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ASP.NET Two-Factor Authentication, Web And Mobile Tooling Improvements

Visual Studio Update 3 was released last week and includes some framework and tooling improvements relevant to web and mobile developers. We go through some of these, including the ASP.NET identity update supporting two-factor authentication, new Visual Studio-Azure integrations as well as several updates to the Apache Cordova Tooling preview.

ASP.NET Identity 2.1.0 adds SignInManager, which makes it easier to add features such as Account Lockout and Two-factor authentication for login. Two factor authentication makes use of Email or SMS for sending a verification code in addition to regular login flow. User has an option to avoid two-factor authentication on familiar devices (after first login), which is convenient without sacrificing security when using unsafe devices.

The lockout also provides cooldown option, automatically allowing retries after a customisable lockout time span with no administrator involvement. 

This is included in the ASP.NET templates released with VS update 3. Check out the detailed tutorial on how to add this to your own project.

There are also some tooling improvements and changes relevant to ASP.NET developers -

  • Standard console application projects can now be published as continuous, triggered or scheduled WebJobs to the chosen Azure website, from within Visual Studio; no need to manually zip them up and upload to your Windows Azure account. WebJobs allow creation of long-running tasks to augment your front-ending website. For a quick introduction, check Scott Hanselman's article on this subject.
  • You can now use your Microsoft Account to configure ASP.NET apps from within Visual Studio to use Azure Active Directory (AD) for authentication. This essentially creates an entry for your application in Azure AD instead of having to set it up manually. Earlier, this task was possible via Visual Studio only using "native" directory users.
  • JSON editor improvements - Tiny improvements such as Auto-formatting, brace matching to make JSON editing more tolerable
  • CSS editor improvements - better intellisense for selectors level 4, auto-generated code on drag-and-drop of fonts, images and .css files from solution explorer
  • ASP.NET Facebook template, which was broken by recent Facebook API changes, was fixed in June and released as a new NuGet package Microsoft.AspNet.Facebook. Now the template has now been removed from VS project templates. The updated template will soon be available on the Visual Studio Gallery.

The Visual Studio cross-platform mobile development story via Apache Cordova (using HTML and JavaScript/TypeScript) began in-preview with Update 2. It continues to improve with Update 3 -

  • Support for Windows 7 and Windows 8
  • Systems diagnostic check to ensure the dev environment remains healthy. Also the installer now takes care of 3rd party tools and acquisitions
  • More debug targets for Android (<4.4), although using jsHybugger (for which you'll need a separate license)

A few users have complained about missing project templates after installing the update, which seems to require a clean-up and reinstall to fix. If you face this issue, get in touch with Xinyang Qui (xinqiu at microsoft dot com) and report the issue so he can help you fix it.

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