Deploying a NodeJS App on Azure

Connecting to Azure

This article link explains how to gets started, install the Azure CLI, and login to your subscription and Azure Active Directory.

Basic Node ‘Hello World’ on Azure

This article link is a very basic how-to of a Node App on Azure. It does not cover node_modules but has useful links at the bottom:

Custom Node versions on Azure

This page covers NodeJS versions supported on Azure and how to define your required version in package.json:

It provides a way to specify a custom version of Node using just a IISNode.yml config and a deployed node.exe version in a bin folder. However this did not seem to work without a and .deployment files - see more explanation below.

This page explains some of the initial limitations with node_modules on Azure and the requirement for a custom deployment to get Azure to auto-install your dependencies:

This blog post eventually provided me with the info for defining custom deployment:

NB I just ran azure site deploymentscript --node and did not change the generated file. It then auto-installed my node_modules using npm-shrinkwrap.json (that I had previously generated in my gulp pipeline) as part of the pre-defined steps (in

NB Customising to do different things does sort-of work, but triggered a security error when adding explicit npm commands outside of an if block, e.g npm i some-module.

I was trying to fix a missing module error in a sub-dependency. I did not test this theory but think you need to configure customisation using the $POST_DEPLOYMENT_ACTION stub defined in, and then define an app setting to be picked up by the stub.

One other thought - I did npm shrinkwrap but I didn’t do npm dedupe which might be another way of solving npm dependency gremlins on azure.

NB I had tried the more simple approach of just adding a IISNode.yml file and a bin directory containing a custom version of node.exe and then the following in the yml nodeProcessCommandLine: "D:\home\site\wwwroot\bin\node.exe". Without the and .deployment the deployment failed with the following error log excerpt:

remote: Running custom deployment command...
remote: Running deployment command...
remote: bash: No such file or directory
remote: Error - Changes committed to remote repository but deployment to website failed.

This would indicate that the presence of IISNode.yml automatically infers a custom deployment, which then requires a mandatory

Setting DB connection strings and environment variables on your Node Web App

Use the management console configure tab to set DB connection strings and app environment variables (app settings).

This now seems to be under Settings > Application settings. Then App settings for node environment variables (secrets etc), and Connection strings for DB connection strings.

NB I used MongoDB as a _custom_ connection string. This changes the name of the variable in your app, a CUSTOMCONNSTR_ prefix is added - so MONGOLAB_URI becomes CUSTOMCONNSTR_MONGOLAB_URI.


This page is massively useful for setting up logging and tail for debugging (need to generate a IISNode.yml file if you don’t have one yet):

FTP access when all else fails

To fix a node_modules issue for a npm-shrinkwrap.json file that had a missing dependency, I had to manually add the missing dependency module with ftp. I could not get Azure CLI to re-install one nested submodule.

Azure CLI commands for web apps

This page documents commands to manage your web apps via the Azure CLI:

MIME types

I was serving static JSON and getting a 404, this link explained why:

NB the web.config was auto-generated from settings in the azure web console when I deployed for the first time. I edited and overwrote this file via FTP.

Read the comment further down the page on making this technique more secure, by adding the following line <remove fileExtension=".json" /> before the MIME definition. I don’t fully understand this security issue - comments anyone?

Written on October 6, 2015