Connecting your Azure Web App to a Database using Application Settings

You just built an application that connects with a Database on your local machine, but now you want to share it with the world. But you don’t want to share everything about your application with the world.

Azure web apps supports a number of different web platforms, but to effectively build while maintaining code on GitHub we need to keep configuration details of our app private including the connection string for our database.

In this case we’re going to be using a Node JS application connected to a Mongo Database hosted on a Virtual Machine.

Before we get started…
Do you have a MongoDB up and running?
Nope. – Read this post!
Yep! – Great keep going!

For reference, I’m starting with a chat application originally written by fellow evangelist Rami Sayar for an excellent Node Course he taught recently.

Prereqs:
Git
Azure Subscription
Connection string for a DB in Mongo – mine looks like this:
mongodb://40.83.182.555:27017/test

The Steps:
1. Clone or fork the repository
2. Create an App Service
3. Connect App Service to Repository
4. Add app settings in Azure Portal
5. Try it out!

1. Clone or fork the repository

The project I’m using for this demonstration is found here: Github
Now clone the project to your local machine, or fork it in GitHub.

Take a quick look at these files:
– package.json : checkout out the dependencies of the project, notice how we’re using the official mongodb driver
– mongoClientTest.js and dbTest.js : provide other examples/test files to run, just substitute your ip address of where mongo is being hosted to make sure you’re able to connect.
– app.js : this is the main file that will be run by Azure Web Apps (app.js or server.js will automatically be started by the cloud when deployed). Also, in app.js you’ll see we set ‘db’ using process.env app.set('db', process.env.DB ); – we’ll be using that in step 4.

Once comfortable with the files locally or in GitHub we’re ready to spin up our App Service in Azure.

2. Create an App Service

App Service is a PaaS service offered by Azure to make deployment of website/web services simple and easy to maintain, develop against, and scale.

To begin select the ‘Plus’ button in the upper left corner and select web+mobile, then select Web App:
selectnewwebapp

Now configure your web app:
configurewebapp

You may have to create a app service plan and resource group if you haven’t created one yet, for more info on this portion of the architecture click here and here

You’ll see this icon on your dashboard while the resource is spinning up:
deploying

Once running the portal should automatically take you to that resource, if not you’ll see it on your dashboard:
mongoappondashboard

Here’s the overview pane and the items we’ll be using in the rest of this tutorial highlighted:
webappoverview

3. Connect App Service to Repository

Now that we have an app service, let’s connect it to our repository.
There are a number of options for deployment.

In this case we’re going to deploy from GitHub, but we could have also used a local repository by adding Azure as a remote repo.

Azure will detect changes made to the repository on GitHub and redeploy the project. This makes deployments during hackathons super easy.

Select Deployment options from the overview pane -> Choose Source -> GitHub:
deployfromgithub

Note: You can also select Local Git Repository if you’ve liked to keep your code off of GitHub and add Azure as a remote repository git add remote azure "http://git.asdfgafdgasdfgasdf" – will be displayed in overview portal once initialized.

You’ll then be asked to login to GitHub so it can access the list of your repos.
Select your forked repo or the cloned repo you’ve committed to GitHub:
authrorize-andselectyourproject

Once selected you’ll see a notification in the top right corner with a loading bar for the deployment:
waitingfordeployment

Once that’s finished, you have code ready to roll in the cloud.
Azure has automatically installed the packages listed in your package.json and found the file named server.js to deploy. Next let’s configure it to talk to Mongo!

4. Add App Settings in Azure Portal

Now we have a project connected and deployed on Azure, but it won’t store the data anywhere, because a connection string hasn’t been included in the environment variables (aka application settings).

To add our monogodb to the project we just need to include the variable name and the connection string.
In our project, as noted before, we set db using process.env.DB

Select application settings and scroll down to until you see app settings then enter into the two empty fields “DB” and the connection string mentioned earlier: mongodb://40.83.182.555:27017/test
Like this:
appsettingpane

Then hit save!

Go back to your website and try entering some chatter!

Try it out!

If you visited the page it should look something like this:
finishedproduct

In the middle of the above screen shot you can see a terminal with a connection to the VM and same data in the MongoDB.

