Today Microsoft launched Azure App Services, an exciting new umbrella platform for app developers that subsumes the existing Azure Websites (renamed Web Apps) and Azure Mobile Services (renamed Mobile Apps), as well as adding two more app services – Logic Apps and API Apps. The idea is to provide a much richer consolidated PaaS development experience that combines web applications, mobile back-ends and APIs with long-running workflows and tighter integration with external SaaS products.
All these new app types can now be hosted together under the same App Service Plan (previously a Web Hosting Plan) and share eachother’s data and features, for example Mobile Apps can now use Azure Web Jobs, a feature previously only available to Azure Websites. The end result will be better integration across all the web/mobile dev PaaS services and lower costs through the new shared hosting model, Websites and Mobile Services will no longer be billed separately.
The two new services, Logic Apps and API Apps are closely related. Logic Apps are managed, trigger-based workflows that integrate external web services using “connectors”, service adapters implemented using API Apps. API Apps are just regular REST APIs – like those built using ASP.NET Web API – except they’re discoverable via standard API metadata in a format called Swagger. This metadata describes services exposed by an API so its features can be discoverd and consumed by Logic App workflows or other apps. The API metadata also allows API client libraries to be generated automatically by Visual Studio, courtesy of the new Azure SDK.
Although some of the pieces that make up Azure App Services are still rough around the edges – the Logic Apps designer, for example, is very promising but still needs a lot of work – overall this is a fantastic evolution of the Azure dev platform that we can continue to use to deliver fantastic mobile and web apps to our customers. If you want to find out more, check out the four new vids from Azure Friday covering each of the new services.