Node.js Web Application using Storage


In this tutorial, you will extend the application created in the Node.js Web Application using Express tutorial by using the Microsoft Azure Client Libraries for Node.js to work with data management services. You will extend your application to create a web-based task-list application that you can deploy to Azure. The task list allows a user to retrieve tasks, add new tasks, and mark tasks as completed.

The task items are stored in Azure Storage. Azure Storage provides unstructured data storage that is fault-tolerant and highly available. Azure Storage includes several data structures where you can store and access data, and you can leverage the storage services from the APIs included in the Azure SDK for Node.js or via REST APIs. For more information, see Storing and Accessing Data in Azure.

This tutorial assumes that you have completed the Node.js Web Application and Node.js with Express tutorials.

You will learn:

  • How to work with the Jade template engine
  • How to work with Azure Data Management services

A screenshot of the completed application is below:

The completed web page in internet explorer

Setting Storage Credentials in Web.Config

To access Azure Storage, you need to pass in storage credentials. To do this, you utilize web.config application settings. Those settings will be passed as environment variables to Node, which are then read by the Azure SDK.


Storage credentials are only used when the application is deployed to Azure. When running in the emulator, the application will use the storage emulator.

Perform the following steps to retrieve the storage account credentials and add them to the web.config settings:

  1. If it is not already open, start the Azure PowerShell from the Start menu by expanding All Programs, Azure, right-click Azure PowerShell, and then select Run As Administrator.
  2. Change directories to the folder containing your application. For example, C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1.
  3. From the Azure Powershell window enter the following cmdlet to retrieve the storage account information:

    PS C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1> Get-AzureStorageAccounts

    This retrieves the list of storage accounts and account keys associated with your hosted service.


    Since the Azure SDK creates a storage account when you deploy a service, a storage account should already exist from deploying your application in the previous guides.

  4. Open the ServiceDefinition.csdef file containing the environment settings that are used when the application is deployed to Azure:

    PS C:\node\tasklist> notepad ServiceDefinition.csdef
  5. Insert the following block under Environment element, substituting {STORAGE ACCOUNT} and {STORAGE ACCESS KEY} with the account name and the primary key for the storage account you want to use for deployment:

    The file contents

  6. Save the file and close notepad.

Install additional modules

  1. Use the following command to install the [azure], [node-uuid], [nconf] and [async] modules locally as well as to save an entry for them to the package.json file:

    PS C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1> npm install azure-storage node-uuid async nconf --save

    The output of this command should appear similar to the following:

    node-uuid@1.4.1 node_modules\node-uuid
    nconf@0.6.9 node_modules\nconf
    ├── ini@1.1.0
    ├── async@0.2.9
    └── optimist@0.6.0 (wordwrap@0.0.2, minimist@0.0.8)
    azure-storage@0.1.0 node_modules\azure-storage
    ├── extend@1.2.1
    ├── xmlbuilder@0.4.3
    ├── mime@1.2.11
    ├── underscore@1.4.4
    ├── validator@3.1.0
    ├── node-uuid@1.4.1
    ├── xml2js@0.2.7 (sax@0.5.2)
    └── request@2.27.0 (json-stringify-safe@5.0.0, tunnel-agent@0.3.0, aws-sign@0.3.0, forever-agent@0.5.2, qs@0.6.6, oauth-sign@0.3.0, cookie-jar@0.3.0, hawk@1.0.0, form-data@0.1.3, http-signature@0.10.0)

Using the Table service in a node application

In this section you will extend the basic application created by the express command by adding a task.js file which contains the model for your tasks. You will also modify the existing app.js and create a new tasklist.js file that uses the model.

