Herding Code 152 – Josh Twist on Azure Mobile Services

The guys talk to Josh Twist about the newly released Azure Mobile Services.

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Herding Code 152 – Josh Twist on Azure Mobile Services [audio://herdingcode.com/wp-content/uploads/HerdingCode-0152-Josh-Twist.mp3]

Show Notes:

  • How Azure Mobile Services got started
    • Jon asks Josh how he got involved with Azure Mobile Services.
    • Jon asks Josh about the Zumo code name – ZU from Azure, MO from Mobile.
    • Josh explains how things got off the ground with a real startup feel.
    • Steve Sanderson was a dev on the team, working on the interactive portal experience.
    • Jon asks about platform support. Josh says that Windows 8 was the platform that was initially announced at launch, but other platforms are on the way very soon.
  • The three personas the Azure Mobile Services
    • The hobbiest app developer who have very limited time and wants to spend the time on their mobile clients, not the backend services. Jon talks about the experiences he had on The Full Stack project with Jesse Liberty.
    • The client focused developer is working full time on a mobile application, but still wants to focus on the application rather than the backend – and wants to make sure that it’s going to scale when needed.
    • The veteran backend developer, who is very comfortable with building services. Josh says these folks are already pretty well served with existing Azure services.
    • Josh says that Azure is primarily focused at the first two personas – developers who want to focus on the client applications and have the back end just work.
  • Jon asks about an example – a social game where he can invite friend to play a game, track high scores, etc.
    • Josh lists out some of the features  Jon would probably want – authentication, structured storage, push notifications, etc.
    • Josh describes some of the challenges Jon might run into and how Azure Mobile Services handles extensibility by allowing for server-side scripts, written in JavaScript.
    • Jon asks Josh about the identity provider story.
    • Jon asks if the server-side JavaScript scripts use Node.js.
  • Josh talks through a to do list sample application.
  • Jon asks about how the client libraries will likely look on other platforms like iOS and Android.
  • Data
    • Jon and Josh talk about the data story.
    • Josh explains the dynamic schema system.
    • Jon asks handling hierarchies in data. Josh says not yet, although you can use scripts to handle that.
  • Lots of random questions time!
    • Jon talks about a blog post on accessing the Azure Mobile Services via the REST services. Josh says that’s great, encouraged, and you can use that approach to use Azure Mobile Services from all kinds of frameworks and platforms, mentioning several examples.
    • Kevin asks about handling the scripts as production code – can it be under version control? Josh says that’s in the works. They’re also thinking about the packaging story, to allow for exporting services and moving them between environments.
    • Kevin asks if there’s a migration path if you hit limits in Azure Mobile Services. Josh says that you’d handle this through composition with other services, but they’re looking for feedback for things they can add via service and script support.
    • Kevin asks how the billing works. Josh says you pay for what you use, so you pay for the underlying services you use. You can get 10 free instances, but can pay to scale up if you want.
    • Kevin asks about their experiences in building with Node.js. Josh explains how the runtime runs on Node, but the service management uses ASP.NET Web API. They mainly picked Node.js to allow for server-side scripting using JavaScript.
    • Jon asks if there’s a way to run locally for testing. Josh says not yet, but definitely something they’re think about.
    • Jon asks about concurrency support.
    • Kevin asks about monitoring and troubleshooting support. Josh lists out some of the realtime dashboard features.
    • Jon asks about other configuration options in the Azure portal. Josh lists a few – authentication, data, etc. – but says the goal is to keep things simple.
  • Relationship of Azure Mobile Services with Azure Web Sites and Azure in general.
    • Jon asks about the relationship to Azure Web Sites. Josh explains how they worked with the Azure Web Sites team to get sandboxing. They’re running on a special version of the Azure Web Sites system that’s specially tuned for their services.
    • Jon asks about scaling with Azure Mobile Services. Josh educates Jon on some Azure basics he really should know.
  • Jon asks Josh about how listeners can get started.
    • Josh list the link: http://aka.ms/mobileservices
    • Josh and Jon joke about the todo list quickstart challenge. Josh says new users should be able to have an application running in under 5 minutes, and Jon says he was impressed with Josh’s performance on Cloud Cover: 2:03 despite heckling.

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