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Downloading the Visual Studio Web Publish Updates

I have written a few posts recently describing out updated web publish experience. These new experience is available for both Visual Studio 2010 as well as Visual Studio 2012 RC. You can use the links below to download these updates in the Azure SDK download. Below are links for both versions.

The Web Publish experience is chained into VS 2012 RC so if you have installed VS 2012 RC with the Web features then you already have these features.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi @SayedIHashimi

asp.net | Deployment | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 11 | Visual Studio 2010 | web | Web Deployment Tool | Web Publishing Pipeline Friday, June 15, 2012 8:30:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Visual Studio 2010 Web Publish Updates

Last week we rolled out some updates for our Visual Studio 2010 Web Publishing Experience. This post will give you an overview of the new features which we released. In the coming weeks there will be more posts getting into more details regarding individual features.

You can get these updates in the Windows Azure SDK for Visual Studio 2010. When you download that package there you will also get the latest tools for Azure development.

The new high level features include the following.


When you right click on your Web Application Project (WAP) you will now see the new publish dialog.


On this tab you can import a .publishSettngs file, which many web hosts provide, and you can also manage your publish profiles. If you are hosting your site on Windows Azure Web Sites then you can download the publish profile on the dashboard of the site using the Download publish profile link. After you import this publish profile you will be brought to the Connection tab automatically.


On this tab you can see all the server configuration values which are needed for your client machine to connect to the server. Typically you don’t have to worry about the details of these values. Next you’ll go to the Settings tab.


On the Settings tab you can set the build configuration which should be used for the publish process, the default value here is Release. There is also a checkbox to enable you to delete any files on the server which do not exist in the project.

Below that checkbox you will see a section for databases. The sample project shown has an Entity Framework Code First model, named ContactsContext, and it uses Code First Migrations to manage the database schema. If you have any non-EF Code First connection strings in web.config then those databases will show up as well but the support for incrementally publishing the schema for those has not yet been finalized. We are currently working on that. You can visit my previous blog entry for more info on that.

If you imported a .publishSettings file with a connection string then that connection string would automatically be inserted in the textbox/dropdown for the connection string. If you did not then you can use the … button to create a connection string with the Connection String Builder dialog or you can simply type/paste in a connection string. For the EF Code First contexts you will see the Execute Code Frist Migrations checkbox. When you check this when your site is published the web.config will be transformed to enable the Code First migrations to be executed the first time that the context is accessed. Now you can move to the Preview tab.

When you first come to the Preview tab you will see a Start Preview button. Once you click this button you will see the file operations which would be performed once you publish. Since this site has never been published all the file operations are Add, as you can see in the image below. The other Action values include; Update and Delete.


Once you are ready to publish you can click the Publish button. You can monitor the progress of the publish process using the Output Window. If your publish profile had a value for the Destination URL then the site will automatically be opened in the default browser after the publish has successfully completed.

Publish Profiles

One of the other changes in the publish experience is that publish profiles are now stored as a part of your project. They are stored under the folder Properties\PublishProfiles (for VB projects its My Project\PublishProfiles) and the extension is .pubxml. You can see this in the image below.


These .pubxml files are MSBuild files and you can modify these files in order to customize the publish process. If you do not want the publish profile to be checked into version control you can simply exclude it from the project. The publish dialog will look at the files in the PublishProfiles folder so you will still be able to publish using that profile. You can also leverage these publish profiles to simply publishing from the command line. For example you can use the following syntax to publish from the command line.

msbuild.exe WebApplication2.csproj /p:DeployOnBuild=true;PublishProfile="pubdemo - Web Deploy";Password={INSERT-PASSWORD}



If you have any questions please feel free to directly reach out to me at sayedha(at){MicrosoftDOTCom}.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi @SayedIHashimi

asp.net | Microsoft | MSDeploy | Visual Studio 2010 | web | Web Deployment Tool | Web Publishing Pipeline Friday, June 15, 2012 8:07:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Thursday, June 7, 2012

ASP.NET providers and SQL Azure

We have two sets of ASP.NET providers which currently exist; the ASP.NET SQL providers, and the ASP.NET Universal Providers. In VS 2010 the SQL providers were in only providers used for our project templates. In VS 2012 we have switched to using the Universal Providers. One of the drawbacks of the SQL providers is that it leverages DB objects of SQL server which are not available in SQL Azure.

