Sunday, 18 May 2014

How to download and install the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio

This is another in a series of videos that I am producing for my YouTube channel HowDoYouDoStuff.

In this video, I am going to show you how to download and install the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio

You can read the transcript below.

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Hi guys. I'm Phil Stirpe.

In this video, I am going to show you how to download and install the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio.

The AWS Toolkit is an extension for Visual Studio that makes it easier for developers to develop, debug, and deploy .NET applications using Amazon Web Services.

So the 1st step is to visit this page at and there you’ll find a button that allows you to download the AWS Toolkit.

Okay so that’s downloaded and it took just under a minute.

So here is the installer. An MSI file. Let me go ahead and install and work my way through the wizard.

I’ll accept the license terms.

As you can see the installer is going to install SDKs for a variety of frameworks including .NET 4.5 and Windows RT. It’s also going to install some samples.

I’ll accept the defaults and click Next.

Now I click the Install button.

And after a minute or so the wizard is ready.

Okay let me launch Visual Studio.

As you can see we’ve been offered a short video on using the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio.

Let me click on the View Menu and select AWS Explorer.

In order for Visual Studio to work with my account, I need to configure it with some account information. As you can see I have the option to add in a user.

Let me click on Add an Account.

In this dialog I’m able to specify the credentials for user. In an earlier video I created an IAM user called Frank who is a member of the Developers group. Let me put Frank’s name in the Display Name box.

What I now need to do is supply credentials. When you create an IAM user account, you are given a once only opportunity to store the credentials.

If I switch to my downloads folder, I’ll be able to open up this credentials file.

He we can see the user’s access key and secret key which I can copy into Visual Studio.

When you create an account with Amazon web services this is known as the route account and has a couple of credentials including an email address for the ID and password. Each route account is also assigned an account number. It is that account number that can be entered here to be associated with this IAM user.

Note that the account number is actually optional in this case.

To locate your account number you have to visit your account in the AWS console and then click on the My Account link.

There is quite a lot of information on this page but the information that we need is this account number here.

There are a number of locations that you can get this number from. For example, if you go into the IAM console, you can find it in the IAM user sign-in URL.

Now that I have the account number I can jump back into Visual Studio and paste it in.

So this is creating an identity in visual studio is associated with an IAM user.

Let me just switchback to the AWS console to show you that user. I created this user in an earlier video.

In fact when recording that video I did forget to add the user called Frank to the Developers group so I’ll do that now.

Back in Visual Studio, these credentials are Frank’s access key and secret key. It makes sense for the Display Name to be the same.

And the account number is the root account to which the IAM user belongs.

As you can see now in visual studio I have access to a variety of services associated with that account.

For example S3. If Franks attempts to access to S3, he gets Access Denied.

Now Frank is a member of a group called Developers that has access to S3. However the developers group doesn’t have access to all of S3.

Let me switch back to the AWS console. If we examine the permissions for the developers group, we will see that it only has permissions for bucket named qa-cookbooks. This is far too granular for Visual Studio to cope with.

So let me create another group. I’m going to call this group S3Developers. My intention here is that this group gets full access to S3.

So if I scroll down this policy template list, I’ll choose S3 Full Access. This is more than I would like but it will allow me to work in Visual Studio.

I’ll click on Continue and then Create Group.

I can then switch to the Users section and then add Frank to this new group.

Now these privileges should be available to Frank immediately.

So if I switch back to Visual Studio and then refresh the AWS Explorer, you will see that all of the buckets are now listed.

Although it’s ideal to have specific policies for particular users or groups, the AWS Toolkit isn’t that granular.

So if you want to be able to access S3 from within the AWS Explorer, you’re going to have to use a user account that has privileges for the whole S3 service rather than individual buckets.

If you weren’t using Explorer and were simply writing code, you could come up with a better, more restrictive set of privileges.

Before I go let’s just take a look at some of these other services.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the services available in Amazon Web Services. Rather these are considered the usual suspects. In other words, services that you are more likely to want to work with from within Visual Studio.

You would want to be able to see the buckets, AMIs and EC2 instances.

There you have it.

In this video, I have shown you how easy it is to download and install the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio.

I’ll also be producing a video shown you how to download and install the AWS Toolkit for Eclipse.

Thanks for watching and please feel free to comment on my blog ( and Facebook page ( Perhaps you could suggest more video topics? Most of all, don't forget to subscribe to keep up with my videos as I release them.

Bye for now.

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See you soon

Phil Stirpé
"I don't do average!"