Microsoft Windows Azure Updates for Mobile Back-End Development Go Live

Microsoft announced a series of updates to its Windows Azure Mobile Services to support mobile back-end development, including custom API and Git support.

Microsoft has released a number of updates to Windows Azure to make it easier for developers to build back ends to mobile client applications.

The new capabilities include mobile services such as custom API support, Git source control support, Node.js Node Packaged Modules (NPM) support and a new .NET API via NuGet. In addition, Microsoft is offering a free 20MB SQL database option for mobile services and Web sites, as well as Android push notification support.

"Windows Azure Mobile Services provides the ability to easily stand up a mobile backend that can be used to support your Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android and HTML5 client applications," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the server and tools business at Microsoft, in a June 14 blog post.

Starting with the first preview, according to Guthrie, Microsoft supported the ability for developers to easily extend their data back-end logic with server-side scripting that executes as part of client-side CRUD operations against their cloud back data tables. However, with the new updates, Microsoft is extending this support even further and introducing the ability for developers to also create and expose custom APIs from their Mobile Services back end and easily publish them to their mobile clients without having to associate them with a data table.

"This capability enables a whole set of new scenarios—including the ability to work with data sources other than SQL Databases (for example: Table Services or MongoDB), broker calls to 3rd party APIs, integrate with Windows Azure Queues or Service Bus, work with custom non-JSON payloads (e.g. Windows Periodic Notifications), route client requests to services back on-premises (e.g. with the new Windows Azure BizTalk Services), or simply implement functionality that doesn't correspond to a database operation," Guthrie said in the post. "The custom APIs can be written in server-side JavaScript (using Node.js) and can use Node's NPM packages. We will also be adding support for custom APIs written using .NET in the future as well."

The new release enables custom APIs to be written using Node.js, and the custom API programming model follows the Node.js convention for modules, which is to export functions to handle HTTP requests.

"Integrating authentication and authorization with Custom APIs is really easy with Mobile Services," Guthrie wrote. "Just like with data requests, custom API requests enjoy the same built-in authentication and authorization support of Mobile Services (including integration with Microsoft ID, Google, Facebook and Twitter authentication providers), and it also enables you to easily integrate your Custom API code with other Mobile Service capabilities like push notifications, logging, SQL, etc."