Kiosk Systems: Knowledge base for software professionals – Technology backgrounder


About kiosks

……. Kiosks were common in Persia, India, Pakistan, and in the Ottoman Empire from the 13th century onward ……. Indian Kiosk are generally called “Gumti” and sometimes “khokha” too……..

 The first self-service, interactive kiosk was developed in 1977 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by a pre-med student, Murray Lappe. …….       

–    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

 

Introduction

Kiosk has been part of human life for many years and centuries. Above quote also focuses on how technology impacted kiosk to be operated independently to serve mankind. In modern world kiosk is not just a computer with a touch screen enclosed in a box – it is an integration of Mechanical, Computer Hardware, Software, Peripherals and Embedded Controllers, and to build it requires high order domain expertise and intellectual power.

This whitepaper targets
• Technical audiences who want to develop kiosk systems
• Organizations willing to start sale through kiosks
• Functional beginners who want to possess basic knowledge of the kiosk systems

In IT world it is a common scenario where client provides business objectives and high level requirement to build the complete system and they are not in a position to provide all the details of the system one is expecting to be developed.

The objective of this paper is to educate readers and help make them comfortable in developing kiosk systems

Business Scenarios

Some of the popular business examples where organizations around the world are building kiosk systems are Digital Photo Kiosk, Bill Payment Kiosk, School Kiosk, Prepaid Electricity Kiosk, Internet Kiosk, Ticketing Kiosk etc.

Based on the business intend of the kiosk one need to set the focus on certain aspects of the kiosk, like Digital Photo Kiosk uses internal printer to print pictures instantly, so printer functionality becomes the main focus here. Hence simple user interface and high quality printer will be the best expected option.

In cases like School Kiosk, student friendly user interface is a major concern. Parents top up students smart cards to avoid cash in school transactions, here smart card reader and cash acceptor devices play a major role. School kiosk can use thermal printers for receipt printing, as their receipts are not required to be preserved for long time, so thermal printer is ideal solution. Smart card reader should be contact less reader so that students can easily operate them and no need to have physical contact with the reader. Better cash acceptor minimizes the support efforts in case of failed transactions.

Designing Internet kiosk is major challenge in terms of security where in user is allowed to browse the web. Internet kiosks may not need many peripherals but better control on user’s access rights to minimize virus attacks. Security threats are major concerns.

Prepaid Electricity Kiosk is used to top up credit through consumer’s smart cards, and then the smart card can be inserted into electricity meter at home which allows equivalent amount of electricity to consume. Such system uses contact smart card reader for read/write operations along with receipt printer. Card reading and writing speed of the reader should be major focus here.

Ticketing Kiosk is used to vend tickets and provide various other allied services as a single window for the user. These kiosks have very user friendly interface as the user may not be computer savvy and have less patience to understand the functioning. User can perform multiple functions from such kiosk ranging from finding a train schedule, fare calculation between two stations, seat availability, ticket status and ticket issuance.

 System Architecture

 Major components in the system are

1. Kiosk – This is a PC where kiosk application is running with peripherals

2. Server – Server runs the business logic

3. Database Server – for storage of data

4. Back office application – This application component is required to manage kiosks & their peripherals

Kiosk Software Architecture
1. Device monitoring: This monitoring ensures that all the peripherals are ready for use.
2. Remote Management software: Utility for kiosk remote management
3. Multimedia support: Any utility/third party software for enhanced graphical support like Adobe flash/ Microsoft Silverlight / DirectX technology.
4. OS tamper proofing: This is the most important software running on kiosk, this software restricts user accessing computer resources. User should not be able to modify registry values or system files.

Software and Hardware Components

Software Components

System Software

First thing comes to mind while designing kiosk is kiosk operating system. One has to choose the OS for various parameters like

* Integration with any existing system
* Ease of management by team
* Security
* Initial Purchase cost
* Maintenance Cost
* Future Support fomr OS manufacturer

The three main contenders in the kiosk OS market are

o Microsoft Windows

o Linux

o Apple

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft provides complete family of products those can be used as kiosk OS like

