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Windows Azure Mobile Services for Windows 8 Apps; Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java August 2012 Preview Launches

Windows Azure Mobile Services for Windows 8 Apps

The Preview Release of Windows Azure Mobile Services now available allow you to connect your Windows 8 apps to a cloud backend hosted in Windows Azure and easily store structured data, authenticate users, and send push notifications within minutes.

Microsoft says, that Mobile Services which is currently “only available for Windows 8 apps,” with subsequent preview releases will extend to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

During preview, Mobile Services are free for first ten Windows 8 applications running on shared instances.

In short you can use Windows Azure Mobile Services to:

  • “Create turnkey backend solutions to power your mobile apps.
  • Accelerate your mobile app development. Incorporate structured storage, user authentication and push notifications in minutes.
  • Create a straightforward and secure backend-as-a-service to handle common tasks and free yourself to focus on the front end that your users value.”

To start using Mobile Services, if you have not done so already, “you will need to sign up for the Windows Azure free trial.” And, those who already have a Windows Azure account, will need to request to enroll in this preview feature.

“Once you have the mobile services preview enabled, log into the Windows Azure Portal, click the “New” button and choose the new “Mobile Services” icon to create your first mobile backend. Once created, you’ll see a quick-start page like below with instructions on how to connect your mobile service to an existing Windows 8 client app you have already started working on, or how to create and connect a brand-new Windows 8 client app with it,” Scott Guthrie explained.

Windows Azure Mobile Services for Windows 8 App Pic 2

Windows Azure Mobile Services for Windows 8 Apps Pic 3

Read this getting started tutorial to walkthrough how you can build (in less than 5 minutes) a simple Windows 8 “Todo List” app that stores data in Windows Azure. Or watch the video below showing how to do it step by step:

In other Azure news, August 2012 Preview update of the Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java includes enhancements such as:

  • Inside the Windows Azure Access Control Service Filter:
  • Option toembed the signing certificate into your application’s WAR file to simplify cloud deployment
  • Option tocreate a new self-signed certificate right from the ACS filter wizard UI
  • Inside the Windows Azure Deployment Project wizard (and the role’s Server Configuration property page):
  • Automatic discovery of the JDK location on your computer (which you can override if necessary)
  • Automatic detection of the server type whose installation directory you select, informed Microsoft Open Technologies team.

You can learn more about the plugin on the Windows Azure Dev Center. And, visit this page to find out how to install.

Update 08/30: Added steps to create and mange mobile service — per Windows 8 blog step-by-step guide:

Create a new Mobile Service

  1. After you’ve signed up, go to http://manage.windows.azure.com log in using your Microsoft account. Create a new Mobile Service by clicking on the +NEW button at the bottom of the navigation pane.
  2. Select Mobile Service and click Create.
  3. In the New Mobile Service wizard, type a name of your app. This forms part of the URL for your new service.
  4. When you create a Windows Azure Mobile Service, we automatically associate it with a SQL database inside Windows Azure. The Windows Azure Mobile Service backend then provides built-in support for enabling remote apps to securely store and retrieve data from it, without you having to write or deploy any custom server code. Type the name of the new database, and enter a Login name and password for your new SQL Server. Remember these credentials if you want to reuse this database server for other Mobile Services. If you signed up for a 90 days free trial, you are entitled for one 1GB database for free.

Create a new Windows Store app

  1. Click the name of your newly created mobile service. You now have two choices: to create a new app, or to connect an existing app to your Mobile Service. Let’s pick the first option and create a simple todo list that stores todo items in your SQL database. Follow the steps on the screen.
  2. Install the Visual Studio 2012 and Mobile Services SDK, if you haven’t already done so.
  3. To store todo items, you need to create a table. You don’t need to predefine the schema for your table; Mobile Services will automatically add columns as needed to store your data.
  4. Next, select your favorite language, C# or JavaScript, and click Download. This downloads a personalized project that has been pre-configured to connect to your new Mobile Service. Save the compressed project file to your local computer.
  5. Browse to the location where you saved the compressed project files, expand the files on your computer, and open the solution in Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8.
  6. Press F5 to launch the app. In the app, type a todo item in the textbox on the left and click Save. This sends an HTTP request to the new Mobile Service hosted in Windows Azure. This data is then safely stored in your TodoItem table. You receive an acknowledgement from the Mobile Service and your data is displayed in the list on the right.

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