Friday, August 15, 2014

Azure Storage Explorer Preview 3 Now Available: Queue Support, Blob and Table Enhancements

I'm pleased to announce that the next installment of Azure Storage Explorer 6, Preview 3, is now available. Preview 3 adds Queue support along with expanded blob and table features. We've already posted a detailed walk-through of Preview 1 and Preview 2; now let's take a tour of what's new in Preview 3.

Queue Support

Preview 1 provided Blob support and Preview 2 added Table support. Now in Preview 3 you also have Queue support. Similar to how blob and table support work, you have a list of queues in your outline at left. When you select a queue, the top messages in the queue are listed in the main pane at right.

Message List

Actions you can take on queues include creating a queue, deleting the selected queue, or refreshing the queue list. Actions you can take on queue messages include refreshing the message list, creating a new message, creating a copy of an existing message, or popping the top message off of the queue (deleting it). When creating or copying a message, you enter or edit the message text that is to be inserted into the queue.

Creating a New Message

Enhanced Blob Support

We've made several enhancements to blob support. The earlier previews did not include the $logs container, which will exist if you have turned on logging and monitoring for your blob storage. This container is now listed if present.

Earlier previews did not show all blobs in the selected container, such as blobs with virtual directory paths in their name. The blob list is now exhaustive, showing you everything in the selected container.

Content Types

You can now configure a table of content types, which is used to set the Content Type property for a blob that you upload. This matters if blobs are read from public storage by a web browser, as the ContentType header helps the browser figure out how to handle the resource. The Content Type table is a simple table of file extensions and MIME types: if the file you upload ends with an extension listed in your table, its content type is set to the corresponding MIME type. You can view or edit the Content Types list from the top right settings menu ("Edit Content Types").

Editing Content Types for Uploaded Blobs

Enhanced Table Support

Table enhancements include a reordering of columns to put PartitionKey first, and a new upload capability. 

The table support that arrived in Preview 2 provided a means to download entities to CSV, JSON, or XML format - but had no matching upload capability. In Preview 3, you can also upload to tables.

When viewing a table, click the Upload button. On the dialog that appears, select the file containing data to upload and review the format selections and options.

CSV Upload

A CSV upload reads a comma-delimited text file for input. This is a popular simple export format that Excel can be used to edit. Azure Storage Explorer uses the CsvHelper library to parse your data file and insert entities.

When inserting entities, a partition key and row key are required to uniquely identify each entity. In the event your CSV file uses different column names for PartitionKey and RowKey, you can specify on the upload dialog the column names to use.

CSV Upload

Here is an example of valid CSV data that can be uploaded to a table:

Batman,DC Comics,8/6/2014 4:07:06 AM +00:00,5/1/1939 12:00:00 AM,Bruce Wayne
Green Lantern,DC Comics,8/6/2014 4:10:52 AM +00:00,7/1/1940 12:00:00 AM,Hal Jordan
Superman,DC Comics,8/6/2014 4:06:52 AM +00:00,4/18/1938 12:00:00 AM,Clark Kent
The Flash,DC Comics,8/6/2014 4:06:58 AM +00:00,1/1/1940 12:00:00 AM,Bart Allen
Iron Man,Marvel Comics,8/6/2014 4:07:58 AM +00:00,3/1/1963 12:00:00 AM,Tony Stark
The Human Torch,Marvel Comics,8/6/2014 4:13:02 AM +00:00,11/1/1961 12:00:00 AM,Johnny Storm
The Thing,Marvel Comics,8/6/2014 4:12:07 AM +00:00,11/1/1961 12:00:00 AM,Ben Grimm
Thor,Marvel Comics,8/6/2014 4:08:58 AM +00:00,8/1/1962 12:00:00 AM,Donald Blake

JSON Upload

A JSON upload reads a JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format text file for input. JSON is a very popular web transfer format in wide use today. Azure Storage Explorer uses the .NET JavaScriptSerializer to parse your data file and insert entities.

As with CSV uploads, you can specify the field name to be used for RowKey and PartitionKey. In addition, you specify the enclosing object name for the JSON.

JSON Upload

Here is an example of valid JSON data that can be uploaded to a table:

    "Entities": [
            "RowKey": "Batman",
            "PartitionKey": "DC Comics",
            "Timestamp": "8/6/2014 4:07:06 AM +00:00",
            "Debut": "5/1/1939 12:00:00 AM",
            "SecretIdentity": "Bruce Wayne"
            "RowKey": "Green Lantern",
            "PartitionKey": "DC Comics",
            "Timestamp": "8/6/2014 4:10:52 AM +00:00",
            "Debut": "7/1/1940 12:00:00 AM",
            "SecretIdentity": "Hal Jordan"
            "RowKey": "Superman",
            "PartitionKey": "DC Comics",
            "Timestamp": "8/6/2014 4:06:52 AM +00:00",
            "Debut": "4/18/1938 12:00:00 AM",
            "SecretIdentity": "Clark Kent"

XML Upload

An XML upload reads an XML file as input, another popular exchange format. Azure Storage Explorer uses the .NET XmlDocument class to parse your data file and insert entities.

As with CSV uploads, you can specify the field name to be used for RowKey and PartitionKey. In addition, you specify the XPath path to locate entity elements in the XML.

XML Upload

Here is an example of valid XML data that can be uploaded to a table:

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<Entities xmlns:xsi="">
    <PartitionKey>DC Comics</PartitionKey>
    <Timestamp>8/6/2014 4:07:06 AM +00:00</Timestamp>
    <Debut>5/1/1939 12:00:00 AM</Debut>
    <SecretIdentity>Bruce Wayne</SecretIdentity>
    <RowKey>Green Lantern</RowKey>
    <PartitionKey>DC Comics</PartitionKey>
    <Timestamp>8/6/2014 4:10:52 AM +00:00</Timestamp>
    <Debut>7/1/1940 12:00:00 AM</Debut>
    <SecretIdentity>Hal Jordan</SecretIdentity>
    <PartitionKey>DC Comics</PartitionKey>
    <Timestamp>8/6/2014 4:06:52 AM +00:00</Timestamp>
    <Debut>4/18/1938 12:00:00 AM</Debut>
    <SecretIdentity>Clark Kent</SecretIdentity>

The default option for error handling is to stop on the first error. The alternative option is to continue past errors and continue uploading.


Azure Storage Explorer 6 continues to move rapidly toward completion. There are now sufficient features in place that we've made it the default version for download on CodePlex. I hope you find it useful and productive to use.

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