Azure Certification Jump Start in New York City

If you’re interested in any of the following, this is a must-attend, free, hands-on event!

  • Becoming Azure certified
  • Improving your marketability in the new cloud-optimized world
  • Becoming a systems architect
  • Staying current on the latest technologies
  • Becoming a cloud EXPERT

Join us for a full day focused on architecting Microsoft Azure systems and solutions. You’ll also discover what’s required to pass the MCP Azure Certification exam.

We’ll cover all the exam objectives, including PowerShell, through live demos, hands-on labs and discussions, and we will tailor the agenda to fit your needs and concerns.

Agenda: (subject to change without notice)
Everyone who attends will receive a copy of the Microsoft Press guide, 70-534 Exam Reference: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (co-authored by Dan and a $40 value). The event also includes breakfast, lunch, and drinks during the social hour — all at no cost to you, thanks to our generous sponsors.

View detailed agenda

Everyone who attends will receive a copy of the Microsoft Press guide, 70-534 Exam Reference: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (co-authored by Dan and a $40 value). The event also includes breakfast, lunch, and drinks during the social hour — all at no cost to you, thanks to our generous sponsors.

We hope you can join us, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Speakers:
Dan Stolts
Sr. Technology Evangelist, Microsoft
Brian Lewis
Sr. Technology Evangelist, Microsoft

 

Developing for the Microsoft Band Android Edition

In my last post we looked at getting set up to develop a Windows Phone app using the Microsoft Band SDK as well as Visual Studio Community Edition on a Windows 10 machine. We also looked at using the Web Tiles, which utilizes a web interface to build a communication tile that you install with your Microsoft Health App. In this post, we will look at getting going with Android development.

In order to start development for the Microsoft Band let’s go over some ground rules. You are not building an app for the “Band”. You are building an app for a mobile device (aka Phone) which will take advantage of all of the sensors within the Band. Think of the Band as sending and receiving information. It sends data from it’s sensors and receives data from the app that you create.

There are 2 major aspects of developing for the Band. The “app” and the “Band UI”. The app is something that you have full control over. The UI, the code, the OS (yes, we support Android, iOS and Windows development). The Band UI is more structured and starts with the Tile which is the first interaction with your app. Once the user engages with the Tile, you then can create Pages with information and actions.

Development Setup

To get started with the Microsoft Band development, we will first need to get our machine up and running. Whether you are on Windows or Mac, the steps are pretty much the same.

  1. Download and install Java JDK
  2. Download and install Visual Studio Emulator for Android (Windows) or Xamarin Android Player (Mac)…Visual Studio Emulator for the Mac coming soon.
  3. Download and install Android Studio
  4. Download the Android SDK for Microsoft Band

Once everything is downloaded and installed, you can start by creating an empty Android project.

After the project is created and before you start coding, you will need to make sure we have the Microsoft Band SDK (jar file) added to our project. In Android Studio we can drag our jar file into our lib directory. Once we do that, make sure you right click on the jar file and choose “Add as Library” so it is added to your Gradle and project.

Now you are ready to start development!

Development Process

The process of creating an app and connecting to the band is in 3 steps.

  1. The first step in our app is to make a connection to a Band. To make a connection, the Band and the our Android device must be paired. Item to note – this will not work within the emulator, you will need a device. You can use the Band Client Manager to get a list of paired Bands, and establish a connection to one or more paired Bands.

     
  2. Once we get a list of paired bands we can then start the process of subscribing to its sensors. The subscriptions are managed by the Band Sensor Manager on the Band Client. For each hardware sensor, the Sensor Manager allows the application developer to create a subscription. A subscription is essentially a platform-specific callback mechanism. It will deliver data at intervals specific to the sensor. Some sensors have dynamic intervals, such as the Accelerometer (on Android and Windows), that allow developers to specify at what rate they want data to be delivered. Other sensors deliver data only as their values change.

    Item to note – sensor subscription can be taxing on battery. Use as needed.
  3. We also then can create a Event Listener to perform our operations.

    Item to note – The Heart Rate sensor requires user consent to access. You can prompt and check if the user provided the appropriate permissions before your calls.

     
  4. That is basically it. There are some clean up methods such as deregistering the event listeners when done, but more or less those couple of lines will get you up and running.

