Accidental Fish Application Support v3.1.0 Release

This week I’ve published a couple of updates to this framework taking it to v3.1.0.

Release notes for v3.0.0 are here and for v3.1.0 here.

There are breaking changes moving to the v3.x series as I’ve completely overhauled the logging framework to allow for the introduction of robust logging providers deeply into the framework including a new NuGet package for Serilog. There is a sample showing how to use this package and the new logging framework.

In addition I’ve upgraded the queueing system with some new features.

Firstly there is brand new support for large message queues – as in queues with message sizes in the megabytes or gigabytes. This is surfaced through the ILargeMessageQueueFactory and ILargeMessageQueue interface and combines a standard queue with a blob repository. The ILargeMessageQueue interface is derived from the standard IAsynchronousQueue and so can be used interchangeably and transparently with existing queue consumers.

Finally the queues now provide access to message properties where the underlying queue supports this feature – for example Azure Service Bus queues, topics and subscriptions.

I’m planning to add support for DNX and Entity Framework 7 in the near future (weeks, not months).

As ever if you have any issues or feedback then you can get in touch here or over on GitHub.

Multi-Tenanted Authentication with Azure AD and Office 365 (and IdentityServer3)

With solutions such as Azure AD and Office 365 becoming more common as a source of an organisations identity on the Internet it can be useful to have an application offer authentication against them. As a typical scenario let’s imagine you’ve developed a time tracking SaaS solution and you have a number of customers who wants to use it but logon with their Office 365 identities.

It’s a bit of a lengthy process but not difficult to do when you know how and hopefully by way of this worked example I can show you how to add this functionality yourself.

As it’s fairly commonplace to want to offer other external identities alongside Office 365 I’m going to integrate this into the excellent IdentityServer3 OpenID Connect Provider however nothing here really depends on IdentityServer3 and if you’ve got a basic familiarity with OWIN it should be fairly obvious how to decouple what I’ve done here.

The source code for all the below can be found in GitHub.

Setup the Visual Studio Project

Firstly open up Visual Studio (I’m using 2015) and create a new ASP.Net Web Application. In the New ASP.Net Project dialog select to build an MVC application and ensure that the authentication method is set to No Authentication:


Now you need to add a set of NuGet packages to the project:

Install-Package Thinktecture.IdentityServer3
Install-Package Microsoft.Owin.Host.SystemWeb
Install-Package Microsoft.Owin.Security.Cookies
Install-Package Microsoft.Owin.Security.OpenIdConnect

Now in the properties pane for the project enable SSL and note the port number:


And in the project properties (I love how this is spread liberally about the place!) set the start page to be the https site:


Now add a class called Startup to the root of the project as below. As we’ve added the Microsoft.Owin.Host.SystemWeb package it’s going to look for this on startup and will throw an exception if it can’t find it – we’ll fill it in later.



Now add the following to your web.config file:



At this point you should be able to run your solution and the boilerplate MVC website should appear secured with a self signed SSL certificate generated by Visual Studio.

Setup an Azure AD

We’re going to use two domains for the following – one for our application to authenticate against and federate against other directories and a second domain that we’re going to use to login with.

If you’ve got an Azure subscription you should already have a default domain so we’ll use that for logging in.

To enable the multi-tenanted scenario create a second Azure AD in the (old) management portal. This AD is used to host an Azure AD Application and handles the federation between the other domains.

Go to the Applications tab for your directory and add an application, select “Add an application my organisation is developing”. Give the application and appropriate customer facing name (they will be able to see this in their own domain configuration and during sign up) and set this to be a web application:


In the next page set the sign on URL to be based on the the root of your web project (as you noted earlier) extended with the path /identity/signin-azuread giving you a URL such as:


In the second box you need to set a unique URI for your application. The best way to do this is based on your own domain in the form


Azure will now whirr away for a second or two before showing you the application dashboard. Click the configure tab. Move down to the middle of the page and set Application is Multi-Tenant to on and create a new key. Then hit save. The key will display after you’ve hit save. Note down both the key and the client ID as you will need them later.


Configure IdentityServer3 and Azure AD / Office 365 as an Identity Provider

Back in Visual Studio edit the Startup class we created earlier. Firstly add a folder to the root of the project called Configuration, download the IdentityServer3 test certificate, and add it to this folder setting it to Copy if Newer in the properties panel:


IdentityServer3 will use this certificate (when configured below) to sign the tokens it issues however it’s important to be clear that in a production environment this certificate needs to be generated and kept securely. The certificate used here is a certificate used in the IdentityServer3 tests and stored / loaded in a manner designed for brevity in the source code rather than security. In a production environment you’d keep this in your certificate store.