• Windows XP Embedded
• Windows Embedded POSReady 2009
• Windows CE 5.0
• Windows Embedded CE 6.0
• Windows XP Professional
• Windows XP Embedded is one of the mostly used OS on kiosk
• XP Embedded is much cheaper to license and this version of XP is pretty stable and can be tailored to Windows XP and deploy on embedded version without change
• XP Embedded has a great future as Windows Embedded Standard is a next generation of Windows XP Embedded
• Another special OS from Microsoft is Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 for point of sale solutions.
• Embedded POSReady has features for seamless connectivity with peripherals, servers and services
• Windows CE 5.0 is a distinctly different operating system and kernel, rather than a trimmed-down version of desktop Windows
• Windows CE 5.0 is best choice if you need to change OS code for hardware interfacing or some special reason. A distinctive feature of Windows CE compared to other Microsoft operating systems is that large parts of it are offered in source code form. Products like Platform Builder (an integrated environment for Windows CE OS image creation and integration, or customized operating system designs based on CE) offered several components in source code form to the general public.
• Windows Embedded CE 6.0(a renamed version of Windows CE 6.0) OS can be used to develop small footprint devices with a componentized, real-time operating system. OS image of size 300KB can be built with 700 components. When size is a matter of concern use this OS.
• Windows XP Professional is one of the most widely used OS for Kiosk similar to Embedded XP version.  Windows XP Professional is easily upgraded with the latest hot fix or service pack.
• You can use Windows XP Professional for kiosk because of its robustness and most stable OS in the market nowadays. It has come out of all the hardware interface related problems that it had initially.
• XP Professional enjoys the latest development technologies for building the kiosk applications such as Microsoft .Net framework, Windows Presentation foundation, Microsoft Silverlight technology.
• The XP Embedded will not have the same end-user help functionality available in Windows XP Pro
• XP Embedded is componentized version of Windows XP Professional, hence you can develop on embedded version without change
• XP Embedded has a great future as Windows Embedded Standard is a next generation of Windows XP Embedded
• Another special OS from Microsoft is Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 for point of sale solutions.
• Embedded POSReady has features for seamless connectivity with peripherals, servers and services
• Windows CE 5.0 is a distinctly different operating system and kernel, rather than a trimmed-down version of desktop Windows
• Windows CE 5.0 is best choice if you need to change OS code for hardware interfacing or some special reason. A distinctive feature of Windows CE compared to other Microsoft operating systems is that large parts of it are offered in source code form. Products like Platform Builder (an integrated environment for Windows CE OS image creation and integration, or customized operating system designs based on CE) offered several components in source code form to the general public.
• Windows Embedded CE 6.0(a renamed version of Windows CE 6.0) OS can be used to develop small footprint devices with a componentized, real-time operating system. OS image of size 300KB can be built with 700 components. When size is a matter of concern use this OS.
• Windows XP Professional is one of the most widely used OS for Kiosk similar to Embedded XP version.  Windows XP Professional is easily upgraded with the latest hot fix or service pack.

• You can use Windows XP Professional for kiosk because of its robustness and most stable OS in the market nowadays. It has come out of all the hardware interface related problems that it had initially.

• XP Professional enjoys the latest development technologies for building the kiosk applications such as Microsoft .Net framework, Windows Presentation foundation, Microsoft Silverlight technology.

Linux
• Linux OS is also used for Kiosk because its bit more stable and secure
• If you want to take advantage of open source nature of Linux, you may choose this OS
• Before you take decision make sure that it requires better understanding of OS to implement and manage the kiosk when you start doing a lot of custom work or integration with third party components, hardware, etc., it would be necessary.
• Linux also has embedded version but is not so popular in kiosk world
• Internet kiosk are popular using Linux ( RedHat Linux)

Apple 
You will find very few people using Mac based kiosk e.g. WKiosk by App4Mac. It’s not so popular as Kiosk OS.

OS/2
IBM OS/2 was the most popular OS for building ATM’s but after IBM announced that they are discontinuing the OS/2 industry support after December 2004. There are very few kiosks build using this OS those too very initially.

From security point of view any kiosk OS your choose has to be secured from public access.User should not be able to tamper OS underneath. Few steps must be taken to secure OS from tampering.

Here are the few ways so run XP in kiosk mode (secure) 
1. Use Group Management Policy console to restrict access to public user which is a restricted user, so that kiosk user cannot change/tamper OS files
2. There are several custom programs from vendors like SiteKiosk, Kioware,SoftStack etc which offers a great secure shell incorporated for your kiosk application
3. Use Windows SteadyState shared access computing tool for Windows XP and above to restrict
access to kiosk OS and data. It’s freely available with licensed copies of Windows XP and
Windows Vista 32 bit OS. Windows SteadyState tool is the next version of Microsoft shared computer toolkit.

