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Using Application Insights in a Windows Store application


Few months ago Microsoft announced the release of Visual Studio Online (VSO). One of the new feature that comes with VSO is Application Insights. It allows to monitor the performances of your applications and to find out what your users are doing the most or the less in your app. This kind of information may be very useful to optimize users’ experience in your app or propose new feature, based on behavior analysis.

Declare an application in the Visual Studio Online dashboard

Before using Application Insights, you have to declare the application in your dashboard on the VSO website. Go to your dashboard and click the item Try Application Insights :


In the Add application section, follow the wizard to declare a Windows Store app


Name your application an copy the generated ID.

You are now ready to use application insights in your app.


How do I set up Application Insights in my project ?

Setting up Application Insights in a Windows Store application is very easy. First, you should change the build configuration of your application and choose between x64, x86 and ARM. Any CPU is not supported because application insights is distributed as a winmd native component.


Once you have changed the build configuration of your projet, you can search for a Nuget package named Application Insights Telemetry SDK for Windows Store Apps :


Do not waste time to look for the reference in your project after you have installed the package, it will be visible only after Visual Studio has been restarted (don’t ask why, it was the case for me… Smile).

Build the solution and check you have no error in the console.


Using the Application Insights SDK in your application

The API is really easy to use. In the namespace Microsoft.ApplicationInsights.Telemetry.WindowsStore, you will find a class ClientAnalyticsSession that exposes a property Default. There are three interesting methods on this object :

  • Start : takes the id of your application insights app and starts the analytics session
  • LogEvent : logs a given event in your application (users behavior, most of the time)
  • LogPageView : logs a page view

Now, you can implement your own tag plan in your app. You just have to call the Start method when your application launches and it’s ok !

Application Insights, for what kind of information ?

Application Insights allows to get some performance information about your application, but also monitor usage patterns in the application. For example, you can know what are the versions most used by your users :


You can also check the different resolutions or hardware of your users :


Or the languages :


And of course the detail of each event that occurs in the application and that you have triggered through the API :



As you can see, it is really easy to use Application Insights in a Windows Store application and the dashboard on the VSO website is very cool and very useful to read all the information about your application.

So do not hesitate anymore, use it !

Hope this helps !

Julien Winking smile

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Using ASPNET Web API to stream Windows Azure blobs

Few months ago I blogged about how to use ASP.NET Web API to generate a shared access signature to upload a file from Windows Phone to the Windows Azure blob storage. It is also possible to use a Web API to return a shared access key that allows a client to download a blob, directly from the storage.

Today I will discuss on another scenario : the ability to stream a blob through a Web API, without returning a shared access key to the user. It can be really useful when you have to serve a file to a client without giving the shared access key that may be use until it expires (for one shot download, for example).

First, you have to get a reference to the blob to stream against the blob storage :

public async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Get(string blobId)
//security checks (for example)
if (!User.Identity.IsAuthenticated || !User.IsInRole("Premium"))
return Request.CreateErrorResponse(HttpStatusCode.Unauthorized, "unauthorized");

//call your service to get the blob information
var blobService = new BlobInformationService();
var blobInfo = blobService.GetBlobInfoById(blobId);

if (blobInfo == null)
return Request.CreateErrorResponse(HttpStatusCode.NotFound, "not found");

//create the storage credentials
var storageCredentials = new StorageCredentials(blobInfo.StorageAccountName, blobInfo.StorageAccountKey);

//create the cloud storage account
var cloudStorageAccount = new CloudStorageAccount(storageCredentials, true);

//create the cloud blob client
var cloudBlobClient = cloudStorageAccount.CreateCloudBlobClient();

//get the cloud blob reference
var cloudBlob = await cloudBlobClient.GetBlobReferenceFromServerAsync(new Uri(blobInfo.BlobUrl));
var cloudBlobExists = await cloudBlob.ExistsAsync();

if (!cloudBlobExists)
return Request.CreateErrorResponse(HttpStatusCode.NotFound, "not found");

//next step

Now that you have a valid blob reference, you can stream it ! To do that, you have to create your own instance of HttpResponseMessage and not use the CreateResponse method of the Request that uses the content negotiation to serialize the output. This http response message uses an instance of StreamContent as content.

