PDF Generation and loading file based certificates in Azure Websites

With Microsoft Azure Websites we strive to provide a development platform that is consistent with regular IIS, so that developers can be confident that the code they develop on premises can be deployed to the cloud simply and easily.  However as part of running a multi-tenant service, Azure Websites does enforce some application safeguards, and that can cause some trouble.  Today we announce two new capabilities available for our Basic/Standard customers which enable previously restricted scenarios to work.

PDF generation using SQL Server Reporting Services (Report Viewer)

There are multiple tools/frameworks which can be used today to generate PDF files within Azure Websites.  One popular tool which has not been possible to use in the past is SQL Server Reporting Services.  We have made several changes to the service in order to enable this scenario for Azure Websites customers who are running Basic or Standard instances, and the PDF functionality should work seamlessly at this point.

Support for Loading File Based PFX Certificates

Applications which use client certificates to authenticate to other HTTP services/endpoints usually expect to be able to load certificates from the file system (using the X509Certificate2 Class to point to a PFX file) and then reference the certificates in their HTTP request initiation.  In order to load a PFX from the file system, a user profile needs to be available for the web application due to how Windows loads certificates from files.  With a regular IIS Server, the ability to load a user profile is supported as a “per Application pool” setting.  To allow applications on Azure Websites to load certificates from PFX, we have added the same configurable functionality to Azure (this also applies to customers using Basic or Standard instances only).  By setting the App Setting WEBSITE_LOAD_USER_PROFILE to 1, Azure Websites will load user profiles for the given application, and thus applications can load certificates from PFX files without resorting to other workarounds:

Bilal Alam - PDF Generation and loading file based certificates in Azure Websites - Image 1

We appreciate our customers input and feedback in helping us focus on the right capabilities.  The two issues described above have been a concern for our customers and we hope to have addressed them properly with our most recent release.  As always your feedback is welcome and encouraged.