Take a look at the following Channel 9 Video for more detail on building the full app or the GitHub repo.

band-channel9

 

PHP and Azure Data Services

When we think of PHP we also think of MySQL. The perfect relationship. PHP can provide the logic and MySQL can provide the data storage. There are others like SQLite, Postgres, MariaDB, MongoDB and more. All of these provide great functionality and performance but there are a few services that Azure has that can be deployed quickly and managed really easy. We are going to look into 3 services that Azure utilizes to make deploying and building PHP apps really easy and scalable.

Using Azure Microsoft SQL Server

This is not something new. PHP has supported MS SQL for a while now but why not utilize the ability of creating a SQL DB out on Azure and using the ODBC drivers to connect to SQL. By using SQL as a Service you can build software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that use Azure SQL Database to provide flexibility to support both explosive growth. For workloads with unpredictable database resource consumption, the elastic database model gives you the ability to pool resources to use among a group of databases. Instead of overprovisioning a virtual machine to meet peak demand, you can use an elastic database pool to let hundreds or thousands of databases use resources within a budget that you control.

You are also removing virtually all infrastructure maintenance with SQL Database, which provides automatic software patching as part of the service. Meanwhile, built-in system replicas using the quorum writes technique help deliver inherent data protection, database uptime, and system stability, which means fewer hassles for developers and architects. System replicas are automatically moved to new computers, which are provisioned on the fly as old ones fail.

Now you do not have to focus on the “database server” you can just put your focus on your business and technology.

Here is an example. Using sqlsrv_connect and a MS SQL instance out on Azure, you can be up and running in no time.

Using Azure App (Mobile) Services

Azure App Service is the only cloud service that integrates everything you need to quickly and easily build web and mobile apps for any platform and any device. Built for developers, App Service is a fully managed platform with powerful capabilities such as built-in DevOps, continuous integration with Visual Studio Online and GitHub, staging and production support, and automatic patching. Using Mobile Apps in Azure App Service, it offers a highly scalable, globally available mobile application development platform for Enterprise Developers and System Integrators that brings a rich set of capabilities to mobile developers.

Why Mobile Apps?

Mobile Apps in Azure App Service offers a highly scalable, globally available mobile application development platform for Enterprise Developers and System Integrators that brings a rich set of capabilities to mobile developers. With Mobile Apps you can create API’s in minutes. Customize those API’s to include push notifications, authentication and more.

Here is an example on how to set up a Mobile app as well as integrating the service with a PHP application. There is a Azure JavaScript Library that you can import and use for your app.

Using Azure PHP SDK

The other way to utilize manage storage is via Azure Storage (blobs, files, tables). Azure Storage is massively scalable, so you can store and process hundreds of terabytes of data to support the big data scenarios required by scientific, financial analysis, and media applications. Or you can store the small amounts of data required for a small business website. Wherever your needs fall, you pay only for the data you’re storing. Azure Storage currently stores tens of trillions of unique customer objects, and handles millions of requests per second on average.

Azure Storage is elastic, so you can design applications for a large global audience, and scale those applications as needed – both in terms of the amount of data stored and the number of requests made against it. You pay only for what you use, and only when you use it.

In order to access Azure Storage in PHP you will need to install the Azure PHP SDK and configure your application as well as set up a storage account.

Wrap up

Each of these options will provide you with managed data storage, easy setup, and highly scalable so you can focus on your code and your business.

Check out phpmssqldemo.azurewebsites.net for examples of all three scenarios.

Using MS Open Tech to Quickly Build Your Virtual Machine

Azure Marketplace is a great place to start your search for a Virtual Machine to start building your app or infrastructure on. However, these VM’s are sometimes vanilla and will need to be configured to your liking. Let’s use Rails as an example. In order to get a Rails app on a Virtual Machine there are a bunch of steps you will need to perform. First, create the operating system VM, Linux. Make sure that is up to date (sudo apt-update). Then you need to install Rails, Nginx, Unicorn, some sort of database like Postgres and dont forget permissions and users.

Having a custom install is cool but sometimes the situation does not call for that. There is MS Open Tech for that.

msopen

Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., (MS Open Tech) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation to advance Microsoft’s investment in openness including interoperability, open standards and open source.

At MS Open Tech, we focus on providing our customers with even greater choice and opportunity to bridge Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies together in heterogeneous environments. We believe that openness is good for our customers, good for the community and good for our business.

We’re a diverse team of engineers, standards professionals and technical evangelists who are experienced and passionate in working with an equally diverse set of technologies from Microsoft and others.

Every day, we are powering interoperability and opportunity across developers, partners, customers and competitors.

