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Voices of the ElePHPant:
Interview with Mark Brown
January 21, 2014 @ 10:44:43

The Voices of the ElePHPant podcast has released their latest community interview today, this time with Mark Brown, a community evangelist for Windows Azure.

They talk some about the Windows Azure product and what kind of functionality it can currently offer PHP developers and applications. He talks some about the operating systems they've made available on the platform and the "community" virtual machine images. These run anything from a regular LAMP stack out to installed applications (like Drupal or WordPress). They also discuss the Azure target markets and how it can help make developers' lives easier.

You can listen to this latest episode either through the in-page player or by downloading the mp3 directly. You can also subscribe to their feed.

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voicesoftheelephpant community interview markbrown windows azure

Link: http://voicesoftheelephpant.com/2014/01/21/interview-with-mark-brown/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Translation and Text-to-Speech with Microsoft Translator
December 05, 2013 @ 09:19:29

On the SitePoint PHP blog today there's a new tutorial showing you how to combine the Microsoft Azure platform services with their Translator API to create a text-to-speech translation service with some simple curl calls.

Text to speech is a popular technique used by many websites to provide their content in an interactive way. The generation of artificial human voice is known as Speech Synthesis. Even though it's highly popular, there are very few speech synthesis services, especially when looking for those free of charge. Microsoft Translator is one of the services we can use to get a speech service with limited features. In this tutorial, we are going to look at how we can use Microsoft Translator API to translate content and then make audio files using said content.

He walks you through setting up an Azure application (you'll need an account for the marketplace already) and how to subscribe to the translation service. It's a paid service but there's a "try before you buy" level that allows 2,000,000 characters of translation before it's cut off - perfect for testing. He includes the PHP to make the requests to the Translation API via curl. Included is code to initialize the configuration for the request, get the correct tokens and a reusable method for making the actual translation request. Finally, an example of doing the actual text-to-speech conversion is shown, resulting in an mp3 file.

He also includes an example of a simple frontend UI. You can see a working demo of the script here.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/translation-text-speech-microsoft-translator/

Maarten Balliauw:
Working with Windows Azure SQL Database in PhpStorm
February 25, 2013 @ 09:13:20

Maarten Balliauw has a new post to his site showing how you can work with a Azure SQL database directly from the UI of the popular PHP IDE, phpStorm.

PhpStorm provides us the possibility to connect to Windows Azure SQL Database right from within the IDE. In this post, we'll explore several options that are available for working with Windows Azure SQL Database: Setting up a database connection, creating a table, inserting and updating data, using the database console, generating a database diagram and database refactoring.

He includes the instructions and several screenshots showing each step of the above mentioned steps. The database diagram gives you a good overall view of your database structure and allows you to show a visualization of how the tables relate to each other. Note that, though this particular example shows it connecting to an Azure SQL database, the same setup can be used with lots of popular RDBMS out there.

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Ruslan Yakushev:
PHP Troubleshooting in Windows Azure Web Sites
January 31, 2013 @ 10:19:16

In the latest post to his site, Ruslan Yakushev looks at some simple ways you can debug your PHP-based applications running on a Windows Azure platform.

The need to diagnose and troubleshoot application's failures often comes up during deployment to a hosting environment. Some configuration settings in hosting server may differ from what application expects. Often it is not as easy to figure out the cause of the problem in a hosting environment as it is on a development machine. I found the following techniques useful when troubleshooting errors in PHP applications hosted in Windows Azure Web Sites.

He shares seven different tips, some pretty simple, others a bit more difficult requiring other software to be up and working:

  • Using phpinfo()
  • Checking the wincache settings
  • Looking at your error logs
  • Turning on the display_errors setting
  • Turning on HTTP logging, detailed errors and failed request tracking in the control panel
  • Using XDebug
  • Getting the statistics for your ClearDB instance
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windows azure platform debug tips settings logs configuration


Maarten Balliauw:
Running unit tests when deploying to Windows Azure Web Sites
January 30, 2013 @ 10:25:20

Maarten Balliauw has a new post to his site showing you how to execute your unit tests (in this case PHPUnit) when you deploy your instance out to the Windows Azure platform.

When deploying an application to Windows Azure Web Sites, a number of deployment steps are executed. For .NET projects, msbuild is triggered. For node.js applications, a list of dependencies is restored. For PHP applications, files are copied from source control to the actual web root which is served publicly. Wouldn't it be cool if Windows Azure Web Sites refused to deploy fresh source code whenever unit tests fail? In this post, I'll show you how.