In our updated web publish experience we have an Update Database checkbox which can be used to incrementally publish the database to the destination database. In this case if the source connection string is used by the ASP.NET SQL providers and you are publishing to SQL Azure then you will see the following message on the dialog.


Note: you may see the Update Database checkbox disabled, please visit http://sedodream.com/2012/06/07/VSPublishDialogUpdateDatabaseDialogDisabled.aspx for more info on why.

The publish dialog is letting you know that the SQL providers are not compatible with SQL Azure and helps you convert to using the Universal Providers. After you install the Universal Providers the web.config entry will be commented out and new entries will be inserted for the Universal Providers. Your existing database will not be impacted, we’ll create a new connection string pointing to a new database. If you had any data in the SQL Providers database you will have to re-create those objects in the new database.

If you have any questions please feel free to directly reach out to me at sayedha(at){MicrosoftDOTCom}.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi @SayedIHashimi

Visual Studio | Visual Studio 11 | Visual Studio 2010 | web | Web Publishing Pipeline Thursday, June 7, 2012 11:41:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Database settings in the VS Publish dialog

In Visual Studio 2010 we introduced a database publishing experience in the Package/Publish SQL (PP/SQL) properties page. This support relies on generating create scripts from the source database and then executing those scripts when you publish your web application. For more details regarding this feature take a look at Package/Publish SQL Tab, Project Properties. One of the negative aspects of the implementation that we have there is that the DB schema publishing is not incremental, it always executes create scripts. So in many cases you publish your app for the first time and things are great, but the next time you try to publish you receive errors because it tries to create DB objects which already exist.

In our improved publish dialog we have a new database publishing experience which is incremental, so you don’t run into the same issues when re-deploying your database. All of the configuration for this is within the publish dialog itself. If you have a project which already has DB publish settings on the Package/Publish SQL tab (under any build configuration/platform) then you will see the message shown in the image below.


The new incremental DB schema publish mechanism is not compatibly with the feature set on the PP/SQL tab. For each web publish profile you can either use the settings on the PP/SQL tab or you can opt-in to the new experience on the publish dialog. We implemented it this way in order to introduce the new feature set and to ensure that existing publish scenarios are not broken.

FYI there is a related post on why the Update database checkbox is disabled in the publish dialog which you may be interested in.

If you have any questions please feel free to directly reach out to me at sayedha(at){MicrosoftDOTCom}.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi @SayedIHashimi

Microsoft | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2010 | Web Publishing Pipeline Thursday, June 7, 2012 11:09:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

VS Publish dialog Update Database dialog disabled

If you have tried out our new Web Publish experience in Visual Studio you may have noticed that the Update Database checkbox is disabled. See the image below.


The intended behavior of this checkbox is to enable you to incrementally publish your database schema from the source (the connection string in web.config) to the destination (whatever connection string is in the text box). The difference between an incremental publish and a typical publish is that for incremental publishes only changes are transferred from source to destination. With a full publish the first time that you publish your DB schema everything is created, and the next time that you try to publish you will receive an error because it tries to re-create existing DB objects.

The functionality of the Update database checkbox leverages an MSDeploy provider. We were hoping to complete that provider and give it to hosters in time for the release but we were unable to do so. We are working on completing the provider and partnering with hosters to install these in time for the launch of Visual Studio 2012 RTM.

In the mean time if you need to publish your DB schema you can use the Package/Publish SQL tab (caution: the DB publishing here is not incremental). If you are going to use the PP/Sql tab to publish to SQL Azure then there are some special consideraions that you will need to take. You can learn more about those by visiting http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd465343.aspx and searching for “Azure” on that page.

If you have any questions please feel free to directly reach out to me at sayedha(at){MicrosoftDOTCom}.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi @SayedIHashimi

Visual Studio | Visual Studio 11 | Visual Studio 2010 | web | Web Development | Web Publishing Pipeline Thursday, June 7, 2012 10:44:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |