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Deploying an Azure App from Cloud9

This tutorial describes how to use Cloud9 IDE to develop, build, and deploy a Node.js application to Azure.

In this tutorial you will learn how to:

  • Create a Cloud9 IDE project
  • Deploy the project to Azure
  • Update an existing Azure deployment
  • Move projects between staging and production deployments

Cloud9 IDE provides a cross-platform, browser-based development environment. One of the features Cloud9 supports for Node.js projects is that you can directly deploy to Azure from within the IDE. Cloud9 also integrates with the GitHub and BitBucket repository services, so it's easy to share your project with others.

Using Cloud9, you can develop and deploy an application to Azure from many modern browsers and operating systems, without having to install additional development tools or SDKs locally. The steps below are demonstrated using Google Chrome on a Mac.


To use Cloud9, you first need to visit their website and register for a subscription. You can sign in with either an existing GitHub or BitBucket account, or create a Cloud9 account. A free subscription offering is available, as well as a paid offering which provides more features. For more information, see Cloud9 IDE.

Create a Node.js Project

  1. Sign in to Cloud9, click the + symbol beside My Projects, and then select Create a new project.

    create new Cloud9 project

  2. In the Create a new project dialog, enter a project name, access, and project type. Click Create to create the project.

    create new project dialog Cloud9

    [AZURE.NOTE] Some options require a paid Cloud9 plan.

    [AZURE.NOTE] The project name of your Cloud9 project is not used when deploying to Azure.

  3. After the project has been created, click Start Editing. If this is the first time you have used the Cloud9 IDE, you will be offered the option to take a tour of the service. If you wish to skip the tour and view it at a later date, select Just the editor,please.

    start editing the Cloud9 project

  4. To create a new Node application, select File and then New File.

    create new file in the Cloud9 project

  5. A new tab titled Untitled1 will be displayed. Enter the following code on the Untitled1 tab to create the Node application:

    var http = require('http');
    var port = process.env.PORT;
    http.createServer(function(req,res) {
        res.writeHead(200, { 'Content-Type': 'text/plain' });
        res.end('hello azure\n');

    [AZURE.NOTE] Using process.env.PORT ensures that the application picks up the correct port whether ran in the Cloud9 debugger or when deployed to Azure.

  6. To save the code, select File and then Save as. In the Save As dialog, enter server.js as the file name, and then click Save.

    [AZURE.NOTE] You may notice a warning symbol indicating that the req variable is unused. You may safely ignore this warning.

    save the server.js file

Run the Application

[AZURE.NOTE] While the steps provided in this section are sufficient for a Hello World application, for applications that use external modules you may need to select a specific version of Node.js for the debug environment. To do this, select Configure... from the debug dropdown, and then select the specific version of Node.js. For example, you may receive authentication errors when using the 'azure' module if you do not have Node.js 0.6.x selected.

  1. Click Debug to run the application in the Cloud9 debugger.

    run in the debugger

  2. An output window will be displayed. Click on the URL listed to access your application through a browser window.

    output window

    The resulting application will look as follows:

    application running in browser

  3. To stop debugging the application, click stop.

Create an Azure Account

To deploy your application to Azure, you need an account. If you do not already have an Azure account, you can sign up for a free trial by following these steps:

[AZURE.INCLUDE create-azure-account]

Create a Deployment

  1. To create a new deployment, select Deploy, and then click + to create a deploy server.

    ![create a new deployment][create a new deployment]

  2. In the Add a deploy target dialog, enter a deployment name and then select Azure in the Choose type list. The deployment name you specify will be used to identify the deployment within Cloud9; it will not correspond to a deployment name within Azure.

  3. If this is the first time you have created a Cloud9 deployment that uses Azure, you must configure your Azure publish settings. Perform the following steps to download and install these settings into the Cloud9:

    1. Click Download Azure Settings.

      download publish settings

      This will open the Azure Management Portal and prompt you to download the Azure publishing settings. You will be required to log in to your Azure account before you can begin.

    2. Save the publishing settings file to your local drive.

    3. In the Add a deploy target dialog, select Choose File, and then select the file downloaded in the previous step.

    4. After selecting the file, click Upload.

  4. Click + Create new to create a new hosted service. A hosted service is the container in which your application is hosted when it is deployed to Azure. For more information, see Overview of Creating a Hosted Service for Azure.

    create a new deployment

  5. You will be prompted for the name of the new hosted service and configuration options such as the number of instances, host OS, and data center. The deployment name specified will be used as the hosted service name in Azure. This name must be unique within the Azure system.

    create a new hosted service

    [AZURE.NOTE] In the Add a deploy target dialog, any existing Azure hosted services will be listed under the Choose existing deployment section; selecting an existing hosted service will result in this project being deployed to that service.

    [AZURE.NOTE] Selecting Enable RDP and providing a username and password will enable remote desktop for your deployment.

