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Specifying a Node.js version in an Azure application

When hosting a Node.js application, you may want to ensure that your application uses a specific version of Node.js. There are several ways to accomplish this for applications hosted on Azure.

Default versions

The Node.js versions provided by Azure are constantly updated. Unless otherwise specified, the latest available version will be used. Currently included are the following versions:

  • 0.12.x: 0.12.0
  • 0.10.x: 0.10.32, 0.10.31, 0.10.29, 0.10.28, 10.26, 0.10.24, 0.10.21, 0.10.18, 0.10.5
  • 0.8.x: 0.8.28, 0.8.27, 0.8.26, 0.8.19, 0.8.2
  • 0.6.x: 0.6.20, 0.6.17

[AZURE.NOTE] If you are hosting your application in an Azure Cloud Service (web or worker role,) and it is the first time you have deployed the application, Azure will attempt to use the same version of Node.js as you have installed on your development environment if it matches one of the default versions available on Azure.

Versioning with package.json

You can specify the version of Node.js to be used by adding the following to your package.json file:

"engines":{"node":version}

Where version is the specific version number to use. You can can specify more complex conditions for version, such as:

"engines":{"node": "0.6.22 || 0.8.x"}

Since 0.6.22 is not one of the versions available in the hosting environment, the highest version of the 0.8 series that is available will be used instead - 0.8.4.

Versioning Websites with App Settings

If you are hosting the application in a Website, you can set the environment variable WEBSITE_NODE_DEFAULT_VERSION to the desired version.

Versioning Cloud Services with PowerShell

If you are hosting the application in a Cloud Service, and are deploying the application using Azure PowerShell, you can override the default Node.js version by using the Set-AzureServiceProjectRole PowerShell cmdlet. For example:

Set-AzureServiceProjectRole WebRole1 Node 0.8.4

Note the parameters in the above statement are case-sensitive. You can verify the correct version of Node.js has been selected by checking the engines property in your role's package.json.

You can also use the Get-AzureServiceProjectRoleRuntime to retrieve a list of Node.js versions available for applications hosted as a Cloud Service. Always verify the version of Node.js your project depends on is in this list.

Using a custom version with Azure Websites

While Azure provides several default versions of Node.js, you may want to use a version that is not provided by default. If your application is hosted as an Azure Website, you can accomplish this by using the iisnode.yml file. The following steps walk through the process of using a custom version of Node.Js with an Azure Website:

  1. Create a new directory, and then create a server.js file within the directory. The server.js file should contain the following:

    var http = require('http');
    http.createServer(function(req,res) {
      res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/html'});
      res.end('Hello from Azure running node version: ' + process.version + '</br>');
    }).listen(process.env.PORT || 3000);
    

    This will display the Node.js version being used when you browse the website.

  2. Create a new Website and note the name of the site. For example, the following uses the Azure Command-line tools to create a new Azure Website named mywebsite, and then enable a Git repository for the website.

    azure site create mywebsite --git
    
  3. Create a new directory named bin as a child of the directory containing the server.js file.

  4. Download the specific version of node.exe (the Windows version) that you wish to use with your application. For example, the following uses curl to download version 0.8.1:

    curl -O http://nodejs.org/dist/v0.8.1/node.exe
    

    Save the node.exe file into the bin folder created previously.

  5. Create an iisnode.yml file in the same directory as the server.js file, and then add the following content to the iisnode.yml file:

    nodeProcessCommandLine: "D:\home\site\wwwroot\bin\node.exe"
    

    This path is where the node.exe file within your project will be located once you have published your application to the Azure Website.

  6. Publish your application. For example, since I created a new website with the --git parameter earlier, the following commands will add the application files to my local Git repository, and then push them to the website repository:

    git add .
    git commit -m "testing node v0.8.1"
    git push azure master
    

    After the application has published, open the website in a browser. You should see a message stating "Hello from Azure running node version: v0.8.1".

Next Steps

Now that you understand how to specify the version of Node.js used by your application, learn how to work with modules, build and deploy a Node.js Web Site, and How to use the Azure Command-Line Tools for Mac and Linux.

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