We build open source code. We create interoperability bridges. We contribute open standards specs. We work with a variety of standards organizations such as: W3CIETFOASISEcmaDMTF, and open source communities including: JQueryMongoDB,Apache CordovaRedisApache, Qpid.NET Foundation, OpenJDKEclipseNode.jsCocos2d,  Web Platform DocsSymfony, DoctrineWebKitGitHubCodePlex and more.

Our team works closely across Microsoft business groups to support our customers’ journey in a mobile first, cloud first world.

As a result, you can do more and achieve more with the openness of the Microsoft platform.

  • You can build with the tool of your choice.
  • You can work across platforms.
  • You can collaborate through code.

There are Projects that MS Open Tech builds, HTML5 Labs that contributes to the Edge platform and VM Depot where a community managed repository of Linux and FreeBSD virtual machine images for easy deployment to Microsoft Azure reside.

You can search for a open source product or platform and most likely there is an image that is ready to go and deploy. Let’s use WordPress as an example.

  1. Search for WordPress and you will see a listing of results.
  2. Choose the result that best fits your need.
    wpubu
  3. Click on Create Virtual Machine (or if you are familiar with PowerShell you can get a deployment script)
  4. Login to the MS Open Tech website using one of the 3 Authentication methods.
  5. You can fill out the minimum to create an account on the MS Open Tech site.
  6. Accept the T&C and Click Save
  7. The next step is to link your Azure account with MS Open Tech to create the deployment. If you have your publication file you can upload it, otherwise you can click the Azure Publish Settings link within the copy and it will download one for you (as long as you are currently logged into the Azure portal).
  8. Once downloaded, you can now upload it to the site.
  9. Once that is connected, you now can configure some of the VM settings. DNS Name, Username/Password as well as region, storage accounts and endpoints.
  10. Once you are happy with your configuration, click I agree and Create VM. It should take a few minutes and your new VM will show up in your Azure portal.
  11. One thing to note. If you choose a VM with configured software you might need to read the README to find out usernames and passwords to certain products.

 

Developing for the Microsoft Band

I am embarking on a series on Developing for the Microsoft Band. If you are not familiar with the Band it is a product that is in its second iteration. With 11 sensors ranging from accelerometer and gyroscope to heart rate and skin sensor, the Band is a great device.

The first part of the series we will be looking at Web Tiles. Microsoft Band Web Tiles make it extremely simple to deliver relevant information to the Band from virtually any data source accessible through the web. Developers only have to write web tile code once to support multiple mobile platforms (iOS, Android and Windows) since the Microsoft Health app takes responsibility for doing the rest – installing the web tile to the Band, accessing web resources for content, extracting and formatting the content, and delivering that content to the associated web tile on the Band.

A web tile, fully described by a “web tile package”, contains a variety of information including tile metadata, information needed to fetch data from the web and format it for the tile, and other resources associated with creation and updates of the tile.

Then we will dive into the SDK.

We are going to look into the Microsoft Band SDK which will allow third-party application developers to harness the power of Microsoft Band. The SDK gives developers access to the sensors available on the Band, as well as the ability to create Tiles on the Band and to send notifications to these Tiles from their applications. Through the SDK, you, as an application developer, will be able to enhance and extend the experience of your application to your customers’ wrists. This opens up a whole new dimension of interaction and enables new, richer scenarios for your applications that make use of the capabilities of the Band.

Applications that work with Microsoft Band make use of the Microsoft Band SDK to communicate with the Band. The application logic runs on the host OS (iPhone, Android, Windows), and remotely controls the UI of the Band as well as receives contextual information and sensor data from the Band.

The features offered by the Microsoft Band SDK are as follows: 

  • Multi-platform support 
  • Sensor data subscriptions 
  • Tile creation and management 
  • Tile notifications 
  • Custom layouts 
  • Haptic notifications 
  • Band theme personalization

The SDK is also supported on a wide range of platforms. They include Windows Phone 8.1 and later, Windows 8.1 and later (Store Apps) iOS 7 and later, Android 4.2 (API 17) and later.

Channel 9 Video

band-vid

More Info:

Part 2: using Android

Microsoft Ventures Northeast Events

Microsoft Ventures (MSV) info event in Boston and New York is taking place soon. You’ll get to learn about the next MSV Accelerator focused on Machine Learning, network with MSV folks from Seattle, and learn how to apply. Please find details below.

