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Windows Azure Gets .NET Upgrades

The enhancements include integration with the ASP.NET Web API.

Windows Azure has gotten a ton of upgrades in its latest release, including a bagful of goodies for .NET Framework developers, especially in the area of Mobile Services.

Scott Guthrie, the new Cloud & Enterprise Executive Vice President at Microsoft, replacing Satya Nadella, blogged about the host of improvements, which he called "...a massive amount of enhancements." Those enhancements are concentrated in three areas of interest to developers: .NET support, Notification Hubs integration and PhoneGap.

Perhaps the most significant of those is support for backend Mobile Service logic using .NET and the ASP.NET Web API. Guthrie outlined five main advantages of this integration:

    1. You can use ASP.NET Web API and Visual Studio together with Mobile Services to build great mobile apps
    2. You can publish any existing Web API to Mobile Services and integrate additional Mobile Services features like mobile authentication and push notifications
    3. You can take full advantage of Web API features like OData controllers, and 3rd party Web API-based frameworks like Breeze
    4. You can debug your Mobile Services .NET backend using Visual Studio running locally on your machine or remotely in Azure
    5. With Mobile Services we run, manage, monitor and scale your Web API for you.

.NET support is added through the Windows Azure Management Portal. Currently, this is the only way to add .NET, but Guthrie said that a "future update" will provide support directly within Visual Studio. That update "...will provide additional Mobile Service tooling features on top of the standard Web API project support," Guthrie blogged.

Once the mobile service is created, it's published to Azure. Guthrie added that another update to Visual Studio (again, in the future) will allow publishing from within Visual Studio, continuing Microsoft's push to keep developers inside Visual Studio as much as possible.

Sending push notifications through Azure has also been simplified with the latest release, providing Notification Hub integration (which is still in the preview stage). The integration makes it easier to send notifications to any (or all) users with a single API call on the backend, through either the .NET Framework or Node.js.

Finally, developers building cross-platform apps with PhoneGap will notice that it's been integrated into the Azure management portal, making it easier to get to.

In interviews with Visual Studio Magazine, Guthrie discussed a number of incentives Microsoft has implemented to persuade developers to try out Azure, including time credits. He also talked about the cross-platform abilities enabled by Azure.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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