I have blogged before about this Excel Nuget package where you don’t need to use interop and have Excel installed on the server. And my journey to start this Azure Function. This is because the most recent Excel format uses xml under the cover in a zipped file stored as a file with an xlsx extension. Since you do not have hard disk access in a serverless environment like Azure Functions you need to generate the Excel in memory (or store stuff in blob storage). I chose the in memory to leave no footprints or take up space in the cloud.

I wanted to use an Azure function to have it run in the cloud. Not being dependent on a Server which needs updates, reboots etc. Since the database already is in the Azure Cloud (Azure SQL) this seems a good/perfect fit.

I got the option to go for Azure function v1 or v2 which is in preview. So this was a nice opportunity to use the v2 and .Net Core/Standard. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-functions/functions-versions

The v2 also has support for the Office365 Graph. But that was out of (my) scope.

I took a timer based project because I wanted it to send an overview of invoices on a monthly basis. The Timer based project has a timer as data annotation based on CRON scheduling. There is however a small difference. Instead of 5 “fields” the Azure function has 6. It also let’s you schedule the seconds.


So not just: minutes, hours, day of month, month, day of week, year but seconds, minutes, hours, day of month, month, day of week, year. Of course the order is really important. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-functions/functions-bindings-timer#cron-expressions

I used this Nuget for the Excel export https://www.nuget.org/packages/EPPlus/

it has .Net Core support and will work perfectly.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Data;
using System.Data.SqlClient;
using System.IO;
using System.Net;
using System.Net.Mail;
using Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs;
using Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.Host;
using OfficeOpenXml;

namespace MonthlyMailInvoices
    public static class Function1
        public static void Run([TimerTrigger("10 0 0 1 * *")]TimerInfo myTimer, TraceWriter log)
            log.Info($"C# Timer trigger function executed at: {DateTime.Now}");

            var com = new SqlCommand("SELECT * FROM [dbo].[INVOICES] where invoicedate > @startdt and invoicedate < @enddt");

            com.Parameters.AddWithValue("startdt", DateTime.Now.AddMonths(-1));
            com.Parameters.AddWithValue("enddt", DateTime.Now.AddDays(-1));

            var dt = new DataTable();

            using (var con = new SqlConnection("connectionstring goes here"))
                com.Connection = con;
                var da = new SqlDataAdapter(com);

                log.Info($"start: {DateTime.Now.AddMonths(-1)} and end { DateTime.Now.AddDays(-1) } gave {dt.Rows.Count}");

            using (var wb = new ExcelPackage())
                wb.Workbook.Worksheets.Add("Our company");
                var ws = wb.Workbook.Worksheets[0];

                FillData(ws, dt, "Our company B.V.");

                var msg = new MailMessage();
                msg.Subject = "Montly invoices";
                msg.From = new MailAddress("the@cloud.com");
                msg.Body = $"Invoices from {DateTime.Now.AddMonths(-1)} to { DateTime.Now.AddDays(-1) } in the Excel attachment.";
                var ms = new MemoryStream(wb.GetAsByteArray());
                ms.Position = 0;

                //msg.Attachments.Add(new Attachment(ms, "Invoices.xlsx", "application/vnd.ms-excel"));
                msg.Attachments.Add(new Attachment(ms, "Invoices.xlsx", "application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet"));
                var smtp = new SmtpClient
                    Host = "smtp.gmail.com",
                    Port = 587,
                    EnableSsl = true,
                    Credentials = new NetworkCredential("my@gmailaccount.com", "incorrectpassword")

        private static void FillData(ExcelWorksheet ws, DataTable dt, string title)
            ws.Cells[1, 1].Value = title;

            ws.Cells[2, 1].Value = "Invoice nr";
            ws.Cells[2, 2].Value = "Invoice date";
            ws.Cells[2, 3].Value = "Amount inc. VAT";
            ws.Cells[2, 4].Value = "VAT";
            ws.Cells[2, 5].Value = "Amount exc. VAT";

            int row = 3;

            foreach (DataRow dr in dt.Rows)
                ws.Cells[row, 1].Value = dr[0].ToString();
                ws.Cells[row, 2].Value = dr[1].ToString();
                ws.Cells[row, 3].Value = dr[2].ToString();
                ws.Cells[row, 4].Value = dr[3].ToString();
                ws.Cells[row++, 5].Value = dr[4].ToString();

I could not test it locally because I had some issues with logins for my localdb. So I hit publish to deploy it on Azure. However republishing failed. I found the answer (as always) on StackOverflow. I had to add “MSDEPLOY_RENAME_LOCKED_FILES” and set it to 1 (true).


