Shaun Xu

The Sheep-Pen of the Shaun



Shaun, the author of this blog is a semi-geek, clumsy developer, passionate speaker and incapable architect with about 10 years’ experience in .NET and JavaScript. He hopes to prove that software development is art rather than manufacturing. He's into cloud computing platform and technologies (Windows Azure, Amazon and Aliyun) and right now, Shaun is being attracted by JavaScript (Angular.js and Node.js) and he likes it.

Shaun is working at Worktile Inc. as the chief architect for overall design and develop worktile, a web-based collaboration and task management tool, and lesschat, a real-time communication aggregation tool.


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When the Microsoft released the first preview version of Windows 8 and Visual Studio, many people in the community were asking if the windows azure tool is available to it. The answer was “NO”. Microsoft promised that the windows azure tool will only support the Visual Studio 2010 but when the 2012 was final released, windows azure tool should be work. But now alone with the new windows azure platform was published we got the latest Windows Azure SDK 1.7, which is compatible to the Visual Studio 2012 RC.


You can retrieve the latest version of the Windows Azure SDK through Web Platform Installer, which I think it’s the easiest and simplest way to download and install, since besides the SDK itself it also needs some other components.

To download the latest windows azure SDK from Web Platform Installer, just go to the windows azure website and clicked the Develop, .NET and click the blue “install” button.


Then you need to select which version of Visual Studio you want to use, Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio 2012 RC.


After selected the current version you will download an EXE file. This file will lead you to install the Web Platform Installer 4.0 (if you haven’t installed) and the latest windows azure SDK. You can see the version name is June 2012, 1.7.


Finally the WebPI will detect the dependent components you need to download and begin to install.


But if you want to challenge yourself you can download the components and install them manually. The standalone installations are listed in this page with the instruction on how to install them with necessary pre-requirements.


Once you finished the installation you can open the Visual Studio 2012 RC and as usual, it need to be run as administrator.


If you clicked the New Project link from the start page, navigated to Cloud category you will find that there no project template available. Is there anything wrong? So, if you changed the target framework from the default .NET 4.5 to .NET 4 you will see the azure project template. This is because, currently the windows azure instance does not support .NET 4.5.


After clicked OK you will see the role creation window, which is similar as what you have seen before. But there are some new role templates in this SDK.

Firstly you will have ASP.NET MVC 4 web role available, which means you can create ASP.NET MVC 4 applications for internet, intranet, mobile and WebAPI on the cloud.

Then there are two new worker role templates, “Cache Worker Role” and “Worker Role with Service Bus Queue”. “Worker Role with Service Bus Queue” is a worker role which had added necessary references to access the Windows Azure Service Bus Queue. It also have some basic sample code in the worker role class which could read messages from the queue when started. The “Cache Worker Role” is a worker role which has the in-memory distributed cache feature enabled by default.

This feature is different than the Windows Azure Caching. It allows the role instance to use its memory as a in-memory distributed cache clusters. By using this feature you can have one or more worker roles as some dedicate cache clusters. Alternatively, you can make part of your web role and worker role’s memory as the cache clusters as well.


Let’s just create an ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Role, and click F5 to run it under the local emulator.

If you have been working with azure for a while you should know that I need to setup the local storage emulator before running locally if it’s a fresh azure SDK installation. But in this version when we started our azure project the Visual Studio will check if the storage emulator had been initialized. If not, it will run the initializer automatically.


And as you can see, in this version the storage emulator relies on the SQL Server 2012 Local DB feature. It will create the emulator database and tables in the default local database.

You can set the storage emulator to use a standard SQL Server default instance by using the command “dsinit /instance:.”. The “dsinit” tool now is located at %PROGRAM FILES%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Azure\Emulator\devstore

After the Visual Studio complied and deployed the package our website should be shown in the browser. This is the MVC 4 Web Role home page on my Windows 8 machine in IE10.


Another thing you might notice is that, in this version the compute emulator utilizes IIS Express to host the web roles instead of the full IIS.


You can add breakpoint in the code and debug, and you can use the local storage emulator to test your code for accessing the storage service. All of them are same as what your are doing now on SDK 1.6.

You can switch to use IIS to run your web role in local emulator. Just open the windows azure porject property windows, in the Web page select “Use IIS Web Server”.

For more information about this please have a look on Nuno’s blog post.

In the role property page in Visual Studio there’s no massive changes. You can configure your role settings such as the endpoints, certificates and local storage, etc.. One thing was added is the Caching tab. Here you can specify enable the caching feature or not, and how much memory you want to use as the cache cluster. I will introduce more details about it in the future posts.


The publish and package feature are also no change. You can publish your project to azure directly through Visual Studio 2012, while you can create the package and upload manually.

Below is the SDK version of my deployment which is 1.7.30602.1703 in the developer portal.




In this post I introduced about the new Windows Azure SDK 1.7 especially on how it works on the latest Visual Studio 2012 RC. There’s no significant changes in the visual studio tool in this version but some small enhancement such as ASP.NET MVC 4, Cache Worker Role, using SQL 2012 Local DB and IIS Express, etc..


Hope this helps,


All documents and related graphics, codes are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind.
Copyright © Shaun Ziyan Xu. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons License.


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