Windows Azure Training Kit – October 2012

The moment that you’ve all been waiting for has come, the October 2012 drop of the Windows Azure Training Kit has been released! This release is rather significant and I’ll get into the details in a few minutes, but first I wanted to call out the Windows Azure Training Kit page on

Special Thanks to the team for updating the Windows Azure Training Kit page.


What’s new in this Release?

The October 2012 update of the Windows Azure Training Kit includes 47 hands-on labs, 24 demos and 38 presentations designed to help you learn how to build applications that use Windows Azure services. The October update includes updated hands-on labs to use the latest version of Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8, new demos and presentations.


We received a lot of requests to add speaker notes in the slide presentations. I’m happy to announce that we have included speaker notes necessary to support the majority of sessions in the Agendas which are outlined on the Agendas section. The following presentations have speaker notes to aid you in delivering a session:



Localized Content

We have scene how excited the community was about mobile services, so we have created new GitHub organizations to host localized versions of the Mobile Services Presentation.

Hands-on Labs

September marked the launch of Visual Studio 2012 RTM. How do we ring in this celebration? We’ve converted a number of Hands-on Labs to support Visual Studio 2012. In addition to this, we wanted to ensure that you were properly supported for running community events, so we have ensured that the Hands-on Labs will work with Visual Studio 2012 Express Editions just incase you or your audience do not have a license.

Labs available for use with Visual Studio 2012

New Labs page Layout

As the number of labs has increased, we wanted to provide a nice simple way of discovering the provided hands-on labs. The page is divided now into VS2012, VS2010, Open Source, Scenario, and All [which is the classic layout with the ability to Navigate by Service.]

Windows Azure Training Kit Hands-on Labs


You may not have noticed in the August 2012 REFRESH but we shipped a few demos. You might not have noticed this because we didn’t have a navigation page for you to browse them, they were just sitting around on your hard drive if you were adventurous enough to check.

We’ve added a landing page now which will help you navigate and discover the demos which we have packaged for use with the presentations.


Available Demos


GitHub - Codercat

One of the nicest things about the Windows Azure Training Kit is that it is open source and available on GitHub. This enables you in the community to Report Issues or Fork and either extend the solution or commit bug fixes back to the Training Kit.

You can find out more details about  the training kit from our GitHub Page including guidelines on how to commit back to the project.

Happy Clouding!

WebMatrix 2: Available at a Web Platform Installer Near You

WebMatrix v2  hits the shelves yesterday so run out and download it now!. There are many additions to WebMatrix in this launch and I would like to take the time to describe a few of the things that may shock and excite you.

If you aren’t familiar with WebMatrix here is a quick blurb from the product page:

WebMatrix is a free and lightweight web development tool.
Create, publish, and maintain your website with ease.

What is new in WebMatrix 2?

It’s incredible how many features they can plug into WebMatrix and still have it be very lightweight and simple to use. Let’s take a look at some of the newly supported features of WebMatrix 2.

Intelli-Sense & Syntax Highlighting

Ok, so this might not necessarily be *new* to WebMatrix, but it has definitely been expanded. Many of you may be asking, what the $#@! is Intelli-sense? Intelli-sense is autocomplete on steriods, not only does it list the options for what you are currently typing, but it provides information around if what you’re typing is a method, constant or other variable type, it will also provide you with the method signature or additional information about the particular item you have selected in the list. There is intelli-sense and syntax highlighting support for the following languages/frameworks:

  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • Node.js
  • PHP
  • Javascript
    • WordPress
    • Joomla!
    • Drupal
    • LESS
    • SASS
    • jQuery Mobile

    Yeah, WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! support, WebMatrix is making it easier to extend your favourite Open Source CMS by providing a quick reference to the built in methods of these framework applications.

    Community Oriented

    Now for something everyone can enjoy!

    Web Gallery

    Install a wide variety of Open Source projects directly from the Web Gallery including WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal and phpBB. New items are added to this list on a regular basis, so it could also be a great tool to discover new Open Source Projects.


    Extension Gallery

    Another cool community aspect of WebMatrix is the extension gallery, which allows you to build custom extensions to WebMatrix. The extension gallery is already chalked full of great extensions including Git for WebMatrix, iPhone, iPad & Windows Phone Simulator.

