If you're not familiar with Azure Storage Explorer, it's a community donation from Neudesic that lets you view and manage Windows Azure storage data. As far as I know, Azure Storage Explorer was the first such tool for Windows Azure: I wrote the first version in January 2009, and we've gone all the way up to version 4 which has been out for about a year and a half now. It's high time we came out with another version, especially given the major update to the platform that took place earlier this month.
Azure Storage Explorer isn't the most sophisticated tool in it's class--there are some good robust commercial offerings such as Cloud Storage Studio from Cerebrata, part of Red Gate Software. However, it does an adequate job for most users and it is free, which makes it useful in classroom settings. We also include the source code which makes it a useful example of a storage application for learning. There have been over 50,000 downloads to date.
Goals for Version 5
For version 5, we wanted to first of all match the look of the new HTML-based Windows Azure portal. Secondly, we wanted to support some the new features in Windows Azure storage, including the ability to configure and view both logging and monitoring. Third we wanted to resolve reported issues and adopt good suggestions that users have submitted on CodePlex. We've got some of that done in Preview 1 with more to follow.
Windows Azure Storage accounts can now be configured to track logging information. Azure Storage Explorer lets you can configure logging of reads, writes, and deletes for blobs, queues, and tables as you prefer, along with a retention policy for the data.
When you view your storage account blob containers, you'll notice a container named $logs if loggig is enabled for the account.
The blobs contain records showing storage access requests, in the form of textual data, separated by semicolons.
Windows Azure Storage accounts can also be configured to track metrics. Azure Storage Explorer lets you can configure the level of metrics for blobs, queues, and tables (off, minimal, or verbose) as you prefer, along with a retention policy for the data.
When you view your storage account tables, you'll notice four tables named $MetricsCapacityBlob, $MetricsTransactionsBlob, $MetricsTransactionsTable, $MetricsTransactionsQueue.
The amount of data in the tables depends on whether you've enabled minimal or verbose metrics collection.
New User Interface
Like the new Windows Azure portal, Azure Storage Explorer 5 has a look inspired by the styling of Windows 8 Metro apps. In Preview 1, we've made some of the more fundamental changes including fonts, layout, and colors in the main window---but there's more work to be done, including reworking dialogs and how we show the item detail view of blobs, messages, and entities.
I hope you enjoy this first preview of Azure Storage Explorer 5: and stay tuned for more.