Recently I created lots of SharePoint provider hosted apps for several customers – most of them very simple apps to register a remote event receiver or send emails. But a few of them were complex business apps that used the integration options for SharePoint but stood almost separately as websites running on Azure. The first apps we created had the name <app>.azurewebsites.net – and for some customers that looked so odd that they opened tickets and asked for confirmation if the apps are legit. And that makes perfect sense because everybody could create a website and call it superlegitcustomerapp.azurewebsite.net, right? So in this blog post I will show you how to run an app on a custom domain with a free SSL certificate.
For this article I assume that you have your SharePoint App up and running on Azure – and I assume that you have a domain to use.
Register the custom domain on Azure
3 easy steps to register a new hostname
First things first – tell the azure website that it will have a new hostname to respond to. Therefore go to the azure portal, open your website and click on “custom domain”. Then add your domain or subdomain that should be the new entry point of your app. Once you have done that, you need to validate the websites by adding a txt record to your nameserver with the value * mapped to .azurewebsites.net – full guide is here.
domain validation via nameserver entry. The @ symbol was not allowed, but with * it worked.
After validation was successfully it should look like that:
new entry was added successfully
For the custom domain you need at least a shared instance tier for your azure website.
New name – new problems
Ok, now we have setup the new hostname and we can open up the site with that – but that creates some problems:
The app registration (/_layouts/15/appregnew.aspx) needs to be updated
The app manifest and the app points to the old site
There is no SSL certificate for the new name
1 & 2 are easy solvable: Open the app in Visual Studio, change the app domain, upload it to the app store, trust it and re-add it to your sites. But if you open the new app – you will either redirect to http:// and have all you traffic sent over an encrypted connection – or you send it to https:// and will be greated by a security warning in your browser because there is no SSL certificate present for your new domain.
Free SSL certificate
In the past I heavily used free SSL certificates from StartCom because they were trusted in all browsers and were free for 1 year – but they lost trust in google chrome and firefox recently so that is no longer an option. Not using a ssl certificate is no option at all – business apps need security and trust – therefore I needed another option, preferably free so no long discussion with customers, CSRs and all that to request a certificate for your needs. I want easy.
Let’s encrypt for the rescue
There is a really great organization that provides free SSL certificates – Let’s Encrypt – and I use them for this blog with ease, too. So why not use them for my Azure websites? The let’s encrypt certificates only lasts 3 months and should be renewed automatically (way better than certificates that lasts 1 year and have to be renewed manually…) – so there should be some sort of integration right into the azure websites for that – and there is! Thanks to the awesome work of Simon J.K. Pedersen there is a Azure Website Extension for Let’s Encrypt.
The installation was really straightforward for me and is well documented here – I added the extension (choose the correct version for 32 or 64bit!), register a new service principal and give it contribute permissions – open the extension site https://.scm.azurewebsites.net/letsencrypt/ and enter all the required values:
Once you save it the magic happens – two webjobs will be registered that request a new certificate, register them and two weeks before expiry renew them automatically for you. Awesomesauce!
For the custom ssl certificate you need at least a basic app service plan.
So once you have done all that you will have a nice domain for your app – giving your users trust and easy to recall entry to your business application – and all that is free with zero maintenance. And all your browsers love it, too:
trusted in Google Chrome
trusted in IE11
So if you create a new app – register the domain first, follow the guide above and you are good to go – the secure way: customer happy, developer happy, security guy happy! 🙂
Ignite 2016 is over and we all were updated with tons of new features, announcements and insights in Atlanta – in this post I will try to give you a summary what I learned at Ignite 2016 SharePoint Conference it Atlanta.
Office 365 and SharePoint Online
I took that one from the official source because it pretty sums up whats coming:
The next wave of innovations to achieve the SharePoint vision (simple and powerful file sharing, mobile and intelligent intranet, open and connected platform, commitment to security, privacy and compliance) contains the following highlights:
A significant update to the OneDrive browser experience, so that you can find, access, share and collaborate on all your files in Office 365
OneDrive sync preview for SharePoint Online document libraries and folders shared with you
Team news to keep your team up to date and informed of what matters
People cards in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business that intelligently surface content and details from your colleagues’ profiles
New integration with Microsoft Flow, PowerApps and Yammer
Preview of the SharePoint mobile apps for Windows 10 Mobile and Android
Enhancements for developers including new sites and lists APIs in Microsoft Graph
New security controls including site classification and conditional access based on location and device
Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016
Expanded FastTrack services and tools to support hybrid configurations and migration
And the Roadmap for Q4 2016 and H1 2017 – I really like the transparency:
Modern Pages / Modern Document Library / Refresh to Teamsites
I really recommend you to watch the entire session – some pretty good stuff in it:
In the next month we will see lots of updates to the modern document library experience, modern pages and updates to our beloved teamsites (about time!).
Every teamsite get a “News”, “Activity” and “Links” section. Tighter integration into mobile apps (right side)
And “modern pages” looks awesome, too. The promise here is that they will render on desktop, mobile browser and in the mobile apps – more on the apps late in this post.
What I really liked is the new people card – more user-centric experience are always great. “Who is that person? What is he doing in the organization and what is he working on?” – cool!
SharePoint People Cards – a more user centric experience
Security & Compliance
As part of the Office news the following new security and compliance capabilities in Office 365:
Improvements to Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
Advanced Data Governance
Updates to Advanced Security Management
And more insights with lots of graphs:
More insights what our users are actually doing!
