Tag Archive for: Apps

SharePoint App, Custom Domain and free SSL certificate

25 Mar 2017
March 25, 2017

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:

  1. The app registration (/_layouts/15/appregnew.aspx) needs to be updated
  2. The app manifest and the app points to the old site
  3. 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.

Summary

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! 🙂

 

 

 

SPC14: Refactoring Business Solutions into Apps for Office

02 Mar 2014
March 2, 2014

This session will focus in deep detail on one top 10 business scenario and showcase how it can be enabled with apps for Office. We will review the business scenario, the architectural considerations to enable this scenario in Windows Azure and apps for Office, as well as delving into the code behind the solution. Expect to see a lot and have experts available to you to answer any of your questions and concerns.

Another pre-conf session “Refactoring Business Solutions into Apps for Office” by Richard diZerega, Kirk Evans and Sonya Koptyev.

Here are my notes:

Overview

Richard showed the options you have to deploy apps in a corporate environment – from cloud to corporate marketplace – and showed the different types of Office Apps – from Word to Excel.

20140302_220146928_iOS

When you use copy & paste something to Outlook – it’s a good candidate for a Mail App.

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Demo

Richard created a Word App that triggers on a selection and can replace the selection with a link.

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He showed that in order to publish an Office App Project you basically need to publish twice. One time for the service (e.g. hosted on azure) and the second time for the App Manifest (xml file) where you tell Office how to reach the service and what type of office app it is.

Binding

So that was a new thing to me – you can create bindings (subscriptions) to lets say a table – then if a condition changes my table gets updated automatically. Read more here.

Mail App

Kirk showed a Mail App and plenty of options how to get known entities out of emails – discovery of element inside an email (addresses, phone numbers and more) – good stuff.

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Call to Action

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Kirk said there is more to come and more to announced during this SPC.

Summary

Excel App & Mail App – would love to try that at a client but most of them are still on Office 2010. This session gave me a very good understanding what is possible and what not. Really liked the session, when Richard & Kirk present it always looks so easy Smiley

TechEd 2013: Microsoft Office & SharePoint 2013 Development: Introduction to the New Cloud App Model

25 Jun 2013
June 25, 2013

Session by Rolando Jimenez

Build a new class of apps that extend and personalize the way we create and consume information right from within Office…

Read more →

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