A quick start guide for Deploying and Configuring Node-RED as an Azure WebApp

 

Introduction

I’ve been experimenting and messing around with IoT devices for well over 10 years. Back then it wasn’t called IoT, and it was very much a build it and write it yourself approach.

Fast forward to 2017 and you can buy a microprocessor for a couple of dollars that includes WiFi. Environmental sensors are available for another couple of dollars and we can start to publish environmental telemetry without having to build circuitry and develop code. And rather than having to design and deploy a database to store the telemetry (as I was doing 10+ years ago) we can send it to SaaS/PaaS services and build dashboards very quickly.

This post provides a quick start guide to those last few points. Visualising data from IoT devices using Azure Platform-as-a-Service services. Here is a rudimentary environment dashboard I put together very quickly.

NodeRedDashboardUI.PNG

Overview

Having played with numerous services recently for my already API integrated IoT devices, I knew I wanted a solution to visualise the data, but I didn’t want to deploy dedicated infrastructure and I wanted to keep the number of moving parts to a minimum. I looked at getting my devices to publish their telemetry via MQTT which is  great solution (for scale or rapidly changing data), but when you are only dealing with a handful of sensors and data that isn’t highly dynamic it is over-kill. I wanted to simply poll the devices as required and obtain the current readings and visualise it. Think temperature, pressure, humidity.

Through my research I like the look of Node-RED for its quick and simplistic approach to obtaining data and manipulating it for presentation. Node-RED relies on NodeJS which I figured I could deploy as an Azure WebApp (similar to what I did here). Sure enough I could. However not long after I got it working I discovered this project. A Node-RED enabled NodeJS Web App you can deploy straight from Github. Awesome work Juan Manuel Servera.

Prerequisites

The quickest way to start then is to use Juan’s Azure WebApp wrapper for Node-RED. Follow his instructions to get that deployed to your Azure Subscription. Once deployed you can navigate to your Node-RED WebApp and you should see something similar to the image below.

DefaultNode-Red.PNG

The first thing you need to do is secure the app. From your WebApp Application Settings in the Azure Portal, use Kudu to navigate to the WebApp files. Under your wwwroot/WebApp directory you will find the settings.js file. Select the file and select the Edit (pencil) icon.

Node-Red-Settings

Comment in the adminAuth section around lines 93-100. To generate the encrypted password on a local install of NodeJS I ran the following command and copied the hash. Change ‘whatisagoodpassword’ for your desired password.

node -e "console.log(require('bcryptjs').hashSync(process.argv[1], 8));" whatisagoodpassword

Select Save, then Restart your application.

Node-Red-Password

On loading your WebApp again you will be prompted to login. Login and lets get started.

Login

Configuring Node-RED

Now it is time to pull in some data and visualise it. I’m not going to go into too much detail as what you want to do is probably quick different to me.

At its simplest though I want to trigger on a timer a call to my sensor API’s to return the values and display them as either text, a graph or a gauge. Below graphically shows he configuration for the dashboard shown above.

ConfigureNodeRED.PNG

For each entity on the dashboard there is and input. For me this is trigger every 15 minutes. That looks like this.

Get-15mins

Next is the API to get the data. The API I’m calling is an open GET with the API key in the URL so looks like this.

HTTPRequest

With the JSON response from the API I retrieve the temperature value and return it as msg for use in the UI.

Function

I then have the Gauge for Temperature. I’ve set the minimum and maximum values and gone with the defaults for the colours.

Guage

I’m also outputting debug info during setup for the raw response from the Function ….

DebugParsedOutput

….. and from the parsed function.

DebugHTTPRequest

These appear in the Debug pane on the right hand side.

DebugWindow

After each configuration change simply select Deploy and then switch over to your Node-RED WebApp. That will looks like your URI for your WebApp with UI on the end eg. http://.azurewebsites.net/ui

Conclusion

Thanks to Azure PaaS services and the ability to use a graphical IoT tool like Node-RED we can quickly deploy a solution to visualise IoT data without having to deploy any backend infrastructure. The only hardware is the IoT sensors, everything else is serverless.

Display Microsoft Identity Manager Sync Engine Statistics in the MIM Portal

Introduction

In the Microsoft / Forefront Identity Manager Synchronization Service Manager under Tools we have a Statistics Report. This gives a break down of each of the Management Agents and the Connectors on each MA.