NEW YORK
DATE: October, 21, 2015
TIME: 6-8 PM
LOCATION: NYU, Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship
REGISTRATION: http://aka.ms/domoredata-nyc

BOSTON
DATE: October, 22, 2015
TIME: 6-8 PM
LOCATION: Venture Café
http://aka.ms/domoredata-boston

Since we assume you’re coming straight from work, light apps and drinks will be provided. RSVP while there’s still room!

Microsoft Ventures

Microsoft Ventures is a global initiative empowering entrepreneurs around the world on their journey to build great companies. We’re focused on building partnerships with venture funds, angel investors, incubators, accelerators, corporate executives, and at the core startups, as well as run its own accelerators around the world. Our goal and objective is to help scale and grow startups by giving them a great working environment, access to mentors and service providers, free technological tools and connecting them to Microsoft’s customers and business partners. The next batch of the program opens on Feb 2016 and it’s going to be themed around Machine Learning and Data Science. We will be targeting startups that are a more mature than previous batches – such that raised $1M-$1.5M, with an existing product and maybe even initial traction.

 

The 4-month program offers the following unique and distinctive benefits to the startups:

  • No Equity Program – all the benefits in the program are totally free, takes no equity or any other type of payment or special rights in the companies.
  • Access to Microsoft facility in downtown Seattle, the startup hub in the city.
  • $25K no-strings attached one-time gift to cover travel and living expenses
  • Technology agnostic – companies can be accepted to the program using any technology they want. It’s up to the company to decide whether they use Microsoft’s technologies to boost their growth or use any other infrastructure that fits their need.
  • Having said that, startups that choose to use Azure will enjoy the help of the ML product group in architecting their solutions to the right size and using the cutting edge services Azure ML offers.
  • Access to the Microsoft distribution channels – Microsoft Ventures is committed to help startups who have relevant products to our customers and partners get connected to them through our massive distribution channels. In addition, startups will receive assistance in getting set up on the Azure Marketplace allowing the Microsoft sales reps to sell their solutions with higher incentives.
  • Free of Microsoft Azure – startups in the program will be automatically enrolled to BizSpark Plus program and be credited for $500K of cloud usage (storage and compute) for 3 years, to be used in their own pace. This allows the startup to focus on the crucial business aspects of their company.

What’s in it for Microsoft?

From the experience Microsoft Ventures has acquired in the last 3.5 years, working with hundreds of startups from all around the world, we noticed startups are choosing to use Microsoft’s infrastructure because they see the great value in partnering with us. We would like to give more startups the opportunity to enjoy the values we provide them and create more partnerships for Microsoft.

 

Apply today at aka.ms/domoredata

 

Activate Your DreamSpark Subscription to use Azure

What is DreamSpark?

DreamSpark is a Microsoft Program that supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching and research purposes.

DreamSpark is simple: it’s all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and designer tools at no cost so that students can chase their dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology – or just get a head start on their career.

DreamSpark helps educators teach the latest technologies and experiment in research. Microsoft knows that to make learning more motivating, relevant, and engaging for today’s students requires a diverse set of resources. DreamSpark gives educators the resources to ensure their classrooms always have the latest technologies to challenge, motivate, and keep students engaged in new ways.

DreamSpark is also a subscription for Academic Institutions: it provides a cost-effective way to put Microsoft developer tools, platforms and servers in labs and classrooms, and on their students’ and faculty’s computers for learning and research purposes. It reduces lab costs and teaching budgets.

How do I get it?

As a Student: simply create an account, verify your student status and download software through this website at no cost. If your school/university has a subscription, you can also get access to more software titles.

Here are the steps:

  1. Head on over to DreamSpark.comDreamspark.com
  2. Click on Sign In or Get Azure Now. step-2
  3. Make sure you have a Microsoft Account first and sign in to create your DreamSpark account.step-3a
  4. Once logged in, you can now create your DreamSpark account profile. Click ‘Continue to Verify’ to get to the verification option screen.step-3b
  5. The verification option screen provides several methods to verify that you are a student. Using your student email address (john.doe@college.edu), your School DreamSpark account (My College Name), Student Identity Card, Verification Code or documentation you can supply.step-3c
  6. Once you enter your verification method, click verify.
  7. If you are verified you can click continue to get to the “congratulations” screen.step-3
  8. Click continue to access the DreamSpark main page. From here you will be able to get to the store and Download Software.step-4
  9. You will now be presented with all of the software and service options within DreamSpark. Click on Azure to activate your Azure Subscription.step-5
  10. You will now be prompted to start the Azure account activation process.step-6a
  11. Once you click on Register Now you will be in the Azure Account creation funnel. Fill out the appropriate information and make sure you are verified before you click sign up.step-7step-8
  12. The Azure account creation takes a couple of minutes. In the mean time you can view a video of Azure or sit and wait until you get the all done message.step-9step-10
  13. You can now start managing your service and access the Azure Portal.step-11
  14. You can jump right in and start creating Web Apps!step-14
  15. Unfortunately some features are not active with the Student DreamSpark subscription, such as Virtual Machines. But that is ok. There is a lot you still can do within Azure.step-13