Application Software

Several development platforms and technologies are available for developing software.
Care should be taken while selecting development platform, languages, and tools for the development.

 Guidelines

1. Choose languages, platform, library which is the latest one and has life for at least next 10 years
2. While selecting any third party tool/library/control make sure that source code of it is available with you
3. Always follow best practices demonstrated by giant IT players like Microsoft, Sun etc
4. Kiosk development is similar to any other product except high level of modularity should be achieved for easy deployment and software upgrades.
5. Application should not only satisfy functionality but also performance, usability, maintainability
6. Choosing RDBMS is also crucial decision, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle are major RDBMS in the market, considering network of 100 kiosks SQL server is most preferred.
7. Before purchasing any hardware perform proof-of-concept and confirm that hardware is compatible with application your building and OS.

Hardware Components

 This section describes the most commonly used devices in the kiosk system

1. Printer: This section focuses on thermal printers only, which is the most preferred printer for kiosk.
It’s very important to choose a printer after proper analysis.  Ask below questions to yourself

1. Usage – number of chits printed per day  
2. Printing speed
3. Output quality i.e. paper size and color
4. What is the initial investment
5. Consumables and maintenance charges
6. Printer form factor
7. Support for different fonts
8. Support for graphics printing

List to cross check before you select thermal printer –

• Print method – should be direct thermal and not thermal transfer method
• Fonts available
• Column capacity
• Character size, character set, characters per inch
• Interface – RS232,USB etc
• Print Speed – e.g. 170mm/sec
• Paper dimensions
• Driver support
• EMC and safety standards
• Mass – kilograms
• Auto paper cutter availability
• High MTBF

Examples: Epson, CADMUS
 

 2. Cash Acceptor Devices:

Despite the growing popularity of alternate payment methods, cash remains a popular form of payment.
Following points should be considered while selecting cash acceptor
1. Find out the number of transactions per day and total capacity of the cash acceptor, usually its in the range of 500-1000 cash notes
2. How many denominations do you want to accept through kiosk system
3. Maintenance cost considering long time use
4. You want acceptor to accept single note at a time or multiple notes, how notes should be stored, separate denominations in separate compartments or same.
Check time required to validate the note and move note into cash box
5. Future enhancement capabilities of the note acceptor should be demonstrated considering possibilities of changes in the security measures in notes in future by the government
6. Same note acceptor should be able to configure for validating currencies for different countries, usually this can be done by changing the validation logic in embedded IC
7. Cash acceptor should support kiosk application know about
o Total cash present in the cash box,
o Any errors occurred in the note validation
o Cashbox full notification
o Complete log of events happening inside note acceptor for trouble shooting purposes
8. It’s a common problem with cash acceptors, if they kept running long time without reset or after few years of use, they start jamming and inserted notes either remains without getting stacked properly, sometime even it can damage the note by winding it.
9. Verify the type of interface available with cash acceptor RS232, USB etc
10. Power requirements. Usually its DC 24 V, 10Amps
11. Check the weight, size of the acceptor. It should fit into kiosk cabinet.
12. Cash recognition method i.e. optical , magnetic etc

3. Smart card Reader/Writer

There are two types of card readers used with kiosk. Following are the points to be considered while selecting card reader

Contact Smart Card Reader/Writer:

• Interface – prefer USB
• Easy of use
• Smart card acceptor-Landing type (ensures longer card life and minimum damage to the cards outer surface)
• Firmware should be easily upgradeable for future updates
• Power source should be USB
• Check whether your smart card reader has passed Microsoft windows hardware quality lab certification program.
• Card reader confirms to the ISO 7816, PC/SC specification, and PC/SC driver should be available

Contact less Smart Card Reader/Writer
• Easy for use
• Operation LED indicator
• Buzzer should be available
• High-speed transactions
• Should have USB interface avoid RS232 interface
• Confirms PC/SC 2.0 specification
• RoHS Compliant
• CE and FCC Compliant
• Confirms ISO/IEC 14443 or ISO 15693 which allows communications at distances up to 50 cm.

