Categories
Azure

How to create an Azure app service with a database

Need to deploy your app to an Azure app service, and rely on a database such as Postgres or Azure SQL?

Microsoft is now previewing a new blade in the Azure portal that lets you quickly spin up an Azure app service with an associated database.

Supported database engines for the preview are Postgres or serverless Azure SQL server.

To get started using the new blade, click here or search the Azure Marketplace for “web app database”.

The blade – currently in preview – is fairly basic compared to the normal app service blade, but allows you to specify the app name, runtime and database engine. You can also set the server name and database name.

By default it’ll spin up an app service using the Premium V2 tier, but you can scale this down (or up if required) once the service is created using the regular Azure scale up settings.

The database connection information will automatically be set as environment variables for your app service.

Categories
Google Tables

How to use Google Tables outside the US

Google recently launched a new product called Tables – a lightweight database similar to the likes of Airtable.

However being in beta, and launched by Google’s incubator Area 120, it’s only officially available in the United States for now.

But if you’re outside the US, at least for now you can still access Tables using the following method. Note that the usual caveats apply, in that Google may block this at any time and your success may vary.

  1. Sign up for a free trial of a VPN with a United States point of presence, such as encrypt.me
  2. Configure your computer/Mac/phone to use the VPN. Normally that involves downloading an app provided by your VPN provider.
  3. Enable the VPN, and open the Google Tables site. Click “Get started” in the top right-hand corner to login.
  4. You should get prompted to sign in with your Google Account. Enter your Google credentials, and as long as your VPN is active you should be able to login and start using Tables.
  5. If you’re not able to login still, make sure your VPN is located in the United States. To configure this in encrypt.me, go to Preferences > Transporter > North America > United States and choose a location.
Categories
Google Tables

Meet Google Tables – Google’s Airtable competitor

Google – through its incubator Area 120 – recently announced its own Airtable competitor, Tables. In this post we’ll take a look at how you can get started with Tables.

Meet Google Tables

What is Google Tables?

Think of Tables as a lightweight spreadsheet, similar to Microsoft Access database, or a competitor to Airtable. Using bots, you can create automations that do everything from emailing people when rows are added or changed, to modifying other rows or posting to a webhook.

Google Tables beta, available now in the United States.

Is Tables free?

Yes, there’s a free plan available. However it limits the number of rows you can have in a table to 1000, and you can only have 100 tables in total.

The paid plan ups that to 10,000 rows across 1000 tables, as well as providing more generous attachment sizes and actions.

Why use Tables instead of Google Sheets?

At this point Sheets are far more advanced than Tables. If you’re after functionality like formulas, you’ll want to stick to Sheets.

Tables really shines for lightweight data, like form responses and datasets that you might otherwise look to store in a database.

Be sure to check out Tables pricing too, as Sheets might be able to meet your needs for free.

Also note that Tables is still a part of Google’s incubator Area 120. As such it’s essentially still classified an experiment unlike Sheets, which is a fully-fledged Google product. This means there is no guarantee of Tables continued availability – particularly given Google’s history of losing interest in its experiments.

What other features does Tables have?

Tables allow you to create forms to allow anyone to input data into your tables. The form title, description and submission message can be customised, as can the layout of fields on the page. Each field maps to a field in your table, and can be hidden or marked as required.

The other powerful feature of Tables is automations via Bots. Bots allow you to perform various actions based on a set list of triggers, which include insertion or deletion of rows, column value changes, and cron or time-based.

What’s the difference between a workspace and a table?

A workspace is a collection of tables. Each table stores a particular set of data, organised into columns and rows. Workspaces can be shared with other people.

Where is Tables available?

Officially at the moment only those located in the United States can use Tables. But if you’re still keen to try it out, follow these steps to get access from anywhere.

Categories
Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams training resources

So your team is looking to start using Microsoft Teams as a form of internal communication? We’ve compiled a list of the best Microsoft Teams training resources for getting everyone up to speed about how to make the most out of the service.

While this list is far from conclusive, many of the resources below cover end-user and admin training, while some are more targeted to one scenario or the other.

Microsoft training

Free, Microsoft Training

If you’re looking for the best free training, it’s hard to go past Microsoft’s official training resources. Microsoft has created training for admins and end-users.

And if reading guides isn’t your thing, they even run free instructor-led sessions that anyone can sign up for, and run on a frequent basis.