Tony gave the correct solution.

I also had issues with the Excel generating in memory and having the Memorystream to a byte array and providing the right Mime type. Found that too on SO.

The last bit was to automate deployment. I had my code in VSTS (git) and configured a CI/CD pipeline (build + release) But had issues to grant myself (personal account) global admin rights from our company account in order to be able to access Azure resources to deploy. It was a matter of time before the Azure rights/roles changes are active. It’s a nice small serverless function which you can (should) add to source control and ci/cd to automate the latest builds to a test or production environment in the cloud.

Good luck!

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Yeah! I am exited! Passed the MVC 70-486 this morning.

You can see it instantly on my Acclaim page or just view the screenshot below:


I want to earn an MCSD cert. So I am following the app builder path:


According to my learning dashboard I have just passed 1 of 2 requirements for the app builder cert. But when I click details, it shows I have both… that’s strange, but I have asked @MSLearning so I will have an answer soon.

I am already looking forward to the next exam and next cert.

If I would pass 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions and after that, will study for 70-535 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, then I’d get the:

MCSA: Cloud Platform Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate

What is your certification path for 2018?

Good luck!

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Perhaps it’s because I was still in holiday-mode, but I kept getting a 403 error. Even when I added a `helloworld.html` in the `.well-known` dir. Which was driving me crazy. I even thought it was .net Core 2.x related because all full framework sites were renewing just fine, both MVC and Webform applications.

The answer for my situation was in this comment:

Do you have both http/https binding? http binding is required for it to work.

I did, but I remembered something about forcing to SSL for this website.

I searched my code, but all I could find was commented out:



So how did I manage to force visitors to the SSL version? I could not remember it. There was also no URL rewriting in the web.config. It was a checkbox in IIS which I forgot that I ever changed that setting! (sorry for the Dutch screenshot of IIS 8.5)


It would be nice if the new version of Let’s Encrypt Win Simple would temporary disable it and afterwards restored it.

Here is the link to the latest version

Good luck and best wishes for 2018!

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As you might have noticed, there is no Paste as XML option under Edit –> Paste Special in the menu when you are working on .net Core applications.

The reason is actually very simple. The current project type has no build in serialization support for XML.

I only realized it after reading this post from codecalculated.com. But it has been mentioned in the Asp.Net Standup before. 

However, I have a workaround available for those who have Visual Studio Code installed. You should have it on your machine! It is so fast, responsive and lightweight (and free).

Fire up Visual Studio Code and hit Ctrl+P and type: ext install smartpaste


if you have it installed and reloaded Visual Studio Code you can invoke it with: Cltr + Shift + P and type: smart paste.

Select “Paste XML as JSON” (since xml to classes is not finished yet)

Copy the JSON output and switch to Visual Studio 2017 RC.


You can now paste your JSON as Classes Smile


Good luck!

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This is my solution explorer:


and this is my nuget package manager:


So The XmlSerializer is installed. Somehow the Newtonsoft.Json gives a yellow icon in the solution explorer. But no errors from that lib in the output window.

I thought that the nuget packagemanager or visual studio would auto restore all packages for me. Somehow it was fixed by manually running dotnet restore from the cli.

The whole tooling for .net core is still work in progress and I really liked working with preview 2 (1.0.1) in vs code with the project.json files.

Switching back to the csproj file makes it imho harder to work with vs code and makes using Visual Studio 2017 (community) almost required.

I really enjoyed working through the jonhilton tutorial for dotnet core.

But that does not work anymore, because 1.1 is out and project.json is gone.

I have used dotnet migrate to move from project.json to projectname.csproj and it returned zero errors/issues. But did not launch. No project was found according to msbuild. And after changing task.json it gave a lot of reference issues. So I started over in Visual Studio 2017 RC and have a lot more setup by default and less issues.

I see that the whole development of dotnet core is moving forward fast. But I really enjoyed the development experience with vs code and the jonhilton tutorial. I hope that it will come back, or that someone will make a similar tutorial for vs code with dotnet 1.1 and mvc (and kestrel, because vs2017 has iis express as default webserver)

Looking forward to all the new bits and pieces and will keep updating vs code (insider) and dotnet core.

I hope the suggestion of the manual dotnet restore helped someone.


good luck!

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