How to Set Up Your Windows Azure Development Environment
At the time of this writing, the Windows Azure platform provides
excellent support for node.js, Java, PHP and .NET developers. Other
development languages may be used with varying levels of tooling support.
This document lays out how to set up a .NET environment with the 1.6
version of the SDK. (NOTE: If you’re using the previous version of the
SDK, 1.5, (or are just curious about how much easier it is now!) please
The .NET development environment is Visual Studio. As a Bizspark
member you can choose whatever version of Visual Studio you like, so
most folks just go for the gusto: Visual Studio Ultimate Edition. See
this page for comparisons of the various editions. Once you’ve installed
VS 2010 Ultimate, run Windows Update. There are several Windows hotfixes
other updates that are prerequisites for VS 2010 SP1, so let Windows
Update do whatever it needs to do to get SP1 installed. Next: go to
Azure.com and get the Windows Azure Tools and SDK. The installer
will offer you lots of extra stuff after putting on the tools and SDK.
These extras are completely optional. Your workstation is now ready
Each time you boot your computer and then run a cloud project in
Visual Studio, the Compute Emulator (Development Fabric) and Storage
Emulator will require a few extra seconds to start up. Visual Studio
must be “Run as Administrator” so it can start them up.
(NOTE: What you’re about to do is establish a certificate relationship
between your workstation and your cloud subscription. This allows your
workstation to automate the Azure environment to manage your deployments.)
Start Visual Studio and create a new Cloud project. (the .NET language
Take the defaults, click OK. Into the cloud project, add an ASP.NET
Web Role project.
Take all defaults along the way. Run the project (F5) to satisfy
yourself that it works in the Development Fabric, a compute environment
for your developer workstation that emulates the Windows Azure compute
environment. The first time you run a cloud project in the Development
Fabric, it’s going to set up a Storage Emulator as well. The Windows
Azure Storage Service is emulated on your desktop via SQL Server Express
if you took all the defaults during Visual Studio setup. If you have
difficulties with this step, please refer to this
article. The next step is to publish your cloud project to Azure.
Right-click the cloud project in Solution Explorer and take the “Publish…”
Take the link to “Sign in to download credentials”. This takes you
to the Microsoft account sign in page. An XML file will be then be downloaded
to your workstation. Import it using the Import… button on the dialog.
A management certificate is generated and uploaded to your Azure subscription’s
management certificate store by these actions. This enables your workstation
tools (including Visual Studio) to manage your hosted services by automating
the Azure environment.
With a completely new subscription, there are no hosted services
or storage accounts. You can either create these through the management
portal, or you can let Visual Studio do it for you on the next page
of the wizard. Either way, that page requires that you specify the hosted
service that you want to push your new service into and the storage
account that your bits will be pushed to during the deployment process.
The last thing that is really important in setting up your environment
is Remote Desktop. This is one of your most powerful tools in managing
your cloud environment as well as understanding it. The 1.6 SDK has
made this a trivial process, but it bears mentioning.
By checking the box, a certificate is created and uploaded into your
hosted service’s certificate store. Visual Studio will ask you for a
user id and password to use to sign in to your role instances. I usually
use “Greg” and my favorite strong password. This information is put
into the service configuration file. As each new instance is created
a user account with these credentials is created.
The Next page in the wizard displays your chosen values for publishing.
Click “Publish” to start the process. It can take as little as 5 minutes
but usually takes about 15.
Recap: In this document we have explained the process of setting
up a .NET developer’s Azure workstation:
- Install Visual Studio
- Run Windows Update to get VS 2010 SP1 installed
- Install Windows Azure Tools and SDK
- Run Visual Studio for the first time (Run as Administrator)
- Create your first cloud project / web application
- Run the project in the Compute Emulator
- Configure the Storage Emulator
- Publish the solution to Windows Azure (set up the management
cert along the way)
- Configure solution roles to use Remote Desktop