# Sunday, 22 March 2015

There are three ways to create a new web site from the Azure portal: Quick Create; Custom Create; and From Gallery. To launch any of them, navigate to the Azure management portal and select "Web Sites" from the list of services along the left side of the portal [Fig 1].

CAWS01-SideMenu
Fig 1 

Then click the "New" button at the bottom left (Fig 2).
CAWS02-NewButton
Fig 2

This displays the New Website menu(Fig 3)

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Fig 3

Because we were in the "Web Sites" section when we clicked the "New" button, the categories: "COMPUTE" and "WEBSITE" are selected for us. We need to select from the three ways to create a web site within the Portal. They are: "QUICK CREATE", "CUSTOM CREATE", and "FROM GALLERY". Let’s go through each scenario.

QUICK CREATE

The simplest way to create a web site is with the QUICK CREATE option. With the NEW WEBSITE menu expanded, select QUICK CREATE (Fig 4).

CAWS04-QuickCreate1
Fig 4

The QUICK CREATE dialogue displays, as shown in Fig 5.

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Fig 5

At the URL textbox, enter the name of your site. The full URL to access this new site will be  
    http://sitename.azurewebsites.net
where sitename is the name you typed into this field.

At the WEB HOSTING plan dropdown, you can either select an existing plan or select "Create new web hosting plan", in which case you will need to select a region in which to create the plan. The Web Hosting plan allows you to configure, manage, and scale a group of sites together.

Click the CREATE WEBSITE check button (CAWS-Check) to create the site. Typically it takes Azure less than a minute to create the site.

Once the site is created, you can navigate to the site's URL and you will see a default page (hostingstart.html) displayed in your browser, as shown in Fig 6.

CAWS06-hostingstart
Fig 6

This is the only file deployed to your site. You will need to use FTP, set up source control deployment or deploy your site content in some other way in order to get your web application into this web site.

CUSTOM CREATE

The CUSTOM CREATE option is similar to the QUICK CREATE, but it adds a few options on site creation. With the CUSTOM CREATE option, it is possible to associate a database with your site and set up Source Control publishing at the time you create your site.

With the NEW WEBSITE menu expanded, select CUSTOM CREATE. The CUSTOM CREATE dialogue displays, as shown in Fig 7.

CAWS07-CustomCreate1
Fig 7

At the URL textbox, enter the name of your site. The full URL to access this new site will be 
                  http://<sitename>.azurewebsites.net
where <sitename> is the name you typed into this field.

At the WEB HOSTING plan, you can either select an existing plan or select "Create new web hosting plan", in which case you will need to select a region in which to create the plan.

Select or create a database to associate with this site. Enter a connection string name and credentials of the SQL Server account used by the web site to connect with the database. This database will appear under the LINKED RESOURCES tab of your website. Linking a database to a website makes it easier to manage them together, such as when you are backing up both your site and the database.

If you want to set up publishing from a source control repository, you can do so during site creation by clicking the "Publish from source control" checkbox (It is possible to skip this step and set up source control publishing later). Checking this checkbox adds a second page to the dialogue. Click the right arrow button (CAWS-RightArrow) to advance to the second page (Fig 8), where you can select the type of source control you are using. For some repositories, you will be prompted for more information.

CAWS08-CustomCreate2
Fig 8

When you are finished configuring everything, click the right arrow to create your new site.

As with the QUICK CREATE option, only one file (hostingstart.html) is deployed to your site. You can navigate to the site URL to view this file in your browser.

FROM GALLERY

Unlike the QUICK CREATE and CUSTOM CREATE options, the FROM GALLERY option provides more than just a single page in your website. This option tends to be the fastest way to get a fully-functional web site up and running. It is also an excellent option for those without coding or HTML experience.

With the NEW WEBSITE menu expanded, select FROM GALLERY.

The ADD WEB APP dialogue displays, as shown in Fig 9.

CAWS09-FromGallery1
Fig 9

This list displays a list of templates, frameworks, and web site engines from which to choose. Notice that you can filter this list by selecting a category on the left, such as BLOGS, or CMS (Fig 10).

CAWS10-FromGallery2
Fig 10

Notice also that many of the options are based on non-Microsoft technologies. WordPress, for example, is written in PHP and stores data in a MySQL database. Select the template, framework, or web site engine on which you want to base your site and click the Right Arrow button.
A configuration dialogue displays that is appropriate for the option you selected. At a minimum, you will need to provide a name for your web site, which will take the default form http://<sitename>.azurewebsites.net; but there may be other required information, such as selecting or creating an associated database. The dialogue for Orchard CMS is shown in Fig 11.