I had a recent requirement to expose this information for a customer but I didn’t want them to have to connect to the Synchronization Server (and be given the permissions to allow them to). So I looked into another way of providing a subset of this information in the MIM Portal itself.  This post details that solution.

MIM / FIM Synchronization Server Management Agent & Metaverse Statistics
MIM / FIM Synchronization Server Management Agent & Metaverse Statistics

Overview

I approached this in a similar way I did for the User Object Report I recently developed. The approach is;

  • Azure PowerShell Function App that uses Remote PowerShell to connect to the MIM Sync Server and leverage the Lithnet MIIS Automation PowerShell Module to enumerate all Management Agents and build a report on the information required in the report
  • A NodeJS WebApp calls the Azure PowerShell Function App onload to generate the report and display it
  • The NodeJS WebApp is embedded in the MIM Portal as a new Nav Bar Resource and Page

The graphic below details the basic logical integration.

MVStatsReportOverview

Prerequisites

The prerequisites to perform this I’ve covered in other posts. In concept as described above it is similar to the User Object report, that has the same prerequisites and I did a pretty good job on detailing those here. To implement this then that post is the required reading to get you ready.

Azure PowerShell Function App

Below is the raw script from my Function App that connects to the MIM Sync Server and retrieves the Management Agent Statistics for the report.

NodeJS Web App

The NodeJS Web App is the app that gets embedded in the MIM Portal that calls the Azure Function to retreive the data and then display it. To get started you’ll want to start with a based NodeJS WebApp. This post will get you started. Implementing a NodeJS WebApp using Visual Studio Code 

The only extension I’m using on top of what is listed there is JQuery. So once you have NodeJS up and running in your VSCode Terminal type npm install jquery and then npm install.

I’ve kept it simple and contained all in a single HTML file using JQuery.

In you NodeJS project you will need to reference your report.html file. It should look like this (assuming you name your report report.html)

var express = require('express');
var router = express.Router();
/* GET - Report page */
router.get('/', function(req, res, next) {
   res.sendFile('report.html', { root:'./public'});
});

module.exports = router;

The Embedded Report

This is what my report looks like embedded in the MIM Portal.

Microsoft Identity Manager Statistics Report
Microsoft Identity Manager Statistics Report

Summary

Integration of FIM / MIM with Azure Platform as a Service Services opens a world of functionality including the ability to expose information that was previously only obtainable by the FIM / MIM Administrator.

Integration of Microsoft Identity Manager with Azure Platform-as-a-Service Services

Overview

This isn’t an out of the box solution. This is a bespoke solution that takes a number of elements and puts them together in a unique way. I’m not expecting anyone to implement this specific solution (but you’re more than welcome to) but to take inspiration from it to implement solutions relevant to your environment(s). This post supports a presentation I did to The MIM Team User Group on 14 June 2017.

This post describes a solution that;

  • Leverages an Azure WebApp (NodeJS) to present a simple website. That site can be integrated easily in the FIM/MIM Portal
  • The NodeJS website leverages an Azure Function App to get a list of users from the FIM/MIM Synchronization Server and allows the user to use typeahead functionality to find the user they want to generate a FIM/MIM object report on
  • On selection of a user, a request will be sent to another Azure Function App to generate and return the report to the user in a new browser window

This is shown graphically below.

 

Report Request UI

The NodeJS WebApp is integrated into the FIM/MIM portal. Bootstrap Typeahead is used to find the user to generate a report on. The Typeahead userlist if fulfilled by an Azure Function into the MIM Sync Metaverse. The Generate Report button fires off a call to FIM/MIM via another Azure Function into the MIM Sync and MIM Service to generate the report.

The returned report opens in a new tab in the users browser. The report contains details of the FIM/MIM connectors the user is represented on.

The values of all attributes for the users hologram from the Metaverse are displayed along with the MA the value came from and the last modified date.

Finally the metadata report from the MIM Service MA Connector Space and the MIM Service.

Prerequisites

These are numerous, but I’ve previously posted about them. You will need;

I encourage you to digest those posts to understand how to configure the prerequisites for this solution.

Additional Solution Requirements

To bring all the individual components together, there are a few additional tasks to enable this solution.

  • Enable CORS on your Azure Function App Configuration (see details further below)
  • If you want to display User Object Photos as part of the report, you will likely need to synchronize them into FIM/MIM from an authoritative source (e.g. Office365/Exchange Online)   Checkout this post  and additional details further below
  • In order to embed the NodeJS WebApp into the FIM/MIM Portal, this post provides the details. Change the target URL from PowerBI URL to your NodeJS site
  • Object Report Request WebApp (see below for sample site)

Azure Functions Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)

You will need to configure CORS to allow the NodeJS WebApp to access the Azure Functions (from both local and Azure). Reflect your port number if it is different from 3000, and use the DNS name for your Azure WebApp.