Graphical User Interface guidelines –

Do’s

•Large buttons
•Use textured background
•Make touchable areas obvious
•Limit choices
•Keep user guiding as much possible
•Have simple navigation buttons like back, forward, start
•User should be notified on button click by some beep sound, use 3-D button effect
•Use standard layout for numeric screen similar to ATMs or mobile
•Keep simple English message or messages in regional languages
•Display user name somewhere on screen
•User should not know OS underneath
•Let your GUI promote your company brand 

Don’ts

•No title bar
•No start menu
•No double clicking any where
•No pull down menus
•No scrolling or scroll bars
•No dragging or dropping
•Do not use web application as kiosk application
•Turn the cursor off
•Avoid black color for background
•Avoid solid colors
•Don’t change themes at a level where user will get confused by seeing change
•Avoid too many animating objects on the screen

Disaster Recovery

Guidelines

1.Disaster recovery plan should be ready while preparing design of the kiosk system. Plan should be prepared for cases considering software crashes, database corruption, server /hardware failures, network outages, theft, software viruses, unauthorized access or hacking etc
2.Whenever disaster happens recover data which is at logically complete state
3.Kiosk system should have ability to disable certain features temporarily to avoid further losses
4.Remote access to kiosk should be available at any point of time
5.Data loss due to disaster can be minimized by taking regular database backups
6.Transactions should be uploaded to server as soon as they are completed. If your kiosk support offline transactions mode, take care that transaction data is not stored on the kiosk for long time.
7.Refer ISO/IEC 24762:2008 standard for more information

Troubleshooting

Guidelines

1. Implement software and hardware logs
2. Implement email alerts on certain exceptions
3. Keep SQL queries ready to find out the mismatch in the database
4. Perform device test at every restart, don’t allow transaction if this test fails
5. Implement uniform Error code methodology, one should easily relate error code to error source

Tools
1. LogParser Utility – to parse log files and analyze the problem
2. Implement optional application instrumentation to capture application specific information

Here are some tools for remote control of kiosk
Microsoft Windows: Symntec PCAnywhere,GotoMyPC,LogMeIn Pro, radmin, RDC, rdesktop
Linux: Symntec PcAnywhere,GotoMyPc,KRDC,LogMein Pro, rdesktop
Mac OSX:Symntec PcAnywhere, Apple Remote Desktop, LogMein Pro,rdesktop

Security

Guidelines:

1. The Payment Card Industry (PCI), Security Standards Council has taken several steps in managing the data security standards that govern the industry.
2. Encryption methodology should be implemented for sensitive data and logging
3. Remote monitoring tool should be used
4. Provide adequate virus protection(Block not required ports, firewall restrictions)
5. Focus User & Network Access Management
6. Operating system access control
7. Kiosk application should not get affected by attacks like SQL injection, validate every user input before processing it.
8. Refer SO/IEC 17799 and BS7799-2 / ISO27001 standards for more information

 
Change Management and Software upgrades


Guidelines

1. Software upgrades are usually done in phased manner
2. Kiosk and server communication should happen through ‘process codes’ defined, this will help server to be always backward compatible
3. Kiosk application should have one report for viewing versions of the application components (Executables, DLLs, images, themes)
4. Smoke test should be performed after every upgrade

Tools
1. Use next release of Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS), i.e. System Center Configuration Manager 2007 for task automation, compliance management, and policy based security management allowing for increased business agility.
2. Use BITS (Binary intelligence transfer service) technology for file transfer

Invalid ViewState Error – Validation of ViewState MAC failed


Validation of viewstate MAC failed. If this application is hosted by a Web Farm or cluster, ensure that <machineKey> configuration specifies the same validationKey and validation algorithm. AutoGenerate cannot be used in a cluster.

 

In above exception viewstate is not getting validated/authenticated by the server. This happens when encryption key used for encrypting viewstate does not match on different servers in the web farm.
When we deploy an asp.net web application into a web farm environment, each web servers machine.config or web.config must specify the same key used for encrypting the view state. As view state is encrypted for security reasons and each machine.config on each web server will have a different key so they must all be the same. If they are different then viewstate created by one server will not be understood by other server and hence the above error.
Instead of editing machine.config file which may affect other applications running on the same server.
Best way is to add a machineKey element into each of the web server’s web.config and define the same keys and algorithm.
The machineKey goes under the System.web node. for e.g.
<machineKey validation=”SHA1″ validationKey=”A1B2C3D4E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1A1B2C3D4E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1A1B2C3D4 E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1A1B2C3D4E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1A1B2C3D4E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1B2C3D4E5″
decryption=”Auto” decryptionKey=”A1B2C3D4E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1A1B2C3D4E5F6F6E5D4C3B2A1″ />
for machinekey setting parameters you can refer http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/w8h3skw9.aspx

