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This tutorial will walk you through how to create a MiniBlog website on the cloud using Microsoft Azure.

Why do I choose this combination?

MiniBlog is a blogging engine based on HTML5 and ASP.NET.

Don't under estimate it by the name MiniBlog. Just like MiniProfiler, the "Mini" part has the meaning of "Simplicity". Indeed, they are very powerful tool to accomplish one mission at a time.

  1. It does not use database. This is a huge financial advantage because you don’t have to pay for a database.
  2. Besides, it's small and easy to use. You will master all its functionality in just a few minutes using it.
  3. I can use Windows Live Writer to create and edit the posts. Big time saver.

Why do I choose Microsoft Azure?

  1. Well, it's built for hosting ASP.NET websites.
  2. It's also very affordable. I run this blog on the minimal plan and pay only $10 monthly. That's just 2 trips to Starbucks.
  3. They have an awesome portal.
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Let’s get started.

  1. Create an account with Microsoft. You can skip the walk through of this step if you have one already.

    Go to https://signup.live.com
    Signup

    In my case, I choose to create a new Hotmail account so that I don’t have to go through email activation steps. If you enter your Gmail account, it may send an email asking you to click the link in the email to confirm that you own the email address. Any case, you should be able to sign in using the newly created account.
    Account
  2. Create Azure access for your Microsoft account.

    Sign in to Azure: http://bit.ly/1oAZNQk
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    If this is the first time you sign in to Azure, it will ask you to provide billing information. I know, this is not an easy feeling when you are being asked for your credit card even before you can have a free trial. But I have got the first 1 month for free. After that I had to select a subscription to continue the service. My subscription costs only $10 a month.

    Enter a phone number to receive an SMS for confirmation.
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    Once you have the SMS message, enter the number mentioned in the content of the SMS message to verify.
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    Enter credit card information.
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    When done:
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  3. Create a website.

    Go to Azure’s Portal.
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    Read the Tips. Or skip it.
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    Use Quick Create.
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  4. Download and customize MiniBlog.

    Download from https://github.com/madskristensen/MiniBlog.
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    Unzip and copy to a folder of choice (C:\AnyFolder\MiniBlog)
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    Double click to open the solution in Visual Studio.
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    Compile.
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    Double click to open the web.config file. Enter your information to the appropriate lines.
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    Press F5 or click Debug to see your changes.
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  5. Create your first post.

    You must sign in to delete or create new posts.
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    Sign in using username “demo”, password “demo”.
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    Admin buttons will show only after successful login.
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    To delete a post, click its title. Then, delete.
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    To make a new post, click New post.
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  6. Deploy everything to Azure.

    Before you deploy, make sure you change the default login. I recommend you to change both username and password.
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    Do another test run, try the new login. If everything is good, right click the project and select Publish Website.
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    Select Windows Azure Web Sites as target.
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    Sign in using Microsoft account associated with the Azure website you have created above.
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    Select the website. Click OK.
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    Everything should be filled in automagically for you. Click Publish.
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    Visual Studio should shows successful deploy.
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    Congratulations! You now have your own blog!
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What’s next?

You can create posts and promote your blog on social networks, forums, search engines… But don’t forget to add the source code to a source control repository. In my case, I use Visual Studio Online because Microsoft offers unlimited free private repositories for teams smaller than 5 people.

If you would like to have a domain (url) different than the default (ugly) *.azurewebsites.net, you will need to upgrade your Azure account to a subscription. Only then, you can hook your website up with a custom domain.

Happy owning (and keep spawning) a new blog. Now you don’t have to play by any publisher’s rule to publish your own content to the world.