The Azure portal is the primary graphical user interface (GUI) for controlling Microsoft Azure. You can carry out the majority of management actions in the portal, and it is typically the best interface for carrying out single tasks or where you want to look at the configuration options in detail.
In the left-hand sidebar of the portal is the resource pane, which lists the main resource types. Note that Azure has more resource types than just those shown. The resources listed are part of your favorites.
You can customize this with the specific resource types you tend to create or administer most often.
You can also collapse this pane; with the << caret. This will minimize it to just icons which can be convenient if you are working with limited screen real-estate.
The remainder of the portal view is for the specific elements you are working with. The default (main) page is the dashboard. We’ll cover this a bit later, but this represents a customizable birds-eye-view of your resources. You can use it to jump into specific resources you want to manage, or search for resources with the All resources entry in the resource panel. When you are managing a resource, such as a virtual machine or a web app, you will work with a blade that presents specific information about the resource.
What is a blade?
The Azure portal uses a blades model for navigation. A blade is a slide-out panel containing the UI for a single level in a navigation sequence. For example, each of these elements in this sequence would be represented by a blade: Virtual machines > Compute > Ubuntu Server.
Each blade contains some information and configurable options. Some of these options generate another blade, which reveals itself to the right of any existing blade. On the new blade, any further configurable options will spawn another blade, and so on. Pretty soon, you can end up with several blades open at the same time. You can maximize blades as well so that they fill the entire screen.
Since new blades are always added to the right of the owner, you can use the scrollbar at the bottom of the window to go backwards to see how you got to this spot in the configuration. Alternatively, you can close blades individually by clicking the
X button in the top corner of the blade. If you have unsaved changes, Azure will prompt you to let you know that the changes will be lost if you continue.
Configuring settings in the Azure portal
The Azure portal displays several configuration options, mostly in the status bar at the top-right of the screen.
Clicking the bell icon displays the Notifications pane. This pane lists the last actions that have been carried out, along with their status.
If you click the Cloud Shell icon (>_), you will create a new Azure Cloud Shell session. Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, browser-accessible shell for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work. Linux users can opt for a Bash experience, while Windows users can opt for PowerShell. This browser-based terminal lets you control and administer all of your Azure resources in the current subscription through a command-line interface built right into the portal.
Click the gear icon to change the Azure portal settings. These settings include:
- Logout time
- Color and contrast themes
- Toast notifications (to a mobile device)
- Language and regional format
When you have changed settings, click Apply to accept your changes.
The smiley face icon opens the Send us feedback blade. Here you can send feedback to Microsoft about Azure. Note that you can specify whether Microsoft can respond to your feedback by email.
Click the question mark icon to show the Help blade. Here you choose from several options, including:
- What’s new
- Azure roadmap
- Launch guided tour
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Show diagnostics
- Privacy + terms
Directory and subscription
Click the Book and Filter icon to show the Directory + subscription blade.
Azure allows you to have more than one subscription associated with one directory. On the Directory + subscriptionblade, you can change between subscriptions. Here, you can change your subscription or change to another directory.
If you click on your name in the top right-hand corner, a menu opens with a few options:
- Sign in with another account, or sign out entirely
- View your account profile, where you can change your password
- Check your permissions
- View your bill (click the “…” button on the right-hand side)
- Update your contact information (click the “…” button on the right-hand side)
If you click “…” and then View my bill, Azure takes you to the Cost Management + Billing – Invoices page, which helps you analyze where Azure is generating costs.
Azure is a large product, and the Azure portal user interface (UI) reflects this. The sliding blade approach allows you to navigate back and forth through the various administration tasks with ease. Let’s experiment a bit with this UI so you get some practice.