There are few more reasons why this error may occure, Like while trouble shooting –

1. Please check Application Pool Recycling settings in the IIS, IIS keeps on recycling the application pool to maintain the applications health. During this recycling process requests from the client may get into invalid viewstate situation.The fix in this case is to adjust the settings on the application pools so that recycling is less likely to occur at peak periods
2. Any Antivirus software or firewall settings may diesect the viewstate, creating difficulty for sever to validate the viewstate.
3. Improper Form Posts- Viewstate can only be posted back to the same page.  Attempting to post an aspx form to another page will fail with a viewstate invalid exception. This behavior is by design and obvious.
Some developers choose to disable the encryption of viewstate(ViewStateEncryptionMode =ViewStateEncryptionMode.Never) which is bad design, encryption is required so that no one should tamper the view state.

What should go in technical specifications document ?


Introduction

Technical specifications documents(TSD) plays a major role in conveying understanding of the project to any reader. Typically in the software industry there are two types of users who refer to TSD.

 1..Developers, Project Managers who will be directly working on the Project

2. Client Personnels like Technical architect, CIO’s, Project Managers

 I personally believe there should be two documents created for each intended audience. The reason is each set of user expects certain things from the document which may prove unnecessary to the other.

Document for customer overlook:

Generally customer approves the technical design, so it is obvious to convince the customer and assure him that all the technical details are covered in the document and system can meet desired goals. So while preparing document it is very necessary cover all such points those will help convincing the client techincal person. Technical architect from client will not be interested to know details at class levels or class diagrams, he will be interested to know Whether system is complying its requirements, those may be interms of

– Functionality,

– Performance,

– Deployement environment,

– Network requirements etc

and finally how you are depicting the overall architecture,

– Which technologies you are proposing,

– Is there any third party component used,

– Are there any licensing considerations,

– Need more hardware to be purchased

– Which best practices you are proposing etc .

So one should prepare a document may be consists of  around 25-30 pages which will provide complete outlook of the system.

 Document for Development team:

Development team is actual user of the document, they will be interested in knowing internals of the system. How system is divided into parts, how each part works, their dependencies, sequence, resuse, specific performance considerations, best practices and their details etc.It will be good if you can provide some sample programs and links to documentation sites for their further study.

 Although, it differs from organization to organization whether single document is prepared or more than one. I am providing list of topics/areas those should be considered in the TSD.

 1. Overall High Level Architecture(block diagrams)

2. Detail architecture(block diagrams)

3. Component diagram/architecture

4. Technological implementation of each component or module( if different languages used for respective module)

5. How components will be packaged and will be made ready for installation/deployment(Software Packing)

6. Sequence diagrams for important operations

7. Deployment methodology( e.g. clickonce deployment, XCOPY)

8. Folder structure( Development as well as deployment)

9. How components or assemblies would be versioned and source controlled

10. Dataflow diagrams

11. State Diagrams

12. Deployement diagrams

13. Network Architecture

14. How Logging /Event Logging/Email alerts will be implemented

15. How data( database, log files) purging will be done

16. Reporting methodology used(SSRS, CR and why?)

17. Naming conventions( Coding, assemblies, database objects)

18. Tiered and Layered Architecture

19. Security aspects and requirements( Application and network)

20. Performance aspects and requirements( Load testing methodology)

21. Pluggable and generic components

22. Highlight design patterns used

23. Database diagrams(ERD)

24. Disaster recovery plans and considerations in the application

25. Encryption methodology

26. How exceptions are handled

27. Class diagrams

28. Important algorithms

29. Usability Aspects

30. Data access technology proposed

31. Performance counters ( for troubleshooting)

Hope this is helpful !

Laxmikant Patil

Windows Azure platform – Tools and Utilities


 

I was looking for tools available on Windows Azure Platform, thought to share with you all. Certainly this is not the complete list available out there but I found these are useful to start with. My next post will cover few more tools –

1. Windows Azure Monitoring Management Pack(http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=4f05f282-f23a-49da-8133-7146ee19f249):

Windows Azure Monitoring Management Pack enables you to monitor the availability and performance of applications that are running on Windows Azure.
 