Now configure IdentityServer3 as an endpoint within this solution by adding the following to the Startup class:


We’ve set IdentityServer3 up to use it’s in memory stores and created a client that we’ll later authenticate against (see the IdentityServer3 docs for more details on this).

We now need to configure Azure AD / Office 365 as an identity provider by filling in the ConfigureIdentityProviders method:


It’s vital that the client ID and redirect URI supplied to the Open ID Connect options exactly match those in the Azure AD application you created earlier and the Authority string must look exactly as written here including the trailing /.

As this point things will build but there’s nothing in our solution requiring authorization however you can navigate to the published configuration endpoint and should see some json describing our service. My endpoint is at:


Authorizing and Viewing Claims

We’re going to use an Authorize attribute on an MVC action to test our work so far. To begin with we need to get our MVC project to use the token end point we’ve created above. We need to add the following to the bottom of our Configuration method:


You need to ensure you use the port your website is running on on your development machine. Mine is on 44300.

Modify the About action in HomeController.cs to look like the following:


And the corresponding View to:


Now run the project and if you’ve got all the magic numbers and URLs right you should be navigated to the Azure AD logon page:


Login using a different AD to the one we set up earlier and if you now login you should end up back at the about page with a set of claims showing:


If you now head back into the Azure Management Portal and inspect the Applications tab for the Azure AD you used to login with you should find that the application we created earlier has been added here:


If all that worked then great – that’s the happy, easy, path dealt with! If not I suggest checking out my number one tip for dealing with IdentityServer3 issues.

The Administrator Consent Workflow

Depending on your domain configuration (the one you logged in with) then you might have hit the error page shown below:


Many domains, particularly of larger organisations, will have enabled Administrator Consent. This prevents users from being able to use their domain account to access resources they are not authorized to – unfortunately the error above isn’t very useful to end users.

To allow users in a domain configured this way to be able to access your application you need to implement a workflow that allows the Administrator to grant consent for users. Before continuing, if you’ve followed the steps above, then in Azure delete the application from your login domain – select it in the management portal and click Manage Access, then click Remove Access.

Firstly let’s turn on Administrator Consent in our login domain – select the domain in the management portal and click the Configure tab. When Azure has finished whirring away scroll down to the Integrated Applications section and set “USERS MAY GIVE APPLICATIONS PERMISSION TO ACCESS THEIR DATA” and “USERS MAY ADD INTEGRATED APPLICATIONS” to no. Then press save.


Now in the users section of your domain add a new user and give them only the User role:


Next head back to the Azure AD application we created at the start of this post, click the Configure tab and scroll down to the single sign on section. Enter a URL for the root of your website and click save:


Ensure the browser is closed and if you now run the Visual Studio solution again and attempt to login with this new user then you should see the error message shown earlier. If not check the configuration in Azure once more.

At this point we’ve got a domain that requires administrator consent for users to attach to our application. Begin by adding a new Nuget package:

Install-Package Microsoft.IdentityModel.Clients.ActiveDirectory

Then add a class called AzureTenant as shown below:


We now need to be able to manage our tenants. Normally you’d use some form of persistent store for this but I’m going to use a very basic in memory service by way of an example. The full service code is in GitHub here however there are two important sections. Firstly our controller (which we’ll work on later) will create a temporary tenant before handing off to Azure and later on after association is complete we convert this to a permanent tenant. This two stage process can be useful as in a more realistic example you may want to track some additional state across this request however all you need is someway of attaching data to a persistent unique ID – reusing the tenant like this keeps the example simple. However this code can be seen below:


When our controller hands off to Azure to handle the domain association we need to do so by forming up a URL and doing this can be seen below:


And finally following the association we need to retrieve the tenant ID for the newly associated tenant (and this is where your client key created at the beginning of this piece is required):

Now we need to add an MVC controller that is going to present this functionality to the user. There is some boilerplate at the bottom but I want to focus here on the AdminConsent and Associate methods as shown below:


The default admin consent view presents a button to the user and a paragraph confirming what they are about to do – when the post back hits the controller it does two things. Firstly it creates a temporary tenant in our data store and then redirects to the Azure authorization endpoint using the temporary ID of the tenant as the state.