Sample UI NodeJS HTML

Here is a sample HTML file for your NodeJS WebApp with the UI to provide Input for LoginID fulfilled by the NodeJS Javascript file further below.

Sample UI NodeJS JavaScript

The following NodeJS JavaScript supports the HTML UI above. It populates the LoginID typeahead box and takes the Submit Report button to fulfill the report for the desired object(s). Yes if you use the UI to select (individually) multiple different objects all will be returned in their separate output windows.

As the HTML file above indicates you will need to obtain and make available as part of your NodeJS project the typeahead.bundle.js library.

Azure PowerShell Trigger Function App for AccountNames Lookup

The following Azure Function takes the call from the load of the NodeJS WebApp to populate the typeahead userlist.

Azure PowerShell Trigger Function App for User Object Report

Similar in structure to the Username List Lookup Azure Function above, but in the ScriptBlock you embed the Report Generation Script that is detailed here. Modify for what you want to report on.

Photos in the Report

If you want to display images in your report, you will need to determine if the user has an image during the MV metadata report generation part of the script. Add the following lines (updating for the name of your Image attribute; mine is named EXOPhoto) after the Try {} Catch {} in this section $obj = @() ; foreach ($attr in $attributes.Keys)

 # Display the Objects Photo rather than Base64 string
 if ($attr.equals("EXOPhoto")){
     $objectphoto = "<img src=$([char]0x22)data:image/jpeg;base64,$($attributes.$attr.Values.Valuestring)$([char]0x22)>"
     $val = "System.Byte[]"
 }

Then in the output of the HTML report at the end of the report generation insert the $objectphoto variable into the HTML stream.

# Output MIM Service Object Data
 $MIMServiceObjOut = $MIMServiceObjectMetaData | Sort-Object -Property Attribute | ConvertTo-Html -Fragment
 $htmlreport = ConvertTo-HTML -Body "$htmlcss<h1>Microsoft Identity Manager User Object Report</h1><h2>Query</h2>$sourcequery</br><b><center>$objectphoto</br>NOTE: Only attributes with values are displayed.</center></b><h2>Connector(s) Summary</h2>$connectorsummary<h2>MetaVerse Data</h2>$objectmetadata <h2>MIM Service CS Object Data</h2>$MIMServiceCSobjectmetadata <h2>MIM Service Object Data</h2>$MIMServiceObjOut" -Title "MIM Object Report"

As you can see above I’ve also injected the CSS ($htmlcss) into the output stream at the beginning of the Body section.  Somewhere in your script block you will need to define your CSS values. e.g.

 # StyleSheet for nice pretty output
 $htmlcss = "<style>
    h1, h2, th { text-align: center; }
    table { margin: auto; font-family: Segoe UI; box-shadow: 10px 10px 5px #888; border: thin ridge grey; }
    th { background: #0046c3; color: #fff; max-width: 400px; padding: 5px 10px; }
    td { font-size: 11px; padding: 5px 20px; color: #000; }
    tr { background: #b8d1f3; }
    tr:nth-child(even) { background: #dae5f4; }
    tr:nth-child(odd) { background: #b8d1f3; }
 </style>"

Summary

An interesting solution integrating Azure PaaS Services with Microsoft Identity Manager via PowerShell and the extremely versatile Lithnet FIM/MIM PowerShell Modules.

Please share your implementations enhancing your FIM/MIM Solution.

How to build and deploy an Azure NodeJS WebApp using Visual Studio Code

Introduction

This week I had the need to build a small web application with a reasonably simple front end that will later be integrated inside a Portal. The web application isn’t going to be high use and didn’t necessitate deployment of infrastructure (VM’s). I’d messed with NodeJS a while back in this post where I configured a UI for Microsoft Identity Manager and Azure based functions.

In the back of my mind I knew I didn’t want to have to go for a full Visual Studio Project Solution for this, and with the recent updates to Visual Studio Code I figured it must be possible to do it using it. There wasn’t much around on doing it, so I dived in and worked it out for myself. Here I share the end-to-end process to make it easy for you to started.

Overview

What you will need on your development workstation before you start are the following components. Download and install them on your dev machine.