    Mobile Friendly

    Mobile is all the rage right now, so having a tool not only helps you test on mobile device emulators, but actually gets you started with Mobile Friendly Templates and has auto completion for jQuery mobile, it’s like a match made in heaven.

    Cloud Friendly

    Last but definitely not least, the one thing you most likely come to my blog for, THE CLOUD! WebMatrix allows you to deploy to Windows Azure right out of the box. Of course this isn’t the only deployment option, but quite frankly, it’s the only deployment option I’ll be using. Within a few steps you can be publishing an existing site from your hard drive to Windows Azure Web Sites, or pull down that WordPress site you installed using the Windows Azure Gallery for a few quick changes.

    To Learn more about the cloud features, read Announcing WebMatrix 2 by Jonathan Guerin.

    Using WebMatrix to Develop Apps with PEAR Modules

    If you’re developing PHP on Windows, Microsoft has an IDE that may be of some interest to you, it’s called WebMatrix. WebMatrix is an extremely powerful IDE providing code highlighting for PHP, Node.js, ASP.NET Razor, it even offers code completion for popular OSS CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Unlike conventional IDE’s it’s extremely lightweight, despite it’s heavy hitting features.

    One of the oddities of WebMatrix is that is installs it’s own copy of php on your system located in C:\Program Files (x86)\IIS Express\PHP. Normally not a big deal, however if you start building larger applications you’ll probably want to include some functionality which will require a Pear package. This isn’t as straight forward as one would hope.

    Installing Pear in WebMatrix

    Before I send you down a wild goose chase, you can validate that WebMatrix is actually using the php.ini file from it’s own installation, you can do this by including <?php phpinfo(); ?> in one of your php files then run the site. I have also assumed that you have already installed Pear using the instructions.

    When the PHP Information loads you’ll want to check two of the variables first check Loaded Configuration File this will tell you the path of the php.ini file it is reading the configuration information from. Second, you’ll want to check out include_path which will print out the include paths that it will check for addition application code blocks, such as Pear Packages by default this will be .;C:\php\pear.

    Finding the Pear directory on your machine

    To find the path to Pear on your machine open up the command prompt and type pear config-get php_dir, copy the path that is outputted and close the window.

    In order to change the php.ini file, you’ll need to open Notepad with elevated permissions this is due to the file being contained in the Program Files directory which is protected by the Operating System.  Once you have opened the WebMatrix php.ini file from C:\Program Files (x86)\IIS Express\PHP\v5.3 scroll to the bottom of the file and add include_path=".;C:\Path\From\Pear\Config\Output\"

    Oh Great, I did all that and it still doesn’t work

    Before you go and brush your shoulders off, you need to restart IIS Express. The php.ini file is only loaded when the IIS Express process is started, there is no file system watcher set up to monitor changes to the php.ini file.

    Restart IIS Express by clicking on the blue circular arrow (marked restart) in the Sites tray of the WebMatrix Home Ribbon.

    How to use CakePHP on Windows Azure Web Sites

    On June 13, 2013 the Windows Azure Web Sites team announced support for CakePHP in the Windows Azure App Gallery. Check out the post on Installing CakePHP from the Windows Azure Web Site Gallery

    One day Last week, I set out to get a simple CakePHP site up and running on Windows Azure Web Sites.

    CakePHP is an open source MVC framework for building PHP applications.

    CakePHP is a framework, which means ideally, there should not be anything specific to get it working on any platform. As I suspected this is exactly the case, you can simply:

    1. Download CakePHP 2.2.1
    2. Unzip the Package
    3. Deploy to Windows Azure Web Sites
      1. Upload files to Windows Azure Web Sites with FTP or;
      2. Deploy Windows Azure Web Sites applications with Git
    4. Build your Application
      1. I used the CakePHP Blog Tutorial to test the functionality

    CakePHP on IIS (aka Windows Azure Web Sites)

    One thing to note about hosting CakePHP applications on Windows Azure Web Sites is that your site will be running in IIS. As such you do need to add a web.config to your deployment to get the friendly urls to work as IIS does not know how to decipher .htaccess files [Import Apache mod_rewrite rules using IIS Url Rewrite tool].

    Here is a sample web.config file [found on the CakePHP site] for running CakePHP in Windows Azure Web Sites.

    Happy Clouding!