Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 Debuts At Build


Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 allows developers to link into Azure’s cloud compute and storage APIs

Microsoft has released a new toolkit for developers to take advantage of the cloud capabilities of Windows Azure from Windows 8 Metro style applications.

The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 is designed to make it easier for developers to create a Windows Metro style application that can harness the power of Windows Azure Compute and Storage, said Windows Azure technical evangelist Nick Harris in a blog post.

Metro Style For Azure

At the Microsoft Build conference here, Microsoft Server and Tools president Satya Nadella, announced the new toolkit that gives developers guidance as well as templates and tools for tapping into Azure from Metro apps.

The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 includes a Windows 8 Cloud Application project template for Visual Studio that makes it easier for developers to create a Windows Metro-style application that uses services in Windows Azure, Harris said.

“This template generates a Windows Azure project, an ASP.NET MVC 3 project, and a Windows Metro style JavaScript application project,” Harris said. “Immediately out-of-the-box the client and cloud projects integrate to enable push notifications with the Windows Push Notification Service (WNS). In addition, the Windows Azure project demonstrates how to use the WNS recipe and how to leverage Windows Azure Blob and Table storage.”

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices, consisting of tools for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. Using the toolkits, developers can use the cloud to accelerate the creation of applications on the major mobile platforms. Now Microsoft has extended many of those back-end capabilities so developers can take advantage of a scalable cloud platform to power Metro style applications on Windows 8.

Specifically, the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 includes:

  • Guidance in the forms of code samples, documentation and best practices
  • Tooling support with Visual Studio project templates
  • Code in the shape of reusable services and libraries

The toolkit supports JavaScript and HTML5, as well as .NET, C#, C++ and Visual Basic, so developers can use their preferred languages to take advantage of sign-on identities and notifications on Windows 8.

In addition, the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 contains a rich set of assets including a Dependency Checker, Windows Push Notification Service recipe, Dev 11 project templates, VS 2010 project templates and Sample Applications, Harris said.

Travelling On Metro

At Build, Microsoft technical fellow John Shewchuk (pictured) demonstrated a Metro style travel application that leveraged Windows Azure compute and storage capabilities. Vittorio Bertocci, a Microsoft engineer who built the demo app, said, “The application is a very simple travel management utility, with the typical look of the Metro Style app.” Bertocci also noted that his team has been working with the appropriate Windows engineering team “to make sure we connect to ACS from Metro style applications by making proper use of the new Windows security features”.

Wade Wegner, a Microsoft engineer who helped Bertocci with the demo app, said the application, known as Margie’s Travel, is a sample travel application that demonstrates how you can track and manage your trips across multiple Windows 8 machines using a combination of technologies in Windows Azure and Windows 8.

“The application is a Metro styled app built on HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Additionally, this application was rapidly built by using the templates and samples found in the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8,” Wegner said.

Moreover, the Windows Azure Team blog said:

“In today’s multi-device world, the cloud becomes a strategic hub for applications, experiences, and data. These toolkits leverage the cloud to simplify the complexity of supporting multiple devices while exploiting each device. Developers can use Windows Azure to support common requirements like device notifications, authentication, storage, and even higher-level services like leader boards for gaming. At the same time, the toolkit helps developers take full advantage of each device by writing client code for each platform.”

In short, “The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 provides developers a rich set of re-useable assets that demonstrate how to start using Windows Azure quickly from Metro style applications in Windows 8,” Harris said.

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