The StreamContent accept a stream as constructor parameter. To get a valid stream on the cloud blob reference, you have to call the OpenReadAsync method on it.

To allow the browsers to display all the download’s information to the user (file name, file size, download progress…) you have to set the following headers :

  • ContentType : the file type

  • ContentLength : the length of the file

  • ContentDisposition : the file is an attachment, the file name, the size…

HttpResponseMessage message = new HttpResponseMessage(HttpStatusCode.OK);
Stream blobStream = await cloudBlob.OpenReadAsync();

message.Content = new StreamContent(blobStream);
message.Content.Headers.ContentLength = cloudBlob.Properties.Length;
message.Content.Headers.ContentType = new System.Net.Http.Headers.MediaTypeHeaderValue(cloudBlob.Properties.ContentType);
message.Content.Headers.ContentDisposition = new System.Net.Http.Headers.ContentDispositionHeaderValue("attachment")
FileName = blobInfo.FileName,
Size = cloudBlob.Properties.Length

return message;

Et voilà ! Now you can stream blobs via a Web API instead of sharing access key with any client.

Hope this helps.

Julien Winking smile

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Using the new notification endpoints with Windows Azure Media Services

Few days ago was released a new version of the Windows Azure Media Services .NET SDK, the version that can be downloaded via the NuGet Packages Manager Console (see http://nuget.org/packages/windowsazure.mediaservices). One of the top feature in this release is the ability to create notification endpoints to be notified when a job state change occurs !

In the previous versions of the SDK, the only way to track job state changes was to keep a list of all job’ ids (in a sql server table, for example) and pull each job through the CloudMediaContext to get its state. This solution works fine but is not really elegant or scalable when dealing with multiple azure worker, for example. Now, it’s possible to create a notification endpoint linked to a Windows Azure Storage Queue and pull this queue instead of the media context. It’s the Windows Azure Media Service backend that manage the messages that are pushed in this queue.

To use the notification endpoints, you need to create a CloudQueue that will be used for notification endpoint(s) :

//create the cloud storage account from name and private key
CloudStorageAccount cloudStorageAccount = CloudStorageAccount.Parse(StorageConnectionString);

//create the cloud queue client from the storage connection string
CloudQueueClient cloudQueueClient = cloudStorageAccount.CreateCloudQueueClient();

//get a cloud queue reference
CloudQueue notificationsQueue = cloudQueueClient.GetQueueReference(NotificationQueuePath);

//create the queue if it does not exist
if (!notificationsQueue.Exists())

Now, you can use the CloudMediaContext to create an instance of INotificationEndpoint, the new interface that enables notifications management :

//create the Cloud Media Context
CloudMediaContext mediaContext = new CloudMediaContext("<mediaservicename>", "<mediaservicekey>");

//create a notification endpoint
INotificationEndPoint notificationEndpoint =
.Create("notificationendpoint", NotificationEndPointType.AzureQueue, NotificationQueuePath);

As you can see, the Create method take a NotificationEndPointType as second parameter. For now, the only possible value (instead of None) is AzureQueue. It may seems that future releases of the SDK will support Azure Service Bus queue or topics ? (I really don’t know, but it will be very cool ! Sourire)

Once the notification endpoint has been created, you can create the job and all the tasks it should execute as usual :

//create an asset
IAsset asset = mediaContext.Assets.Create("Wildlife HD", AssetCreationOptions.None);

//create an asset file from the sample video file
string fileName = System.IO.Path.GetFileName(VideoTestPath);
IAssetFile assetFile = asset.AssetFiles.Create(fileName);

//upload the asset

//create a media service job
IJob mediaServiceJob = mediaContext.Jobs.Create("Wildlife in HD Adaptive Streaming");

//get the latest Windows Azure Media Encoder
IMediaProcessor mediaProcessor = GetLatestsAzureMediaEncoder(mediaContext);

//create a multi bitrate encoding task
ITask multibitrateTask = mediaServiceJob.Tasks.AddNew("Multibitrate MP4 encoding", mediaProcessor, "H264 Adaptive Bitrate MP4 Set 720p", TaskOptions.None);

