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Developers now able to 'customize' their Azure Virtual Desktop experience

Build your own ‘golden images’ and then connect 'em to more stuff, says Microsoft

Microsoft has introduced customization capabilities in Azure designed to make it easier for developers and admins to mold their projects to their will.

One of the tweaks allows users to add customized capabilities to the images used in Azure Virtual Desktop. Custom image templates – which is in public preview – let users build a "custom 'golden image' that combines components from Azure Virtual Desktop and their own customization script to install other applications or sets of configurations."

An AIB wrapper

The custom image template is a "wrapper" for the Azure Image Builder (AIB) service, according to Tom Hickling, senior product manager for Azure Virtual Desktop.

"It takes the elements that you want to include in your build, and ships it to the AIB service, which builds the image including any additional customizations you have either selected from the [Azure Virtual Desktop] built-in customizations or those of your own," Hicking writes in a blog post.

"AIB will then distribute the resulting image to either a managed image or to the Azure Compute Gallery, which supports capabilities such as automated versioning and image replication across any Azure region."

The software behemoth is offering a range of built-in customizations that developers can select to tailor configurations of golden images. Developers will need to write their own PowerShell scripts to configure the images if they're using other tools to create images, Hickling writes.

The built-in customizations include installing language packs, FSLogix and Teams, and configuring screen capture protection and session timeouts. More are coming, Hicking adds.

He notes that this is Microsoft's first foray into offering features for image management natively in Azure Virtual Desktop, and says the company will add to the service later. Future features will include enabling automated scheduled recurring image creation and integration with app stores to install applications into the images.

Making the connectors

At the same time, Microsoft now supports managed custom connectors for Logic Apps Standard just as it does with Logic Apps Consumption. Azure Logic Apps is a cloud platform that enables developers to build and run automated workflows with little or no code by using a visual designer and prebuilt operations.

The workflows can be used to integrate and manage apps, data, services, and systems, according to Redmond.

Azure Logic Apps come in two flavors: Logic App Consumption, which runs in multi-tenant environments, and Logic App Standard for single-tenant operations.

The new support "allows you to now use your existing custom connectors from Logic Apps Standard along with Logic Apps Consumption," Microsoft Program Manager Divya Swarnkar writes in a blog post. "If you are starting on Logic Apps Standard, this is a great option if your backend services or APIs are hosted in public. Custom connector is an extension capability of Logic Apps platform that allows you to build connectors for services or applications for which out of box connectors are not available."

There are two steps programmers will need to take to use custom connectors in workflows. The first is creating the custom connector, a one-time task that is the same whether one is using it in Logic Apps Standard or Consumption. The next is using the connector to move Logic App workflows, which again is the same experience for either model.

That said, Swarnkar notes that Microsoft is working to fix known issues coming with the App Logic Standard support. In particular, the custom connector may not show up on the list by default for a couple of reasons that the software maker found, including a UI bug, some older custom connectors not being picked up as expected.

Until the updates are available, programmers can look for it in the Search bar to address the UI bug issue or updating the custom connector – which also updates the timestamp – so it will get picked up, she says. ®

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