[Azure] News for Developers, September 2017

This entry is part 6 of 52 in the series Azure news for Developers

Are you having trouble keeping track of everything that’s going around in Azure? You’re not alone! In an effort to do so myself, I’m starting a monthly series called “News for developers” which is exactly that: a summary of all of the Azure flavored news specifically for software developers. Now this is based on my personal feeds and my personal opinion, so you might miss things or see things which in your opinion do not matter. Feel free to comment below and I’ll see what I can do for the next edition. And honestly, this is more a personal reference than anything else so having actual readers would already be awesome šŸ™‚ Enjoy!

TheĀ Ignite 2017Ā conference took place this month. And as always with the bigger Microsoft conferences: there was news, lots of it. So this months list is a little bit longer than usual!


App Service specific updates

Here are some important updates from the world of Azure App Services:

  • There is now a new experience within theĀ Support Center for your app services (under “Diagnose and Solve Problems”). This service can analyse your app service instance and find out whats wrong, probably faster than you can yourself šŸ˜‰ (link)
  • Azure Functions is now also targeting .NET Core (in preview)! Seems overdue, but is probably linked with the availability of .NET Core 2 and .NET Standard 2.0. (link)
  • When using Azure Functions, you can now use theĀ Mock API to return sample data. Super useful for testing, obviously! (link)
  • A database service likeĀ Cosmos DBĀ andĀ Azure Functions are a perfect fit in the serverless world. And now they’ve started to integrate, with a preview capability to call Functions directly from triggers within Cosmos DB. (link)

The app services team keeps track of their updates in blog posts and inĀ this github repo. And you can find a monthly update on their blog as well. Check them out!


Visual Studio (Team Services)

Here’s the news coming from the Visual Studio and Visual Studio Team Services teams!

  • To better suit modern build processes, VSTS will start to supportĀ multi phase builds. More functionality will roll out over time but right now you can already phase your build definition. (link)
  • For both these new phases as well as build tasks, you can now use conditions to determine whether they should be executed or not.
  • In VS, a significant update has been made to the XAML designer. This is a huge deal as the design experience in VS has never been up to par with what we had in good-old Windows Forms. I haven’t had the chance to play with this yet but I definitely will, hoping it has gotten easier to build decent looking interfaces. (link)
  • InĀ wikiĀ pages, you can now preview your content as you go as well as paste rich content as HTML.
  • If you have theĀ work item hub preview features enabled, there’s a couple of changes including new views to filter and present the data you need.
  • Using customizedĀ notifications, you can now specify filters on fields and tags to determine of which items you would like to be notified.

Check out https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/vsts/release-notes/2017/sep-15-team-servicesĀ for the complete overview!



Here’s all the stuff that didn’t fit into one of the above categories:

  • The Azure Device Provision ServiceĀ should be very interesting for anyone working in the land of IoT. This service gives you zero-touch deployment of new devices into your IoT landscape. Thats NO configuration so NO work. How awesome! (link)
  • Stream Analytics (often used in but not specifically for IoT related scenarios) now supports output to Azure Functions. Previously you needed a queue or something similar to link these, not any more! Also new: machine based anomaly detection and visual studio tooling for CI and CD. (link)
  • Azure AD Managed Service IdentityĀ helps to keep credentials out of code which is super important, especially when you push stuff to public repos like Github.Ā Still in preview, but definitely worth the look. (link)
  • Azure API Management Service is now generally available. (link)
  • Availability Zones (in preview) are now offered in Azure regions East US 2 and West Europe. Of course Azure by default offers a lot of resilience already, but availability zones enable you to deploy your services to availability zones within the region. This ensures the services do not share any infrastructure (power source, network and cooling). (link)
  • Azure Service FabricĀ is coming to Linux! Since Microsoft services are becoming more and more platform independent, this makes total sense. (link)
  • TheĀ Azure cloud shell which enables shell access from the Azure portal now supports PowerShell in public preview. (link)
  • TheĀ Azure DDOS Protection Service, again a preview service, offers DDOS protection for all you web endpoints. (link)


Artificial Intelligence

Because there was a ton of news in this segment at Ignite, I grouped them into their own category for this post.

  • New artificial intelligence related tools have been announced. These include:
    • AML Workbench, a cross-platform client for AI-powered data wrangling and experiment management.
    • AML Experimentation Service to help data scientists increase their rate of experimentation with big data and GPU’s
    • AML Model Management Service to host, version, manage and monitor machine learning methods.
  • Visual Studio Code Tools for AI which enable Visual Studio Code users to step into the world of AI right from within their favorite editor.
  • ForĀ Cognitive Services, the Text Analytics service is now generally available. And starting October this year,Ā Bing Custom Search will also be available (this was demoed during the Vision keynote).
  • The Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) andĀ bot framework will become GA later this year (finally!).
  • Artificial Intelligence is also making its way into Microsofts own products. Cortana is of course a good example, but now things are popping up in other products as well. One example is the intelligentĀ virtual agent that comes with Dynamics 365.

Check out this link for a complete update on all stuff AI!


That’s it for this month, see you next month for another round of Azure news!


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