth SSIS Upgrade to SQL Server 2012
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    A Hitchiker’s Guide to Microsoft StreamInsight Queries
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Data Mining Extensions (DMX) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Data Quality Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    High Availability Solutions
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Master Data Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Monitor and Tune for Performance
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server Distributed Replay
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Transact-SQL Data Definition Language (DDL) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    XQuery Language Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Extracting and Loading SharePoint Data in SQL Server Integration Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Integration Services: Extending Packages with Scripting
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Multidimensional Model Programming
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Optimized Bulk Loading of Data into Oracle
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Planning Disaster Recovery for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated Mode
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Reporting Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Writing Transact-SQL Statements
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server Community FAQs Manual
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Tabular Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Transact-SQL Data Manipulation Language (DML) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    QuickStart: Learn DAX Basics in 30 Minutes
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Data Mining
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional Performance and Operations Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Technical Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Backup and Restore of SQL Server Databases
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Multidimensional Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Master Data Services Capacity Guidelines
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit Cmdlet Reference for App Controller in System Center 2012 SP1
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Technical Documentation for System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Upgrade Team Foundation Server 2012: the ultimate upgrade guide
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Better Unit Testing with Microsoft Fakes
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Dependency Injection with Unity
    PDF
    Developer’s Guide to Microsoft Enterprise Library (Second Edition)
    PDF
    Testing for Continuous Delivery with Visual Studio 2012
    PDF
    ASP.NET Multi-Tier Windows Azure Application Using Storage Tables, Queues, and Blobs
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    ASP.NET Web Deployment using Visual Studio
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Developing Modern Mobile Web Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    The Entity Framework 4.0 and ASP.NET Web Forms – Getting Started
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Getting Started with the Entity Framework 4.1 using ASP.NET MVC
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Project Silk: Client-Side Web Development for Modern Browsers
    PDF
    Moving Applications to the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Windows Azure Prescriptive Guidance
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Windows Azure Service Bus Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Intro to ASP.NET MVC 4 with Visual Studio (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deploying an ASP.NET Web Application to a Hosting Provider using Visual Studio
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Getting Started with ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing ASP.NET Web Pages 2
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Own Your Future
    PDF
    XPS
    Developing an Advanced Windows Phone 7.5 App that Connects to the Cloud Developing Applications for the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    Autoscaling Application Block and Transient Fault Handling Application Block Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Create Your First Application: Node.js and Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Developing Multi-tenant Applications for the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
    PDF
    Drupal on Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Exploring CQRS and Event Sourcing: A journey into high scalability, availability, and maintainability with Windows Azure
    PDF
    Migrating Data-Centric Applications to Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Moving Applications to the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your iOS Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Phone 8 Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your Windows Store Apps in C#
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Store Apps in JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Windows Azure and SQL Database Tutorials
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Building Hybrid Applications in the Cloud on Windows Azure Building Elastic and Resilient Cloud Applications – Developer’s Guide to the Enterprise Library 5.0 Integration Pack for Windows Azure
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deployment guide for Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP Server 2.0 Preview Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Guides: Financials
    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 User’s Guide Dynamics CRM 2011 Developer Training Kit Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Implementation Guide Digital Storytelling
    Free Tools in the Classroom Windows Live Movie Maker in the Classroom Windows 7 in the Classroom Microsoft Office Web Apps Teaching Guide
    Microsoft Office in the Classroom Developing Critical Thinking through Web Research Skills Bing in the Classroom A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control, Second Edition
    PDF
    Introducing Windows Server 2012
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    TCP/IP Fundamentals for Microsoft Windows
    PDF
    Understanding Microsoft Virtualization R2 Solutions
    PDF
    XPS
    Introducing Windows Server 2012 – RTM Edition!
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
    PDF
    XPS
    Lync for Mac 2011 Deployment Guide Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit Tools
    Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Security Guide Developing Applications for the Cloud – 2nd Edition Visual Studio LightSwitch Training Kit
    “Own Your Space–Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online” Digital Book for Teens

    Once again, thank you to all of you for sharing this information with others to let them know about these resources being made available to them from Microsoft, absolutely FREE! Please continue to share these with others so they too can have access to this information to help them as they travel down their path of learning and knowledge in the computer field. I’m sure I will be putting future collections of eBooks up here on the blog as I come across more and compile further lists, so be sure you are subscribed to the blog and following me online through my variety of social media entities, including through my Microsoft Info Partner Windows Phone mobile app that brings you the latest Microsoft information directly from our teams here at Microsoft. Also, if you’re heading to Worldwide Partner Conference this year, be sure to come up, introduce yourself (if we haven’t met before), or say Hi (if we have met) and join in on becoming part of the Fantastic People of WPC13 that I will be compiling this year.

    Did you find this information helpful? If so, you may want to make sure you are utilizing all of the areas I share information online, such as:

    Get the Microsoft Info Partner Mobile App and get access to the latest from all of those plus: product teams, MPN teams, Microsoft News and hundreds more resources here at Microsoft right on your phone:

    image

    New Update for Microsoft AppFabric!

    Microsoft releases cumulative update (CU) packages for Windows Server AppFabric 1.1 from time to time.

    Each cumulative update package contains all of the fixes that were released in previous update packages. At the time of this posting there are four cumulative update packages that have been released:

    Cumulative update package 1 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server
    Cumulative update package 2 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server
    Cumulative update package 3 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server
    Cumulative update package 4 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server

    These are the AppFabric 1.1 cache dll versions Microsoft has released:

    RTM: 1.0.4632 (29-Nov-2011)
    CU1: 1.0.4639 (20-Feb-2012)
    CU2: 1.0.4644 (29-May-12)
    CU3: 1.0.4652.2 (27-Nov-2012)
    CU4: 1.0.4653.2 (28-Mar-2013)

    <

    p>CU3 and later versions including CU4 require .NET 4.5 on cache servers as documented on the KBs. However .NET 4.5 is not a prerequisite on cache clients to use client binaries in CU3 or a later version.