//add the asset as input of the task

//create the output asset
multibitrateTask.OutputAssets.AddNew("Wildlife HD Output", AssetCreationOptions.None);

Before submitting the job, you have to declare the association with the notification endpoint. To do that, a new property has been added on the IJob interface : JobNotificationsSubscriptions. Call AddNew on this property to link the notification endpoint to the job :

mediaServiceJob.JobNotificationSubscriptions.AddNew(NotificationJobState.FinalStatesOnly, notificationEndpoint);

Now, you can submit the job :


Et voilà ! To be notified of each job state change you just need to pull the CloudQueue :

while (continuePull)
Thread.Sleep(5000);//sleep for 5 sec

//get a cloud queue message
CloudQueueMessage message = notificationsQueue.GetMessage();
if (message == null)//if null, continue

The message content is serialized as json so you can use the DataContractJsonSerializer to get an object that as this prototype :

public class EncodingJobMessage
public String MessageVersion { get; set; }

public String EventType { get; set; }

public String ETag { get; set; }

public String TimeStamp { get; set; }

public IDictionary<string, object> Properties { get; set; }

The EventType property can take two values :

  • JobStateChange : indicates that the notification message is related to a job state change

  • NotificationEndpointRegistration : indicates that the notification endpoint has been registered

The Properties property is a dictionary that contains different information about the notification event :

  • JobId : the id of the job

  • NewState : the new state

  • OldState : the old state

  • NotificationEndpointId : the id of the notification endpoint

  • State : the state of the notification endpoint (Registered or Unregistered)

Here is a sample of message deserialization using the DataContractJsonSerializer :

//get the bytes
using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(message.AsBytes))
//deserialize the message
DataContractJsonSerializerSettings jsonSerializerSettings = new DataContractJsonSerializerSettings();
jsonSerializerSettings.UseSimpleDictionaryFormat = true;

DataContractJsonSerializer serializer = new DataContractJsonSerializer(typeof(EncodingJobMessage), jsonSerializerSettings);
EncodingJobMessage jobMessage = (EncodingJobMessage)serializer.ReadObject(ms);

//if the event type is a state change
if (jobMessage.EventType == "JobStateChange")
//try get old and new state
if (jobMessage.Properties.Any(p => p.Key == "OldState") && jobMessage.Properties.Any(p => p.Key == "NewState"))
string oldJobState = jobMessage.Properties.First(p => p.Key == "OldState").Value.ToString();
string newJobState = jobMessage.Properties.First(p => p.Key == "NewState").Value.ToString();

Console.WriteLine("job state has changed from {0} to {1}", oldJobState, newJobState);

This new feature is really cool and allows more flexible and scalable architecture when dealing with Windows Azure Media Services jobs !

Hope this helps Sourire


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Use the Windows Azure REST APIs to manage your subscriptions - Part 1

Maybe you are familiar with the Windows Azure portal that allows you to manage your hosted services, deployments, storage accounts, service bus namespaces or anything you want to do on your Azure subscription. Actually, all the operations you can perform on this portal are also available in sets of http management REST APIs. All you need to access these operations is a development platform that is able to create and send an http request with a client certificate !

In this post, I will use C# and .NET to manipulate the Windows Azure REST APIs but you really can use any other platforms, that is the power of Azure Winking smile

First step : create and upload the client certificate

In a running in Administrator Visual Studio Command Prompt, type the following command :

makecert -sky exchange -r -n "CN=<CertificateName>" -pe -a sha1 -len 2048 -ss My "<CertificateName>.cer"

This command makes two things :

  • It generates a certificate file named <CertificateName>.cer

  • It automatically register the certificate in your My store certificate for the current user on the machine you are running this command.

Now, you have to upload the management certificate to the Windows Azure subscription you want manage through REST APIs. To do that, log in to the management portal at http://manage.windowsazure.com.

Click on the Settings section at the bottom of the left menu to access the management certificates. Now you can download your certificate from your computer. Choose the generated certificate and upload it to your subscription. Once the certificate is uploaded the list is refreshed and you can copy the thumbprint of the certificate. You will use this thumbprint to access the management REST API. You can also copy the id of the subscription that is needed to manage the subscription.