When the user confirms the association in the Azure AD management page presented during the redirect then it will call back to the Associate action passing in the temporary tenant ID as the state. In more complex examples tracking the state in this way allows us to track back the Azure request to any information we’ve gathered before confirmation. The Associate action then uses our in memory service to confirm the association and handles the routing off to the appropriate page based on success or failure.

Finally having done all of the above we’re going to put a link to our admin consent page on the home page. I modified the Jumbotron to point at the AdminConsent view.

At this point you should be able to run the solution (and this is the complete solution in GitHub) and if things are wired up correctly then you should be able to click your admin consent link. Try this with your test user and it will fail but if you then try it with your admin user you should see a screen like this:


However if you’ve got everything right you should end up back at the success screen on your website and can now navigate into the About section.

Hopefully that helps anyone trying to figure out how to do this themselves and feel free to ask me questions in the comments or on Twitter.

Finally, worth repeating – the code is all available on GitHub.

My Number One Tip for Working With IdentityServer3

It’s a real simple one but honestly a real time saver:

Turn on logging

IdentityServer3 is a great piece of software with excellent documentation but the identity space is inherently complex and gets quite fiddly quite quickly. Fortunately if you turn on the logging the output is rich and incredibly useful.

I was working on standing up another STS this morning based on it and was just cracking through it thinking “yeah I know this” and hadn’t bothered to turn on logging. Pride, of course, always comes before a fall and so of course I hit a weird and inscrutable problem: the STS let me log in with Google but then never redirected back to my application. Spent a little while thrashing around then remembered my own number one tip, turned on logging, and there in the trace window was the source of my problem (in my case I hadn’t run the new client properly through my custom user service and wasn’t marking users as active in a particular work flow).

Turning it on is really simple. All you need to do is add a NuGet package for one of the supported loggers and configure it. In my case I use Serilog and the code for configuring it is as on the IdentityServer3 website:

Log.Logger = new LoggerConfiguration()

Add-AzureAccount and Build Servers

If you followed my previous post you might be wandering how this works on a build server as the Add-AzureAccount cmdlet that you use to gain access to Azure pops up an interactive dialog box. Not helpful in the build of an automated build pipeline.

The best way to handle this scenario with Azure Resource Manager is with a service principal account. Rather than repeat excellent work I suggest heading over to David Ebbo’s blog, he has an excellent post on using service principal accounts to do this.

How To: Publish an AngularJS Website with Azure Resource Manager Templates

I’ve recently been working on the deployment of some fairly complex micro-service projects using the new Azure Resource Manager and in the Microsoft space everything went fine, it’s all pretty self-explanatory, there’s some useful tooling in Visual Studio and some great quick-start templates.

Then I hit my UI layer. This is an AngularJS app which I prefer to work on outside of Visual Studio – I like to use the best tools for the job and while I definitely find Visual Studio is just that for C# and other Microsoft native technologies I find it often lags behind in the web space, though it’s got and continues to get a lot better.

Basically I have a folder in my project folder space (not in the .sln file) containing my AngularJS app and a bunch of typical web tools to run the build and packages: npm, bower and grunt. For various reasons although the project source is in GitHub I couldn’t (without a fair bit of hassle) deploy directly from their using the source code deployment model.

And so how do you publish a folder of files to an Azure website using Azure Resource Manager?

Below I’ll present one way using the Yeoman generated Angular template as a sample which, using grunt, builds to a folder called dist. As a prerequisite for this you’ll need Azure Powershell -I’m using 0.8 at the time of writing (1.0 contains some changes to the Azure Resource Manager cmdlets but as I write this it’s in preview, the changes are nothing earth shattering).

You can find source code for the below in GitHub.

Firstly you need to create an Azure Resource Manager template – the one we’re using is here. I’ve not going to cover every bit of this as Microsoft have plenty of documentation and samples however it’s worth looking at this bit towards the end:

"resources": [
    "name": "MSDeploy",
    "type": "extensions",
    "location": "[parameters('location')]",
    "apiVersion": "2014-06-01",
    "dependsOn": [
      "[concat('Microsoft.Web/sites/', parameters('siteName'))]"
    "tags": {
      "displayName": "ContentDeploy"
    "properties": {
      "packageUri": "[concat(parameters('packageUrl'), parameters('sasToken'))]",
      "dbType": "None",
      "connectionString": "",
      "setParameters": {
          "IIS Web Application Name": "[parameters('siteName')]"

This invokes the deployment of a Web Deployment package at URL specified by packageUrl. I’m using an Azure Storage Account for this and so to access the package do so we need a Shared Access Signature which we’ll see how to generate later.

