Deploying a Static Site to Azure Using the az CLI


I was recently working on a project where the frontend was built in React. The project was hosted on Azure and we wanted to use Azure CDN to host the React app. I have been looking at the az cli recently and decided to use it on this project to script the setup of resources and deployments to Azure.

Setting up the AZ CLI

First up, install the az cli.

Once installed, you'll need to login to your Azure Subscription.

az login

A browser window will popup, prompting you to log in to your Azure account. Once you've logged in, the browser window will close and the az cli will display a list of subscriptions available in your account. If you have more than one subscription, make sure you select the one you want to use.

az account set --subscription YourSubscriptionId

Create a Resource Group

You will need a resource group for your Storage and CDN resources. If you don't already have one, create it here.

az group create --name DavesFancyApp --location SouthCentralUs

Most commands will require you to pass in a --resource-group and --location parameters. These parameters are -g and -l for short, but you can save yourself even more keystrokes by setting defaults for az.

az configure -d group=DavesFancyApp
az configure -d location=SouthCentralUs

Create a Storage Account for Static Hosting

First, create a storage account:

az storage account create --name davefancyapp123

Then, enable static site hosting for this account.

az storage blob service-properties update --account-name davefancyapp123 --static-website --404-document 404.html --index-document index.html

Your storage account will now have a blob container named $web. That contents of that container will be available on the URL For example,

Deploying your app

To deploy your app to the site, all you need to do is copy your app's static files to the $web container in the storage account you created above. For my react app, that means running npm run build and copying the build output to the $web container.

az storage blob upload-batch --account-name davefancyapp123 -s ./build -d '$web'

Now your site should be available via the static hosting URL above. That was easy!

Create a CDN Profile and Endpoint

Next up, we are going to put a Content Delivery Network (CDN) endpoint in front of the blob storage account. We want to use a CDN for a couple reasons. First, it's going to provide much better performance overall. CDNs are optimized for delivering web content to user's devices and we should take advantage of that as much as possible. The second reason is that a CDN will allow us to configure SSL on a custom domain name.

First, we will need to create a CDN Profile. There are a few different of CDNs offerings available in Azure. You can read about them here. In this example, we will us the Standard Microsoft CDN.

az cdn profile create -n davefancyapp123cdn --sku Standard_Microsoft

Next, we will create the CDN endpoint. Here we need to set the origin to the static hosting URL from the previous step. Note that we don't include the protocol portion of the URL.

az cdn endpoint create -n davefancyapp123cdnendpoint --profile-name davefancyapp123cdn --origin --origin-host-header --enable-compression

Note: See the az cli docs for more information on the options available when creating a CDN endpoint.

Now your site should be available from In my case Note that the endpoint is created quickly but it can take some time for the actual content to propagate through the CDN. You might initially get a 404 when you visit the URL.

Create CDN Endpoint Rules

These 2 steps are optional. The first one is highly recommended. The second is optional depending on the type of app your deploying.

First, create URL Redirect rule to redirect any HTTP requests to HTTPS.

az cdn endpoint rule add -n davefancyapp123cdnendpoint --profile-name davefancyapp123cdn --rule-name enforcehttps --order 1 --action-name "UrlRedirect"  --redirect-type Found --redirect-protocol HTTPS --match-variable RequestScheme --operator Equal --match-value HTTP

Next, if you're deploying a Single Page Application (SPA) built in your favourite JavaScript framework (e.g. Vue, React, Angular), you will want a URL Rewrite rule that returns the app's root index.html file for any request to a path that isn't an actual file. There are many variations on how to write this rule. I found this to be the simplest one that worked for me. Basically if the request path is not for a specific file with a file extension, rewrite to index.html. This allows users to directly navigate to a route in my SPA and still have the CDN serve the index.html that bootstraps the application.

az cdn endpoint rule add -n davefancyapp123cdnendpoint --profile-name davefancyapp123cdn --rule-name sparewrite --order 2 --action-name "UrlRewrite" --source-pattern '/' --destination /index.html --preserve-unmatched-path false --match-variable UrlFileExtension --operator LessThan --match-value 1

Configuring a domain with an Azure Managed Certificate

The final step in configuring the CDN Endpoint is to configure a custom domain and enable HTTPS on that custom domain.

You will need access to update DNS records for the custom domain. Add a CNAME record for your subdomain that points to the CDN endpoint URL. For example, I created a CNAME record on my domain:

CNAME    fancyapp

Once the CNAME record has been created, create a custom domain for your endpoint.

az cdn custom-domain create --endpoint-name davefancyapp123cdnendpoint --profile-name davefancyapp123cdn -n fancyapp-domain --hostname

And finally, enable HTTPs. Unfortunately, this step fails due to a bug in the AZ CLI. There's a fix on it's way for this but it hasn't been merged into the CLI tool yet.

az cdn custom-domain enable-https --endpoint-name davefancyapp123cdnendpoint --profile-name davefancyapp123cdn --name fancyapp-domain

Due to the bug, this command returns InvalidResource - The resource format is invalid. For now, you can do this step manually in the Azure Portal. When using CDN Managed Certificates, the process is full automated. Azure will verify your domain using the CNAME record above, provision a certificate and configure the CDN endpoint to use that certificate. Certificates are fully managed by Azure. That includes generating new certificates so you don't need to worry about your certificate expiring.

CDN Managed Certificates for Root Domain

My biggest frustration with Azure CDN Endpoints is that CDN managed certificates are not supported for the apex/root domain. You can still use HTTPS but you need to bring your own certificate.

The same limitation exists for managed certificates on App Service. If you share my frustration, please upvote here.

Deploying updates to your application

The CDN will cache your files. That's great for performance but can be a royal pain when trying to deploy updates to your application. For SPA apps, I have found that simply telling the CDN to purge index.html is enough to ensure updates are available very shortly after deploying a new version. This works because most JavaScript frameworks today use WebPack which does a good job of cache-busting your JavaScript and CSS assets. You just need to make sure the browser is able to get the latest version of index.html and updates flow through nicely.

When you upload your latest files to blob storage, follow it with a purge command for index.html on the CDN endpoint.

az storage blob upload-batch --account-name davefancyapp123 -s ./build -d '$web'
az cdn endpoint purge -n davefancyapp123cdnendpoint --profile-name davefancyapp123cdn --no-wait --content-paths '/' '/index.html'

The purge command can take a while to complete. We pass the --no-wait option so the command returns immediately.

My thoughts on az

Aside from the bug I ran in to with enabling HTTPS on the CDN endpoint, I've really enjoyed my experience with the az cli. I was able to fully automate resource creation and deployments using the GitHub Actions az cli action. I can see az becoming my preferred method of managing Azure resources.

Dave Paquette

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