Azure App Services Training is Awesome!

By John Callaway

If you weren’t one of the students that attended the recent Cloud-Based Integration Using Azure App Service class offered by QuickLearn you really missed out. I was able to attend and found the experience very informative.

Some technologies lend themselves to simply picking up a book and reading about how it works. BizTalk Server has never been one of those products and it looks like for the foreseeable future at least Azure App Services and Logic Apps are going to fall into that same category. It’s a good thing that Rob Callaway and Nick Hauenstein are braving the front lines to create and deliver quality training for all of us that are too busy to keep up with the rapid changes in Azure.

About the Class

This class was delivered by Rob Callaway, one of the best BizTalk and now Azure App Services instructors in the world! This three day class had an eclectic international audience with people traveling from Canada and Europe to attend the course.

As you can tell from the overview this class is jam-packed with everything that you need to prepare to build integration solutions using Microsoft’s newest addition to Azure App Service, Logic Apps. Since there is so much that goes into creating a logic app the class feels a bit like a snowball rolling down hill, it starts small but as it progresses the knowledge you gain becomes almost overwhelming. The labs ensure that you don’t get lost in the cloud (pun IS intended) by providing a rich hands on experience to match the excellent lecture.

As an integration specialist, I felt very comfortable with the early concepts. By the time we got into day two everything was new as we built first simple and then more complex logic apps.

For the uninitiated a logic app is comprised of triggers and actions which are themselves API Apps. These API Apps are in turn Web Apps that perform some simple function. This whole thing is hosted in Azure. When strung together a Logic App can be very powerful providing capabilities similar to BizTalk orchestrations.

We didn’t just explore Microsoft Azure App Services, but learned how to integrate with Microsoft Azure Service Bus as a reliable and persistent store for inbound and outbound data, and identified the role that Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services (MABS) plays in cloud-based integration. By the end of the course the participants were even able to build their own custom API Apps, no small feat!

The goal of the course, one that I think all the participants would agree was achieved, is to provide the best training possible on these evolving technologies. QuickLearn Training is able to deliver on this goal because we have spent the last two years digging through the sometimes scant documentation and Microsoft presentations to find the golden acorns of knowledge that we happily share with our customers.

Special Guests

One of the benefits of our close relationship with the product team and our proximity to the Microsoft campus is that from time to time we have special visitors. We appreciated Mark Mortimore and Jeff Hollan for taking time out of their busy schedules to drop by on Thursday evening for a meet and greet with the students. Students provided Jeff with some great feedback for features in Logic Apps, and they even convinced Jeff to take a BizTalk Server course. While we don’t always get our friends at Microsoft to visit when we do it’s exciting and fun.

To wrap up the class on Friday we had a special guest appearance by our own Nick Hauenstein where he previewed his Creating a Push Trigger API App to Process NFC Tag Reads demonstration that he will be delivering at the upcoming AzureCon2015 on September 29th.

What The Participants Are Saying

Rob did a great job helping the attendees navigate the mine field or maybe, given the mental challenge, that should read MIND field, of creating and configuring Microsoft Azure Logic Apps.

Some of the feedback that we received from the attendees of this class:

…the QuickLearn materials were flawless and perfectly adapted to the objective of the course…I think that the learning environment is close to perfect and I’m having a hard time thinking of anything that should be changed.

The pace of his speech is very easy and pleasant to follow. Important points are made and repeated, often with humor, which is yet another demonstration that Rob masters his topic and enjoys sharing his knowledge.

This class probably needs to be at least 4 days if not a week.  Need more time to complete labs.


With an evolving set of technologies such as this there were inevitable additions that were made between the initial deliveries of this course and the most recent one. With this new content the class will simply not fit into the three day time-box that we initially allotted. As a result of these additions, and the feedback that we got from the recent class, we are excited to announce that the Cloud-Based Integration Using Azure App Service class is being extended to five days!

Your first opportunity to attend this new expanded version of the class is November 30th. As with all QuickLearn Training classes it is offered for remote attendance if you prefer but of course you are all invited to attend at our state-of-the-art facilities in Kirkland Washington as well.

I predict that within one year, your customers will be asking you about cloud based integration. Wouldn’t you rather be the one that knows the answers already, and have several months experience under your belt?

If you are worried that new features will be added that you miss out on by being an early adopter, QuickLearn Training always offers the opportunity for students to retake any class within six months, thus future-proofing your learning. As new features are added to these technologies you can bet that we will do our best to stay on top of the changes so that we can share that knowledge with you.

So indeed if you weren’t one of the students that attended the recent Cloud-Based Integration Using Azure App Service class offered by QuickLearn you really missed out, but you have another chance to mend your ways and get an improved and lengthened version of the course. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

Azure App Service Logic Apps in Visual Studio 2013 with Azure SDK 2.6

By Nick Hauenstein

As shown today in Ilya Grebnov, and Stephen Siciliano’s Build 2015 Session titled simply “Logic Apps”, there is now (as of the 29th actually) a nice project template for creating a deployment project containing a Logic App with separate per-environment parameters files. The deployment project is really scoped higher than the Logic App itself, it is instead a definition for an Azure Resource Group to be provisioned by Azure Resource Manager.

Azure Resource Group Project Template

Selecting the project template (found in the Cloud category as Azure Resouce Group) launches a dialog asking for the type of resource(s) that you would like the resource group project to start with. There are two resource types that include Logic Apps: Logic App, and Logic App and API App.

Logic App and API App resource selection dialog

Once created, the project (like any other Cloud Deployment Project up to this point) contains a PowerShell script to perform the actual deployment, along with a helper executable named AzCopy.exe. However, in addition to that, we not only get a file describing the deployment of an App Service Plan, Gateway, API App, and Logic App, we also get a parameters file — initially for a dev environment, but it is a step in the right direction and shows how to make it happen.

Resource Group Project Contents

How do we know that this parameters file will be used? Well the parameters file itself is actually a parameter within the Deploy-AzureResourceGroup.ps1 deployment script, and the default is to use dev:


Inside, you will find the parameters apiAppName, gatewayName, logicAppName, and svcPlanName.


The definition for the Logic App itself is contained deep within the LogicAppAndAPIApp.json file (starting around line 271 in my test shown here):

Logic App Definition

It consists of a recurrence trigger (polling very hour) that invokes an operation with id of getValues on the deployed API App and outputs an array containing the value of the readValues property on the body of the API App response. I guess that’s the “Hello World” of the Logic App world, eh?

Code where Code Belongs

This represents a big step in the right direction for the team building Logic Apps. It’s putting code where code belongs, in the best IDE ever made and backed by proper source control. It also cleanly separates logic and configuration, enabling multiple environments.

However, without a visual editor, and an/or an quick/easy way to resolve API App ids from the marketplace, it’s going to be tough to build more complex flows in this fashion. I would also like to see the deployment spread across files. Imagine a resource group with multiple Logic Apps (a receive pipeline style Logic App, a process orchestration-style Logic App and a send pipeline style Logic App), working with that in one giant file would be a little bit painful.

In theory, there is a concept of a definitionLink to the body of the workflow itself (so as to not include it directly within the deployment script), but that’s not what the project template will give you:


That’s All From Build

I know that I wrote a lot for each of the major BizTalk events over the last 6 months, but for Build 2015, I’m going to keep it short and sweet and to the point. I’m juggling a lot of really cool things right now that I’m excited to share with you as soon as they’re ready. So stay tuned!

As a side note, BizTalk Server on-premise is going to be getting some love over the next year as well. Another major version is in the works, and you’d better bet that I’m going to be all over that as well.