If you’re running into issues try connecting using dbTest.js or mongoClientTest.js after you add the specific IP for your VM hosting mongo.

Hope this made it super simple to connect your application to a database using Azure Web Apps.
Please let me know if you run into any issues in the comments below.

When Brett Stateham comes to town...
When Brett Stateham comes to town…

Running Node and Express on Ubuntu VM

So you just spun up your first Ubuntu Virtual Machine?
No…
Let’s fix that: “Intro to Ubuntu on Azure”

YEAH!
Let’s put it to work!

The Basic Steps to using node on an Azure VM:
1. Open the Port
2. Install Git and Install Updates
3. Install Node and NVM
4. Code and Install Express
5. Run it and check it out!
6. Use forever to keep it alive

1. Open the Port
We’re not talking battleships or submarines we’re talking Infrastructure as a Service.
Visit the landing page for your Ubuntu Virtual Machine:
vmnumberonelandingpage

And select the resource group in the top left corner:
resourcegroup

Resource groups are the way we break down how our VM interacts with the internet, other vms, storage, and public/private networks.

To open the port we need to change our network security group which is represented by the shield. (Underlined in the above screenshot)
Then we’ll select settings -> Inbound security rules
networksecuritygroupsettings

This will allow us to open up our VM to the Public Internet so we can visit it like any other website.

Under ‘Inbound security rules’ SSH is already included:
defaultssh

We’re going to add a new Inbound security rule named ExpressServerPort where we’ll set the Destination port range to 3000 which we’ll see later when starting our server. Here’s the configuration pane for our ExpressServerPort:
destinationport

2. Install Git and Check Updates
Git is fun!

SSH into our Virtual Machine like we did in the VM intro then enter:
$ sudo apt-get install git
sudoaptgetinstallgit

Yay! We have Git

Let’s run our update command just to double check we’re up to date:

$ sudo apt-get update
sudoaptgetupdate

Great let’s move on with Node!

3. Install NVM and Node

First NVM: https://github.com/creationix/nvm

NVM is a version manager for Node you can install using curl:
Enter this command to install it:
$curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/creationix/nvm/v0.31.1/install.sh | bash

Then source your profile to add it to your commands:
$ source ~/.profile

Then check out the version to make sure it installed:
$ nvm --version

It should look like this:
nvmisntallversion

NVM is installed!
Let’s install a version of Node!
$ nvm install 5.0

Then check our version of Node:
$ node -v
nvminstallfive

Sweeeeeeet

Check out NVMs readme on the github for more commands:
https://github.com/creationix/nvm

With node comes ‘npm’ which allows us to install a whole bunch of node awesomeness. One of the more popular packages is express a minimalist web framework, we’ll install this to start coding away.

4. Code and Install Express

We’ll be following along “Express’s” introduction if you get lost/have more questions about express.
http://expressjs.com/en/starter/installing.html

First let’s create our a directory, cd into it and initialize our app using nom.

$ mkdir myapp
$ cd myapp
$ npm init

After entering npm init we’ll be walked through a configuration step for our app. The only one that matters for now is (index.js) which will be the entry point for our app everything else can be the default for now.

If you were actually going to submit/share this code you’d want to accurately fill out this info.

After the initialization step we’ll add express and list it as a dependency:
$ npm install express --save

Here’s what those steps look like:
mkdirmyapp

Weeee now have express and an app ready for your code!

Lets open nano and put the helloworld sample into index.js

$ sudo nano index.js

sudonanohelloworld

Now lets run our app!
$ node index.js
nodeindexjs

Now that its running lets visit it by entering the IP address and port number into our browser.
In my case the URL is: http://13.88.180.170:3000/
ipaddressandport

Neat!

6. Use forever to keep it alive
Unfortunately, if we close our Terminal/SSH Connection our project will stop running.
To solve this, we use another NPM package called forever.
Here’s the link to the repository with clear instructions.

In short we install it globally:
$ sudo npm install forever -g

Then start it:
$ forever start app.js

And stop it:
$ forever stop app.js

That’s it for now!

Now clone one of your node projects and run them in the cloud!
Happy Hacking!

When the Male Roommates are home alone...
When the Male Roommates are home alone…