Click the Check button (CAWS-Check) to create your site. This generally takes longer than creating a site with either the QUICK CREATE or CUSTOM CREATE options because Azure will build an entire site for you. For many of the Blog and CMS templates, you will be prompted for some more information, such as a site name and an admin account the first time you navigate to the site. The "Get Started" page launched the first time you connect to a new Orchard CMS site is shown in Fig 11.

Orchard Setup
Fig 11

CONCLUSION

In this article, we showed the three ways to create a Web Site using the Azure Management Portal and walked you through the steps to create a web site with each method.

Sunday, 22 March 2015 20:07:34 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 16 March 2015
Monday, 16 March 2015 15:00:55 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, 14 March 2015

March 9 was International Women's Day. To commemorate this event, Dev Radio decided to publish a series of interview last week, drawing attention to successful female entrepreneurs. 

We kicked off the series by talking with Microsoft Partner Business Evangelist Tereza Nemessanyi - a former entrepreneur herself. Tereza talked about BizSpark and other things that Microsoft is doing to help entrepreneurs in general and women in particular.

Then, we interviewed 4 women who are guiding successful tech startups around the world. You can watch all 5 interviews at the links below:

Microsoft for Startups: (Part 1) Women Building the Future – An Interview with Tereza Nemessanyi

Microsoft for Startups: (Part 2) Women Building the Future – An Interview with Bernadine Brocker, CEO of Vastari

Microsoft for Startups: (Part 3) Women Building the Future – An Interview with Diana Paredes, CEO of Suade

Microsoft for Startups: (Part 4) Women Building the Future – An Interview with Jennifer Whaley, CEO of Pose a Pet

Microsoft for Startups: (Part 5) Women Building the Future – An Interview with Luan Cox, CEO of Crowdnetic

This series was featured in a recent Microsoft News Center article celebrating International Women's Day and female entrepreneurs. You can read that article here: Technology disrupted: Meet 11 women leaders changing the innovation ecosystem.

Saturday, 14 March 2015 16:14:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, 13 March 2015

I'm a little surprised I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Other than a brief period in my teens when I was obsessed with Asteroids and Defender, I've never been much into video games; My kids kicked my butt at Halo and various EA Sports games for years until I finally stopped playing; And, although I created a few computer games last year - including the unforgettable Spinach Top series, I've spent only a small percentage of my life creating video games.

But I admire those who can create these games - the people with enough imagination to conceive of a great game idea and enough technical skills to execute that idea.

Honoring the Code: Conversations with Great Game Designers put me in touch with those people. Video game enthusiast Matt Barton sought out the programmers and artists who worked on many of his favourite games and he asked them about their lives and their work. This book is primarily a transcript of those interviews.

Interviews include:

George Sanger, who composes and compiles music for video games, including 7th Guest. His main advice: "Be nice to each other".

John Romero, who built the influential first-person-shooter game Doom. Romeros was hailed as a rock star in the industry until his marketing department published a poorly-thought advertisement with the text: "John Romero is about to make you his bitch", which turned many fans against him.

The reclusive Rebecca Heineman, who was born William Heineman, but changed her name when she transgendered to a female as an adult. Heineman earned the nickname "Burger" by a habit of buying a sack of hamburgers, storing them in her desk, and eating them over the course of several days.

My favourite interview is in the last chapter - Paul Reiche and Fred Ford seem to be having the most fun.  For example, they started a company named "Toys for Bob" and they chose that name only because they liked the sound of it.  Although there is no actual "Bob", everyone in the company had to make up a story about who the "Real Bob" was.

One can read this book to learn and copy the habits of great games designers. Although there is a wide spectrum of personalities among the interviewees, most of them share a passion for video games that drives them to work long hours designing, building, and playing these games. And most of them began this passion early in life - well before high school.

One nice thing about this book is that you can read the chapters in any order - each interview stands on its own.

The author provides an introduction to the book - describing his motivation for conducting and publishing these interviews. I was surprised he did not end it with a conclusion - summarizing all he had learned.

For me, the book was interesting because I enjoyed a peek into the lives of people who have a passion for what they do for a living.

Friday, 13 March 2015 11:46:15 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 12 March 2015

March 6-8, I attended Hack The Anvil hackathon at Purdue University. About 350 student hackers - all from Purdue - attended this hackathon. I was joined by my colleague Brian Sherwin for most of the event and by Sarah Sexton on Sunday.

IMG_0996

Following the opening ceremony, I delivered a 30-minute tech talk describing cloud computing and Microsoft Azure I showed how to use Azure Web Sites, Azure Virtual Machines, and Azure Mobile Services. Although we didn’t offer a prize (as Microsoft often does at these events), a number of teams decided to incorporate Azure into their projects.

