Thursday, 22 January 2009

Azure Issue Tracker Released

I am happy to announce the immediate release of the Azure Issue Tracker sample application.  I know. I know. the name is wildly creative.  This sample application is a simple issue tracking service and website that pulls together a couple of the Azure services:  SQL Data Services and .NET Access Control Service.

This demo is meant to show a realistic SaaS scenario.  As such, it features federation, claims-based authorization, and scalable data storage.

In this post, I will briefly walk through the application such that you can see how it is meant to work and how you might implement something similar.  Over the coming weeks, I will dig into features more deeply to demonstrate how they work.  I would also encourage you to follow Eugenio, who will be speaking more about this particular demo and the 'Enterprise' version over the coming weeks.

Let's get started:

  1. Make sure you have a .NET Services account (register for one here)
  2. Download and extract the 'Standard' version from the Codeplex project page
  3. Run the StartMe.bat file.  This file is the bootstrap for the provisioning process that is necessary to get the .NET Services solution configured as well as things like websites, certificates, and SDS storage.
  4. Open the 'Readme.txt' from the setup directory and follow along for the other bits

Once you have the sample installed and configured, navigate to your IssueTracker.Web site and you will see something like this:

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Click the Join Now and then select the 'Standard' edition.  You will be taken to the 'Create Standard Tenant' page.  This is how we register our initial tenant and get them provisioned in the system.  The Windows LiveID and company name put into this page is what will be used for provisioning (the other information is not used right now).

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Once you click 'Save', the provisioning service will be called and rules will be inserted into the Access Control service.  You can view the rules by looking using the .NET Services portal and viewing the Access Control Service (use the Advanced View) and select the 'http://localhost/IssueTracker.Web' scope.

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We make heavy use of the forward chaining aspect of the rules transformation here.  Notice that Admin will be assigned the role of both Reader and Contributor.  Those roles have many more operations assigned to them.  The net effect will be that an Admin will have all the operations assigned to them when forward chaining is invoked.

Notice as well that we have 3 new rules created in the Access Control service (ACS).  We have a claim mapping that sets the Windows LiveID to the Admin role output claim, we have another that sets an email mapping claim, and finally one that sets a tenant mapping claim.  Since we don't many input claims to work with (only the LiveID really), there is not too much we can do here in the Standard edition.  This is where the Enterprise edition that can get claims from AD or any other identity provider is a much richer experience.

Once you have created the tenant and provisioned the rules, you will be able to navigate to a specific URL now for this tenant:  http://localhost/IssueTracker.Web/{tenant}

You will be prompted to login with your LiveID and once you are authenticated with Windows LiveID, you will be redirected back to your project page.  Under the covers, we federated with LiveID, got a token from them, sent the token to ACS, transformed the claims, and sent back a token containing the claims (all signed by the ACS).  I will speak more about this later, but for now, we will stick to the visible effects.

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From the Project page, you should click 'New Project' and create a new project.

  • Give it a name and invite another Windows LiveID user (that you can login as later).  Make sure you invite a user with a different Windows LiveID than the one you used to initially provision the tenant (i.e. what you are logged in as currently).
  • Choose the 'Reader' role for the invited user and click the Invite button.
  • Add any custom fields you feel like using.  We will likely expand this functionality later to give you more choices for types and UI representation.
  • Click Save (make sure you added at least 1 user to invite!)

Once you click Save, additional rules are provisioned out to the ACS to handle the invited users.  From the newly created project, create an issue.  Notice that any additional fields you specified are present now in the UI for you to use for your 'custom' issue.

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Once you have saved a new issue, go ahead and try the edit functionality for the Issue.  Add some comments, move it through the workflow by changing the status, etc.

Next, open a new instance of IE (not a new tab or same IE) and browse to the tenant home page (i.e. http://localhost/IssueTracker.Web/{tenant}).  This time however, login as the invited Windows LiveID user.  This user was assigned the 'Reader' role.  Notice the new browser window can read the projects for this tenant and can read any issue, but they cannot use the Edit functionality.

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Now, I will make two comments about this.  First, so what?  We are checking claims here on the website and showing you a 'Not Authorized' screen.  While we could have just turned off the UI to not show the 'Edit' functionality, we did this intentionally in the demo so you can see how this claim checking works.  In this case, we are checking claims at the website using a MVC route filter (called ClaimAuthorizationRouteFilterAttribute).

One key point of this demo is that the website is just a client to the actual Issue Tracker service.  What if we tried to hit the service directly?

Let's check.  I am going to intentionally neuter the web site claims checking capabilities:

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By commenting out the required claims that the Reader won't have, I can get by the website.  Here is what I get:

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The Issue Tracker service is checking claims too. whoops.  No way to trick this one from a client.  So, what are the implications of this design?  I will let you noodle on that one for a bit.  You should also be asking yourself, how did we get those claims from the client (the website), to the service?  That is actually not entirely obvious and so I will save that for another post.  Enjoy for now!