You will also need an Azure Subscription to where you will publish your NodeJS site.

This post details setting up Visual Studio Code to build a shell NodeJS site and deploy it to Azure using a local GIT Repository. Let’s get started.

Visual Studio Code Extensions

A really smart and handy extension for VS Code is Azure Tools for VS Code. Release a few months ago (January 2017), this extension allows you to quickly create a Web App (Resource Group, App Service, Application Service Plan etc) from within VS Code. With VSCode on your development machine from the prerequisites above click on the Extensions Icon (bottom left) in the VSCode menu and type Azure Tools. Click the green Install button.

Azure Tools for VS Code

Creating the NodeJS Site in VS Code

I had a couple of attempts at doing this before I found a quick, neat and repeatable method of getting started. In order to get the Web App deployed and accessible correctly in Azure I found it easiest to use the Sample Azure NodeJS Hello World example from here. Download that sample and extract the contents to a new folder on your workstation. I created a new path on mine named …\NodeJS\nodejssite and dropped the sample in there so it looked like below.

After creating the folder structure and putting the sample in it, whilst in the sub-directory type:

code .

That will startup Visual Studio Code in the newly created folder with the starter sample.

Install Express for NodeJS

To that base sample site we’ll install Express. From the Terminal tab in the lower pane type:

npm install -g express-generator

Express App

With Express now on our machine, lets add the Express App to our new NodeJS site. Type express in the Terminal window.

express

Accept that the directory is not empty

This will create the folder structure for Express.

Now to get all the files and modules for our site configured for our app run npm install

Now type npm start in the terminal window to start our new site.

The NodeJS site will start. Open a Web Browser and go to http://localhost:3000 and you should see the Express empty site.

Navigate to views => index.jade Update the text like I have below.

Refresh your browser window and you should see the text updated.

In the terminal windows press Cntrl + C to stop NodeJS.

Test Deploy to Azure

Now let’s do a test deploy of our shell site as an Azure WebApp.

Press Cntrl + Shift + P or from the View menu select Command Palette.

Type Azure: Login 

This will generate a code and give you a link to open in your browser and login

Paste in the code from the clipboard and select continue

Then login with your account for the Tenant where you want to deploy the WebApp too. You’ll then be authorized.

From the Command Palette type azure sub and choose Azure: List Azure Subscriptions and choose the subscription where you will create and deploy the WebApp

Now from the Command Palette type Azure Create a Web App (Simple).

Give the WebApp a name. This will become the WebApp Name, and the basis for the all the associated WebApp components. Use Create a Web App (Advanced) if you want to be more specific about the name of the App Resources etc.

If you watch the bottom VS Code Status bar you will see the Azure Tools extension create the new Resource Group, Web App and Web App Plan.

Login to the Azure Portal, select the new Web App.

Select Deployment Options and then Local Git Repository. Select OK.

Select Deployment credentials and provide a username and password. You’ll need this shortly to publish your site.

Click Overview. Copy the Git clone url.

Back in VS Code, select the GIT icon (under the magnifying glass) and from the top choose Initialize Repository.

Then in the terminal window type git remote add azure <git clone url> obtained from the step above.

Type Initial Commit as the message and click the tick icon in the Source Control menu bar.

Select and select Publish

Select azure as the remote target we setup earlier.

You’ll be prompted to authenticate. Use the account you created above in Deployment Credentials.

Back in the Azure Portal under the Web App under Deployment Options you will see the initial commit.

Click on Overview and you should see that it is running. Click on URL and the site will open in a new tab in your browser.

Updating our WebApp

Now, let’s make a change to our WebApp.

Back in VS Code, click on the files and folder icon in the top left corner, navigate to views => index.jade and update the title. Hit Cntrl + S (or select Save from the File menu). In Terminal below type npm start to start our NodeJS site locally.

Check out the update locally. In a browser navigate to the local NodeJS site on localhost:3000. You’ll see the changed page.

Select the Git icon on the left menu, give the update some text eg. ‘updated page text’ and select the tick from the top menu.

Select the and choose Push to publish the changes to our Azure WebApp.

Go back to your browser which was on the Azure WebApp URL and reload. Our change and been push and reflected in the WebApp.

Summary

Very quickly and easily using Visual Studio Code (with NodeJS and Git Desktop installed locally) we have;

  • Created an Azure WebApp
  • Created a base NodeJS site
  • Have a local NodeJS site we can develop
  • Publish it to Azure

Now go create something awesome.