As I want to automate everything I’ve also got a template for creating a storage account into which the package can be uploaded and you can see this template here.

I’m going to glue these two templates together with a Powershell script using the Azure Powershell cmdlets. To get started with this launch Azure Powershell and before running any scripts add your Azure subscription:


You’ll be prompted to log into your account.

The Powershell script I’m using to glue all this is called deploy.ps1 and you can find it here. I’m going to break this down section by section. Firstly we just deploy a bunch of fairly (if you know Azure) self explanatory settings – the hosting plan, resource group, website and storage account to create / use and the location of those resources:

# Deployment settings
$hostingPlanName = "ArmAngularSampleHostingPlan"
$resourceGroupName = "ArmAngularSample"
$storageAccountName = "armangularsamplesa"
$location = "West Europe"
$siteName = "ArmAngularSampleWebsite"

Then we optionally select an Azure subscription (if you only have one subscription you won’t need to do this) and switch Powershell into Azure Resource Manager mode.

# Configure Azure and the Powershell shell
# Select-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionId {{your-subscription-id}}
Switch-AzureMode AzureResourceManager

Now we create the resource group within which our templates are going to run:

# Create Azure Resoure Group
New-AzureResourceGroup -Name $resourceGroupName -Location $location -Force

Next we deploy our storage resources using Azure Resource Manager and then we get hold of the access key – we’ll need that in a minute. In such a small deployment this split of storage and service might seem a little naive but in more complex scenarios it’s fairly common to do a bunch of work on storage before deploying updated services (and vice versa):

# Deploy storage
New-AzureResourceGroupDeployment -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroupName `
                                 -Name AzmSampleStorageDeployment `
                                 -TemplateFile "storagedeploy.json" `
                                 -appStorageAccountName $storageAccountName 				 
$storageAccountKey = (Get-AzureStorageAccountKey -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroupName -Name $storageAccountName).Key1

Having done that we get grunt to build a distribution version of our Angular site and then we invoke MSBuild to create a deployment package from the folder. To do this MSBuild needs a project file and nearly every example you see will use a .csproj file – which is fine if you’re using Visual Studio but what if we’re not? Well you can also use a .publishproj file which you can find here. This file is absolute boilerplate – it will work for any folder and so you can copy and use mine for your own projects. We need to move this into the dist folder that grunt has created (you can use it elsewhere but as dist is cleaned each time this is easiest).

# Build deployment package
grunt build
cp .\website.publishproj .\dist\website.publishproj
C:\"Program Files (x86)"\MSBuild\14.0\bin\msbuild.exe .\dist\website.publishproj /T:Package /P:PackageLocation="." /P:_PackageTempDir="packagetmp"
$websitePackage = ".\dist\"

The setting of /P:PackageLocation=”.” causes the package to be dropped in the dist folder and the /P:_PackageTempDir=”packagetmp” causes MSBuild to use a packagetmp subfolder of dist to be used for temporary files – this can be useful as it’s easy to run into the “classic” Windows file length issues otherwise (it will use a temp location in AppData by default).

Having generated a package (called and located in the dist folder) we need to upload it to somewhere Azure can access. I’m using the storage account we created earlier. So that the Azure Resoure Manager incarnation of Web Deploy can access the package we generate a Shared Access Signature with read privileges:

# Upload packages
$storageCtx = New-AzureStorageContext -StorageAccountName $storageAccountName -StorageAccountKey $storageAccountKey
if (-Not (Get-AzureStorageContainer -Context $storageCtx | Where-Object { $_.Name -eq "packages" }) ) {
    New-AzureStorageContainer -Name "packages" -Context $storageCtx -Permission Off
Set-AzureStorageBlobContent -File $websitePackage -Container "packages" -Blob -Context $storageCtx -Force
$uploadedPackage = "https://$"
$sasToken = New-AzureStorageContainerSASToken -Container "packages" -Context $storageCtx -Permission r
$sasToken = ConvertTo-SecureString $sasToken -AsPlainText -Force

And finally we deploy our services via the Azure Resource Manager template we saw earlier:

New-AzureResourceGroupDeployment -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroupName `
                                 -Name AnalyticsLiveServiceDeployment `
                                 -TemplateFile "azuredeploy.json" `
                                 -hostingPlanName $hostingPlanName `
                                 -location $location `
                                 -siteName $siteName `
                                 -packageUrl $uploadedPackage `
                                 -sasToken $sasToken

And that’s it. If you run .\deploy.ps1 (you’ll need to set your own unique storage account and website name) then as long as you have an Azure subscription this will deploy and you’ll be able to see the Yeoman template running in Azure.