Create the model

  1. In the WebRole1 directory, create a new directory named models.
  2. In the models directory, create a new file named task.js. This file will contain the model for the tasks created by your application.
  3. At the beginning of the task.js file, add the following code to reference required libraries:

    var azure = require('azure-storage');
    var uuid = require('node-uuid');
    var entityGen = azure.TableUtilities.entityGenerator;
  4. Next, you will add code to define and export the Task object. This object is responsible for connecting to the table.

    module.exports = Task;
    function Task(storageClient, tableName, partitionKey) {
      this.storageClient = storageClient;
      this.tableName = tableName;
      this.partitionKey = partitionKey;
      this.storageClient.createTableIfNotExists(tableName, function tableCreated(error) {
        if(error) {
          throw error;
  5. Next, add the following code to define additional methods on the Task object, which allow interactions with data stored in the table:

    Task.prototype = {
      find: function(query, callback) {
        self = this;
        self.storageClient.queryEntities(query, function entitiesQueried(error, result) {
          if(error) {
          } else {
            callback(null, result.entries);
      addItem: function(item, callback) {
        self = this;
        // use entityGenerator to set types
        // NOTE: RowKey must be a string type, even though
        // it contains a GUID in this example.
        var itemDescriptor = {
          PartitionKey: entityGen.String(self.partitionKey),
          RowKey: entityGen.String(uuid()),
          name: entityGen.String(,
          category: entityGen.String(item.category),
          completed: entityGen.Boolean(false)
        self.storageClient.insertEntity(self.tableName, itemDescriptor, function entityInserted(error) {
      updateItem: function(rKey, callback) {
        self = this;
        self.storageClient.retrieveEntity(self.tableName, self.partitionKey, rKey, function entityQueried(error, entity) {
          if(error) {
          entity.completed._ = true;
          self.storageClient.updateEntity(self.tableName, entity, function entityUpdated(error) {
            if(error) {
  6. Save and close the task.js file.

Create the controller

  1. In the WebRole1/routes directory, create a new file named tasklist.js and open it in a text editor.
  2. Add the following code to tasklist.js. This loads the azure and async modules, which are used by tasklist.js. This also defines the TaskList function, which is passed an instance of the Task object we defined earlier:

    var azure = require('azure-storage');
    var async = require('async');
    module.exports = TaskList;
    function TaskList(task) {
      this.task = task;
  3. Continue adding to the tasklist.js file by adding the methods used to showTasks, addTask, and completeTasks:

    TaskList.prototype = {
      showTasks: function(req, res) {
        self = this;
        var query = azure.TableQuery()
          .where('completed eq ?', false);
        self.task.find(query, function itemsFound(error, items) {
          res.render('index',{title: 'My ToDo List ', tasks: items});
      addTask: function(req,res) {
        var self = this
        var item = req.body.item;
        self.task.addItem(item, function itemAdded(error) {
          if(error) {
            throw error;
      completeTask: function(req,res) {
        var self = this;
        var completedTasks = Object.keys(req.body);
        async.forEach(completedTasks, function taskIterator(completedTask, callback) {
          self.task.updateItem(completedTask, function itemsUpdated(error) {
            } else {
        }, function goHome(error){
          if(error) {
            throw error;
          } else {
  4. Save the tasklist.js file.

Modify app.js

  1. In the WebRole1 directory, open the app.js file in a text editor.
  2. At the beginning of the file, add the following to load the azure module and set the table name and partition key:

    var azure = require('azure-storage');
    var tableName = 'tasks';
    var partitionKey = 'hometasks';
  3. In the app.js file, scroll down to where you see the following line:

    app.use('/', routes);
    app.use('/users', users);

    Replace the above lines with the code shown below. This will initialize an instance of Task with a connection to your storage account. This is passed to the TaskList, which will use it to communicate with the Table service:

    var TaskList = require('./routes/tasklist');
    var Task = require('./models/task');
    var task = new Task(azure.createTableService(), tableName, partitionKey);
    var taskList = new TaskList(task);
    app.get('/', taskList.showTasks.bind(taskList));'/addtask', taskList.addTask.bind(taskList));'/completetask', taskList.completeTask.bind(taskList));
  4. Save the app.js file.