    You can search for AppFabric cumulative update packages at http://support.microsoft.com for the phrase (including the quotes): 

    “cumulative update package” appfabric

    Windows Server AppFabric Cache Administration Tool

    This update adds improved PowerShell cmdlets for AppFabric cache management.

    This update introduces new set of AppFabric Server PowerShell cmdlets to make it consistent with other Microsoft server products and keeps the older cmdlets enabled as aliases to make sure that existing scripts continue to function.

    After you apply this update, when you open the AppFabric Server PowerShell prompt, PowerShell may prompt you for permissions to run a script if your existing Execution Policy prevents it. To use the AppFabric PowerShell cmdlets, you have to enable running of signed scripts.

    Cache Clients and Local Cache (Windows Server AppFabric Caching)

    This update fixes an issue where items in a local cache may not expire because of a defined policy.

    Because of a race condition, some objects in a local cache may not expire as expected. Therefore, a client may potentially receive data that is not up to date.

    GetCache() API for Windows Server AppFabric Cache

    This update fixes an issue where the GetCache() method may fail with the “An item with the same key has already been added” System.ArgumentException.

    You receive the following exception message when you call the GetCache() method:

    System.ArgumentException: An item with the same key has already been added.

    at System.ThrowHelper.ThrowArgumentException(ExceptionResource resource)

    at System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary`2.Insert(TKey key, TValue value, Boolean add)

    at System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary`2.Add(TKey key, TValue value)

    at Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.RoutingClientDrmUtility.AddCacheDRM(String cacheName, DRM drm) in d:\bt\9383251\private\src\core\drm\DRMUtility.cs:line 39

    at Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.DataCacheFactory.CreateRoutingClient(String cacheName, NamedCacheConfiguration config, IClientProtocol protocol, CacheLookupTableTransfer initialLookupTable, SimpleSendReceiveModule sendRcvModule) in d:\bt\9383251\private\src\client\CacheFactory.cs:line 412

    at Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.DataCacheFactory.CreateNewCacheClient(DataCacheDeploymentMode mode, String cacheName, NamedCacheConfiguration config, IClientProtocol protocol, CacheLookupTableTransfer initialLookupTable, SimpleSendReceiveModule tempModule) in d:\bt\9383251\private\src\client\CacheFactory.cs:line 312

    at Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.DataCacheFactory.GetCache(String cacheName) in d:\bt\9383251\private\src\client\CacheFactory.cs:line 234

    Known issue with Cumulative Update for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server

    Important This update applies to the caching functionality of AppFabric 1.1 only. We recommend that you install the update only on servers that are running the AppFabric cache or that are using the AppFabric cache client.

    Issue

    After you install the update, the AppFabric Configuration Wizard incorrectly reports the status of the Persistence and Monitoring configuration as “Not configured.” Additionally, the user interface status is incorrect.

    To verify that the services are running, follow these steps:

    1. Open the Powershell administration console.
    2. Run the Get-ASAppMonitoring –Root command to verify the configuration of the state.
    3. Run the Get-ASAppInstanceStore –Root command to verify the instance store connection strings.

    This issue can safely be ignored as it does not affect the functionality of either AppFabric Hosting Services or the services that are hosted by AppFabric Hosting Services.

    How to obtain Cumulative update package 1 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server

    Cumulative update package information

    The following file is available for download from the Microsoft Download Center:

    Download

    Download the cumulative update package now.
    For more information about how to download Microsoft support files, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    119591 How to obtain Microsoft support files from online services

    Microsoft scanned this file for viruses. Microsoft used the most current virus-detection software that was available on the date that the file was posted. The file is stored on security-enhanced servers that help prevent any unauthorized changes to the file.

    Prerequisites

    To apply this cumulative update package, you must have Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server installed.

    Restart requirement

    You may have to restart the computer after you apply this cumulative update package.

    File information

    The English version of this cumulative update package has the file attributes (or later file attributes) that are listed in the following table. The dates and times for these files are listed in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). When you view the file information, it is converted to local time. To find the difference between UTC and local time, use the Time Zone tab in the Date and Time item in Control Panel.

