Microsoft Azure Web Apps With WebMatrix

The web app feature of Microsoft Azure enables developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage powerful websites and APIs. Microsoft azure web app doesn’t only support Microsoft technologies but it comes with variety of platforms like Node.js, PHP, Python, and Java. You can create and upload your own custom web apps and use different apps from Microsoft partners like, Scalable WordPress, CakePHP, Web App + SQL, Django, Acquia Drupal 7 on MySQL and Umbraco CMS etc. More apps can be explored on this link.

Microsoft Azure allows developers to use Application Insights on their web apps and perform load tests and performance testing along with error reporting and API management tools. A great tool, Azure Traffic Manager load balancer allows developers to reduce the down time of the web app and distribute user traffic over multiple locations.

Microsoft Azure provide free sub-domain “.azurewebsites.net” but it also allows the custom domain name and SSL for more security. But these features are available under different plans/pricing tiers. By default, a web app lies in free tier of web apps. Microsoft azure web apps are highly scalable; you can change your plan at any time with little or no effort.


 
Developing and Deploying Custom Web Apps on Azure 

As discussed above, Microsoft Azure supports custom web apps, developer can deploy their apps directly to Azure. Specially using Visual Studio. Visual Studio has a great support of Azure, you can develop and deploy apps directly to the azure. You can use Application Insights to your apps using Visual Studio with no effort. Working on azure made simple using Visual Studio. Visual Studio is specially designed for Microsoft Technologies, but now it supports most of the technologies for developing applications. But however, for the people don’t want to use Visual Studio, especially open source lovers, who are developing apps with open source technologies, but using Azure as their cloud provider they can enjoy same features with a very light weight tool, called WebMatrix.

WebMatrix

WebMatrix is a free, lightweight, cloud-connected web development tool. You can develop, publish, and maintain web apps with ease. Latest version of WebMatrix comes with Azure support.

Download latest version of WebMatrix

Features of WebMatrix

Feature of WebMatrix includes,

  1. Full support of open-source Web applications, including DotNetNuke, Umbraco, WordPress, Joomla and more.
  2. Great built-in publishing support for FTP, FTPS, and WebDeploy to guarantee the successful transmission of your files, database to the webserver.
  3. Finds the perfect hosting for your web app.
  4. Made database connectivity to web apps very simple. Supports almost all database engines.
  5. Fully integrated with IIS and Azure
  6. SEO reports allows you to optimize your website for search engine.
  7. Strong integration will popular source controls like Git, VS TFS and codeplex.
  8. Remote editing of websites.
  9. And much more
Deploying app from WebMatrix to Azure

Starting the WebMatrix comes with 3 different options.

  1. My Sites – Your sites on this computer.
  2. New Site – Create a new empty site, from template gallery or from app gallery.
  3. Open – Open an existing website, from.

    a. My Sites
    b. Microsoft Azure
    c. And existing folder on your PC
    d. A remote server
    e. Source control

You can choose any of the option depending upon your requirements.


Creating a new simple html site

We can create a new simple html site by clicking on New button, and then selecting Template gallery. You can see that there are multiple options for developing web apps. Here we will select HTML>Empty Site because we are creating from scratch. Enter the site name for identification.

 

After creating the website, it will ask you to host your website on Azure. For this purpose, you need to login first on Azure. You can skip the step for hosting on Azure. If you want to host at the moment, enter the site name. Select your azure subscription, against which you want to host. And finally select the location. It will create websites against your subscription on azure and install and configure websites on your system. The wizard will create a default index.html page and a favicon.

 
Still the website is not published. It is just created on azure and your computer. It will ask that your website is ready for publishing. You can publish immediately by clicking on publish link.

When you want to publish your website, click on publish link. It will first validate the connection to remote server.
After successful validation of connection to the server. It will determine the files that need to be uploaded. If you are uploading the website for first time. It will upload all the content but afterward each time you upload site after modification. It will determine the files which are modified and just upload them. Press continue to upload the selected files. You can uncheck the files, which you don’t want to upload.
After successful publishing of website the site will automatically open in new tab of your default browser.


Conclusion

Webmatrix is a small but powerful utility. It is fully integrated with Microsoft Azure. You can directly develop, publish and manage you web apps with webmatrix. Webmatrix comes with built in support for open source language. And direct integration of source controls and Visual Studio as well. You can develop web apps with very ease.

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