Modify the index view

  1. Change directories to the views directory and open the index.jade file in a text editor.
  2. Replace the contents of the index.jade file with the code below. This defines the view for displaying existing tasks, as well as a form for adding new tasks and marking existing ones as completed.

    extends layout
    block content
      h1= title
      form(action="/completetask", method="post")
            td Name
            td Category
            td Date
            td Complete
          if tasks != []
            each task in tasks
                td #{}
                td #{task.category._}
                - var day   = task.Timestamp._.getDate();
                - var month = task.Timestamp._.getMonth() + 1;
                - var year  = task.Timestamp._.getFullYear();
                td #{month + "/" + day + "/" + year}
                  input(type="checkbox", name="#{task.RowKey._}", value="#{!task.completed._}", checked=task.completed._)
        button.btn(type="submit") Update tasks
      form.well(action="/addtask", method="post")
        label Item Name:
        input(name="item[name]", type="textbox")
        label Item Category:
        input(name="item[category]", type="textbox")
        button.btn(type="submit") Add item
  3. Save and close index.jade file.

Modify the global layout

The layout.jade file in the views directory is used as a global template for other .jade files. In this step you will modify it to use Twitter Bootstrap, which is a toolkit that makes it easy to design a nice looking website.

  1. Download and extract the files for Twitter Bootstrap. Copy the bootstrap.min.css file from the bootstrap\dist\css folder to the public\stylesheets directory of your tasklist application.
  2. From the views folder, open the layout.jade in your text editor and replace the contents with the following:

    doctype html html head title= title link(rel='stylesheet', href='/stylesheets/bootstrap.min.css') link(rel='stylesheet', href='/stylesheets/style.css') nav.navbar.navbar-default div.navbar-header a.navbar-brand(href='/') My Tasks block content

  3. Save the layout.jade file.

Running the Application in the Emulator

Use the following command to start the application in the emulator.

PS C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1> start-azureemulator -launch

The browser will open and displays the following page:

A web paged titled My Task List with a table containing tasks and fields to add a new task.

Use the form to add items, or remove existing items by marking them as completed.

Publishing the Application to Azure

In the Windows PowerShell window, call the following cmdlet to redeploy your hosted service to Azure.

PS C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1> Publish-AzureServiceProject -name myuniquename -location datacentername -launch

Replace myuniquename with a unique name for this application. Replace datacentername with the name of an Azure data center, such as West US.

After the deployment is complete, you should see a response similar to the following:

  PS C:\node\tasklist> publish-azureserviceproject -servicename tasklist -location "West US"
  WARNING: Publishing tasklist to Microsoft Azure. This may take several minutes...
  WARNING: 2:18:42 PM - Preparing runtime deployment for service 'tasklist'
  WARNING: 2:18:42 PM - Verifying storage account 'tasklist'...
  WARNING: 2:18:43 PM - Preparing deployment for tasklist with Subscription ID: 65a1016d-0f67-45d2-b838-b8f373d6d52e...
  WARNING: 2:19:01 PM - Connecting...
  WARNING: 2:19:02 PM - Uploading Package to storage service larrystore...
  WARNING: 2:19:40 PM - Upgrading...
  WARNING: 2:22:48 PM - Created Deployment ID: b7134ab29b1249ff84ada2bd157f296a.
  WARNING: 2:22:48 PM - Initializing...
  WARNING: 2:22:49 PM - Instance WebRole1_IN_0 of role WebRole1 is ready.
  WARNING: 2:22:50 PM - Created Website URL:

As before, because you specified the -launch option, the browser opens and displays your application running in Azure when publishing is completed.

A browser window displaying the My Task List page. The URL indicates the page is now being hosted on Azure.

Stopping and Deleting Your Application

After deploying your application, you may want to disable it so you can avoid costs or build and deploy other applications within the free trial time period.

Azure bills web role instances per hour of server time consumed. Server time is consumed once your application is deployed, even if the instances are not running and are in the stopped state.

The following steps show you how to stop and delete your application.

  1. In the Windows PowerShell window, stop the service deployment created in the previous section with the following cmdlet:

    PS C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1> Stop-AzureService

    Stopping the service may take several minutes. When the service is stopped, you receive a message indicating that it has stopped.

  2. To delete the service, call the following cmdlet:

    PS C:\node\tasklist\WebRole1> Remove-AzureService contosotasklist

    When prompted, enter Y to delete the service.

    Deleting the service may take several minutes. After the service has been deleted you receive a message indicating that the service was deleted.