Trying out Remote Desktop to a Microsoft Azure virtual machine

I have been trying out Visual Studio LightSwitch, which has an option to deploy apps to Windows Azure.

Of course I wanted to try this,  and after a certain amount of hassle generating certificates and switching between Visual Studio LightSwitch and the Azure management portal I succeeded.

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I doubt I would have made it without this step by step guide by Andy Kung. The article begins:

One of the many features introduced in Visual Studio LightSwitch Beta 2 is the ability to publish your app directly to Windows Azure with storage in SQL Azure. We have condensed many steps one would typically have to go through to deploy an application to the cloud manually.

Somewhere between 30 and 40 screens later he writes:

The last step shows you a summary of what you’re about to publish. FINALLY! Click Publish.

We just have to imagine how many screens there would have been if Microsoft had not condensed the “many steps”. The result is also not quite right, because it uses self-signed certificates that will present security warnings when you use the app. For a product supposedly aimed at non-developers it is all hopelessly difficult; but I guess techies are used to this kind of thing.

I was not content though. First, I wanted to use an Extra Small instance, and LightSwitch defaults to a Small instance with no obvious way to change it. I cracked that one. You switch the view in Solution Explorer to the File view, then find the file ServiceDefinition.csdef and edit the vmsize attribute:

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It worked and I had an Extra Small instance.

I was still not satisfied though. I wanted to use Remote Desktop so I could check out the VM Azure had created for me. I could not see any easy way to do this in the LightSwitch project, so I created another Azure project and configured it for Remote Desktop access using the guide on MSDN. More certificate fun, more passwords. I then started to publish the project, but bailed out when it warned me that I was overwriting a previous deployment.

Then I copied the likely looking parts of ServiceDefinition.csdef and ServiceConfiguration.cscfg from the standard Azure project to the LightSwitch project. In ServiceDefinition.csdef that was the Imports section and the Certificates section. In ServiceConfiguration.cscfg it was all the settings starting Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Plugins.Remote…; and again the Certificates section. I think that was it.

It worked. I published the LightSwitch app, went to the Azure management portal, selected the instance, and clicked Connect.

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