Second step : write the code to retrieve the management certificate from store

Because you have to add the management certificate in the client certificates of the http web request, you have to retrieve it from you local store. The thumbprint is used to get the certificate :

private X509Certificate2 GetManagementCertificateFromStore(string certThumbprint)
X509Store certStore = new X509Store(StoreName.My, StoreLocation.CurrentUser);

X509Certificate2Collection certCollection =
certStore.Certificates.Find(X509FindType.FindByThumbprint, certThumbprint, false);


if (certCollection.Count == 0)
throw new InvalidOperationException("The certificate with thumbprint {0} was not found in the My store of the current user");

return certCollection[0];

It’s also possible to load the client certificate from any other place as soon as you get it as a X509Certificate2 reference !

Third step : access the management API with an HttpWebRequest

To begin, you have to choose which operation you want execute. A complete list of all operations that are available in the management REST APIs and the description of each operation is available on this page. For example, you may want to list all the hosted services that are declared in your subscription.

If you read the documentation, you will see that you just have to execute a GET http request on the following URI:


Where is your subscription id…

Each http request to the management API should be authenticated with the client certificate, so you just have to retrieve the certificate from store and append it to the client certificates collection of the web request :

var certificate = GetManagementCertificateFromStore("<thumbprint>");
HttpWebRequest request = (HttpWebRequest)HttpWebRequest.Create([https://management.core.windows.net/<subscription-id>/services/hostedservices](https://management.core.windows.net/<subscription-id>/services/hostedservices));

You also have to add some headers to make the http request valid :

  • x-ms-version : represents the version of the management API you want to use. For example the last version is 2013-03-01

  • ContentType, most of the time application/xml

request.Headers.Add("x-ms-version", "2013-03-01");
request.ContentType = "application/xml";

And finally you can execute the web request and wait for the response !

Fourth step : handle the http response

Depending on the operation you have executed the response status code is not the same. In the example of listing hosted services, success will be represented by a 200 (OK) http status code. If you had choose to create a new deployment you have been received an http CREATED status code. The expected status code is given on the description of each http operation in the MSDN documentation.

If the request was not well formed, you will received a BAD REQUEST http status code.

In both success or error cases, the response content is described as an XML document. The response body is also described in the description of each operation on MSDN. For the listing hosted services example, the response body will look like the following :

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<HostedServices xmlns=`http://schemas.microsoft.com/windowsazure`>

In case you get an error status code, the response body will look like the following :

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

You can find a list of all error codes you may received on this page.


You are now able to use the REST APIs to manage your Windows Azure subscriptions.

In the next post, I will discuss about more advanced operations like creating deployments or hosted services.

Hope this helps ! Smile


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Using ASPNET Web API and Windows Azure Shared Access Signature to upload block blobs from Windows Phone

One of the best thing when working with the Windows Azure platform is that all APIs are accessible through REST http requests. For one Windows Phone app I’m currently developing I had to upload video file in a blob container. To do that, I choose to use the shared access signatures.

Windows Azure storage accounts are secured with a key that is generated when the account is created. Even if it is possible to regenerate this key at any time, it gives to anyone who owns it admin rights on the storage account. The purpose of using shared access signatures is to allow read, write, delete or list operations on a blob reference or a blob container. Shared access signatures are built from shared access policies that allows to control which kind of permission is given and the expiration time of the signature. For example, you can create an shared access signature that allows any user that owns it to upload blobs in a given container during 20 minutes.

First, I have developed a web API service that is consumed by my Windows Phone application to get a shared access signature to a blob container. To generate the signature, you can use the traditional storage APIs from the Windows Azure SDK (2.0 in this case) :

public class SharedAccessSignatureController : ApiController
private const string cloudStorageAccountConnectionString = "<your storage connection string>";

public HttpResponseMessage Get()
CloudStorageAccount account = CloudStorageAccount.Parse(cloudStorageAccountConnectionString);
CloudBlobClient client = account.CreateCloudBlobClient();
CloudBlobContainer container = client.GetContainerReference("container");

