I recently posted an article about the new TechNet Ninja Belt Calculator, which I have been developing, where I touched upon the "Intranet tool" that I developed on Azure for us to manage all of the data generated from our various activities.

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to wax lyrical about some of the wonderful technologies behind the website, in case it helps inspire anyone to choose the Microsoft way, to realise their ambitions.

While I'm here, I'll draw upon the Wiki itself, to highlight some of its most relevant documents that will help you get started, if you want to take the "easy life" approach :D

Azure

I simply love Azure. It is by far the best cloud solution, simplest to get into and quickest to get up and running, for websites and databases and so much more!

I showed a client today how simple it is to become a "cloud user" (simple account registration, 1 month free) and how they can have a server up and running in within seconds.

There are over 55,000 search results for "Azure" across TechNet.

You couldn't LIVE long enough to read everything that's been written about Azure!

Microsoft SQL

As explained in the Ninja Belt Calculator article, I spent a considerable amount of time importing various disparate sets of data into one Microsoft SQL Server database.

Microsoft have a database solution for everyone. Free, light, huge, always on, secure, reliable, whatever the need, you can rely on the MS way.

There are over 140,000 articles in TechNet relating to SQL. There is literally nothing you can do, that hasn't been written about. Many times over.

The starting place is The SQL Server Portal wherein you will find links to:

ASP.NET MVC

As one of the UK's longest serving ASP developers (IDC, then Classic, then .Net) I am proud to say that I was an early MVC convert too!

The Razor engine offers a great way to take the pain out of coding for the page.Within minutes you can generate basic CRUD pages for your database tables.

One of the great features of MVC is that it has screen size checks and resizing built into the default template! The screen shrinks, and the page realigns to fit all in, with new mobile default style layout and icons.

At the time of writing, we've moved up to MVC 5, which has many great new features, like bringing together Web Forms and MVC into "One ASP.NET", and not a moment too soon either!

MVC 5 also now comes with Bootstrap baked in, to aide styling. Also you can now use scaffolding with any asp.net project, making it easier than ever to generate boilerplate code.  

Looking over the Wiki, we have a feast of information, starting here, and then here's a few more of the 24,000 articles in TechNet Wiki:

Entity Framework

I remember the days of painful fingers, typing in reams and reams of boilerplate code that was needed to interact with a database with ADO.

Thank you Microsoft, for giving us the Entity Framework way of doing things - taking the pain out of database layers!

EF6 brings a multiple context fix that had me tearing my hair out on one occasion, when trying to combine "SimpleMembersip Provider" into an old application's existing EF5 context.

Other great features I'll blog about another time are Mapping CRUD operations to Stored Procedures and Interception of the resulting SQL.

Final Thoughts

Getting started with a Microsoft solution is by far the best way to get results. The wealth of information available across TechNet Wiki provides everything you need to get started and to support you throughout your journey.

I am running several websites and databases on my Azure account, and I use them quite frequently. Yet my monthly usage bill is under £5 per month!

It really does save you money to use cloud computing, and the Microsoft MSDN and TechNet community, along with TechNet Wiki will help you every step of the way! 

Finally, if you like to read e-books, then TechNet has one more gem for everyone to bookmark. It's the E-Book Gallery for Microsoft Technologies. This amazing collection of e-books just keeps on growing!