Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Azure Handbook

It's official, I'm writing an Azure book (isn't everybody?). The Azure Handbook is in progress and should become available not too long after the Azure 1.0 release. I'm expecting it will be available as both an e-book and a print book.

The Azure Handbook will cover the full Azure platform (Windows Azure, SQL Azure, .NET Services) from both business and technical perspectives.

In the spirit of all good technical books these days, I want lots of feedback before it's published. There's a book site up at where I'll be posting chapters for feedback as I write them. (And yes, the site is of course hosted in Windows Azure).

I have some specific goals for this book. It's my fourth technical book, and I've certainly learned some lessons from the previous ones that now make me a better writer.

Commitment #1: Shoot for brevity. This book will have lots of good things in it, but it's not going to be any longer than it needs to be. I'll be packaging the content as simply and clearly as possible. Nor will it regurgitate content that is readily available online already such as reference documentation.

Commitment #2: Don't repeat yourself. There was a time when I tried to write books where each chapter could stand completely on its own. This turns out to be a bad idea, as plenty of people will read a book through and resent the repetition. So, no repetition: just a logical progression of material with cross referencing as needed.

Commitment #3: Keep it up to date. As long as the book is active, I'll keep updates on the book site to keep the content current--up until the next major release of Azure.

I'm excited to write this book. I expect the content will flow easily as I'm speaking on Azure, writing on Azure, or developing in Azure just about every day now. I've also been fortunate enough to get experience with early adopters which is a big help in communicating what the experience is and what the best practices are shaping up to be.

Azure ROI Calculator Updated With Better International Support

Neudesic's popular Azure ROI Calculator has been updated to work better for users outside of the U.S. (that is, for those with regional settings besides English-US).

Even though the calculator only reflects the U.S. pricing announced in July, it turns out lots of people outside the U.S. still want to use the calculator. In this update the calculator will correctly format and compute charges regardless of your locale settings.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Azure Storage Explorer 3.0 Beta Now Available

I'm pleased to announce Azure Storage Explorer version 3.0 is now available as a beta release on CodePlex. Azure Storage Explorer is Neudesic's free tool for viewing and managing Windows Azure blobs, queues, and tables.

This third generation of Azure Storage Explorer has a fresh new user interface and many new features. Text blobs can be edited within the tool, and each of Windows Azure's storage types (blobs, queues, tables) can be imported/exported between the cloud and your local file system.

For tables, you can import or export records from spreadsheet CSV files, allowing you to conveniently use Excel to work with table data locally.

As this is a beta, users are advised to be careful in their use of it and to back up their cloud data frequently.

The formal release of Azure Storage Explorer 3.0 will come shortly after the release of Azure 1.0 in November. As always, Azure Storage Explorer is and will remain free.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Voice 2.0 for Silverlight/Azure is Coming November 5, 2009

Would you like to add voice and telephony capabilities to your Silverlight and Azure applications? Think of the extra dimension of user experience that could add to your Rich Internet Applications. Now you can, and the premier event to learn all about it (in person if you’re in the San Francisco area, else via webcast) is coming up on November 5, 2009.

For several months now I’ve been part of a Microsoft-Ribbit-Neudesic collaboration working to make Ribbit’s Voice 2.0 technology available to Silverlight developers in the form of customizable Silverlight controls integrated with Visual Studio and Expression Blend. Now that I’m allowed to start talking about it, I want to encourage Silverlight and Azure developers to attend the debut announcement and demo of Ribbit for Silverlight at Ribbit’s upcoming developer event, Spawn. After the event, I’ll be posting more about developing Voice 2.0 applications using Ribbit for Silverlight.

Here’s the official announcement from Ribbit:

Please join Ribbit in San Francisco November 5, 2009 for a deep dive into our open telephony APIs.

We’re excited to formally launch our RESTful API, and we’re looking for early adopters like you!

In the network of the future:
• Voice will simply be another data object – and will be carrier, network, device and protocol agnostic
• Legacy carrier networks will be merged with open networks / the internet
• Innovation will be developer driven, not constrained by existing carrier / telco business models

Ribbit is revolutionizing the communications paradigm by providing an open and fully programmable global communications platform. This platform allows any developer to integrate voice, messaging, and rich communications into any application, on Web experience.

Join us for a day of innovation and learning and an evening of coding and cocktails.

Ribbit + REST = Open Programmable Communications

Rebuilding the Ribbit Platform on top of a RESTful framework allows developers to interact with Ribbit at the server level, enabling new forms of application-to-person and application-to-application services. REST treats users, devices, calls, messages, and other elements as resources with which developers can easily interact — and exposes Ribbit’s core communications services in a platform-agnostic format using simple and secure HTTP calls.

Space is limited, Register ASAP!

If you cannot attend in person, please join us via webcast. Register by 11/3 at:


8:00 – 9:00 Registration and continental breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 Ribbit Platform Overview — New Features, Platform Roadmap & Pricing
10:00 – 11:00 Integrating Ribbit into Any Application, Workflow, Site or Online Campaign
11:00 – 11:30 New APIs and application showcase
11:30 – 12:00 Platform opportunities
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch

1:00 - 2:45 Afternoon Breakout Sessions
• Flash
• Java
• .NET

3:00 – 4:45 Afternoon Breakout Sessions
• Building Client-and Server-Side Apps
• JavaScript

5:00 - 9:00 Hands-On Coding with Ribbit’s API/Programming Language Experts
Coding for Flash, Silverlight
• Coding for Java, JS, PHP, REST, .NET

We look forward to seeing you there!

Team Ribbit

Ribbit is an open, cloud-based platform for communications innovation. By exposing our carrier-grade SmartSwitch™ though popular programming APIs, Ribbit enables the development of next generation “voiceware” applications, such as our white-labeled Ribbit for Salesforce® and Ribbit Mobile™ applications.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Will Cloud Computing Change Your Life? at PDC

Will Cloud Computing Change Your Life? --that's the topic of a "Birds of a Feather" lunch session at PDC 2009. I'll be on the panel along with Aaron Skonnard, Simon Guest, Michael Steifel, and Chris Pels. It should be a fun and informative discussion.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Speaking on Azure Migration 10/15/09 at So Cal .NET Architecture Group

On October 15th '09 I'll be speaking at the So Cal .NET Architecture Group on Migrating .NET Applications to Azure.

Migrating .NET Applications to Azure

In our October meeting we’ll look at what’s involved in migrating .NET applications and databases over to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. You’ll learn about the challenges and best practices around migrating databases to SQL Azure and migrating web applications to Windows Azure. Experiences doing this in the real world for early adopters will be shared. We’ll also discuss how to design applications and databases that are capable of running in the cloud or in the enterprise.

The next SoCal IASA chapter meeting will be Thursday October 15, 2009 at Rancho Santiago Community College District, 2323 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. Meeting starts at 7:00 pm, pizza and networking 6:30 pm. Meeting cost is $5 to help us cover the cost of food and beverages. RSVP please.