 
Feature Summary
• Discovers Windows Azure applications.
• Provides status of each role instance.
• Collects and monitors performance information.
• Collects and monitors Windows events.
• Collects and monitors the .NET Framework trace messages from each role instance.
• Grooms performance, event, and the .NET Framework trace data from Windows Azure storage account.
• Changes the number of role instances via a task.
 
2. CloudXplorer from clumfsyleaf(http://clumsyleaf.com/products/cloudxplorer):
CloudXplorer is a rich UI client for browsing Windows Azure blob storage.
 
Feature Summary
  • Copy and move blobs between folders, containers or even different accounts.
     
  • Rename and delete blobs, create new containers and folders.
     
  • Upload local files/directories and downloadblobs or entire blob folders.
  • Supports downloading/uploading of page blobs.
  • Auto-resume upload of large files.

3.Windows Azure Stoarge Explorer(http://azurestorageexplorer.codeplex.com/): Azure Storage Explorer is a useful GUI tool for inspecting and altering the data in your Windows Azure Storage storage projects including the logs of your cloud-hosted applications. All 3 types of cloud storage can be viewed and edited: blobs, queues, and tables.

The Windows Azure Traffic Manager provides several methods of distributing internet traffic among two or more hosted services, all accessible with the same URL, in one or more Windows Azure datacenters. It uses a heartbeat to detect the availability of a hosted service. The Traffic Manager provides various ways of handling the lack of availability of a hosted service.
 
5.   Sqlcmd utility(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee336280.aspx): You can connect to Microsoft SQL Azure Database with the sqlcmd command prompt utility that is included with SQL Server. The sqlcmd utility lets you enter Transact-SQL statements, system procedures, and script files at the command prompt. 
 
6.   SQL Server Management studio(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#ssms): The SQL Server Management Studio from SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2 Express can be used to access, configure, manage and administer SQL Azure Database. Previous versions of SQL Server Management Studio are not supported.
 
You can transfer data to SQL Azure Database by using the bulk copy utility (BCP.exe). The bcp utility bulk copies data between an instance of Microsoft SQL Server and a data file in a user-specified format. The bcp utility can be used to import large numbers of new rows into SQL Server tables or to export data out of tables into data files.
 
8.  SQL Azure Reporting(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#azurereport): The Customer Technology Preview of SQL Azure Reporting is also available. Microsoft SQL Azure Reporting is a cloud-based reporting service built on SQL Azure Database, SQL Server, and SQL Server Reporting Services technologies. You can publish, view, and manage reports that display data from SQL Azure data sources.
 
9.  SQL Server Management Objects(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#ssmo): A partial set of SQL Server Management Objects (SMO) are enabled by SQL Azure Database. The partial set of SMO are only enabled in order to provide Management Studio access to SQL Azure.
 
10. Sql Server Migration Assistant(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#ssma): Starting with the SQL Server Migration Assistant 2008 for Access version 4.2 release, SSMA enables migrating Microsoft Access schema and data to SQL Azure Database and adds support for Access 2010 databases.
 
11. Data –tier applications(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#datatier):Starting with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, data-tier applications (DACs) are introduced to help developers and database administrators to package schemas and objects into a single entity called DAC package.SQL Azure Database supports deleting, deploying, extracting, registering, and in-place upgrading DAC packages. SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 included the DAC Framework 1.0, which supported only side-by-side upgrades.
 
12. Generate and publish script wizard(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#generate):You can use the Generate and Publish Scripts Wizard to transfer a database from a local computer to SQL Azure Database.The Generate and Publish Scripts Wizard creates Transact-SQL scripts for your local database and the wizard uses them to publish database objects to SQL Azure Database.
 
13. Cerebrata Cloud Studio(http://www.cerebrata.com/products/cloudstoragestudio/):Cloud Storage Studio is a Windows (WPF) based client for managing Windows Azure Storage, an important component of Microsoft’s Azure (Microsoft’s Cloud) platform and Hosted Applications.
 
The utility will perform a series of data-upload and -download tests using sample data and collect measurements of throughput, which are displayed at the end of the test, along with other statistics.
  
15. SpaceBlock File transfer utility(http://spaceblock.codeplex.com/): SpaceBook is a simple Windows front-end for managing Amazon S3, Nirvanix, Azure Blob Storage, and now Sun Cloud Object Storage online service accounts.
 
