In case you missed my initial blog article “Azure Mobile Services Can Save You a Ton of Money” you should check it out first. This is the continuation of that series based on Azure Mobile Services. In this article, I am providing an overview of all different features available to all Azure Mobile Services accounts. Blogs following this one will take a deeper dive into each specific feature.
Where to Start
Immediately after you have created an Azure Mobile Services account you are directed to the project area within Azure. One of the first places you will want to visit is the ‘Quick Start’ tab.
From this page, you can have Azure create a project for you, help you connect an existing application with your new mobile service, or get help using tutorials such as how to add authentication or take advantage of push notifications.
The ”Dashboard” tab will be one of the most important areas that you visit. As its name implies, it’s a dashboard that gives you all kinds of information that will help keep your mobile service running and healthy. This location provides some graphs so that at a quick glance you can determine if you need to scale your service up or down depending on your project requirements.
The dashboard also provides the basic information of the service along with the keys you need to connect applications to the service.
What About Data?
The ”Data” tab is one of the many ways to have the data associated to your mobile service. This will also be the area that you manage the permissions to the different tables as well any CRUD scripts.
The ”API” tab is where Azure Mobile Services allows you to define custom APIs within your mobile service. This is an endpoint inside you mobile service that can be accessed by several standard HTTP methods. This custom API allows you to expose functionality that doesn’t fall under the default CRUD operations or the scheduled task capabilities.
The ”Scheduler” tab is where you can create specific tasks that need to be run on a specific schedule or on-demand. There are numerous ways to take advantage of this. You can clean up old data within your database, poll external data, or send out notifications.
The ”Push” tab is where you setup the information for push notifications. Here you have access to Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android. This is where you will want to give your application that little bit of something special. This is where you push information out to your users. Maybe you have a weather app that needs to push out dangerous weather alerts, or maybe you have a reader app and you want to alert the user that a new article is available. There are so many options for this part of the service.
No matter how great your app is if you cannot keep the user’s data private it will fail. The ”Identity” tab provides several options. By default, you have access to Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Windows Azure Active Directory. By taking advantage of these options, configuring a few settings within you mobile service, and adding a single line of code you can protect your user’s data and only allow them to see it.
The ”Configure” tab, as the name implies, is where you will configure certain aspects of your mobile service. These range from configuring the database, analytics, or monitoring. There are many options in this section that will help setup or define the mobile service to best fit your needs.
The ”Scale” tab is basic, but is also important. This is the area that allows you to scale you mobile service up or down as needed. Your options are to scale the roles used in your mobile service or to scale the database being used.
The last tab, but not the least, is the ”Logs” tab. This is where you write errors to when scripts or other actions are performed by your mobile service. Maybe you want to log certain actions, this is where you would write them and then you would be able to view them at a later date.
I know there is a ton bite size information in this blog, but I wanted to give a quick overview of all the areas of Azure Mobile Services before diving deep into each one. In my next article, I will start the deeper dive by creating a mobile service and walking you through all the steps. Then, we will go through each tab and walk through all the options available in detail including the code, if necessary.
If you are interested in a specific area let me know. After my next article I can jump around in the features with less structure if desired.