Wow! This was quite a Windows Azure Wednesday! First the Windows Azure Code Gallery, and now, just released, brand new Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio and updates to the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit.
Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio
The version 1.4 release of the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio brings with it some great new features that make developing for Windows Azure just that much quicker. They are:
- MVC3 Web Role Support
Now you can add MVC3 web roles (by selecting the type of MVC3 project) to your solutions when you create Windows Azure projects (you had to manually do this before!). This support will now automatically add the necessary assemblies as references to the project and makes sure that they are deployed as part of the service package when you deploy your application.
- ASP.NET Universal Providers
New templates include the new universal ASP.NET providers that support SQL Azure (as well as other versions of SQL Server) for session, membership, roles, and profiles.
- Package Validation
When you create a package or publish your Windows Azure application, Visual Studio warnings and/or errors enable you to fix issues that would prevent the application from being deployed or published. Think back at how many times you went to deploy your application in the Management Portal only to find out that there was an issue with the package. This will be a huge time saver. For sure.
- Application Performance Profiling
Speaking of time savers, here’s another one that is sure to save you time (specifically troubleshooting time). You can now profile your application so that you can easily detect performance bottlenecks while the application is running in Windows Azure (you had to employ some clever workarounds to get this kind of functionality before). You can even profile individual instances of a role to make it even easier to pinpoint the issues.
- Multiple Service Configurations
This is my favourite new feature. Long gone are the days when you had to manually change configuration values or keep multiple copies of the service configuration files in order to work with applications both locally and in Windows Azure. Now, you can have multiple service configurations in your Windows Azure project that enable you to define the different environmental values. You can then select which one you want to use when.
That’s it for new features with this release. There have also been several fixes to features that were there in previous releases. All in all, your Windows Azure development experience should be that much better with this new release.
NOTE: There are some build differences and new elements in the configuration files of the new tools that are used by the new features (such as the multiple service configurations feature). As such, someone using the previous version of the tools will not be able to work with projects that are based on this new version without upgrading.
TIP: If you’re working on a team, make sure that all developers upgrade to the latest tools to ensure that the same build is used.
Windows Azure Platform Training Kit
To go along with the new tools, the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit has been refreshed. All of the labs and demos now use the new features of the new tools and show you how to use all of the features of the platform that you already know in much easier and more intuitive ways. Of course, some minor bugs and enhancements here are there made it into the refresh as well!
Now that you know what’s new and exciting, time to go do some downloading! Download the updated tools and platform training kit to make sure that you have access to all of the latest and greatest that Windows Azure has to offer.
One More Thing on the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit
Since the kit was created to ensure that you have access to great technical training materials for Windows Azure, we want to make sure that it has everything that you need and works the way that it should. If there’s additional content you’d like to see in the training kit, please let us know on the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit Forum. Also, if you encounter any bugs or have any problems, please send us feedback at email@example.com. You’re feedback is always appreciated.