    For all supported x86-based versions of Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server
    File name File version File size Date Time Platform
    distributedcacheadministration.psm1 Not applicable 13,573 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    distributedcacheadministration.psd1 Not applicable 915 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    distributedcacheconfiguration.psm1 Not applicable 11,490 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    distributedcacheconfiguration.psd1 Not applicable 590 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    microsoft.applicationserver.caching.configuration.dll-help.xml Not applicable 70,762 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    microsoft.applicationserver.caching.managementps.dll-help.xml Not applicable 176,671 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    setup.exe.config Not applicable 235 20-Feb-2012 16:24 Not applicable
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.client.dll 1.0.4639.0 178,072 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.configuration.dll 1.0.4639.0 92,072 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.configuration.resources.dll 1.0.4639.0 16,832 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.core.dll 1.0.4639.0 837,520 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.managementps.dll 1.0.4639.0 83,880 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.server.dll 1.0.4639.0 444,312 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.configuration.exe 1.1.2112.2 714,648 20-Feb-2012 16:24 x86
    For all supported x64-based versions of Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server
    File name File version File size Date Time Platform
    distributedcacheadministration.psm1 Not applicable 13,573 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    distributedcacheadministration.psd1 Not applicable 915 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    distributedcacheconfiguration.psm1 Not applicable 11,490 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    distributedcacheconfiguration.psd1 Not applicable 590 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    microsoft.applicationserver.caching.configuration.dll-help.xml Not applicable 70,762 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    microsoft.applicationserver.caching.managementps.dll-help.xml Not applicable 176,671 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    setup.exe.config Not applicable 235 20-Feb-2012 16:28 Not applicable
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.client.dll 1.0.4639.0 178,072 20-Feb-2012 16:28 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.configuration.dll 1.0.4639.0 92,072 20-Feb-2012 16:28 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.configuration.resources.dll 1.0.4639.0 16,832 20-Feb-2012 16:28 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.core.dll 1.0.4639.0 837,520 20-Feb-2012 16:28 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.managementps.dll 1.0.4639.0 83,880 20-Feb-2012 16:28 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.caching.server.dll 1.0.4639.0 444,312 20-Feb-2012 16:28 x86
    Microsoft.applicationserver.configuration.exe 1.1.211

    150 FREE Microsoft eBooks, covering Windows 7, Windows 8, Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 365, Office Web Apps, Windows Server 2012, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Server 2013, Azure

    FREE!

    Now there’s a word that everyone can get excited about, right? Well, after looking at the results of the three “Free Microsoft eBooks” posts I have shared here this fiscal year (Microsoft’s fiscal year is July 1 – June 30), it is amazing to see the excitement that has come about from them and the incredible amount of downloads that have taken place to date!

    Today, I am happy to share some fantastic news and some information I have been asked for that you said would be helpful for you:

    Here’s the list of the Top 50 FREE Microsoft eBooks downloaded so far:

    Windows 7 Power Users GuidePDF Introducing Windows Server 2012 – RTM Edition!
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Programming Windows Phone 7
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
    PDF
    XPS
    Get started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Office 365 – Connect and Collaborate virtually anywhere, anytime
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Understanding Microsoft Virtualization R2 Solutions
    PDF
    XPS
    Microsoft Office 2010 First Look
    PDF
    XPS
    Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
    VS2005 PDF
    VS2005 XPS
    VS2008 PDF
    VS2008 XPS
    Getting started with
    Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT Professionals
    PDF
    MOBI
    DOC
    XPS
    Intro to ASP.NET MVC 4 with Visual Studio (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    Programming Windows Phone 7 (Special Excerpt 2)
    PDF
    Transact-SQL Data Manipulation Language (DML) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Tabular Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Backup and Restore of SQL Server Databases
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Data Mining
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deploying Windows 7 Essential Guidance
    PDF
    Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Own Your Future
    PDF
    XPS
    Moving Applications to the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Multidimensional Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional Performance and Operations Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deployment guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    QuickStart: Learn DAX Basics in 30 Minutes
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Getting Started with ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing ASP.NET Web Pages 2
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses: Help and How To
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deploying an ASP.NET Web Application to a Hosting Provider using Visual Studio
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Technical Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Business continuity management for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Master Data Services Capacity Guidelines
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Configure Kerberos Authentication for SharePoint 2010 Products
    DOCX
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deployment guide for Office 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Developer Training KitPDF Technical reference for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS
    Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Developing Applications for the Cloud, 2nd EditionPDF Governance guide for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support (Windows 7)
    PDF
    XPS
    Programming Windows 8 Apps 2nd Preview
    PDF
    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 1
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    Welcome to Windows 7PDF Explore SharePoint 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Profile synchronization guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Operations guide for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS

    5) The other thing I have been asked many times is, “Do you have one single post with all of the eBooks listed so we can go through them instead of bouncing between the three different posts?” The answer to that has been No to date; however, I figured that since I was pulling together all of the stats last night, I could pull together the books into a single list as well. As such, here they are, almost 150 completely FREE Microsoft eBooks for you to download and use: (NOTE: If you don’t see a list of links below the book image, it is because it is only available in one format. Just click on the image and your download will begin)

    Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Programming Windows Phone 7
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Programming Windows Phone 7 (Special Excerpt 2)
    PDF
    Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
    VS2005 PDF
    VS2005 XPS
    VS2008 PDF
    VS2008 XPS
    Windows 7 Power Users Guide Deploying Windows 7 Essential Guidance
    PDF
    Welcome to Windows 7 What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support (Windows 7)
    PDF
    XPS
    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring 1.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 7
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 1.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Developing an end-to-end Windows Store app using C++ and XAML: Hilo
    PDF
    Developing an end-to-end Windows Store app using JavaScript: Hilo
    PDF
    Prism for the Windows Runtime: Developing a Windows Store business app using C#, XAML, and Prism
    PDF
    Office 365 – Connect and Collaborate virtually anywhere, anytime
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft Office 2010 First Look
    PDF
    XPS
    Deployment guide for Office 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses: Help and How To
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Getting started with
    Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT Professionals
    PDF
    MOBI
    DOC
    XPS
    Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Planning guide for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS
    Deployment guide for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS
    Deployment guide for Office 2013 Preview Office 2010 Developer Training Kit Office 365 Developer Training Kit Office 365 Guides for professionals and small businesses
    Technical reference for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS
    Business continuity management for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deployment guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Get started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Explore SharePoint 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Deployment guide for SharePoint 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Test Lab Guide: eBook for SharePoint Server 2013 Intranet and Team Sites
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    DOC
    Create a Balanced Scorecard (SharePoint Server 2010)
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SharePoint Server for Business Intelligence
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Deployment guide for SharePoint 2013 Preview Getting started with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    Governance guide for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Profile synchronization guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Remote BLOB storage for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Upgrading to SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Getting Started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 1
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 2
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    Planning guide for server farms and environments for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    XPS
    DOC
    Capacity planning for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    XPS
    DOC
    5 Tips for a Smooth SSIS Upgrade to SQL Server 2012
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    A Hitchiker’s Guide to Microsoft StreamInsight Queries
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Data Mining Extensions (DMX) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Data Quality Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    High Availability Solutions
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Master Data Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Monitor and Tune for Performance
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server Distributed Replay
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Transact-SQL Data Definition Language (DDL) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    XQuery Language Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Extracting and Loading SharePoint Data in SQL Server Integration Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Integration Services: Extending Packages with Scripting
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Multidimensional Model Programming
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Optimized Bulk Loading of Data into Oracle
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Planning Disaster Recovery for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated Mode
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Reporting Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Writing Transact-SQL Statements
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server Community FAQs Manual
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Tabular Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Transact-SQL Data Manipulation Language (DML) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    QuickStart: Learn DAX Basics in 30 Minutes
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Data Mining
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional Performance and Operations Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Technical Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Backup and Restore of SQL Server Databases
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Multidimensional Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Master Data Services Capacity Guidelines
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit Cmdlet Reference for App Controller in System Center 2012 SP1
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Technical Documentation for System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Upgrade Team Foundation Server 2012: the ultimate upgrade guide
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Better Unit Testing with Microsoft Fakes
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Dependency Injection with Unity
    PDF
    Developer’s Guide to Microsoft Enterprise Library (Second Edition)
    PDF
    Testing for Continuous Delivery with Visual Studio 2012
    PDF
    ASP.NET Multi-Tier Windows Azure Application Using Storage Tables, Queues, and Blobs
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    ASP.NET Web Deployment using Visual Studio
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Developing Modern Mobile Web Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    The Entity Framework 4.0 and ASP.NET Web Forms – Getting Started
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Getting Started with the Entity Framework 4.1 using ASP.NET MVC
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Project Silk: Client-Side Web Development for Modern Browsers
    PDF
    Moving Applications to the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Windows Azure Prescriptive Guidance
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Windows Azure Service Bus Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Intro to ASP.NET MVC 4 with Visual Studio (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deploying an ASP.NET Web Application to a Hosting Provider using Visual Studio
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Getting Started with ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing ASP.NET Web Pages 2
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Own Your Future
    PDF
    XPS
    Developing an Advanced Windows Phone 7.5 App that Connects to the Cloud Developing Applications for the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    Autoscaling Application Block and Transient Fault Handling Application Block Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Create Your First Application: Node.js and Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Developing Multi-tenant Applications for the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
    PDF
    Drupal on Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Exploring CQRS and Event Sourcing: A journey into high scalability, availability, and maintainability with Windows Azure
    PDF
    Migrating Data-Centric Applications to Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Moving Applications to the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your iOS Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Phone 8 Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your Windows Store Apps in C#
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Store Apps in JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Windows Azure and SQL Database Tutorials
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    Building Hybrid Applications in the Cloud on Windows Azure Building Elastic and Resilient Cloud Applications – Developer’s Guide to the Enterprise Library 5.0 Integration Pack for Windows Azure
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Deployment guide for Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP Server 2.0 Preview Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Guides: Financials
    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 User’s Guide Dynamics CRM 2011 Developer Training Kit Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Implementation Guide Digital Storytelling
    Free Tools in the Classroom Windows Live Movie Maker in the Classroom Windows 7 in the Classroom Microsoft Office Web Apps Teaching Guide
    Microsoft Office in the Classroom Developing Critical Thinking through Web Research Skills Bing in the Classroom A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control, Second Edition
    PDF
    Introducing Windows Server 2012
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    TCP/IP Fundamentals for Microsoft Windows
    PDF
    Understanding Microsoft Virtualization R2 Solutions
    PDF
    XPS
    Introducing Windows Server 2012 – RTM Edition!
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI
    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
    PDF
    XPS
    Lync for Mac 2011 Deployment Guide Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit Tools
    Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Security Guide Developing Applications for the Cloud – 2nd Edition Visual Studio LightSwitch Training Kit
    “Own Your Space–Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online” Digital Book for Teens

    Once again, thank you to all of you for sharing this information with others to let them know about these resources being made available to them from Microsoft, absolutely FREE! Please continue to share these with others so they too can have access to this information to help them as they travel down their path of learning and knowledge in the computer field. I’m sure I will be putting future collections of eBooks up here on the blog as I come across more and compile further lists, so be sure you are subscribed to the blog and following me online through my variety of social media entities, including through my Microsoft Info Partner Windows Phone mobile app that brings you the latest Microsoft information directly from our teams here at Microsoft. Also, if you’re heading to Worldwide Partner Conference this year, be sure to come up, introduce yourself (if we haven’t met before), or say Hi (if we have met) and join in on becoming part of the Fantastic People of WPC13 that I will be compiling this year.

    Did you find this information helpful? If so, you may want to make sure you are utilizing all of the areas I share information online, such as:

    Get the Microsoft Info Partner Mobile App and get access to the latest from all of those plus: product teams, MPN teams, Microsoft News and hundreds more resources here at Microsoft right on your phone:

    Almost 150 FREE Microsoft eBooks, covering Windows 7, Windows 8, Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 365, Office Web Apps, Windows Server 2012, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Server 2013,

    FREE! Now there’s a word that everyone can get excited about, right? Well, after looking at the results of the three “Free Microsoft eBooks” posts I have shared here this fiscal year (Microsoft’s fiscal year is July 1 – June 30), it is amazing to see the excitement that has come about from them and the incredible amount of downloads that have taken place to date! Just last week, I put up the third post in the series of Free Microsoft eBooks giveaways this fiscal year and said that I wanted to give away 1,000,000 FREE downloads of the Microsoft eBooks. I’ll admit, some people thought I was crazy to put up a target as large as 1,000,000, but I had faith in my blog readers and social media followers to help spread the word and share the excitement about the offer.

