Today, we’re excited to announce Azure SDK 2.6 for .NET and Visual Studio 2015 RC. This post summarizes the updates and how they’ll improve your development experience for building applications in Azure. Azure SDK 2.6 for .NET [download for VS 2013 | VS 2012 | VS 2015 RC]
- Azure Resource Manager Tools: Create and edit Azure Resource Manager templates containing Virtual Machines, Network topologies and Storage resources. The JSON editor has been updated to provide a better template editing experience and you can now deploy the templates using PowerShell.
- Diagnostics improvements for Cloud Services: Diagnostics logs can be collected and transferred to development storage when debugging your application locally in the Azure compute emulator. The Diagnostics storage account connection string makes it easier to use different diagnostics storage accounts for different environments. Viewing diagnostics errors is easier with usability improvements to the diagnostics summary page and the ability to export logs to a CSV file.
- Azure App Service tools: Improved code-generation experience for consuming API apps. Updates to Server Explorer’s App Service functionality
- HDInsight tools: Improvements to Hive Intellisense. Connect to HDInsight emulator from Visual Studio for local Hive script testing and support for generic Hadoop clusters (Preview)
Visual Studio 2015 RC [download]
- Add Connected Services: The Add Connected Services experience now includes the ability to add Application Insights to your web and mobile apps. Azure Storage can now be added to WebJob projects through the Add Connected Services dialog.
- Enterprise Single Sign On: Configure enterprise single sign on (SSO) easily using Azure Active Directory.
Azure Resource Manager Tools
Azure Resource Manager Templates enable you to define your application resources in a declarative manner. Using JSON the declarative templates can easily integrate into your dev-> test-> release lifecycle. With Azure SDK 2.6 you can now define Azure Resource Manager templates that use Virtual Machines, Networking and Storage. You can create an Azure Resource Manager Template from File-> New Project -> Visual C# (or Visual Basic)-> Cloud -> Azure Resource Group. When creating a new project you can select from a list of common Azure Gallery templates. Azure SDK 2.6 includes new templates for various Virtual Machine and Network Configurations.
Improved Resource Manager Template support in the JSON Editor
The Azure Resource Manager tools make it easy to visualize and edit the resources defined in the JSON templates. The template editing experience in Visual Studio includes a new JSON Outline tool window that makes it easier to navigate your template file and add and delete resources. When you click on an item in the tool window, the JSON editor will automatically scroll to the item in the template file and highlight it. You can easily edit the JSON Template by using toolbar buttons at the top of the JSON Outline window to add and delete resources. The Add Resource button opens a dialog that allows you to pick from many resources. Clicking the Add button will add the JSON required for that resource to your template. You can also specify dependencies for the resource and quickly create templates that deploy a wide variety of resources without having to write the JSON. You can deploy your template from Visual Studio by right-clicking on the Azure Resource Group project node in Solution Explorer. When deploying your template from within Visual Studio, Visual Studio runs the PowerShell script that is included in your resource group project to deploy the template. You can deploy the template independent of your application code. The recently announced PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio extension can be used to update and maintain the PowerShell deployment scripts. Now you have full control over how your template is deployed and can use the same procedure when deploying from Visual Studio or from command line for automated deployments.
Diagnostics Improvements for Cloud Services
Diagnostics support in Compute Emulators
Azure SDK 2.6 brings back support for collecting diagnostics logs for your Cloud Service in the Azure compute emulator. Application trace logs, Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) logs, performance counters, infrastructure logs and windows event logs generated when the application is running in the emulator can be transferred to development storage to verify that your diagnostics logging is working on your local machine. This enables you to test out your application logging strategy while still developing your application locally with Visual Studio. Transferring the diagnostics logs to storage emulator can be enabled by setting the diagnostics storage account connection string (Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Plugins.Diagnostics.ConnectionString) to UseDevelopmentStorage=True. This will enable diagnostics data collection and all diagnostics data is collected in the Storage Emulator accessed through Server Explorer under the (Development) node.
Configuring diagnostics for multiple environments
The diagnostics storage account connection string (Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Plugins.Diagnostics.ConnectionString) is stored once again in the service configuration (.cscfg) file and can be configured from the Role Designer. This enables you to have a different Diagnostics Storage account for each Service configuration so that your diagnostics data can be transferred to a different storage account based on the service configuration you are deploying with. To simplify the process of enabling the Azure Diagnostics extension in an automated deployment when using tools like PowerShell, the Visual Studio package output now includes the public configuration XML needed to configure the diagnostics extension. The public configuration files are created in an Extensions subfolder in the package output and follow the pattern PaaSDiagnostics.<RoleName>.PubConfig.xml. These public configuration files are also prepopulated with the storage account name that was specified with the Diagnostics connection string. Any PowerShell based deployments can use the file naming pattern to map each configuration to a Role and use the configuration along with the storage account name present in the configuration to enable diagnostics for each Role. While the diagnostics storage account connection string is similar to the one used with Azure SDK 2.4 there are some notable differences in how it is used in SDK 2.6. For more information on how to use the Diagnostics Storage connection string and how it impacts your projects see Configuring Diagnostics for Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Machines.
