Visualizing ARM templates with ARMata

Some time ago I wrote a short post about a tool for visualizing ARM templates called ARMVIZ - while it's perfect for simple scenarios, it lacks more advanced features like toolbox, generating an image of architecture or quick recap of a resource. It also has problems with larger templates, which are barely readable and unfortunately is no longer maintained - at least at this moment. After discussing this problem with a group of Polish developers, we decided, that it'd great to create a new tool with extended functionality, which would take place of ARMVIZ in the future. This is how ARMata project was born.


ARMata differs greatly since it is no longer a web application - it is built with Electron so basically you can run it whenever Electron works(and since it is cross-platform, it works literally everywhere). Since you're installing it on your computer, it can perform much more advanced actions like editing files on your disk, using hardware acceleration for visualizing a template or interacting with other programs. It comes with automatic updates so you can be always up-to-date with all fresh features.

Open source

Yes - it is open source and completely free - you can take it, use it and modify it without limits. The goal is to create a tool, which is accessible for as many people as possible, eases working with ARM templates(which can be really cumbersome) and speeds up development. What is more - you can help in achieving this goals at any time by reporting bugs, introducing UI changes or coding new features. 

Current status

Currently ARMata is at the beta stage with main functionalities like parsing a template, visualizing it or quick recap of a resource already implemented. There're even more ideas, which will be introduced sooner or later like:

  • live editing of a template
  • toolbox with a possibility to create a template from scratch
  • generating an image from a visualized template so it can be used in documentation

If you'd like to help, we'll be more than happy to welcome you - there's still many thing to do :)

New Azure Functions SDK and VSTS - how to build your functions?

With recent release of Visual Studio 2017 15.3 we're given the possibility to use Azure Functions SDK, which is now fully integrated with IDE. This improves development greatly as we no longer have to maintain function.json by ourselves and are able to run function locally using in-built runtime. How about integrating new features into existing CI/CD pipeline? Well, there're some gotchas, fortunately you can easily configure things so everything runs smoothly.

Building a function project

When you create a new function project in VS you're given the options to easily add new functions with a boilerplate code. If you investigate .csproj file(last time I wrote about building Azure Functions using VSTS it was a .funproj file), you'll realize, that it differs greatly compared to legacy .csproj files:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Functions" Version="1.0.0" />
    <Reference Include="Microsoft.CSharp" />
    <None Update="host.json">
    <None Update="local.settings.json">

Considering new structure you can imagine, that it's going to give us some troubles. If you try to build it in VSTS, you'll get following error:

Error MSB4066: The attribute "Version" in element <PackageReference> is unrecognized.

Apparently using a default agent queue won't work here - agents don't have proper targets, which are required to build a project(if you build a project locally, you can find those targets in C:\Users\{USER}\.nuget\packages\\1.0.0\build\netstandard1.0\Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Functions.Build.targets). It'd possible to just import them and run on a default agent, still this looks like a workaround. However, there's an easier solution - during scheduling of your build you can choose a different queue:

Let's try to build our project once more...

 Error MSB4041: The default XML namespace of the project must be the MSBuild XML namespace. If the project is authored in the MSBuild 2003 format, please add xmlns="" to the <Project> element. If the project has been authored in the old 1.0 or 1.2 format, please convert it to MSBuild 2003 format.

There's still a problem - MSBuild is not able to determine what kind of XML is this. To fix this you can just modify <Project> node to following:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk" xmlns="">

Now your project should build correctly:

When working on this solution I found, that some people tried to build new Azure Functions projects using dotnet build step in VSTS - unfortunately this didn't work for me. Let me know if you found another way of integrating new version of .csproj with VSTS!