    Today, I am happy to share some fantastic news and some information I have been asked for that you said would be helpful for you:

    1) I am happy to announce that we have reached the 1,000,000 FREE download mark for the Microsoft eBooks since my post went live last week! Thank you to all of you for helping spread the word and let others know about this offer.

    2) I went back and looked at how we’re doing on the downloads of all of the eBooks from my three FREE Microsoft eBooks posts this fiscal year, and I am happy to share that we have now exceeded the 3,500,000 FREE downloads mark for the almost 150 Microsoft eBooks included in my posts since they went live! It only seemed fitting that we hit the 1,000,000 mark for last week’s post in the same 24 hour period that we exceeded the 3,500,000 mark all up for the giveaways. Again, thank you to all of you for sharing these offers this year!

    3) I have been asked if once we hit the 1,000,000 FREE download mark if the offer to download the books would expire. The answer is, “No, please keep downloading the books and sharing these links with your peers, counterparts, and anyone else you think could benefit from them!”

    4) Several people have asked me, “Do you have a list of the most popular eBooks being downloaded out of the ones you’ve shared?” Well, I hadn’t tallied up the list and shared anything prior to today; however, since I’ve received the ask enough times and was looking at the numbers last night, I thought I would share with you the top 50 FREE Microsoft eBooks in order, in terms of number of downloads to date since I posted about them, so you can see what they are (and make sure you have them if you don’t already). Now, something to keep in mind as you look at this list of the top 50 below, remember that two of my posts went live last July and the third one just went up last week. I call this out because the ones that have been posted since last July have obviously had more time to be downloaded, so the numbers will be skewed a little just based on that. An interesting thing I found while compiling this list of the top 50 though was, there are actually four of them that are from my post last week! That’s VERY impressive to see the download numbers grow that fast for these items in just over week to overcome 11 months worth of download time for the others. The four from last week that are flying up the charts are:

    • Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses: Help and How To
    • Deployment guide for Office 2013
    • Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    • Explore SharePoint 2013

    So if you want to glean some insights into what’s hot right now and on top of people’s minds, it’s Office 365, Office 2013, Windows 8 (and app development for it), and SharePoint 2013. When you compare that list to the rest in the top 50, you see lots of interest in these topics, plus Windows Server, SQL Server, Microsoft Virtualization and Windows Phone, just to name a few. So, are you up to speed on these hot topics? If not, why not grab some FREE eBooks and get going?

    Here’s the list of the Top 50 FREE Microsoft eBooks downloaded so far:

       

    Windows 7 Power Users Guide

    PDF

    Introducing Windows Server 2012 – RTM Edition!
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Programming Windows Phone 7
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
    PDF
    XPS

    Get started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Office 365 – Connect and Collaborate virtually anywhere, anytime
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Understanding Microsoft Virtualization R2 Solutions
    PDF
    XPS

    Microsoft Office 2010 First Look
    PDF
    XPS

    Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
    VS2005 PDF
    VS2005 XPS
    VS2008 PDF
    VS2008 XPS

    Getting started with
    Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT Professionals
    PDF
    MOBI
    DOC
    XPS

    Intro to ASP.NET MVC 4 with Visual Studio (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB

    Programming Windows Phone 7 (Special Excerpt 2)
    PDF

    Transact-SQL Data Manipulation Language (DML) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Tabular Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Backup and Restore of SQL Server Databases
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Data Mining
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deploying Windows 7 Essential Guidance
    PDF

    Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Own Your Future
    PDF
    XPS

    Moving Applications to the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Multidimensional Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional Performance and Operations Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deployment guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    QuickStart: Learn DAX Basics in 30 Minutes
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Getting Started with ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Introducing ASP.NET Web Pages 2
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses: Help and How To
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deploying an ASP.NET Web Application to a Hosting Provider using Visual Studio
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Technical Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Business continuity management for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Master Data Services Capacity Guidelines
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Configure Kerberos Authentication for SharePoint 2010 Products
    DOCX
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deployment guide for Office 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit

    PDF

    Technical reference for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS

    Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Developing Applications for the Cloud, 2nd Edition

    PDF

    Governance guide for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support (Windows 7)
    PDF
    XPS

    Programming Windows 8 Apps 2nd Preview
    PDF

    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 1
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS

    Welcome to Windows 7

    PDF

    Explore SharePoint 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Profile synchronization guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Operations guide for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS

    5) The other thing I have been asked many times is, “Do you have one single post with all of the eBooks listed so we can go through them instead of bouncing between the three different posts?” The answer to that has been No to date; however, I figured that since I was pulling together all of the stats last night, I could pull together the books into a single list as well. As such, here they are, almost 150 completely FREE Microsoft eBooks for you to download and use: (NOTE: If you don’t see a list of links below the book image, it is because it is only available in one format. Just click on the image and your download will begin)

    Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Programming Windows Phone 7
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Programming Windows Phone 7 (Special Excerpt 2)
    PDF

    Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
    VS2005 PDF
    VS2005 XPS
    VS2008 PDF
    VS2008 XPS