Viewing Diagnostics Data
Azure SDK 2.6 also improves the experience of viewing diagnostics logs. The Diagnostics summary page for viewing diagnostics data for a role can be accessed by right clicking on the role in Server Explorer and selecting View diagnostics data. The summary page provides a quick way to diagnose issues in your dev/test environments by displaying the various errors logs from your Role. The summary page now uses a tabular layout to display the different types of logs to allow for more screen real estate to view the log data. You can also set the page to Auto-Refresh at specific intervals so you are always viewing fresh diagnostics data. Lastly you can now export the error logs to a CSV file for analysis in other tools like Excel. The export to CSV functionality is also available in Table Storage explorer enabling you to export all Table storage data to a CSV file.
Richer log analysis using ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana)
The Visual Studio storage explorer and diagnostics summary page are helpful with diagnosing issues in dev/test environments. For production environments many customers have been adopting Elastic Search, Logstash and Kibana (or ELK) for log search and custom data visualizations over large amounts of log data. To simplify using Azure Diagnostics log data with ELK we have created PowerShell scripts that can help spin up an ELK cluster on Azure as well as pull in the Azure Diagnostics log data to Elastic Search through a Logstash plugin. You can try these out at https://aka.ms/AzureDiagnosticsElk
Azure App Service Tooling Updates
In the Azure SDK 2.5.1 release, we announced new tooling support for API Apps in Visual Studio 2013 on the Visual Studio blog. Since the 2.5.1 update we’ve made improvements to the C# code-generation functionality for consuming your API apps, as well as responding to some opportunities for improving performance in the new Azure App Service nodes in the Server Explorer.
Remote metadata suggestion in Hive IntelliSense
HDInsight tools now support getting remote metadata when editing your Hive script. For example, you can type SELECT * FROM and all the table names for the cluster selected in HDInsight toolbar will be shown. Once a table is specified, column name suggestions for that table are also shown. Note that populating the table or column name might take long when you first create a script since Visual Studio needs to contact to remote server to get the data.
HDInsight emulator support
You can now connect to the HDInsight emulator from Visual Studio. This enables you to develop your Hive scripts locally without incurring any cost, then execute those scripts against your HDInsight clusters. For more information see: Getting started with HDInsight emulator.
Support for generic Hadoop clusters (Preview)
With support for generic Hadoop clusters you can now use HDInsight Tools for Visual Studio to do the following:
- Connect to your cluster
- Write Hive query with enhanced IntelliSense/auto-completion support
- View all the jobs in your cluster with an intuitive UI
To find out more details about how to connect to an existing Hadoop cluster using HDInsight tools for Visual Studio, see: Getting Started with HDInsight Tools for Visual Studio.
Visual Studio 2015 RC
Visual Studio 2015 RC announced today introduces the following capabilities.
Add Connected Services
The Connected Services experience in Visual Studio 2015 RC enables you to easily integrate various platform services into your application. Application Insights is now available from within Connected Services, joining Azure Storage, Azure Mobile Services, Office 365, and Salesforce. The Application Insights Connected Service allows you to easily configure Application Insights to detect issues, diagnose crashes and track usage in your web and mobile apps. The Add Connected Service dialog now better indicates which services can be added to the current project, using an icon and text to indicate supported projects. For unsupported projects, a link is provided to request support. To use the Add Connected Service dialog, right click on the References node in Solution Explorer and choose Add Connected Service… Azure Storage is now available as a Connected Service for Azure WebJob projects. In a WebJob project, the Storage account you add is automatically hooked up for both application data and logging.
Enterprise Single Sign On
Configuring enterprise single sign on for your web projects using Azure Active Directory is further simplified with Visual Studio 2015 RC. Right click on your application and select Configure Azure AD Authentication… to bring up the configuration wizard. The Configure Azure AD Authentication wizard now supports entering or selecting a domain. The list of domains is pre-populated from accounts listed in Account Settings.
Azure SDK 2.6 and Visual Studio 2015 RC continue to improve the development experience for rich cloud applications. Please make sure to see the Azure SDK 2.6 release notes for information about breaking changes from previous versions and known issues with the preview features. Learn more about what’s new in the Visual Studio 2015 RC Release Notes and the Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 RC Release Notes. For a list of fixed bugs and known issues, check out the Visual Studio 2015 RC KB Article and the Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 RC KB Article. If you don’t already have an Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today. Then visit the Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Please submit bugs through Connect, suggestions through UserVoice, and quick thoughts or ideas through Send-a-smile in the Visual Studio IDE.
This blog article is a collaboration of multiple people. Big thanks to Chuck Weininger, Dan Seefeldt and Saurabh Bhatia.