Getting Started with Windows Azure Development

This is an update from an old post on Azure Development Requirements, this time focused on a reasonable stack of tools for Azure development. (The structure is based on list from Jason Haley which he prepared for a talk to the April 29, 2010 meeting of the Boston Azure cloud computing user group.)

How-To Configure an Azure Development Environment

0. Operating System Running IIS 7.x

No way of getting around the need for a Windows operating system that runs IIS 7.0 or IIS 7.5 — either directly or indirectly (see note below on using virtualization).

The operating system versions that support IIS 7.0 include:

  • Vista Business Edition and Ultimate

The operating system versions that support IIS 7.5 include:

What happens if I don’t have Vista, Win 7, or Server 2008?

There is one other hope. Use Virtual PC (or your favorite virtualization solution) and run an instance of a supported operating system in a virtual mode. (This blog post on creating a virtual machine image for Windows 7 using Virtual PC 2007 may help.)

Once you have an operating environment – real or virtual – the rest is the same.

How do I enable IIS 7.x to run?

If you are running a desktop version of Windows (Vista or Windows 7), it is likely you need to enable IIS through the control panel. Here are step-by-step instructions for enabling IIS 7.5 on Windows 7.

If you are doing this to prepare for the April 29 Boston Azure or the May 8th Firestarter meeting, please make sure you have enabled IIS7 with ASP.NET and have WCF HTTP Activation enabled.

1. Visual Studio

You need a copy of Visual Studio that supports Azure development. Currently your options are Visual Studio 2008 SP1Visual Studio 2010 (many editions), and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express Edition.

If you don’t know which version of Visual Studio to install, go with Visual Web Developer 2010 Express Edition (which is also free).

2. Windows Azure Tools and SDK

Download and install Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 1.1 (Feb 2010) – this includes the Windows Azure SDK (and its samples)

Pay special attention to the first note at the top of that post:

Visual Studio must be run as an Administrator

You must run Visual Studio with elevated permissions when building Cloud Services for Windows Azure.

It is possible to create a shortcut that will launch Visual Studio with administrative permissions by setting the “Run as Administrator” checkbox in the Advanced Properties page of the Shortcut tab; this is available from the Properties menu option off of the context menu.

3. Microsoft SQL Server

A local installation of SQL Server is needed for local development work involving SQL Azure, Azure Table Storage, or Azure queues.

You only need to do this step if you didn’t install a version of SQL Server during Step 1 (above) while installing Visual Studio.

If you do not have a paid license for SQL Server, your best bet is to download a free copy of either Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express or Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express.

If you don’t know which version of SQL Server to install, go with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express (which is also free).

4. Windows Azure Platform Training Kit

At least for the April Boston Azure meeting, you will  also need the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit (Dec 2009 update) since Jason Haley (the main speaker) will assume we have this installed so he can reference it during the meeting.

5. Future Optional Extra Credit Tools

Once you have deployed to the cloud, you may also be interested in:

  • Fiddler (for IE) and Firebug (for Firefox) to spy on http traffic going back and forth to a deployed Azure app
  • What else?

6. Do You Have a Token?

If you are lucky enough to have a token for free (though time-limited) access to Azure services in the cloud, here’s How to Redeem an Azure Token.

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