16. Windows Azure Management Tool(http://wapmmc.codeplex.com/): The Windows Azure Platform Management Tool (MMC) enables you to easily manage your Windows Azure hosted services and storage accounts.  This tool is provided as a sample with complete source code so you can see how perform various management and configuration tasks using the Windows Azure Management and Diagnostics APIs. 
 
17. CSPAck utility(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd179441.aspx#Subheading2): The CSPack Command-Line Tool packages your service to be deployed to the Windows Azure fabric. The cspack.exe utility generates a service package file that you can upload to Windows Azure via the Windows Azure Platform Management Portal. By default the package is named.cspkg, but you can specify a different name if you choose.
 
18. AzureWatch utility(http://www.softsea.com/download/AzureWatch.html): AzureWatch aggregates and analyzes performance counters, queue lengths, and other metrics and matches that data against user-defined rules. When a rule produces a “hit”, a scaling action or a notification occurs.
 
19. Windows Azure Bootstrapper(http://bootstrap.codeplex.com/):
The Windows Azure Bootstrapper is a command line tool meant to be used by your running Web and Worker roles in Windows Azure.  This tool allows you to easily download resources (either public resources or ones in your blob storage), extract them if necessary, and launch them.  Since you don’t want to always download and run during restarts, it will also help track those dependencies and only launch an installer one time!  In addition, there are some very useful features that make it a great tool to package with your roles.
 
20. Windows Azure GAC Viewer (http://gacviewer.cloudapp.net/)
This tool shows you a dynamically generated list of all of the assemblies present in the GAC for an Azure instance. Additionally, it also allows you to upload your project file (*.csproj or *.vbproj) to have the references scanned and let you know if there are any discrepancies between what you are using and what is available (by default) in Azure.
 

21. Azure Database Upload(http://azuredatabaseupload.codeplex.com/):

This utility will allow users to take the data from a SQL Server database and upload it in their Azure table storage account. It provides an easy to use GUI to read data from a SQL Server and upload it into specified Azure table storage.
 

22. Azure file upload(http://azurefileupload.codeplex.com/):

This utility will allow users to take the data from a delimited flat file and upload it in their Azure table storage account. It provides an easy to use GUI to read data from a delimited flat file and upload it into specified Azure table storage.
 

23. DocaAzure utilities(http://www.softpedia.com/get/Programming/Components-Libraries/DocaAzure.shtml) :  DocaAzure is a handy package that contains various utilities to help you with your Windows Azure development. DocaAzure is developed in C# and includes:

* Lightweight messaging framework
* IDbSet implementation for Azure Tables
* SMTP relay and server
* Azure Tables & Blobs Backup to the same or other Storage Account
* Some other useful utilities 

 
CloudBerry Explorer for Windows Azure Blob Storage. CloudBerry Explorer makes managing files in Azure Blob Storage EASY. By providing a user interface to Azure Blob Storage CloudBerry lets you manage your files on Azure just as you would on local computer.
 
25. Windows Azure Powershell CmdLets(http://wappowershell.codeplex.com/):
The Windows Azure Platform PowerShell Cmdlets enable you to browse, configure, and manage Windows Azure Compute and Storage services directly from PowerShell.  These tools can be helpful when developing and testing applications that use Windows Azure Services.  For instance, using these tools you can easily script the deployment and upgrade of Windows Azure applications, change the configuration for a role, and set and manage your diagnostic configuration. 
 
26. Windows Azure Hosted Services VM Manager(http://azureinstancemanager.codeplex.com/): Windows Azure Hosted Services VM Manager is a Windows Service that can manage the number of hosted services (VM’s) running in Azure on either a time based schedule or by CPU load. This allows the application to scale either dynamically or on a timed schedule.
 
27. Windows Azure Guidance(http://wag.codeplex.com/):

This is open source prokect, The key themes for these projects are providing guidance on below scenarios –

1. Moving to the Cloud
2. Developing for the Cloud
3. Integrating the Cloud

 
28. FTP to Azure Blob Storage Bridge(http://ftp2azure.codeplex.com/)
Deployed in a worker role, the code creates an FTP server that can accept connections from all popular FTP clients (like FileZilla, for example) for command and control of your blob storage account.
 
29. Storage Explorer online app(http://storageexplorer.cloudapp.net/login.aspx):Windows Azure Web Storage Explorer makes it easier for developers to browse and manage Blobs, Queues and Tables from Windows Azure Storage account. You’ll no longer have to install a local client to do that. It’s developed in C#.
 
Hope this is useful !
 
Laxmikant Patil