Yet Another Forum (YAF) for Windows Azure

Lately, while I was learning the basics of Windows Azure, I tried to deploy Yet Another Forum to the Azure platform.

It turned out that it's not that easy as the differences between SQL Server and SQL Azure can be quite painful despite the fact they theoretically aren't so big. Because SQL Azure requires every table to have CLUSTERED INDEX, I had to modify the YAF's database setup SQL scripts accordingly. Moreover, in the application code there were some places where I had to remove calls of the obsolete SQL stored procedures (those which are not supported in SQL Azure) and replace them with the non-obsolete ones. Also, there were some glitches with .config files, so I had to move some of the settings directly to the web.config.

However, I've eventually managed to prepare a working version of Yet Another Forum which is compatible with Windows Azure and SQL Azure. In this post, I'd like to publish the modified source code - I hope it'll be useful for someone out there :).

Here are the steps you need to take in order to prepare ready-to-deploy Azure package:

  1. Install Windows Azure SDK if you haven't done this yet.
  2. Download YAF source code (link below) and extract it somewhere on the hard drive.
  3. Open with Visual Studio 2010.
  4. In YAF project, open db.config and fill the database information (server address, database name, login credentials, etc.).
  5. In YAF project, open mail.config and fill the SMTP mail server information.
  6. In YAF project, open web.config. Review the settings and change them if necessary.
  7. Compile the solution.
  8. In Solution Explorer, right click the YAF.Azure project and choose Package... option to create Azure deployment package
  9. Go to the Windows Azure Management Portal and upload the package along with configuration file (both can be found in the app.publish directory

And finally, the most important thing:


YAF Download Link (GNU GPL v2 license):
Yet Another Forum v1.9.5.5 for Windows Azure


A few words on IT Challenge

A few days ago I've written a post informing that it is finally possible to enroll IT Challenge 2011. For those, who have never heard or read about IT Challenge, I'll explain what it's all about.

IT Challenge is one of the categories of Microsoft Imagine Cup competition, which is one of the largest technology competitions for students, mainly from technical universities. IT Challenge's goal is to find the best students from the whole world, who have outstanding knowledge concerning Microsoft products and solutions that are created for IT. This year these products are:

  • Windows 2008 R2
  • Hyper-V
  • Exchange 2010
  • SharePoint 2010
  • Windows 7
  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2
  • System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2
  • Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010
  • Forefront Unified Access Gateway 2010
  • SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Office 2010
  • Office Communication Server 2007 R2
  • Windows Mobile
  • and others

The competition consists of 3 rounds.

In Round 1 the competitors need to pass at least 1 of 8 technology quizzes about products and technologies mentioned above. Each test has 30 multiple-choice questions. To pass, it is required to answer correctly to at least 15 questions. In fact this round is the qualification round. Passing the first round is "piece a cake", comparing to the rounds 2 and 3.

In Round 2 we need to create a design of a complete IT infrastructure which is based on certain assumptions and meets certain requirements. Each competitor has to prepare a Business Case containing detailed description of his solution and justify "why" this solution is the most modern, powerful and secure one and why it has the lowest TCO. All the requirements are specified in Case Study, which is published at the beginning of this round. The Business Case must have 5000 words or less.

Round 3 is the final round. There are usually 6 finalists whose Business Case got highest score. There is a rule stating that only one competitor per country can participate in The Finals. Because of that rule I wasn't the 2010 edition finalist. This round is a kind of "practical exam" - the finalists have to prove their abilities to deploy and configure software products mentioned above. The competitors use Remote Desktop and connect to servers prepared by competition Stuff in order to complete various tasks.

I hope that the above description is a helpful overview of IT Challenge category. More details you can find in Competition Rules or by asking questions at the IT Challenge Forums.

Registration for IT Challenge 2011 is now open!

Today came that day when I enrolled the "IT Challenge" competition of Imagine Cup 2011. Several hours ago, on the official competition site, the long awaited "COMPETE" button appeared, which should be visible to the logged in users who haven't enrolled this competition yet. I hope that in this edition I'll be more lucky than last time and I'll be a finalist at least. :)

4th place in Round 2, but I didn't get into finals

On 21st April, in the official Imagine Cup forums, Chris Amaris published IT Challenge 2010 Round 2 results:

It turned out that I took 4th place worldwide, but I didn't get into finals. It happenned because of the rule stating that only one competitor per country is allowed to advance to the Final Round. Unfortunately, this year I was unlucky and someone who is also from Poland took 2nd place. So, there were 3 competitors who became finalists just because there were no better competitors in their country. Rules are rules...

The fact is that participating in this year's IT Challenge expanded my horizons and knowledge about the IT and Microsoft enterprise products in a very significant way. I have to admit that I'm quite impressed after familiarizing myself with the latest software from Redmond. Its functionality, high level of security, reliability and ease of administration are features, which are often hard to find in the FOSS-based solutions.

Participating in the IT Challenge has given me even more. Now I know for sure that my knowledge and skills give me a real chance to be successful in future editions of Imagine Cup. I'll be a student for 3 more years so I will have at least 3 opportunities to stand on the IT Challegne podium. Through the next year I'm going to expand my knowledge on IT further and I'm fully convinced that the time spent on learning Microsoft technologies won't be wasted.