~ Stephen Baron | Program Manager

Information5Windows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2 introduce Virtual Machine Role gallery items which enable users to deploy and configure workloads such as SQL Server, SharePoint or a LAMP stack. We recently posted a blog entry and associated video illustrating how to download and import a number of sample Gallery Resources.

While this blog post will provide a very brief overview of the Virtual Machine Role Authoring Tool, which was recently published as an open source project on CodePlex, you can find more detailed coverage via a series of videos which walk through common VM Role Authoring Tool activities and scenarios. The videos are available within the VM Role Authoring Tool How-To Videos playlist.

Now, I should start by saying that if you’re happy, joyful and outright ecstatic about authoring Virtual Machine Role items using something like Notepad, then this is not the post for you. If you’re like me however, and are looking for a visual tool to help author, validate and package Virtual Machine Role Gallery Resources, then by all means please continue reading.

To get started, you’ll first need to download the tool from the link above, then run the extractor and accept the license terms. Once that’s done, start the Authoring tool by executing the VmroleAuthor.exe application:

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So what can I create? The authoring tool allows you to easily create the following VM Role artifacts:

· Windows Resource Extension Packages

· Linux Resource Extension Packages

· Resource Definition Packages, including:

o View Definition

o Localized Resources Files

· Resource Definition Files

The tool also makes “binding” a resource extension to a resource definition very easy.

What else does it do?

For starters, it can help you generate parameters in order to solicit end user input required to complete the deployment of your Virtual Machine Role (e.g. when deploying a Microsoft SQL Server Virtual Machine Role, you could choose to parameterize the choice of SQL Authentication Mode):

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Additionally, it can help generate localizable properties of your Gallery Item so that you can provide label titles, field descriptions, error messages and the like in multiple languages should you choose to do so:

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What’s more, the Authoring Tool also contains a number of validation rules which can help ensure the artifacts you author are not only syntactically valid, but are also deployable via the Windows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2:

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Finally, the tool allows you to easily view the generated JSON of your authored artifacts:

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This post, by design, is an extremely high level overview of the Authoring Tool and I would encourage you to not only take the time to view the aforementioned how-to videos, but also make sure you check out the Virtual Machine Role Authoring Guide, available in the System Center Authoring Hub.

I hope this blog post and the associated videos will help acquaint you with the Virtual Machine Role Authoring Tool. Please do provide feedback to let us know specific VM Role Authoring scenarios you would like us to elaborate on in subsequent posts and videos.

Enjoy!

Stephen Baron | Program Manager | Microsoft

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