The new version of the Office 365 App Launcher gives you access to these new features:
Additional customization options
search across all the services and applications
A tabbed layout
You can resize, pin and organize tiles
Support for Office 365 themes
And in a not so distant future it will list your recent Office documents:
OneDrive for Business
Major updates to OneDrive for Business – as mentioned in this post, OneDrive caused a lot of service requests in the past – but it will massively improve with the coming updates!
Ability to sync SharePoint Online document libraries and OneDrive folders shared with you (preview available here).
An activity center has been added to the OneDrive sync client to allow you to view synchronization and file activity at a glance (preview).
Notifications to your iOS or Android device when someone shares a OneDrive file with you.
Access to SharePoint Online files in the OneDrive app on Android.
Multi-page scan enhancements in the OneDrive app on Android.
Ability to see over time how many people have discovered and viewed your files in OneDrive for iOS.
Enhancements to integration with Office 2016 (First Release).
Simple, flexible OneDrive user management in Office 365 (First Release).
SharePoint Online Sync Preview – finally you can sync the files from a teamsite
These new features are in the pipeline:
Rich thumbnails and previews for over 20 new file types (rolling out before the end of 2016).
Ability to access and edit all your files in OneDrive and SharePoint Online from the OneDrive browser client (rolling out before the end of 2016).
Capability to download multiple files as a .zip file (rolling out before the end of 2016).
Dedicated OneDrive administration console in Office 365 (rolling out before the end of 2016).
That’s what excited me the most – whats coming after InfoPath, lots of clients asked me about guidance here. And well, the answer could be PowerApps.
I attended 2 sessions to see whats coming for PowerApps and Flow – and I will soon play with it because there is so much demand in forms and simple workflows. Having the same functionality even in a mobile app will be awesome (try that with InfoPath…).
PowerApps works only if an internet connection is available
Its currently in preview
You can connect to data sources onPrem if you install a gateway service
Flow on the other side looks like the implementation of if this then that / IFTTT – simple workflows are possible here e.g. approval and all that stuff. The power of that come into play when you connect different tools with that (Salesforce, Twitter, Slack, SQL, etc).
Groups & Yammer
Better integration of Yammer in Office 365 groups
Uploading of files directly from SharePoint/OneDrive for Business sites, and edit them directly in the browser.
Apparently I could not make it to any SharePoint Framework (SPFx) session at all – the conference was packed with so many good sessions that I had to make compromises. But lots of the Framework was already announced at May, 4th event.
Delve Analytics was renamed to MyAnalytics – the change of the name is already live in my tenant.
Pinning of important contacts so you can easily see if you are loosing touch with important peers
Share metrics with peers to get a review or opinion about your work habits
SharePoint is alive! It was a blast to see how much attention (and love) SharePoint got at the Ignite 2016 – that hasn’t been always the case. The following PowerBI analyzed the hashtags on twitter during the Ignite – #SharePoint clearly ruled. I doubt that it’s because SharePoint people tweet more – the many announcements and huge amount of sessions must be the cause for that:
Microsoft Ignite 2016 delivered so many promising updates to current and planned developments nobody could doubt that SharePoint has a bright future! SharePoint ain’t dead!
If you want to see more about the general roadmap, visit https://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap for more insights.
If you have questions about Ignite 2016, please let me know in the comments. If wrote about every session I attended at Ignite 2016, please see the archives if you want more details.
Watch out, I am attending a developer session! Mainly because Scott Hanselman is the speaker and I totally love his style. Developers!
This session will give us a broad overview of all the new things for devs – so we start with the current options of Visual Studio:
12.7 Mio downloads of Visual Studio
2 Mio Visual Studio Code
4 Mio users of Visual Studio Team Services
Developers are important! Developers, Developers, Developers!
Cloud is connecting everything!
Demo 1: Modernization
Porting sounds boring, modernization is a cooler word for it.
Transition from .NET Framework 2, 3, 4 to .NET Core – Visual Studio support all of them.
First demo on a Mac, running the CLI to create projects, restore packages – awesome.
Demo 2: Visual Studio 2015 and future improvements
Run with multiple browser. Browser link now syncs scrolling and user inputs across browsers – that is cool.
Demo 3: Containers
Docker is confusing for most enterprises, but with the windows version it is much easier to run. Even integrated in Visual Studio into the “run with” dialog. The solution is then built and put into a docker image – even with debugging support.
Demo 4: Azure Integration
Staging slots – run copies of your website in parallel and switch them back and forth into production aka. hot swaps. Then he shows “testing in production” where you can load balance e.g. 25% of all the traffic will be directed to staging instead of production. You can even automate that with powershell, eg. send them to staging, check for errors and in that case send them back to production. What could go wrong?!
Because so many viewers accessed Scott’s public website, he did a live scale out with the push of a button. Awesome.
Demo 5: Portable Code and native apps
Scott shows another demo were 90% of his code is in a portable class library. The rest of the code is device specific and stored in separate projects for IOS, Androws, Windows Phone or UWP. Live debug run on an iPhone simulator running iOS 10.
Demo 6: Xamarin Test Cloud
Testing your app on multiple devices is effortless with Xamarin test cloud, you get memory consumption, error logs, videos of your tests – crazy stuff.
The explosion is a test run on a Galaxy Note 7
Demo 7: SharePoint Online
Scott show a document stored on SharePoint (!!!). Once the document is saved it will trigger an Azure Function app (server-less code) to notify clients that the document has changed. Automate the processes here is the main point.
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