Microsoft Releases Azure Blockchain Development Kit

Building on the earlier Azure Blockchain Workbench, the development kit adds messaging APIs and more for application developers.

blockchain

Microsoft has debuted Version 1.0 of its Azure Blockchain Development Kit, which provides tools to help developers integrate blockchain with a wide range of applications.

The tool kit includes components to connect interfaces, integrate data and systems, and deploy smart contracts and blockchain networks, according to a Nov. 15 post on the Microsoft Azure Blog by Marc Mercuri, principal program manager of blockchain engineering at the company. 

“This kit extends the capabilities of our blockchain developer templates and Azure Blockchain Workbench, which incorporates Azure services for key management, off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging APIs into a reference architecture that can be used to rapidly build blockchain-based applications,” wrote Mercuri. “These tools have become the first step for many organizations on their journey to re-invent the way they do business.”

Blockchain apps are being used in a wide range of situations, from democratizing supply chain financing in Nigeria to securing the food supply in the UK, which has led to teams of Microsoft engineers identifying new ways for the company to help developers go farther and faster when building blockchain apps, wrote Mercuri.

“To deliver end to end blockchain solutions for consortiums, developers need to enable organizations, people and devices to connect to the blockchain and do it from a heterogenous set of user interfaces,” he wrote.

Components in the development kit include inbound and outboundSMS, Integrated Voice Response, IoT Hub and IoT Central, Xamarin mobile client for iOS and Android, Dynamics integration via Common Data Service (CDS), Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant bots and assistants, and web UX.

Also released to bolster the development kit is a set of Logic Apps that enable the hashing of files and file related metadata when using data, software and media that live “off chain,” wrote Mercuri.

“Documents and media do not belong on chain, but business processes often involve images, videos, audio, Office documents, CAD files for 3D printers or other file types,” he explained. “The common pattern is to generate a unique hash of the media and the metadata that describes it. Those hashes are then placed on a public or private chain.”

The hashes are then used to judge the authenticity of the document, media or metadata, he wrote. “If authenticity of a file is ever questioned, the ‘off chain’ files can be re-hashed at a later time and that hash is compared to the ‘on chain’ hash stored on the blockchain. If the hashes match, the document is authentic, but if so much as a pixel of an image or letter in a document is changed, the hashes will not match and this will make obvious that tampering has occurred.”

Also included are smart contracts for files and a file registry to store the hashes on chain.

The Logic Apps have been created to provide these capabilities for files, documents and media when using applications including Azure Storage, OneDrive, One Drive for Business, SharePoint, Box, Adobe Creative Cloud and FTP.

The Blockchain Development Kit also includes Workbench integration samples in the following areas:

  • Legacy applications and protocols—sending and receiving files via FTP, processing comma-separated files and email delivery of data
  • Data—SQL, Azure Search, Excel, and Power BI
  • SaaS—SharePoint, Dynamics, Outlook and Gmail
  • Registries—an accelerator that generates a custom registry and registry item smart contracts to accommodate any scenario.

“The Azure Blockchain Development Kit is the next step in our journey to make developing end to end blockchain applications accessible, fast, and affordable to anyone with an idea,” wrote Mercuri. “It is built atop our investments in blockchain and connects to the compute, data, messaging and integration services available in both Azure and the broader Microsoft Cloud to provide a robust palette for a developer to realize their vision.”