Deploy to the Azure Production Environment

  1. Select the deployment you created in the previous steps. A dialog will appear that provides information about this deployment, as well as the production URL that will be used after deployment to Windows Azure.

    select a deployment

  2. Select Deploy to Production environment.

  3. Click Deploy to begin deployment.

  4. If this is the first time you have deployed this project to Azure, you will receive an error of 'No web.config found'. Select Yes to create the file. This will add a '' file to your project.

    no web.config file found message

  5. If this is the first time you have deployed this project to Azure, you will receive an error of 'No 'csdef' file present'. Select Yes to create the .csdef file. This will add a'ServiceDefinition.csdef' file to your project. ServiceDefinition.csdef is an Azure-specific files necessary for publishing your application. For more information, see Overview of Creating a Hosted Service for Azure.

  6. You will be prompted to select the instance size for this application. Select Small, and then click Create. For more details about Azure VM sizes, see How to Configure Virtual Machine Sizes.

    specify csdef file values

  7. The deployment entry will display the status of the deployment process. Once complete, the deployment will display as Active.

    deployment status

    [AZURE.NOTE] Projects deployed through the Cloud 9 IDE are assigned a GUID as the deployment name in Azure.

  8. The deployment dialog includes a link to the production URL. When the deployment is complete, click the URL to browse to your application running in Azure.

    Azure production URL link

Update the Application

When you make changes to your application, you can use Cloud9 to deploy the updated application to the same Azure hosted service.

  1. In the server.js file, update your code so that "hello azure v2" is printed to the screen. You can replace the existing code with the following updated code:

    var http = require('http');
    var port = process.env.PORT;
    http.createServer(function(req,res) {
        res.writeHead(200, { 'Content-Type': 'text/plain' });
        res.end('hello azure v2\n');
  2. To save the code, select File and then Save.

Deploy the update to the Azure Staging Environment

  1. Select Deploy to Staging.

  2. Click Deploy to begin deployment.

    Each Azure hosted service supports two environments, staging and production. The staging environment is exactly like the production environment, except that you can only access the staged application with an obfuscated, GUID-based URL that is generated by Azure. You can use the staging environment to test your application, and after verifying changes you can move the staging version into production by performing a virtual IP (VIP) swap, as described later in this tutorial.

  3. When your application is deployed to staging, the guid-based staging URL will be displayed in the Console output, as shown in the screenshot below. Click the URL to open your staged application in a browser.

    console output showing staging URL

Move the Update to Production using VIP Swap

When a service is deployed to either the production or staging environments, a virtual IP address (VIP), is assigned to the service in that environment. When you want to move a service from the staging environment to the production environment, you can do so without redeploying by doing a VIP Swap, which swaps the staging and production deployments. A VIP swap puts your tested, staged application into production with no downtime in the production environment. For more details, see Overview of Managing Deployments in Azure.

  1. In the deploy dialog, click on the Open portal link to open the Azure Management Portal.

    ![Link from deploy dialog to Azure Management Portal][Link from deploy dialog to Azure Management Portal]

  2. Sign in to the portal with your credentials.

  3. On the left of the web page, select Hosted Services, Storage Accounts & CDN, and then click Hosted Services.

    ![Azure Management Portal][Azure Management Portal]

    The results pane shows the hosted service with the name you specified in Cloud9, and two deployments, one with the Environment value Staging, the second Production.

  4. To perform the VIP Swap, select the hosted service, and then click Swap VIP in the ribbon.


  5. Click OK in the Swap VIPs dialog that appears.

  6. Browse to your production application. You will see that the version of the application previously deployed to stage is now in production.

    Production application running on Azure

Using Remote Desktop

If you enabled RDP and specified a username and password when creating your deployment, you can use Remote Desktop to connect to your Hosted Service by selecting a specific instance, and then selecting Connect on the ribbon.

Connect to an instance

When you click Connect, you will be prompted to open or download a .RDP file. This file contains the information required to connect to your remote desktop session. Running this file on a Windows system will prompt you for the username and password you entered when creating your deployment, and will then connect you to the desktop of the selected instance.

[AZURE.NOTE] The .RDP file to connect to the hosted instance of your application will only work with the Remote Desktop application on WIndows.

Stop and Delete the Application

Azure bills role instances per hour of server time consumed, and server time is consumed while your application is deployed, even if the instances are not running and are in the stopped state. In addition, server time is consumed by both production and stage deployments.

Cloud9 focuses on providing an IDE and does not provide a direct method of stopping or deleting an application once it has been deployed to Azure. In order to delete an application hosted in Azure, perform the following steps:

  1. In the deploy dialog, click on the Open portal link to open the Azure Management Portal.

    Link from deploy dialog to Azure Management Portal

  2. Sign in to the portal with your credentials.

  3. On the left of the web page, select Hosted Services, Storage Accounts & CDN, and then click Hosted Services.

  4. Select the staging deployment (indicated by the Environment value). Click Delete in the ribbon to delete the application.

    delete the deployment

  5. Select the production deployment, and click Delete to delete that application as well.

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