 

Get Your Learning Hat Ready for Microsoft Events

Get ready to learn some awesome technology and services. Ranging from Machine Learning to Disaster Recovery, we have events lined up for everyone.

letsdevthisDevelopers, new to Visual Studio 2015 or Microsoft Azure? Sign up now for a free, hands-on day of expert-led demos and labs in a city near you: http://aka.ms/letsdevthistour

Boston 9/30
New York 10/15

technetIf disaster strikes, is your recovery plan ready? Sign up now for a free, hands-on Azure virtual lab in a city near you: http://aka.ms/TechNetTour

New York 10/8

ml

Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Bootcamp

Join area technologies in this hands-on bootcamp exploring the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning service, which leverages the perfect storm of the availability of massive, on-line data sets, low cost computation in the cloud, and leading edge predictive analytics algorithms.

The event will incorporate both lectures illustrating key concepts in machine learning and opportunities to apply these concepts using the free version of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Studio:

Machine Learning Levelset – discussion of supervised vs. unsupervised machine learning models, regression vs. classification models, and popular algorithms for each

AzureML Overview – how to use AzureML and the Machine Learning Studio to get and save data, preprocess data,, and build and publish predictive models.

R Programming Fundamentals – learn how to use R with popular packages such as stats, caret, ggplot2, and the new AzureML package to produce models hosted on the AzureML platform

Have questions about Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Bootcamp? Contact Blue Metal Architects
Boston 10/24
azurecon
AzureCon 2015 Boston Area Viewing Party
AzureCon: You’re Invited to the Microsoft Northeast District Office in Cambridge, MA for an exclusive AzureCon viewing party!

Where’s the Party?: Microsoft Northeast District Office – Cambridge, MA
(255 Main St. Cambridge)
When: Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Party Starts: 11:30 AM EDT
Viewing Begins: 12:00 PM EDT
Party Concludes: 3:30 PM EDT

Lunch & snacks will be served – register now to reserve a seat!
Prizes and give-aways too!

AzureCon is the place to join us and be first to hear what’s next for Microsoft Azure, including additional features, powerful new capabilities and practical tips from pros who eat, drink and breathe Azure.

Ready to dig in? Good news: There’s more than enough Azure insights to go around – so while you can stream from anywhere, connect with your community and peers and watch with us.

More brains are better than one
Experience it first hand, and get the inside scoop on all things Microsoft Azure during this one-day live virtual event. Choose from more than 50 breakout videos lead by Azure engineers and community members that demonstrate how you can do even more with the Azure.

Hear it first from the minds behind Azure
Exclusive keynotes from Scott Guthrie, Jason Zander, Bill Staples, Scott Hanselman, Mark Russinovich and other Azure engineer gurus.

Library of Congress

Managing ConnectionStrings and Environment Variables with WordPress on Azure

One of the cool features of Azure is the ability to have a “deployment slot” for your web app.  Web app content and configurations elements can be swapped between two deployment slots, including the production slot. Deploying your application to a deployment slot has the following benefits:

  • You can validate web app changes in a staging deployment slot before swapping it with the production slot.
  • Deploying a web app to a slot first and swapping it into production ensures that all instances of the slot are warmed up before being swapped into production. This eliminates downtime when you deploy your web app. The traffic redirection is seamless, and no requests are dropped as a result of swap operations. This entire workflow can be automated by configuring Auto Swap when pre-swap validation is not needed.
  • After a swap, the slot with previously staged web app now has the previous production web app. If the changes swapped into the production slot are not as you expected, you can perform the same swap immediately to get your “last known good site” back.

As a web developer, this makes your life easy. Production and Staging can be exactly the same. How many times have you used a staging environment that was a different  OS version than production. “It works on staging but not on production” is the common quote.

When I’m told that my code is broken in production

Setting up deployment slots are pretty straightforward. You can read more about them on this Azure post. However, how do you handle the environment variables for each slot? I need my production code to access my production database.

There are 3 ways that this can be accomplished.