    Windows 7 Power Users Guide

    Deploying Windows 7 Essential Guidance
    PDF

    Welcome to Windows 7

    What You Can Do Before You Call Tech Support (Windows 7)
    PDF
    XPS

    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring 1.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 7
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Administrator’s Guide for Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 1.0
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Developing an end-to-end Windows Store app using C++ and XAML: Hilo
    PDF

    Developing an end-to-end Windows Store app using JavaScript: Hilo
    PDF

    Prism for the Windows Runtime: Developing a Windows Store business app using C#, XAML, and Prism
    PDF

    Office 365 – Connect and Collaborate virtually anywhere, anytime
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Microsoft Office 2010 First Look
    PDF
    XPS

    Deployment guide for Office 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses: Help and How To
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Getting started with
    Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT Professionals
    PDF
    MOBI
    DOC
    XPS

    Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Planning guide for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS

    Deployment guide for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS

    Deployment guide for Office 2013 Preview

    Office 2010 Developer Training Kit

    Office 365 Developer Training Kit

    Office 365 Guides for professionals and small businesses

    Technical reference for Microsoft Office 2010 – For IT professionals
    DOC
    PDF
    XPS

    Business continuity management for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deployment guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Get started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Explore SharePoint 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Deployment guide for SharePoint 2013
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Test Lab Guide: eBook for SharePoint Server 2013 Intranet and Team Sites
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF
    DOC

    Create a Balanced Scorecard (SharePoint Server 2010)
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SharePoint Server for Business Intelligence
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Deployment guide for SharePoint 2013 Preview

    Getting started with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010

    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

    Governance guide for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Profile synchronization guide for SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Remote BLOB storage for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Technical reference for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Upgrading to SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Getting Started with SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 1
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS

    Planning guide for sites and solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Part 2
    PDF
    DOC
    XPS

    Planning guide for server farms and environments for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    XPS
    DOC

    Capacity planning for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    PDF
    XPS
    DOC

    5 Tips for a Smooth SSIS Upgrade to SQL Server 2012
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    A Hitchiker’s Guide to Microsoft StreamInsight Queries
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Data Mining Extensions (DMX) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Data Quality Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    High Availability Solutions
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Master Data Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Monitor and Tune for Performance
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SQL Server Distributed Replay
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Transact-SQL Data Definition Language (DDL) Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    XQuery Language Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Extracting and Loading SharePoint Data in SQL Server Integration Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Integration Services: Extending Packages with Scripting
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Multidimensional Model Programming
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Optimized Bulk Loading of Data into Oracle
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Planning Disaster Recovery for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated Mode
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Reporting Services
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Writing Transact-SQL Statements
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SQL Server Community FAQs Manual
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Tabular Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Transact-SQL Data Manipulation Language (DML) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    QuickStart: Learn DAX Basics in 30 Minutes
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Data Mining
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional Performance and Operations Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Technical Guide
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Backup and Restore of SQL Server Databases
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Tutorials: Analysis Services – Multidimensional Modeling
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Master Data Services Capacity Guidelines
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit

    Cmdlet Reference for App Controller in System Center 2012 SP1
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Technical Documentation for System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Upgrade Team Foundation Server 2012: the ultimate upgrade guide
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Better Unit Testing with Microsoft Fakes
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Dependency Injection with Unity
    PDF

    Developer’s Guide to Microsoft Enterprise Library (Second Edition)
    PDF

    Testing for Continuous Delivery with Visual Studio 2012
    PDF

    ASP.NET Multi-Tier Windows Azure Application Using Storage Tables, Queues, and Blobs
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    ASP.NET Web Deployment using Visual Studio
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Developing Modern Mobile Web Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    The Entity Framework 4.0 and ASP.NET Web Forms – Getting Started
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Getting Started with the Entity Framework 4.1 using ASP.NET MVC
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Project Silk: Client-Side Web Development for Modern Browsers
    PDF

    Moving Applications to the Cloud, 2nd Edition
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Windows Azure Prescriptive Guidance
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Windows Azure Service Bus Reference
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Intro to ASP.NET MVC 4 with Visual Studio (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deploying an ASP.NET Web Application to a Hosting Provider using Visual Studio
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Getting Started with ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms (Beta)
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Introducing ASP.NET Web Pages 2
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Own Your Future
    PDF
    XPS

    Developing an Advanced Windows Phone 7.5 App that Connects to the Cloud

    Developing Applications for the Cloud, 2nd Edition

    Autoscaling Application Block and Transient Fault Handling Application Block Reference
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Create Your First Application: Node.js and Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Developing Multi-tenant Applications for the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
    PDF

    Drupal on Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Exploring CQRS and Event Sourcing: A journey into high scalability, availability, and maintainability with Windows Azure
    PDF

    Migrating Data-Centric Applications to Windows Azure
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Moving Applications to the Cloud on Windows Azure (3rd Edition)
    PDF

    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your iOS Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Phone 8 Apps
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable your Windows Store Apps in C#
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Using Windows Azure Mobile Services to Cloud-Enable Your Windows Store Apps in JavaScript
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Windows Azure and SQL Database Tutorials
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    Building Hybrid Applications in the Cloud on Windows Azure

    Building Elastic and Resilient Cloud Applications – Developer’s Guide to the Enterprise Library 5.0 Integration Pack for Windows Azure
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Deployment guide for Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP Server 2.0 Preview

    Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Guides: Financials

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 User’s Guide

    Dynamics CRM 2011 Developer Training Kit

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Implementation Guide

    Digital Storytelling

    Free Tools in the Classroom

    Windows Live Movie Maker in the Classroom

    Windows 7 in the Classroom

    Microsoft Office Web Apps Teaching Guide

    Microsoft Office in the Classroom

    Developing Critical Thinking through Web Research Skills

    Bing in the Classroom

    A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control, Second Edition
    PDF

