XL Deploy in VSTS/TFS build/release pipelines

Introduction

Circa a year ago I showed you how to use XebiaLabs Team Foundation Server 2015 XL Deploy plugin to create, import and deploy, XL Deploy Deployment Archives, on TFS and VSTS. With a new version of the plugin, that is now renamed into VSTS extension for XL Deploy, XebiaLabs delivers two more build/release tasks. This tasks are supported both by build and release pipelines in VSTS and Team Foundation Server. This will allow us to be more granular and chose to perform only certain operations at each stage, in our pipelines. We can at example choose to create our XL Deploy Deployment Archive during the build and later on, in our release definition, deploy the same artifact in different environments, using XL Deploy.
In the following post, I’ll show you an example on how to achieve this by using our two new tasks, respectively, Package with XL Deploy build task and Deploy with XL Deploy build task.

Building the artifact

As in my previous post, we will keep our Visual Studio Build, however, instead of using the XL Deploy build task, we will add Package With XL Deploy task which you can find in the Package category in the Task Catalog

Once added, we need to point it to the right manifest path, chose if we want the task to set the version of the created package based on the build number and, in our case, Publish the artifact to TFS. In this way once the package is created, it will be uploaded to TFS and associated as an artifact to the current build. At the end the result should be similar to the following.

You can now try your build and at the end, if successful, you should see our DAR package under the build artifacts.

If you can see your artifact uploaded, we can move to the next step.

Deploying from the VSTS Release Management

We are going now to create a new release definition and start with an empty template. As artifact source we are going to indicate a build and select from the relevant drop-down, build definition that we created in our previous step. You also may choose to select a continuous deployment option and a specific build queue for this build.

Once the release definition is created, for your initial Environment, choose Add task and select Deploy with XL Deploy from the task catalog.

This task will allow us to import the DAR package into XL Deploy and trigger the deployment for the desired environment. Bare in mind that it will check if the package is already in XL Deploy and, if so, will skip the import. This means that if you are using it multiple times for different environment definitions, it will behave as efficiently as possible.

Now we need to select the XL Deploy Endpoint, which indicates the instance of XL Deploy we are using for this deployment and fill in the necessary indications about the artifact location and the name of our target environment. For what concerns the XL Deploy Endpoint you can get further information in Add an XL Deploy endpoint in Visual Studio Team Services document. Artifact can be ‘picked up’ from the Server, it means that it will be made available by the release itself, or it can be retrieved from the file share. In our case it will be delivered by the release which will gets it from the associated build.

That’s all! Now we can create a new release and let our task delegate the deployment to XL Deploy.

Conclusion

We saw how can we leverage the new build/release tasks to interact with XL Deploy in different phases of our Build/Release process.

You can find more VSTS specific information at the following link or more information about the VSTS extension for XL Deploy here.

Using Git with self-signed certificate at the user level

Introduction

Some time ago I wrote about Installing self-signed certificates into Git cert store.
With the advent of Visual Studio 2017 and updates of the Git client I noticed the limitation of this approach. Also, updates of Visual Studio brought updates to a git client and after each update, my self signed certificate was gone. As this fact annoyed me quite a bit, I looked for a better approach.

A better approach

In order to solve this issue, I needed to move my certificate authority file to a place where it will not be rewritten by installing a new version of Git client. I went moving it to my users directory, which on my PC equals to C:\Users\majcicam. So after adding my self signed certificate into ca-bundle.crt file that is located, again, in my case at C:\Program Files\Git\mingw64\ssl\certs, I moved it to the C:\Users\majcicam. You can read more about adding your self signed certificate into the ca-cert file in my previous post at Installing self-signed certificates into Git cert store.

After I moved my file, I needed to indicate to the Git client that he should use this file to verify certificates. This can be done by issuing the following command:

git config --global http.sslCAInfo C:/Users/majcicam/ca-bundle.crt

This command will add the new path into a Git global config file which is a place where all of the user wide settings are stored and it is not subjective to the installation of Git or a particular repository.

Note that I used a slashes in the path instead of back-slashes.

This means that now we can update our Git client and that these settings will be maintained. As a standard on Windows platform, it is located in your user folder, in my case the global config file is at C:/Users/majcicam/.gitconfig. You can verify the values of all the Git config files and their location by issuing the following command:

git config --list --show-origin

This simple trick should make your lazy developer life a bit easier.

Happy coding

VSTS/TFS Agents behind a proxy

It often happens that I do write about my love affair with a web proxy systems. In the past years I shared many of these challenges through my blog. Following is another one that I came lately across and that is precisely, allowing the build agent tasks to gain the access to internet via a proxy.
Till now I have never noticed any necessity for setting explicitly the access via a proxy server on any of our build agents. We were using Azure App Service Deployment and other build/release tasks that did accessed an external web address and everything always worked without the need for any particular intervention. However, after the TFS 2017 Update 1, we noticed that our Azure App Service Deployment task started failing with the following error:

Error: connect ETIMEDOUT 104.45.0.17:443

Clearly the call towards the Azure services was failing. Couldn’t be anything else then our lovely proxy. Strange thing was that it was all working till before the upgrade. At this point I was curious why this was happening. Here is what I found.

With the TFS 2017 Update 1, a new version of the Azure App Service Deployment build/release task has shipped. This new task implementation is now based on Node.js handler and no Node.js applications were able to access the web. So obviously I went to setup the necessary to enable Node.js applications to get the access to the web. This was however not the right solution, also because build agent doesn’t use the Node.js engine installed on that machine, but executes everything via a version of Node.js that is shipped together with the agent itself. In order to get a bit more insight in this, I had to peak in the couple of MS Github repositories and luckily I found a reference in which I see that the Node.js HttpClient wrapper sets the proxy for all calls based on the environment variables called HTTP_PROXY and HTTPS_PROXY. Now, I tried adding those two variables and voila my build task started working again (after the build agent service restart).

So, in order to have your Node.js based tasks that do need to access Internet from a build agent behind a proxy, add two new environment variables called HTTP_PROXY and HTTPS_PROXY and set the value of those variables pointing to the proxy itself, like http://my.proxy.local:8080.

Do not forget to restart your agent and give it a go.
I hope this solves it.

Happy releasing!