VM Depot has become the go-to location for community maintained open source virtual machine images for Microsoft Azure. Since the site launched nearly two years ago, VM Depot has helped people to discover, deploy, test and use open source software in the cloud. In recent months, we realized that the site had quite simply grown too big for its britches. We therefore decided to act on user feedback and update the catalogue in a number of useful ways.
There are several improvements to the site; I will mention the most significant updates here, including:
- New documentation
- Enhanced discovery through improved categorization and filtering of images
- A streamlined look and feel
A description of each of these improvements follows. Should you simply want to take a look for yourself, then visit https://vmdepot.msopentech.com.
We have added a large number of tutorials for specific images; in fact all images now have (at least) a deployment tutorial attached to them. Simply follow the link from any image description. Furthermore, to improve navigation and readability, we split the massive single document that spans all aspects of VM Depot into six distinct sections:
- VM Depot Basics – an introduction to VM Depot and its core features
- Search for open source Virtual Machines – a deep dive into our fully-featured search language
- Deploying a Virtual Machine – detailed instructions about each of three ways to deploy a VM image
- Publish a Virtual Machine on VM Depot – instructions on how to create and publish a Virtual Machine Image to the repository
- Manage Published Images – how to manage image files once published
- Find Tutorials for Open Source Software – an index of content that has been created to support the creation and management of images on VM Depot (these tutorials are also accessible from image descriptions within the VM Depot portal).
As always, documentation is never complete, especially when it comes to tutorials. We welcome contributions from both image publishers and community members feel free to contact us.
Enhanced Discovery through Improved Categorization and Filtering of Images
As the number of images in the repository have grown, so has the sprawl in the free-form meta-data fields, of which there were two (packages and tags). To make it easier to find images of interest, we have reused the packages field and renamed it categories. This is no longer a few-from field, publishers can choose up to three of the most relevant categories. This will help users filter search results while still giving publishers flexibility in the free-form tags field.
Users can now select one or more categories of interest within the web site and the list of images displayed will change accordingly.
New look and feel
Like many web services, features have been added to VM Depot in an organic fashion, based on input from users. Consequently, some features were feeling a little “bolted on” in the web interface. We have implemented a new look and feel for the site, which more cleanly integrates these features into the portal. Those who are familiar with the previous site will continue to feel right at home with this new one, but we hope you will be more productive.