1. The RCP Way

The RCP Way stands for Rename, Copy and Paste. You would rename your connection string or variable file to connstring.stage or connstring.prod and then copy and paste the appropriate values in them. Works fine. However, when deploying from Git or some version tracker can get a bit tricky.

2. The If Then Way

IF “Production” THEN production values ELSE staging values. You can either get the ip address, domain name, server name or even a boolean value that if it signals that you are on production you load in the production values. This works fine but now your one file has 2 or more sets of variables that will need to be maintained.

3. Environment Variables

This is part of Azure which makes deployment slots work so well. I configure my values within Azure per environment. This way my code does nto have to have any usernames or passwords just the variables to store them in.

I am going to show a quick example of how to set up your WordPress Blog using the connection string variables within Azure. This can be applied to any application but I will use WordPress as the default.

Step 1. Create your web app.

I am not going into detail on how to create a wordpress web app but you can follow this tutorial to get that up and running.

Step 2. Find your connection string

This can vary. You might have a Virtual Machine that is custom hosting your database or you might use the default database within Azure. Either way finding your connection string can be done by determining the Username for the DB. the Password for the DB. The data source and DB name. You can also get this info from the wp-config.php file within your root of your WordPress website. You might want to look in there since we will be modding that file in a moment.

Step 3. Build your string

Once you have those 4 parts you can build together your connection string. Your string can look like this.

Step 4. Add your string to the portal

Go into your web app and choose All Settings then Application Settings.

Application Settings

The Application Settings blade will appear. Scroll down a bit until you see the section called “Connection Strings”.

There are 4 form elements that you can configure.

  • Name: This is your name of your connection string. MyClientDB or AnalyticsDB as examples. Whatever you name it, Azure will add a prefix to it that I will explain in a moment.
  • Value: This is your value. You connection string. See step 3.
  • Type: You can choose Custom, SQL Server, SQL DB or MySQL. When you choose any of these Azure appends the following text to the front of your “name”
    • SQL Server: SQLCONNSTR_
    • MySQL: MYSQLCONNSTR_
    • SQL Database: SQLAZURECONNSTR_
    • Custom: CUSTOMCONNSTR_

Note:

For .NET apps, these connection strings are be injected into your .NET configuration connectionStrings settings at runtime, overriding existing entries where the key equals the linked database name.

For PHP, Python, Java and Node applications, these settings will be available as environment variables at runtime, prefixed with the connection type. 

Now if I need to access my MySql connection string called MyClientDB, it would be accessed through the environment variable MYSQLCONNSTR_MyClientDB.

I then can create a deployment slot with the same connection string “name” but different values and my code will use those values to connect to staging or production data.

You can see how this would be valuable when you are moving from dev to test to prod. You can also use App Settings to store “app specific” data in there as well per environment.

Step 5. Update our WordPress

Remember I said we are going to need that wp-config.php, well if it is open great, if not please open it in your favorite code editor, mine is Visual Studio Code, a free download and works great.

The first couple of lines are comments but then there are a few “define” constants that the application will use.

Your file might have actual data in your file but that is fine. We will be replacing that with the values from our environment variable that we just created in Azure. To access it’s data you can call the get_env function to retrieve it.

At this point you have your connection string and you can $echo it out to see what comes back. To make it a bit easier to get each element of the connection string you can add this function to the top of the wp-config.php file.

This is a handy little function that coverts a string into an array with a predefined delimiter.

You can var_dump the returned value to see what is returned.

Then you can replace the 4 defined constants with the following:

Done!

Now you can deploy stage and prod and have your WordPress blog access different databases very easily.

Here is the link to the full file on GitHub

Microsoft Sparks Startups with BizSpark Plus

BizSpark Plus just got a whole lot better. Starting on July 1st the current BizSpark Plus offering will increase from $60,000 for one year of Azure cloud services to $120,000. We are partnering with top accelerators across the country to get this in the hands of early stage startups. Techstars, ERA, Seedcamp, 1871 and MassChallenge are part of over a 100 in 47 countries that partnering with the program.

These organizations are in the trenches, providing the marketing and business support that early stage companies need to be successful. The offer expands our existing BizSpark Plus program which, in addition to open source friendly Azure, provides free software, developer tools, and technical support to help startups be successful.  Check out the following video to hear what some of them had to say:

[youtube_sc url=”ET7ar1mgVHk”]

Watch this video to learn more about the BizSpark program

[youtube_sc url=”CdNLTQxa5ro”]

Here is the official release.