Microsoft has launched a new cloud-based service for Azure that provides a single service for building mobile and web apps. It also contains existing tools and services including Azure Websites, Mobile Services and Biztalk Services.
The idea is that the unified service will simplify app development, especially if you need to create apps that exist on multiple devices and platforms with connected data. The underlying services aren’t getting any major new features, though there will be the advantage of being able to use other tools that work across the services. Integration is also being added for third party APIs. The Azure API Apps now appear as a publishing target for the ASP.NET developer, so you can make use of concepts like Resource Groups and App Hosting Plans from within Visual Studio.
Writing about the new service on the official Microsoft blog , Bill Staples, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Azure said that the new service gives developers everything they need to create web apps, mobile apps, API apps and logic apps.
Azure Websites has been renamed as Web Apps, and has support for Web development frameworks including .NET, Java, PHP, and Python, with integration with Visual Studio Online, GitHub, and Bitbucket.
The Mobile Apps part of the service provides backend capabilities for native Windows, iOS and Android mobile platforms as well as multi-platform environments like Xamarin and Cordova. The Logic Apps is derived from BizTalk Services, and provides ways to automate process execution across consumer and commercial services. It can also be used with custom APIs written for specific integration needs.
One interesting element of the service is Azure API Apps. These expose metadata formats like Swagger and WADL so they’re easier to consume. There’s a new Azure API App template that provides dynamic Swagger generation from ASP.NET Web API controllers, and a new consumption system in Visual Studio that generates C# code to make it easier to consume REST APIs without needing to write repetitive HTTP calls or JSON or XML parsing. The generated client code is also supported in Portable Class Library projects. This means they can be used from platforms supporting PCL such as Windows Phone and Universal apps, as well as apps written targeting Android and iOS with Xamarin.
The API support starts with APIs being added to the Azure Marketplace for existing Microsoft services and products, along with third party APIs from partners such as Twilio, Salesforce, and Dropbox. According to the blog post on the Microsoft blog, the API Apps let developers discover, host, and manage APIs with built-in support for enterprise systems such as SAP, Siebel and Oracle, as well as services such as Salesforce, Zendesk, Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365 and many others.
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