He creates a super basic script using Silex and writes up a test with some dummy assertions, checking if true equals true. He then steps you through updating the current "deploy.sh" script to add in a call to execute PHPUnit and an "exitWithMessageOnError" statement. This statement kicks it back and causes the deployment to fail when tests don't pass (as seen here).

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Maarten Balliauw:
Working with Windows Azure from within PhpStorm
January 03, 2013 @ 09:54:47

Maarten Balliauw has a new post today showing you how to work with your Azure site from inside the popular PHP IDE phpStorm.

Working with Windows Azure and my new toy (PhpStorm), I wanted to have support for doing specific actions like creating a new web site or a new database in the IDE. Since I'm not a Java guy, writing a plugin was not an option. Fortunately, PhpStorm (or WebStorm for that matter) provide support for issuing commands from the IDE. Which led me to think that it may be possible to hook up the Windows Azure Command Line Tools in my IDE.

He shows how to add a new "framework" to the IDE for the Azure CLI tools and how to get to a command line from inside the editor. From there you can execute any of the Azure CLI calls just as you would outside of the IDE (like his example, creating a new site called "GroovyBaby").

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Silver Lining Blog:
How to Enable XDebug in Windows Azure Web Sites
September 27, 2012 @ 11:53:50

On the Silver Lining blog (a MSDN Windows Azure related site), there's a recent post showing how you can enable XDebug on your Azure instance to help with debugging your application.

In this post, I'll cover how to run XDebug (including the profiler) in Windows Azure Web Sites. Enabling XDebug in Windows Azure Web Sites is as simple as enabling an extension. However, enabling an extension for the built-in PHP runtime is slightly different than doing so for a custom PHP runtime. I'll cover both scenarios here.

The post is broken up into two sections - one if you're just using the built-in PHP runtime that's already in the instance and another if you're using a custom one of your own. Changes to the configuration files and some screenshots of where to make the updates are included.

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xdebug enable windows azure tutorial debugging


Cory Fowler:
Enabling PHP 5.4 in Windows Azure Web Sites
September 21, 2012 @ 08:09:21

Cory Fowler has a recent post explaining how you can enable one of the most recent PHP releases (PHP 5.4) on your Windows Azure website via the " Bring-Your-Own-Runtime" feature.

Much like many other developers, I like to live on the bleeding edge, learning new language features, using the latest tools so naturally one of the things I wanted to see in Windows Azure Web Sites is support for PHP 5.4. I'm pleased to be telling you today in this post that support for Bring-Your-Own-Runtime is now available in Windows Azure Web Sites. Out of the box, Windows Azure Web Sites supports PHP 5.3 as you can see from the snapshot of the portal below. In this article I'll explain how to enable PHP 5.4 in Windows Azure Web Sites.

You'll need to set up and configure an Azure instance to work with (if you don't already have one) and navigate to its management Dashboard once complete. You can then setup a handler mapping that points to an uploaded version of the PHP Windows binary for 5.4 on your document root. Then all that's left is to upload (via FTP or git) this executable and you'll be all set.

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Chris Risner:
Mobile Geolocation Apps with Windows Azure Websites Part 1 The PHP Code
September 19, 2012 @ 08:14:46

Chris Risner has posted the first part of his series looking at mobile geolocation in PHP-based Azure applications as hosted on the Windows Azure service.

The first article in this mini-series on creating geolocation apps with the backend hosted in Windows Azure Websites is going to be a walkthrough of the PHP code that we'll host in Windows Azure. The PHP site will be simple and expose just a few methods. Prior to getting into the code for the service, we need to setup a new website in Windows Azure and set up our database.

He walks you through some of the initial steps to create the PHP side of things - setting up the website instance and database, downloading the Silex PHP framework and the PHP code to get process the latitude and longitude of the current user. Also included is code to help find "interesting" points near the user and code to allow the user to add their own.

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Cory Fowler:
How to use CakePHP on Windows Azure Web Sites
August 03, 2012 @ 10:06:12

In this new tutorial posted to his site Cory Fowler shows you how to set up and deploy a CakePHP-based website to a Microsoft Azure instance.

One day Last week, I set out to get a simple CakePHP site up and running on Windows Azure Web Sites. [...] CakePHP is a framework, which means ideally, there should not be anything specific to get it working on any platform.

He includes a complete guide to getting the framework, a sample "web.config" configuration file (for the Azure instance) and links to some other guides to help you get started using Azure (like deployment with git).

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