Hopefully that’s helpful and will save you some of the pain that always seems to come with the territory of deployment – particularly where MSBuild is involved!

Powershell and External IP Addresses

While doing work with Powershell and Azure Resource Manager templates today I wanted to configure the Azure SQL Database firewall to allow my build machine access to configure schema and stored procedures. To reliably know what your Internet facing IP one fairly reliable method is to bounce it back from a remote server and so I stood up a super simple website on Azure with a REST API to return to you your IP. You can find it’s swagger endpoint here. All that’s really behind the get action is a simple return of a request header:

public string Get()
    return HttpContext.Current.Request.UserHostAddress;

Getting hold of it from Powershell is pretty simple, you can use the Invoke-WebRequest cmdlet as follows (and I’m also removing the double quotes surrounding the returned json string):

$ipAddress = (Invoke-WebRequest
$ipAddress = $ipAddress.Substring(1,$ipAddress.Length-2)

Feel free to use the endpoint yourself, I’m not planning on taking it down.

Azure, PowerShell and DLL hell

It’s great that Azure is supported so extensively within Windows PowerShell – it really helps with automating builds and adopting a continual delivery / DevOps approach however eventually, in my experience, you’ll find yourself wanting to supplement what’s available from Microsoft with some Cmdlets of your own. Sure you can access .Net from PowerShell but sometimes C# is just more expressive and maintainable.

Of course this is simple enough to do and an example of implementing Cmdlets that use the Storage and Service Bus SDKs to create and configure resources can be found in the Application Support framework (here’s a direct link to the relevant project).

However I guarantee you that given the pace of change in the Azure space then at some point you’ll hit a DLL binding issue. Your Cmdlet will reference a different version of the Storage DLL or you’ll be using NewtonSoft.Json v7 while the Storage SDK is using v6 or vice versa and you’ll get one of those delightful can’t find DLL issues. And here I was thinking that at one point .Net was supposed to solve DLL hell!

Fortunately there’s a fairly simple solution to this: the PowerShell executable is a .Net application like any other and you can add binding redirects to a powershell.exe.config file. On a clean Windows machine this file doesn’t exist but you can create it easily enough using notepad or your text editor of choice. If you’re using a 32-bit operating system then PowerShell can be found in the folder:


Or on a 64-bit operating system in:


In that folder either create a new file or edit the existing one – you’ll probably need to run your text editor with Administrator privileges. As an example my current powershell.exe.config file looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
        <assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.Data.OData" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" />
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="" newVersion="" />
        <assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.Data.Edm" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" />
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="" newVersion="" />
        <assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.Data.Services.Client" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" />
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="" newVersion="" />
        <assemblyIdentity name="System.Spatial" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" />
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="" newVersion="" />
        <assemblyIdentity name="Newtonsoft.Json" publicKeyToken="30ad4fe6b2a6aeed" />
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="" newVersion="" />

Hope that helps with any PowerShell binding issues.

AccidentalFish.ApplicationSupport v2.1.0 Released

I’ve just pushed to Nuget the latest version of this framework. Full release notes are available here. The main addition is the support for IoC containers other than Unity – I’ve added support for Ninject and Autofac with this release however I’ve also improved the component host with a default restart handler and made a set of bug fixes.

I’ve also been working on tutorial / getting started documentation and you can find the first part of this here.

As ever I’d love to hear any feedback you might have either here or over on the GitHub Issues page.

AccidentalFish.Application Support v2.0.0 Release

This is now available in both GitHub and NuGet. There have been a large number of changes mostly to make the naming consistent throughout the framework and also documentation has been added to all public interfaces in the AccidentalFish.ApplicationSupport.Core assembly / package.

Release notes are available, the API reference, and documentation site updated.

Any issues please let me know here or on GitHub.

AccidentalFish.ApplicationSupport v2.0.0

As part of my documentation push I’m also dealing with some unresolved naming issues and inconsistencies I’ve noticed since releasing v1.0.0.

As addressing some of this means breaking changes, and following the semver rules, I’ll be releasing this as v2.0.0 of the framework in due course.

I’m tracking the changes in a release note as I make them and you can already see that here if you want a view of what is coming.