Azure Application Insights series part 1: How to instrument your application code for monitoring

This is the first post in a new series I’m writing on Azure’s Application Insights (AI) service. The goal of the series is to walk through some of the basics for monitoring your Azure hosted services with Application Insights. We will cover topics like instrumentation, monitoring dashboards, and paging alerts.

In this post we have a look at code instrumentation: What is it? What are SLIs? How do we use the Application Insights client libraries? What are some instrumentation best practices?

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How to visually highlight blocked work items on an Azure DevOps sprint board

A little over a year ago I wrote up a tutorial on how to visually highlight blocked work items on a sprint board for Visual Studio Team Services. VSTS re-branded as Azure DevOps soon after I published that post and so some of the UI instructions have changed slightly now. I decided to make a follow up that runs through the exact same procedure but under the newer Azure DevOps re-branded UI.

Visually highlighting blocked work items is great way for developers, PMs, and the product owner to glance at the board to see blockers without having to deep dive into work items or run extra queries. Read on to find out how it’s done.

March 2021 Update: You can also use this technique for highlighting overdue items, tutorial here.

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How to troubleshoot Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template validation errors

Deploying Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates with the Azure PowerShell command New-AzureRmResourceGroupDeployment can fail for a variety of reasons. One of the more confusing situations can occur when handling template validation errors (Code=InvalidTemplateDeployment). This is because sometimes additional context is missing from the Exception and you have to lookup more information into order to troubleshoot the issue. In this post we will take a closer look at this particular error and how to resolve it.

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Book Review: Docker on Windows: From 101 to Production

Docker is a powerful container platform originally designed for Linux, but quickly became popular enough to receive native support on Windows. I first read Docker training material that took more of a Linux-first approach and loved what I saw. However my day-to-day work is still typically Microsoft/Azure stack so I was looking for a good book that takes on the nuances of working with Docker in a Windows or Azure environment.

I found Docker on Windows: From 101 to Production with Docker on Windows by Elton Stoneman to be really helpful for that purpose. This post is my quick review of the 1st edition.

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