SharedAccessBlobPolicy policy = new SharedAccessBlobPolicy()
Permissions = SharedAccessBlobPermissions.Read|SharedAccessBlobPermissions.Write,
SharedAccessStartTime = DateTime.UtcNow.AddMinutes(-5),
SharedAccessExpiryTime = DateTime.UtcNow.AddMinutes(30)

string sharedAccessSignature = container.GetSharedAccessSignature(policy);
string containerWithSasUri = string.Format("{0}{1}", container.Uri, sharedAccessSignature);

return Request.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, new { ContainerWithSasUrl = containerWithSasUri });

In the previous sample, I get a reference to a blob container using the azure storage sdk. After that I can get a shared access signature for read and write operations. The signature is valid during the next 30 minutes.

Now I can easily get the blob container URI with shared access signature from my Windows Phone application :

private async Task<string> GetContainerWithSasUri()
var httpClient = new HttpClient();
var requestUrl = "http://mywebapi.com/api/SharedAccessSignature";
var response = await httpClient.GetAsync(requestUrl);
if (response.StatusCode == HttpStatusCode.OK)
return await response.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();

return string.Empty;

NB : the HttpClient is now available for Windows Phone 8 applications. You can find it with the Nuget packages manager console, in Visual Studio 2012.

Now that I have the shared access signature in the Windows Phone application I can use it to upload the video file in the container, using the HttpClient and the Windows Azure storage REST APIs.

There are two steps to upload a block blob in a container :

  • Upload each block with an id
  • Commit the block ids to finalize the upload and consolidate the file in the storage
public async Task<string> UploadVideoAsync(string fileName)
//get the container uri with SAS
string containerWithSasUri = GetContainerWithSasUri().Replace("\"", "");
//get the query string
string query = new Uri(containerWithSasUri).Query;
//extract the blob container uri, without the shared access signature
string blobContainerUri = containerWithSasUri.Substring(0, containerWithSasUri.Length - query.Length);

//create a list to store block id's
List<string> blocks = new List<string>();

//file block size
int blockSize = 4 * 1024;

//create a buffer
byte[] fileBuffer = new byte[blockSize];

string blobName = Guid.NewGuid().ToString();

//create http client
HttpClient httpClient = new HttpClient();

//open the file from iso store
using (var isf = IsolatedStorageFile.GetUserStoreForApplication())
if (!isf.FileExists(fileName))
return "";

//open the stream
using (var fileStream = isf.OpenFile(fileName, FileMode.Open, FileAccess.Read))
int blockIndex = 0;

//while end of file is not reached
while (fileStream.Read(fileBuffer, 0, blockSize) != 0)
//add the block id in the list
string blockId = blockIndex.ToString("d4");

//create the URL to put the file block
string requestUrl = string.Format("{0}/{1}{2}&comp=block&blockid={3}", blobContainerUri, blobName, query,

//PUT the block async
var response = await httpClient.PutAsync(requestUrl, new ByteArrayContent(fileBuffer));

//if the block was not created, return empty string
if (response.StatusCode != HttpStatusCode.Created)
return "";

//consolidate the block list
string xmlBody = @"<?xml version=""1.0"" encoding=""utf-8"" ?><BlockList>{0}</BlockList>";
StringBuilder xmlBodyBuilder = new StringBuilder();
foreach (string blockId in blocks)
xmlBodyBuilder.AppendFormat("<Latest>{0}</Latest>", Convert.ToBase64String(Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(blockId)));

xmlBody = string.Format(xmlBody, xmlBodyBuilder.ToString());

//commit the block list
string commitUrl = string.Format("{0}/{1}{2}&comp=blockList", blobContainerUri, blobName, query);
var commitResponse = await httpClient.PutAsync(commitUrl, new ByteArrayContent(Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(xmlBody)));

if (commitResponse.StatusCode != HttpStatusCode.Created)
return "";

return string.Format("{0}/{1}", blobContainerUri, blobName);

This code snippet allows to upload a file from the isolated storage to a blob container and get its URI once the upload is done. As you can see, a distinct URL is used to PUT each blob. After that all file blocks have been upload, an XML payload is built to regroup all the block ids. Next, this payload is also put to commit the file upload.

Hope this helps Winking smile


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