The entire DevOps story with the Microsoft Stack is expanding its reach to more and more services and with an ever-growing set of advanced features. During this article, I will cover the benefits and ways to configure Service Endpoints within either Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Service, in order to create a highly coupled ALM story for your apps.

What are Service Endpoints?

Back in the days of Team Foundation Services (2013 and prior to that), everyone was asking for a way to make Release Management expand to other project types rather than .NET and VB/C++. Taken this feedback (along with many other requests) Microsoft rewrote Team Build. Personally, I believe the entire DevOps story using the Microsoft Stack has become more mature than ever and ready to solve the most complex requirements your application has. In order to achieve this type of extensibility, Team Build allows one to add features in two ways: (1) by installing extensions which can either be wrote and uploaded by yourself or by installed from the Visual Studio Marketplace or by (2) taking advantage of the TFX Command Line Interface which allows you to add custom designed tasks. The latter is especially useful when it comes to creating a single-task functionality as an atomic process part of the build or release definition, rather than leverage several tasks individually. This ensures that in the situation of build and release processes which have to do the same tasks over and over again a few times are easily configurable and thus reduces the error-prone nature of a highly-configurable workflow system, such as Team Build.

The beauty of these tasks are that they are not exclusively designed to Microsoft-specific products and services – in fact, most of the tasks which have to deal with external services will specify the external service’s endpoint in the form of a connection setting which is team-project wide. Again, this helps prevent errors related to connection strings and such.

These connection settings are known as Service Endpoints and can be configured from the Settings pane of any team project, both in Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Services, under the Services tab.

Visual Studio Service Endpoints

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This post describes the latest Team Build updates with features available both in Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 Update 2 RC1 and Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and has been posted in the Azure Development Community blog on https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/azuredev/.

build

‘Team Build is Dead! Long Live Team Build!’

This was one of the main titles of last year’s Ignite conference when the latest version of Team Build was introduced and there a simple reason behind it – more specifically, the new Team Build system is a complete re-write of the former Team Build. One of the first results in this re-write is that there no longer is any reason to raise the shoulders when questions such as “I love TFS, but why can’t I use it to build my Android projects?” are asked. As it turns out, the latest build of Team Build allows for more extensibility than ever, easier management over the web portal and much easier build agent deployment – throughout this post I will try to cover as much as possible in terms of the new available features.

What’s new?

Ever opened a XAML Build Definition Before? Yikes!

Even though the entire workflow-based schema of a build definition prior to TFS 2015 was cool as it allowed a lot of complexity in the entire logic of an automated build, it turned out that due to the lack of extensibility and difficulty of understanding the underlying XML schema, build definitions needed another approach. This is probably one of the main reasons behind the decision of ditching XAML altogether from the new Team Build system. Don’t get me wrong – XAML-based build definitions didn’t go anywhere: you can still create XAML-based build definitions both in TFS and VSTS, but as the team has put it, they will become obsolete at some point in time and therefore, it’s best to put up a strategy of migrating from the XAML-build definitions to the new Team Build task-based system. And to be fair, the new system also comes along with tons of benefits, extensibility being one of the greatest one (at least in my opinion).

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