Microsoft Teams essential training

Paid, LinkedIn Learning

One of the most-watched Microsoft Teams courses on LinkedIn Learning, this course will run you through the basics of setting up a Microsoft Teams workspace.

It then dives into incorporating the best of Teams functionality into your team’s workflow. A quiz at the end of each chapter helps recap what you just learnt.

Mastering Microsoft Teams Training

Paid, Udemy

While this training was recorded last year, the majority of the content remains relevant when using Microsoft Teams. Heavily focused on end-user functionality, this course won’t satisfy those looking for admin tips.

The course has some good content, and can be had at a more affordable price than the LinkedIn Learning course.

Adopt & Embrace Microsoft Teams

Paid, Amazon

If a book is more your thing, and you’re after a book that covers integrating Microsoft Teams within your team’s workflow then Adopt & Embrace Microsoft Teams is a solid buy.

The book covers integrating Microsoft Teams from a manager’s perspective, and includes chapters on getting to know Teams, through to some principles and best practices.

Categories
Azure DevOps

How to fix Azure DevOps library group permission errors

Are you trying to edit a variable group in an Azure DevOps Library, and getting the error “you do not have permission to create a variable group within library“? Continue on to find out how to rectify this issue.

The problem

DevOps project settings – these don’t apply to variable groups

Variable groups within Azure DevOps can have different permissions to your project settings. This can be useful to limit the number of people who can view and edit your config values, but can be confusing.

As such, while you may have appropriate permissions to edit and your project you may find yourself unable to create variable groups within your Azure DevOps instance.

If this has happened to you, you’ll be shown an error something along the lines of “Error: you do not have permission to create a variable group within library.”

The fix

Luckily there’s a quick fix to this issue, although it will require you to find someone with the correct administrator privileges first.

Once you’ve found the person who has the correct privileges, navigate to your project in the DevOps portal, and create a new group. Alternatively, if this is an existing group click on the title of the group you wish to edit.

If you did create a new group, name it and make sure at least one variable exists. Note that this can be a dummy value – but without a variable DevOps won’t let you save the new group.

Then, within the edit group screen, select “Security“. The title of the modal that appears should be something like “Assign security roles for Library/<your group name>”. If it’s not, make sure you selected the group first and that you haven’t clicked “Security” from the main Library screen.

Security roles apply to variable groups

DevOps libraries have 3 tiers of roles/permissions:

  1. Reader: Can only view items within the library
  2. User: Can use items within the library, but can’t edit them
  3. Administrator: Can use AND manage items within the library

Search for the user(s) you want to be able to add and edit variables (and to avoid the above error) and choose the “administrator” role.

Click “Add”, close the modal and then click “Save”. The above error should no longer occur for users trying to edit or create variables in the DevOps library.

Categories
Microsoft Graph

What is the Microsoft Graph?

Ever heard someone mention the Microsoft Graph and not known what it is? In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what the graph is and what it can provide you access to.

What is the Microsoft Graph?

In a nutshell, the Microsoft Graph is designed to be a one-stop shop (ie a single endpoint) for interacting with the Microsoft suite of products. For now it’s limited to only a subset of Microsoft’s product range, but Microsoft has grand ambitions for continuing to grow this over time.

Delve, Excel, Microsoft Bookings, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook/Exchange, Planner, and SharePoint as well as many enterprise and mobility services are currently supported.

The key difference between the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft’s previous service-specific APIs is that the Graph is designed around user scenarios and is independent of the service that customers may interact with.

For example, where previously you may have directly called anOutlook API to access a user’s calendar, using the Graph you simply interact with Calendar data directly without caring about the service.

One side-effect of the Graph is that instead of each Microsoft product having its own platform-specific SDK, you can use one SDK to access them all. You can find a full list of the SDKs here, but platforms include iOS, Android, .NET, PHP, Ruby and Python.

Does the API use GraphQL?

No – while the “Microsoft Graph” name may confuse some, the API itself is a normal REST API and doesn’t use GraphQL at this point in time.

Can anyone use the API or do you need to be a partner?

Anyone can sign up to use the Graph API for free.Many of the customer scenarios around email, contacts and calendars are available for use in production apps today.

Keep in mind that some APIs are still in beta (such as The ones backed by Microsoft Booking) and as such shouldn’t be used in production apps yet.