In this blog post, I will discuss several highlights from Build 2014, Microsoft’s annual conference for software and web designers. As you might expect, this year was filled with new Azure announcements, many of which will influence and expand developers’ cloud computing options and help simplify and speed up delivery. Read on for more information about the new enhancements, services, and products, and to find which ones I found most exciting:

Let’s face it, keeping up with the latest on Windows Azure is hard. Whether it is a new feature announcement, a white paper, a code sample or just another attempt at “cloud washing,” it is difficult to keep up with the latest, no matter how adept you are at mining the various social media channels. This is why we built the “intelligent” twitter bot (@AzureUpdates) as a weekend project. @AzureUpdates is designed to keep you up to date with all things #WindowsAzure, or #Azure, in and around the Twitterverse. Read on to learn more about how @AzureUpdates works:

In this post, I discuss AIS’ Windows Azure Media Services Manage (WAMS Manager) which is a desktop-based application that makes it easy to upload, tag, encode, and publish your media assets. It is designed to bring the benefits of Windows Azure Media Services to end users (who are typically business users responsible for managing media files) without the need to write any code. In this post, I provide a quick overview of the background of the application, explain the reasons why such a tool is necessary and beneficial, describe the high-level architecture of the app, and provide a quick tutorial on how to get started with using the app.

This post is not intended to compare “JavaScript with HTML” and “C# with XAML” styles of building Windows Store Apps; that is a choice you must make based on your own skill set, reuse considerations, whether the functionality you are targeting for the app is already available as a web app, etc. Rather, in this blog post, I provide a description of my own reasoning behind my preference for building windows store apps using HTML.

In this post, I discuss the Media Center App, which is a SharePoint app that allows you to integrate your Windows Azure Media Services (WAMS) assets within SharePoint. This app is available for free at the Office store online In building this application, we saw an opportunity to combine the capabilities of WAMS with the new SharePoint 2013 app model. We aimed to build a SharePoint app that is available to both SharePoint Online and on-premises SharePoint customers, so we chose a SharePoint hosted app model. In this article, I discuss some of the reasons why this app is needed and the design choices we made to build it. I also go into more depth about the architecture of the app and provide descriptions and screenshots of the app functionality.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Nova Labs in Reston with a few other members of the Washington CTO Council. Nova Labs is part of the maker movement which is sweeping the country – there are currently over one thousand such makerspaces throughout the US. The makers movement is a confluence of 1) open-source hardware that promotes advancement in hardware design through common standards and crowdsourcing, 2) increasing availability of 3-D printers and high-precision laser cutters to private hobbyists, and 3) the do-it-yourself (DIY) mindset that encourages participants to create their own hardware – hence the term “makers.” In this post, I discuss some of the machines that I saw during this trip – high precision laser cutters, 3-D printers, CNC machines – and I also discuss the reasons for my excitement about the makers movement.

In this post, I discuss a video of a solution prototype that AIS put together for one of our customers. The requirements were for a large-scale document (correspondence) generation system and included large-scale generation of documents, the ability to author dozens of templates, the ability to generate documents by binding the templates to data from business systems, the ability to support multiple document formats, and the ability to create workflows to support the business processes. We developed a solution for automated document generation using the Microsoft Office system. By combining out-of-the-box functionality such as Content Controls and Open Office XML SDK with a little customization as per your business rules, you can automate template creation, document generation, and document conversion. You can also use SharePoint to allow for Web-based document management. Read on for more about this solution…

Windows Store App to monitor your Azure bill

Our SharePoint journey so far and a look ahead