Scheduling Azure WebJobs with cron expressions

Scheduled WebJobs have existed from the beginning of Azure WebJobs, they are a result of combining 2 different Azure resources: a triggered WebJob containing the script to run and an Azure Scheduler job containing the schedule to use.

The Azure Scheduler job would point to the triggered WebJob invoke url and would make a request to it on schedule.

There have been some difficulties with this approach mainly around the deployment part of the schedule which convinced us to build another scheduler implementation that is built into kudu (the WebJobs host) which enables a scheduled WebJob to be deployed by simply adding a file with the WebJob binaries.

How to add a schedule to a triggered WebJob

The way to add a schedule to a triggered WebJob is by adding a file called settings.job with the following json content: {"schedule": "the schedule as a cron expression"}, this file should be at the root of the WebJob directory (next to the WebJob executable).

If you already have this file with other settings simply add the schedule property.

The schedule is configured using a cron expression which is a common way to write schedules.

CRON Expressions

There are many pages that can teach you how to write a cron expression, I will describe the main format used for the scheduled WebJob.

  • The cron parsing is implemented by NCrontab nuget package.
  • The cron expression is composed of 6 fields: {second} {minute} {hour} {day} {month} {day of the week}.
  • The supported operators are: , - * /
  • Each field can have a specific value (1), a range (1-10), a set of values (1,2,3), all values (), an interval value (/2 == 0,2,4,6,...) or a mix of these (1,5-10).
  • Each value represents a point in time, for example: "5 * * * * *" - means on the 5th second of every minutes --> 00:00:05, 00:01:05, 00:02:05, ... (and not every 5 seconds).


  • 0 0 13 * * * - 1pm every day.
  • 0 15 9 * * * - 9:15am every day.
  • 0 0/5 16 * * * - Every 5 minutes starting at 4pm and ending at 4:55pm, every day.
  • 0 11 11 11 11 * - Every November 11th at 11:11am.

You can find some more cron expression samples here but note that they have 5 fields, to use them you should add a 0 as the first field (for the seconds).

Important - To use this way of scheduling WebJobs you'll have to configure the website as Always On (just as you would with continuous WebJobs) otherwise the scm website will go down and the scheduling will stop until it is brought up again.

Debugging a schedule

To see the scheduler logs for a scheduled WebJob you need to use the get triggered WebJob api, go to the url: https://{sitename}{jobname} (remove the job name to see all triggered WebJobs).

You will receive the following json result:

    name: "jobName",
    runCommand: "...\run.cmd",
    type: "triggered",
    url: "http://.../triggeredwebjobs/jobName",
    history_url: "http://.../triggeredwebjobs/jobName/history",
    extra_info_url: "http://.../",
    scheduler_logs_url: "https://.../vfs/data/jobs/triggered/jobName/job_scheduler.log",
    settings: { },
    using_sdk: false,
        id: "20131103120400",
        status: "Success",
        start_time: "2013-11-08T02:56:00.000000Z",
        end_time: "2013-11-08T02:57:00.000000Z",
        duration: "00:01:00",
        output_url: "http://.../vfs/data/jobs/triggered/jobName/20131103120400/output_20131103120400.log",
        error_url: "http://.../vfs/data/jobs/triggered/jobName/20131103120400/error_20131103120400.log",
        url: "http://.../triggeredwebjobs/jobName/history/20131103120400",
        trigger: "Schedule - 0 0 0 * * *"

The scheduler_logs_url property has a url that will get you the scheduler log, that log will tell you some verbose information on the scheduling and invocation of the triggered WebJob.

There is also a trigger property for a triggered WebJob run that tells you which schedule (or external user agent) invoked the specific run.

More information about WebJobs API.

Adding a schedule for an on demand WebJob in Visual Studio

If you have a Visual Studio Azure WebJob project, the way to add a schedule is by authoring the settings.job file described above and adding it to the project. In the solution explorer you'll need to change the properties of that settings.job file and set the Copy to output directory to Copy always.

This will make sure the file is in the root directory of the WebJob.

Changing (or setting/removing) a schedule of a triggered WebJob is all about updating the schedule property of the settings.job file in the WebJob's directory (d:\home\site\wwwroot\App_Data\jobs\triggered\{jobname}), whenever the file is updated the change is picked up and the schedule will change according.

This means you can deploy the schedule in any way you wish including by updating the file on your git repository.

Differences between the two scheduled WebJobs

There are pros and cons to each way of scheduling a WebJob, review them and choose which way to go.

Azure Scheduler


  • Doesn't require the website to be configured as Always On.
  • Supported by Visual Studio tooling and the current Azure portal.


  • Doesn't support continuous integration - to schedule a job or reschedule a job you'll need access to your Azure account.
  • Loosely tied to the triggered WebJob, you cannot always tell that a WebJob has an Azure Scheduler job behind it.

Internal WebJob Scheduler


  • Supports continuous integration and any deployment mechanism available for Azure Web Apps as it is file based.
  • Supports the common cron expressions.
  • Can tell a WebJob is scheduled with a simple api call.


  • Requires Always On.
  • Not yet supported by tooling and portal (hopefully that will change).


To summarize, we've introduced a new way to schedule WebJobs that is continuous deployment friendly, in some cases it won't be the right one to choose but if the cons doesn't bother you it is a simpler and way for you to schedule triggered WebJobs.

Please let us know how it works for you in the comments or better yet on kudu project issues.

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