How to use Visual Studio Code to deploy applications to SQL Server Big Data Clusters

Applies to: yesSQL Server 2019 (15.x)

This article describes how to deploy applications to a SQL Server big data cluster using Microsoft Visual Studio Code with the App Deployment extension.



This extension supports the following tasks in Visual Studio Code:

  • Authenticate with SQL Server big data cluster.
  • Retrieve an application template from GitHub repository for deployment of supported runtimes.
  • Manage currently open application templates in the user's workspace.
  • Deploy an application through a specification in YAML format.
  • Manage deployed apps within SQL Server big data cluster.
  • View all apps that you have deployed in the side bar with additional information.
  • Generate a run spec to consume the app or delete the app from the cluster.
  • Consume deployed apps through a run specification YAML.

The following sections walk though the installation process and provides an overview how the extension works.


First install the App Deployment extension in Visual Studio Code:

  1. Download App Deploy Extension to install the extension as part of Visual Studio Code.

  2. Launch Visual Studio Code and navigate to the Extensions sidebar.

  3. Click the context menu on the top of the side bar and select Install from vsix.

    Install VSIX

  4. Find the sqlservbdc-app-deploy.vsix file you downloaded and choose that to install.

After the SQL Server big data cluster app deploy extension has been installed, it prompts you to reload Visual Studio Code. You should now see the SQL Server BDC App Explorer in the Visual Studio Code sidebar.

App Explorer

Click on the extension in the sidebar to load a side panel showing the App Explorer. The following sample screenshot of the App Explorer shows no apps or app specifications available:

App Explorer

Connect to Cluster

To connect to the cluster endpoint, use one of the following methods:

  • Click on the status bar at the bottom that says SQL Server BDC Disconnected.
  • Or click on the Connect to Cluster button at the top with the arrow pointing into a doorway.

Visual Studio Code prompts for the appropriate endpoint, username, and password.

The endpoint to connect is the Cluster Management Service endpoint with port 30080.

You can also find this endpoint from the command line through

azdata bdc endpoint list

One of the other ways to get this information is doing right-click Manage on the server in Azure Data Studio where you will find the endpoints of the services listed.

ADS End Point

Once you have found the endpoint to use, then connect to the cluster.

New Connection

If given the correct credentials and app endpoint, Visual Studio Code notifies that you've been connected to the cluster and you will see any deployed apps populated in the sidebar. If you successfully connect, your endpoint and username will be saved to ./sqldbc as part of your user profile. No password or tokens will ever be saved. When logging in again, the prompt will pre-fill with your saved host and username but always require you to input a password. If you wish to connect to a different cluster endpoint, just click the New Connection again. The connection will automatically close if you close Visual Studio Code or if you open a different workspace and you will need to reconnect.

App Template

You need to Open Workspace in Visual Studio Code where you are going to save the artifacts of the app.

To deploy a new app from one of our templates, click on the New App Template button on the App Specifications pane, where you will be prompted for the name, the runtime, and what location you would like to place the new app in on your local machine. The name and version that you provide should be a DNS-1035 label and must consist of lower case alphanumeric characters or '-', start with an alphabetic character, and end with an alphanumeric character.

It is advised that you place it in your current Visual Studio Code workspace so that you can use the full functionality of the extension, but you can place it anywhere in your local file system.

New App Template

Once completed, a new app template is scaffolded for you at the location you specified, and the deployment spec.yaml opens in your workspace. If the directory you selected is in your workspace, you should also see it listed under the App Specifications pane:

Loaded App Template

The template is a simple helloworld app that is laid out as follows in the App Specifications pane:

  • spec.yaml
    • Tells the cluster how to deploy your app
  • run-spec.yaml
    • Tells the cluster how you'd like to call your app

The source code of the App would be in the Workspace folder.

  • source file name
    • This is your source code file as specified by src in spec.yaml
    • It has one function called handler that is considered the entrypoint of the app as shown in spec.yaml. It takes in a string input called msg and returns a string output called out. These are specified in inputs and outputs of the spec.yaml.

If you do not want a scaffolded template and would just prefer a spec.yaml for deployment of an app you have already built, click the New Deploy Spec button next to the New App Template button and go through the same process, but you will just receive the spec.yaml, which you can modify how you choose.

Deploy App

You may instantly deploy this App through the code lens Deploy App in the spec.yaml or press the lightning folder button next to the spec.yaml file in the App Specifications menu. The extension will zip up all files in the directory where your spec.yaml is located and deploy your app to the cluster.


Please ensure that all of your app files are in the same directory as your spec.yaml. The spec.yaml must be at the root level of your app source code directory.

Deploy App Button

Deploy App CodeLens

You will be notified when the app is ready for consumption based on the state of the app in the sidebar:

App Deployed

App Ready Side Bar

App Ready Notification

From the side pane, you will be able to see the following available to you:

You may view all apps you have deployed in the side bar with the following information:

  • state
  • version
  • input parameters
  • output parameters
  • links
    • swagger
    • details

If you click Links, you will see that you can access the swagger.json of your deployed app, so that you can write your own clients that call your app:

Screenshot of the VS Code UI showing the swagger.json file.

See Consume applications on big data clusters for more information.

App Run

Once the app is ready, call the app with the run-spec.yaml that was given as part of the app-template:

Run Spec

Specify any string you'd like in place of hello and then again run it through the code lens link or the lightning button in the side bar next to the run-spec.yaml. If you do not have a run-spec for whatever reason, generate one from the deployed app in the cluster:

Get Run Spec

Once you have one and have edited it to your satisfaction, run it. Visual Studio Code returns the appropriate feedback when the app has finished running:

App Output

As you can see from above, the output is given in a temporary .json file in your workspace. If you would like to keep this output, feel free to save it, otherwise, it will be deleted on closing. If your app has no output to print to a file, you will only get the Successful App Run notification at the bottom. If you did not have a successful run, you will receive an appropriate error message that will help you determine what is wrong.

When running an app, there are a variety of ways to pass parameters:

You may specify all inputs required through a .json, that is:

  • inputs: ./example.json

When calling a deployed app, if any input parameters are innate to the app or user specified and that given input parameter is anything other than a primitive, such as an array, vector, dataframe, complex JSON, etc. specify the parameter type directly in line when calling the app, that is:

  • Vector
    • inputs:
      • x: [1, 2, 3]
  • Matrix
    • inputs:
      • x: [[A,B,C],[1,2,3]]
  • Object
    • inputs:
      • x: {A: 1, B: 2, C: 3}

Or give a string as a relative or absolute file path to a .txt, .json, or .csv that gives the required input in the format that your app requires. The file parsing is based on Node.js Path library, where a file path is defined as a string that contains a / or \ character.

If the input parameter is not provided as needed, an appropriate error message will be shown with either the incorrect file path if a string file path was given or that parameter was invalid. The responsibility is given to the creator of the app to ensure they understand the parameters they are defining.

To delete an app, just click the Trash can button next to the app in the Deployed Apps side pane.

Next steps

Explore how to integrate apps deployed on SQL Server Big Data Clusters in your own applications at Consume applications on big data clusters for more information. You can also refer to the additional samples at App Deploy Samples to try with the extension.

For more information about SQL Server Big Data Clusters, see What are SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters?.

Our goal is to make this extension useful for you and we appreciate you feedback. Please send them to SQL Server team.