New Go To shortcuts at Azure Portal

A few weeks ago, when pushing towards the new Azure Portal version 1.0 (aka GA at Microsoft), we added new shortcuts that can be activated with G+[key].

We also changed/updated the old shortcuts that you can find in my previous posts: 1, 2.

The full list of shortcuts is available on pressing key:

Azure Portal - keyboard shortcuts

You may notice that we change shortcut for opening dashboard from H to D. However, H will still work. We didn’t want to take it away from people who already learned it, and got used to that. The same with New (formerly Create): the new shortcut N will work together with C.

BTW: If there is some keyboard, or focus related issue on the portal that is bothering you let me know!

More keyboard shortcuts and better focus management on the Azure Portal

Two months ago I blogged about keyboard shortcuts on the Azure Portal. We added more shortcuts recently. Now, you can look them up by pressing ? on the Portal.

Azure Portal Keyboard Shorctuts

In addition to that, we improved focus management. Now, you can use portal without a mouse.

Azure Portal with keyboard

Check other improvements we have done recently on Azure Preview Portal Improvements (April update) from Leon Welicki.


Hidden feature of the Azure Portal: keyboard shortcuts


Last week, we released a new version of the Azure Portal (v5.0). There is a lot of improvements in the portal, but I would like to focus on particular one: the keyboard shortcuts. Check it out!

Hubs (left menu) shortcuts:

H – show startboard

N – open Notifications hub

A – open Active journeys hub [journey is the currently opened group of blades; blade is card/tab/subpage that contains some group of tiles, e.g. website properties or analytics]

/ – open Browse/Search hub

B – open Billing hub

C – open Create/New hub

Azure Portal keyboard shortcuts: hubs

Changing focus between blades shortcuts:

J – move focus to previous blade

K – move focus to next blade

F – move focus to first blade

L – move focus to last blade

Azure Portal keyboard shortcuts: blade focus

This is one of the first steps to make portal usable only with keyboard. Currently we are working on focus management (to have focus placed/restored on expected/useful items). We are planning to add more shortcuts, and keyboard shortcuts legend (available by pressing ‘?’).

What do you think? Are you using keyboard shortcuts on other websites?

WordPress on Azure: Exceeded ClearDB size = lock on INSERT/UPDATE (not able to log in to the admin panel)

My WordPress blog is hosted on Windows Azure, and I am using the only MySQL provider that is available on Azure: ClearDB.

Yesterday I couldn’t log in to the admin panel. I had no idea what was going on, because blog was working. I was googling for cause/solution, checking Azure logs, monitoring on Azure Portal, and accidentally I noticed that I exceeded ClearDB quota (20 MB). I did not receive any notifications from ClearDB though. What is important: if you exceed this limit, they block INSERT and UPDATE operations. My guess is that WordPress is probably trying to INSERT/UPDATE something in database when you log in. That’s why I couldn’t log in.

I did not want to upgrade from free instance to $9.99/month (the cheapest upgrade option). Fortunately I was able to connect with database using MySQL Workbench, and optimize my database.

I removed post revisions:

DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = "revision";

And transients:

DELETE FROM wp_options WHERE option_name LIKE ('%\_transient\_%')

This allowed me to save a lot of space. From 20.28 MB, the database size went to 10.42 MB (transients occupied almost 8MB!):


ClearDB quota

After I did that, I was able to log in. However, INSERT/UPDATE lock is not revoked immediately. I had to wait something between 10 minutes and 2 hours. I went to the swimming pool in meantime, thus I am not sure how much exactly it take.

Useful SQL command to check you database size:

SELECT SUM(round(((data_length + index_length) / 1024 / 1024), 2)) "Size in MB"
FROM information_schema.TABLES
WHERE table_schema = '$DB_NAME'
ORDER BY (data_length + index_length) DESC;

You can also check each table size:

SELECT table_name AS "Tables",
round(((data_length + index_length) / 1024 / 1024), 2) "Size in MB"
FROM information_schema.TABLES
WHERE table_schema = '$DB_NAME'
ORDER BY (data_length + index_length) DESC;

For the future, I pinned the database size tile to my Azure Portal dashboard. Now, I will be able to see it every time I am visiting the portal. I also limited the number of post/pages revisions to 2, by editing wp-config.php file, and inserting this line:

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 2);

This should be enough to not exceed the quota for some time, but I will need some permanent solution. I am thinking about hosting my own MySQL database on LinuxVM, on Azure (cost: $13+).

During the troubleshooting I found very good blog post by John Papa: Tips for WordPress on Azure. I recommend you to check this out if you have a WordPress blog on Azure. This article will help you to optimize your WordPress database as well.

EDIT: The plugin Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions allow to clean up database even more efficient. I managed to slim my DB down by another 50%, to 4.11., which gives almost 80% size decrease from the original 20+ MB.

ClearDB quota with plugin

What is even more cool about this plugin, you can create a schedule to run it automatically (Settings -> Optimize DB options):

Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions - Options

Running the greatest VM on Azure

Recently Microsoft Azure introduced the New D-Series Virtual Machine Sizes. The “greatest” available VM has 16 cores, and 112 GB RAM. In my imagination it looks like that:

super PC

I thought it would be cool to create one, and play with it for a while. Not for a month, because that would cost almost $1000 (~700-800 EURO):

Azure VMs pricing

However, what is cool about Azure – you can scale VM down when you are not using it. Even to the cheapest option – A0 Basic (~10 EURO / month). And using D14 for an hour cost only ~1 Euro.

When I was wondering which OS install on the VM I found that Azure already offers Windows 10 preview VM:

Azure Windows 10 VM


This is how it looks after installation:

Huge VM

Working on this VM was even better (faster) than on my PC at work (Xeon with 6 cores and 32GB RAM). To stress the VM I opened over 100 instances of Visual Studio:

100 Visual Studios on Azure VM

After opening 90 instances the VM slowed down. I opened 103 Visual Studios in total, and VM didn’t crash.

This feeling of having the most powerful machine I have ever work on is amazing. Even though it is virtual. The most amazing thing is the fact that it cost me only 1 Euro to play with it for an hour. I can get it in a few minutes, and get rid of it within seconds.

I am using it from time to time as my playground, and scale-up/down according to my needs.

Later in this year, the G-series of VMs will be available on Azure. The biggest in this series would be G5: 32 Cores + 448 GB RAM. That’s gonna be…awesome!