    Introducing Windows Server 2012
    EPUB
    MOBI
    PDF

    TCP/IP Fundamentals for Microsoft Windows
    PDF

    Understanding Microsoft Virtualization R2 Solutions
    PDF
    XPS

    Introducing Windows Server 2012 – RTM Edition!
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    PDF
    EPUB
    MOBI

    Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
    PDF
    XPS

    Lync for Mac 2011 Deployment Guide

    Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit Tools

    Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit

    Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Security Guide

    Developing Applications for the Cloud – 2nd Edition

    Visual Studio LightSwitch Training Kit

    “Own Your Space–Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online” Digital Book for Teens

    Publishing apps for Office and SharePoint to Windows Azure Websites

    This post will focus on provider-hosted apps for SharePoint and apps for Office. Provider-hosted (as opposed to SharePoint-hosted or Autohosted) means that the developer is responsible for hosting the web content – which is precisely where Azure Websites can help. At the end of the post, I will also look at advanced topics, including options for publishing to a non-Azure environment (like an on-premise server).

    Direct web publishing to Azure

    Creating a profile

    Suppose you have an app for SharePoint or an app for Office that you’re ready to publish for the first time. To begin publishing your app, choose the app for SharePoint or app for Office project, and choose “Publish”.

    Figure 1. Publish menu in Solution Explorer
    Figure 1. Publish menu in Solution Explorer

    A guided publishing experience will appear, as shown below.

    Figure 2. Guided publishing experience
    Figure 2. Guided publishing experience

    For a new project, there is no current publishing profile. You can create one by selecting <New…> from the profile dropdown, which will open the following dialog box.

    Figure 3. Creating a new publishing profile
    Figure 3. Creating a new publishing profile

    If you’re publishing to Azure, choose the “download your publishing profile” link, and you’ll be redirected to the Azure portal. There, if you have not already, you can create a new website by choosing the +NEW at bottom-left corner of the portal. The bottom portion of the screen will expand, allowing you to create a new website via the Quick Create or Custom Create menu items.

    Figure 4. Creating new website on Azure portal
    Figure 4. Creating new website on Azure portal

    Once the website entity is created, choose it from the list of websites to reveal the website details. Then choose Download the publish profile and save the profile to your computer. The profile contains all the information necessary to deploy your web content, including any auxiliary information like linked database connections.

    Figure 5. Downloading the publish profile from the Azure portal
    Figure 5. Downloading the publish profile from the Azure portal

    Back in the Visual Studio dialog box, and with the import publishing profile option still selected, choose the “browse” button and browse to the newly-downloaded file. Depending on the type of app:

    • For apps for Office, the profile is now complete.
    • For apps for SharePoint, you can now configure the Client ID and Client Secret on the second page of the wizard. These values uniquely identify your app to SharePoint, and allows the app to access SharePoint data. Client IDs and Secrets are generated and registered automatically when you debug your app, but they must be registered in a more permanent fashion when publishing the app. To do so:

    At the completion of either registration process, you will be granted a Client ID and Client Secret. Transfer those values into the Profile-creation dialog, and then choose Finish.

    Deploying and packaging

    Once the profile is set, the publishing buttons will activate. You now have a choice of deploying the web project and/or packaging the app. When publishing for the first time, you will need to do both – but it generally makes sense to start with deploying the web project first.

    Deploy your web project

    Deploying your web project is exactly what it sounds like: it will publish the entire contents of your web project (but not the SharePoint app or Office manifest) to the web. To do this, choose deploy your web project and you will see the familiar web publishing experience – complete with Preview, deployment settings, and more. The Connection tab has been pre-filled with information from your publish profile, and you can go to Settings to customize the publish configuration and options like Remove additional files at destination. Note that if your project requires a database, you can set it on the Settings page of the Wizard – and that, if your publish profile came from Azure, you can simply choose the database from the dropdown list.

    Figure 6. Deploying a web project to Azure
    Figure 6. Deploying a web project to Azure

    The Preview functionality is helpful to ensure you’re publishing the right set of files. By choosing a file in the Preview list, you can see the impending changes that you’re about to commit to your live site.

    Figure 7. Preview functionality in Visual Studio
    Figure 7. Preview functionality in Visual Studio

    Packaging your app

    Once the web project is deployed, packaging the app is designed to be simple, and most fields should be pre-populated. If you used a publishing profile, the URL will already be pre-populated, though you’ll need to change the URL from “http” to “https”. Note that with Azure Websites, https hosting is automatically included for any website hosted on *.azurewebsites.net (for custom domains or other hosting providers, you may need to follow additional steps).

    For apps for Office, that’s all you need: Just choose Finish, and a manifest file that points to your live web content will get generated for you. For apps that you wish to sell on the Office Store, see the next section. Otherwise, if it’s just an in-house app, you can upload the app to a file share or to a corporate catalog.

    For apps for SharePoint, you will need to provide or confirm the Client ID, which you may have already entered during the profile-creation step. After that, click “finish” – and an app package will get created for you. Again, see the next section for apps headed for the Office Store. Otherwise, if you only intend to distribute the app to users of your SharePoint site, follow the documentation for uploading the app to a SharePoint corporate catalog.

    Publishing to the Office Store

    After your app package (apps for SharePoint) or manifest file (apps for Office) is created, you can use the Visit the Seller Dashboard button to get started with publishing to the Office Store.