IMG_1006

We spent much of the weekend helping people debug their code. In addition to questions about Kinect and Azure, students asked questions about JavaScript and interfaces and HTTP, updating the Java SDK on a MacBook. 3 different teams set up node on Azure used Brian Sherwin's blog post (http://briansherwin.com/blog/2015/03/hack-tools-1-node-js-on-azure-with-linux-vm/) as a reference.

  • The best projects I saw using Microsoft projects were:
    An application that used Kinect to change the color and intensity of lights based on the user's hand gestures. This project integrated Python code with the C# code using the Kinect SDK. Brian Sherwin this team use the Kinect SDK and requested a copy of their source code. David Giard recorded an interview with the team.
  • A portal that allows video game enthusiasts to find other players with similar interests and to schedule multi-player games with one another. The portal was built on Azure Web Sites, the data was stored in SQL Azure and exposed via Azure Mobile Services
  • A Tampermonkey Chrome plugin built on Azure web sites that displays the text of a linked page below the link.

IMG_0999

Some other interesting projects were:

  • "ShotBot" - a robot bartender
  • Gloves that interact with a Wii remote to allow users to control mouse pointer movements from across the room.
  • "SmartFridge" - an Android application that allows users to scan the bar codes of the items in your refrigerator and keep track of when each item expires and when it is time to buy a new item.
  • A Java-based app to assist Dungeons & Dragons "Dragonmasters" to create the environments used in D&D.

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Many students integrated .NET or Azure into their application because we were there to help them.

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Purdue will be hosting a multi-school hackathon (BoilerMake) in the fall and I hope to attend this as well.

HackTheAnvil Photos

Thursday, 12 March 2015 14:07:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Microsoft sponsored the HackIllinois hackathon held at the University of Illinois February 27-March 1, 2015. Approximately 900 students attended. The following people from Microsoft worked on site:

  • Bill Fink, Technical Evangelist
  • David Giard, Technical Evangelist
  • Martin Schray, Technical Evangelist
  • Sarah Sexton, Technical Evangelist
  • Paul Sledd, Recruiter

IMG_0968

Of course, students love free stuff, so we came armed with some prizes: We gave away a t-shirt to anyone who completed a brief survey. When we ran out of t-shirts, we gave away books, stencils,mugs, and stickers. From those who completed the survey, we drew a name to win a Surface Pro 2.  William Su of Ga Tech won this drawing. We offered a HoodiePillow and a free Azure pass to anyone who wanted to incorporate Azure into their weekend hack. 42 people took advantage of this offer.

Throughout the weekend, the four evangelists answered questions from teams using Azure and other Microsoft technologies.

On the final day, we offered a Dell Venue 8 Pro to each member of the team with the best use of Azure. 18 teams completed an application with an Azure component.

It was a difficult choice and we debated for some time. One team hosted an impressive translation application on Azure; another created a GPS application that displayed the location of the user's dog and whether it had left their yard.

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We awarded the prize to a team from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for their Flock application - a system built on a Pebble watch to communicate restaurant recommendations to friends. Most of the application logic was in an Azure web service that called out to APIs exposed by Twillio and MailJet. The Pebble watch called to the Azure API. This team spent some time at our booth asking questions of Bill and Martin. You can watch an interview with this team at Technology and Friends.

Bill Fink brought his Kinect Photo Booth and it was a big hit. Many students were drawn to our booth when they walked past and saw themselves in front of a dinosaur or live volcano on the giant monitor at our table. The Photo Booth sent out 102 emails over the weekend.

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Overall, the event was a great success - Students came away with a positive impression of Microsoft and many used Azure and Kinect that probably would not have had we not been there. Many students were unaware what Azure even is. They were excited when they found out how it could help them and their projects. One team planned to use IBM for their back-end data storage; but after struggling with the IBM service and talking with Bill, they switched to Azure and completed their project successfully.

HackIllinois Photos

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 13:48:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 10 March 2015

This is the fifth in a series we are doing at DevRadio on female entrepreneurs. I interviewed Luan Cox of Crowdnetic – a global crowdfinancing platform.

Watch episode at DevRadio

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 12:26:42 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 09 March 2015
Monday, 09 March 2015 15:54:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, 08 March 2015

This is the fourth in a series we are doing at DevRadio on female entrepreneurs. I interviewed Jennifer Whaely and Jeff Everett of Pose-a-Pet, a Chicago-based company that helps find homes for animals.

Watch episode at DevRadio

Sunday, 08 March 2015 12:38:26 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, 07 March 2015

This is the third in a series we are doing at DevRadio on female entrepreneurs. I interviewed Diana Paredes, CEO of Suade - an open regulatory financial platform.

Watch episode at DevRadio

Saturday, 07 March 2015 20:20:21 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)