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Building a Simple Azure JSON File

Author avatar - Aidan Finn

Aidan Finn

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In this step-by-step post, I’m going to show you, without using the paid-for version of Visual Studio, how to build a simple JSON file using the Azure Portal, and customize it using the free version of Visual Studio, VS Code.
Before you proceed, you should read the following posts:

 

 

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Start in the Azure Portal

I have found that the easiest way to build a JSON that you can start with is to deploy something by hand in the Azure Portal. For this simple example, I’m going to deploy a resource group with a single storage account. Note that the boundary of a JSON deployment in Azure is the resource group:

  • Every JSON deployment is done within a resource group.
  • A JSON deployment cannot span resource groups.
  • You can do multiple deployments to a resource group.

My deployment is as follows:

  • A resource group called rg-petri.
  • A storage account that is in the rg-petri resource group, deployed into the West US region.

The manually deployed resource group and storage account [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

The manually deployed resource group and storage account [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

We can see the JSON that can be used to mimic this deployment by clicking Automation Script in the settings of the resource group.
The default JSON of the manual deployment [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

The default JSON of the manual deployment [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

You can save this JSON a few ways:

  • Download: Download a zip file that contains the JSON, the parameters from the JSON in their own file, and various command-line and scripted ways to deploy the JSON file.
  • Save to library: A preview feature in Azure allows you to save JSON files in your personal Azure profile.
  • Simple copy and paste: This is my preferred option. I copy the entire JSON, as seen above, and paste it into VS Code so I can customize it.

Customize the JSON in VS Code

I have installed the free VS Code with the Azure Resource Manager Tools (a free plugin) on my Surface Book and use this to edit JSON files; the addition of the plugin provides some handy JSON-awareness.
Launch VS Code and paste the copied JSON template into a new window. Note that VS Code will see this as simple text until you save the file as a JSON file; VS Code will color code the text immediately after the save operation.

The default JSON in VS Code [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

The default JSON in VS Code [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

We can see that:

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  • There is one parameter: We are only asked to name the storage account.
  • There are no variables: We could store text values as variables instead of listing them in the resources as strings. This would allow centralized editing in the JSON and for easy reuse and change at a later point if we expand the JSON.
  • The storage account resource: The comment for the resource mentions the original subscription ID, which I have blacked out but doesn’t describe the resource, and it’s pretty much locked down to LRS and West US. I want to change resiliency into a parameter, and I want the storage account to be in the same region (location) as the resource group.

Parameters

I am going to rename the “storageAccounts_sapetri_name” parameter to “Storage Account Name”. This means that all references to “storageAccounts_sapetri_name” must be updated to “Storage Account Name”. The default will be null; we cannot have people trying to reuse a default storage account name because storage account names must be globally unique.
I am also going to add a second parameter called Storage Account Resiliency. This parameter will allow the person deploying the template to choose between LRS (Standard_LRS) or GRS (Standard_GRS), with LRS as the default setting. I will end up with the following parameters section:

     "parameters": {
        "Storage Account Name": {
            "defaultValue": null,
            "type": "string"
            },
        "Storage Account Resiliency": {
            "type": "string",
            "defaultValue": "Standard_LRS",
            "allowedValues":
                [
                "Standard_LRS",
                "Standard_GRS"
                ]
        }    
    },

 

Variables

I want to ensure that my new storage account is deployed into a region that matches the region of the resource group. This can be done using a handy function, as depicted below. I will create a variable that stores the resource group location and can be used by all resources within this template.

    "variables": {
        "RGLocation": "[resourceGroup().location]"
    },

Resources

We have just a single resource in this JSON file – a storage account. The first thing that I want to do is modify the comment, which, by default, lists the subscription, resource group, resource type, and name of the source resource. I want to change it to something that describes the purpose of the resource in the template.
I have defined a parameter called “Storage Account Resiliency” to allow an administrator select the resiliency of the new storage account. The resource has a hard-coded value in a setting called sku\name. I will change this to refer to the new parameter.
I’ve also created a variable to define the location of the resource group. I want all resources to use this location, instead of using some hard-coded location – this will allow me to deploy my JSON to any resource group to any Azure region. I will modify the location setting of the resource to use the variable “RGLocation”.

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    "resources": [
        {
            "comments": "Will be used to store virtual machines in this resource group",
            "type": "Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts",
            "sku": {
                "name": "[parameters('Storage Account Resiliency')]",
                "tier": "Standard"
            },
            "kind": "Storage",
            "name": "[parameters('Storage Account Name')]",
            "apiVersion": "2016-01-01",
            "location": "[variables('RGLocation')]",
            "tags": {},
            "properties": {},
            "resources": [],
            "dependsOn": []
        }
    ]

Make sure that you save the JSON file and look for any errors or warnings in the bottom-left of VS Code.

The Entire JSON

When you deploy the finished template, you are asked for two pieces of information:

  • The desired name of the new storage account
  • The resiliency of the new storage account

Deploying the new JSON template [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

Deploying the new JSON template [Image Credit: Aidan Finn]

I know how annoying it can be to try to assemble code snippets into a single example, so here is the entire JSON file – which I have tested.

{
    "$schema": "https://schema.management.azure.com/schemas/2015-01-01/deploymentTemplate.json#",
    "contentVersion": "1.0.0.0",
    "parameters": {
        "Storage Account Name": {
            "defaultValue": null,
            "type": "string"
        },
        "Storage Account Resiliency":
            {
            "type": "string",
            "defaultValue": "Standard_LRS",
            "allowedValues":
                [
                "Standard_LRS",
                "Standard_GRS"
                ]
        }    
    },
    "variables": {
        "RGLocation": "[resourceGroup().location]"
    },
    "resources": [
        {
            "comments": "Will be used to store virtual machines in this resource group",
            "type": "Microsoft.Storage/storageAccounts",
            "sku": {
                "name": "[parameters('Storage Account Resiliency')]",
                "tier": "Standard"
            },
            "kind": "Storage",
            "name": "[parameters('Storage Account Name')]",
            "apiVersion": "2016-01-01",
            "location": "[variables('RGLocation')]",
            "tags": {},
            "properties": {},
            "resources": [],
            "dependsOn": []
        }
    ]
}

This is a very simple example of a JSON. In a soon-to-be-published post, I’ll expand on this JSON by adding more resources.

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