Creating Precompiled Azure Functions with Visual Studio 2017

As the Azure Functions story continues to unfold, the latest facility is the ease of creation of precompiled functions. Visual Studio 2017 Update 3 (v15.3) brings the release of functionality to create function code in C# using all the familiar tools and abilities of Visual Studio development (you can also use the Azure Functions CLI).

Precompiled functions allow familiar techniques to be used such as separating shared business logic/entities into separate class libraries and creating unit tests. They also offer some cold start performance benefits.

To create your first precompiled Azure Function, first off install Visual Studio 2017 Update 3 (and enable the "Azure development tools" workload during installation) and once installed also ensure the Azure Functions and Web Jobs Tools Visual Studio extension is installed/updated.

Azure Functions and Web Jobs Tools Visual Studio 2017 extension

After you’ve created an Azure account (free trials may be available), open Visual Studio and create a new Azure Functions project (under the Cloud section):

Creating a new Azure Functions project in Visual Studio

This will create a new project with a .gitignore, a host.json, and a local.settings.json file.

To add a new function, right click the project, choose add –> new item. Then select Azure Function:

Adding a new function to and Azure Function app

The name of the .cs file can be anything, the actual name of the function in Azure is not tied to the class file name.

Next the type of function (trigger) can be selected, such as a function triggered by an HTTP request:

Choosing a function trigger type

Adding this will create the following code (note the name of the function has been changed in the [FunctionName] attribute):

namespace MirrorMirrorOnTheWall
{
    public static class Function1
    {
        [FunctionName("WhosTheFairestOfThemAll")]
        public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run(
            [HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Function, "get", "post", Route = null)]HttpRequestMessage req, 
            TraceWriter log)
        {
            log.Info("C# HTTP trigger function processed a request.");

            // parse query parameter
            string name = req.GetQueryNameValuePairs()
                .FirstOrDefault(q => string.Compare(q.Key, "name", true) == 0)
                .Value;

            // Get request body
            dynamic data = await req.Content.ReadAsAsync<object>();

            // Set name to query string or body data
            name = name ?? data?.name;

            return name == null
                ? req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, "Please pass a name on the query string or in the request body")
                : req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "Hello " + name);
        }
    }
}

We can simplify this code to:

namespace MirrorMirrorOnTheWall
{
    public static class Function1
    {
        [FunctionName("WhosTheFairestOfThemAll")]
        public static HttpResponseMessage Run(
            [HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Function, "get", "post", Route = null)]HttpRequestMessage req, 
            TraceWriter log)
        {
            log.Info("C# HTTP trigger function processed a request.");

            return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "You are.");
        }
    }
}

Hitting F5 in Visual Studio will launch the local Azure Functions environment and host the newly created function:

Local Azure Functions runtime environment

Note in the preceding screenshot, the “WhosTheFairestOfThemAll” function is loaded and is listening on “http://localhost:7071/api/WhosTheFairestOfThemAll”. If we hit that URL, we get back “You are.”.

Publishing to Azure

Right click the project in Visual Studio and choose publish, this will start the publish wizard:

Publish Wizard

Choose to create a new Function App and follow the prompts, you need to select your Azure Account at the top right and choose an App Name (in this case “mirrormirroronthewall”). You also need to choose existing items or create new ones for Resource Groups, etc.

App Service settings for Azure Function app

Click create and the deployment will start.

Once deployed, the function is now listening in the cloud at “https://mirrormirroronthewall.azurewebsites.net/api/WhosTheFairestOfThemAll”.

Because earlier we specified an Access Rights setting of Function, a key needs to be provided to be able to invoke the function. This key can be found in the Azure portal for the newly created function app:

Getting an Azure Function key

Now we can add the key as a querystring parameter to get: “https://mirrormirroronthewall.azurewebsites.net/api/WhosTheFairestOfThemAll?code=UYikfB4dWIHdh66Iv/vWMiCpbDgTaDKB/vFMYtRzDwEpFW48qfEKog==”. Hitting up this URL now returns the result “You are.” as it did in the local environment.

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