    For apps for Office, you can also run your app through a validation utility, which will catch common mistakes (like not specifying required information in the manifest). This will save you time and hassle when submitting the app to the Store.

    Figure 8. Validation utility for apps for Office
    Figure 8. Validation utility for apps for Office

    Upgrading an app

    When it comes time to upgrade an existing app that you have already published, what steps do you need to take?

    For both apps for Office and apps for SharePoint, if all that you’ve updated is just in the web project, you can just re-publish the web content via the Deploy your web project button. These changes will go live immediately, and you’re fully in control of deploying these whenever you’d like.

    If you made changes to the app manifest (apps for Office and apps for SharePoint) or if you have modified any SharePoint artifacts (lists, event receivers, or anything outside the web project), you need to re-publish those artifacts instead via the Package the app button. If your app is listed on the Office Store, you will then need to re-submit to the produced app package or app manifest to the Store, so it may take a few days before those changes go live – and remember that applying an update is at the discretion of the user.

    In general, remember to be considerate of the upgrade impact when modifying anything outside of the web project. Especially for apps for SharePoint, which have a more involved upgrade process, see the Apps for SharePoint update process article for an in-depth upgrade discussion and for guidance on how to avoid breaking older app packages when deploying new web artifacts.

    Advanced topics

    Specifying multiple publish environments

    One common request we heard is to publish an app to different environments. For example, one might want to publish to a “staging” environment first, ensure that the app works properly, and only then publish to “production”.

    With the new Publish experience, switching between multiple environments is only a dropdown away. Each publish profile remembers its own URL, Client ID, and Secret, so publishing to a different profile is as easy as changing the profile dropdown and choosing the appropriate “Deploy your web project” and “Package the app” buttons.

    Figure 9. Publishing to multiple environments
    Figure 9. Publishing to multiple environments

    Configuring Client Secret (or other environmental variables) in the Azure Portal

    Sometimes, the “Client Secret” for the production app might be a closely-guarded secret. As a developer, you might have the ability to publish to the website, but you might not have access to the Client Secret itself. The same thing might be true for any other such variables.

    One way to solve this scenario is to have your Azure account Admin manage these environmental variables through the Azure Portal. For each Azure Website, it is possible to have the Client Secret – or any other variables – be set via “app settings” section of the Configure tab. The “app settings” values take precedence over values in Web.config, so you get the best of both worlds – your local F5 scenario continues to work as before, yet your published app can make of a Client Secret that you might not even have access to.

    Figure 10. Configuring a Client Secret in the Azure portal
    Figure 10. Configuring a Client Secret in the Azure portal

    Deploying outside of Azure (or to a local IIS server)

    If you need to deploy to a non-Azure hosting provider – particularly if you are publishing to an on-premises machine – you can still use the many improvements to the app-publishing experience.

    During profile-creation, choose the Create new profile radio button.

    Then, once you are ready to deploy your web content, enter the Connection credentials in the “Publish Web” wizard.

    The rest of the flow should be the same. Remember to ensure that your hosting server supports the HTTPS protocol.

    Creating a Web Deploy Package

    An alternate, but similar, case for publishing to a local IIS server is when only an IT admin has the ability to publish a website. To simplify deployment, you can provide the IT admin with a Web Deploy Package – a .zip file that contains all web artifacts.

    To do this, create a new profile rather than importing one from Azure. In the case of an app for SharePoint, you will also need to fill in some dummy Client ID and Secret values.

    Now go to Deploy your web project – but be sure to choose Web Deploy Package as the publish method in the “Connection” tab.

    Figure 11. Creating a web deploy package
    Figure 11. Creating a web deploy package

    Choose a package location (any new folder will do) and proceed with the wizard. At the end, a set of deploy scripts and a .zip file with your web content will be generated.

    Figure 12. Web deploy package files
    Figure 12. Web deploy package files

    Your IT Admin should be able to take things from here (registering the app with SharePoint and providing the Client ID and Secret into the deployment scripts). Once the web content is deployed, ask your admin to provide you with the Client ID (the secret is not needed) and proceed with the “Package the app” step. You can then send the app package – now containing the SharePoint artifacts, and pointing at the live web content – back to the IT admin to deploy to SharePoint.

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    SharePoint 2013 App Available -Retrieves cross-domain data by using JSONP

    This is a SharePoint-hosted app for SharePoint that uses JSON with Padding (JSONP) to retrieve data from a proxy page on a Windows Azure Web Site. The sample contains two solutions, one for the App and one for its use on a SharePoint page.

    The App deploys the JSONPClient  App part for SharePoint.

    You add the app part to a page and then enter the URL of the proxy page and the URL of a feed. The proxy page gets data from the feed that’s specified in the app part, and returns the data in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format.

    The app part gets the feed data from the proxy page by using JSONP, and then displays the data.

    Figure 1. The JSONPClient SharePoint App displays data from the specified feed on the page/s it is placed

     

    SP15_app_JsonpAppPart (2)

     

    Please contact me for this or any other SharePoint and Office365 Web Parts / Apps :

    On-Premise and for the Cloud and Azure

    New SharePoint 2010 Web Part Available: Querying SQL Azure Data from Web Part

    This SharePoint Web Part (Can be changed easily to a SharePoint App) is able to call a SQL Azure database from code in a SharePoint Web Part.

    Technologies :  SQL Azure, SharePoint Server 2010
    Topics : SQL Azure, Query Execution, Sharepoint Web Parts, Sharepoint 2010, 2013
    Platforms : Desktop, Cloud
    Contact me for further details regarding this Web Part / App