But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Running Test Suites within a network Isolated Lab Management environment when using TFS vNext build and release tooling

Updated 27 Sep 2016: Added solutions to known issues

Background

As I have posted many times we make use of TFS Lab Management to provide network isolated dev/test environments. Going forward I see us moving to Azure Dev Labs and/or Azure Stack with ARM templates, but that isn’t going to help me today, especially when I have already made the investment in setting up a Lab Management environments and they are ready to use.

One change we are making now is a move from the old TFS Release Management (2013 generation) to the new VSTS and TFS 2015.2 vNext Release tools. This means I need to be able to trigger automated tests on VMs within Lab Management network isolated environments with a command inside my new build/release process. I have posted on how to do this with the older generation Release Management tools, turns out it is in some ways a little simpler with the newer tooling, no need to fiddle with shadow accounts etal.

My Setup

image

Constraints

The constraints are these

  • I need to be able to trigger tests on the Client VM in the network isolated lab environment. These tests are all defined in automated test suites within Microsoft Test Manager.
  • The network isolated lab already has a TFS Test Agent deployed on all the VMs in the environment linked back to the TFS Test Controller on my corporate domain, these agents are automatically installed and managed, and are handling the ‘magic’ for the network isolation – we can’t fiddle with these without breaking the Labs 
  • The new build/release tools assume that you will auto deploy a 2015 generation Test Agent via a build task as part of the build/release process. This is a new test agent install, so removed any already installed Test Agent – we don’t want this as it breaks the existing agent/network isolation.
  • So my only options to trigger the tests by using TCM (as we did in the past) from some machine in the system. In the past (with the old tools) this had to be within the isolated network environment due to the limitation put in place by the use of shadow accounts.  
  • However, TCM (as shipped with VS 2015) does not ‘understand’ vNext builds, so it can’t seem to find them by definition name/number – we have to find builds by their drop location, and I think this needs to be a UNC share, not a drop back onto the TFS server. So using TCM.EXE (and any wrapper scripts) probably is not going to deliver what I want i.e. the test run associated with a vNext build and/or release.
  • My Solution

    The solution I adopted was to write a PowerShell script that performs the same function as the TCMEXEC.PS1 script that used to be run within the network isolated Labe Environment by the older Release Management products.

    The difference is the old script shelled out to run TCM.EXE, my new version makes calls to the new TFS REST API (and unfortunately also to the older C# API as some features notably those for Lab Management services are not exposed via REST). This script can be run from anywhere, I chose to run it on the TFS vNext build agent, as this is easiest and this machine already had Visual Studio installed so had the TFS C# API available.

    You can find this script on my VSTSPowerShell GitHub Repo.

    The usage of the script is

    TCMReplacement.ps1
          -Collectionuri http://tfsserver.domain.com:8080/tfs/defaultcollection/
    -Teamproject "My Project"
    -testplanname "My test plan" 
    -testsuitename "Automated tests"
    -configurationname "Windows 8"
    -buildid  12345
       -environmentName "Lab V.2.0" 
    -testsettingsname "Test Setting"
    -testrunname "Smoke Tests"
    -testcontroller "mytestcontroller.domain.com"
    -releaseUri "vstfs:///ReleaseManagement/Release/167"
    -releaseenvironmenturi "vstfs:///ReleaseManagement/Environment/247"

    Note

  • The last two parameters are optional, all the others are required. If the last two are not used the test results will not be associated with a release
  • The is also a pollinginterval parameter which default to 10 seconds. The script starts a test run then polls on this interval to see if it has completed.
  • If there are any failed test then the script writes to write-error as the TFS build process sees this is a failed step
  • In some ways I think this script is an improvement over the TCMEXEC script, the old one needed you to know the IDs for many of the settings (loads of poking around in Microsoft Test Manager to find them), I allow the common names of settings to be passed in which I then use to lookup the required values via the APIs (this is where I needed to use the older C# API as I could not find a way to get the Configuration ID, Environment ID or Test Settings ID via REST).

    There is nothing stopping you running this script from the command line, but I think it is more likely to make it part of release pipeline using the PowerShell on local machine task in the build system. When used this way you can get many of the parameters from environment variables. So the command arguments become something like the following (and of course you can make all the string values build variables too if you want)

     

       -Collectionuri $(SYSTEM.TEAMFOUNDATIONCOLLECTIONURI) 
    -Teamproject $(SYSTEM.TEAMPROJECT)
    -testplanname "My test plan"
       -testsuitename "Automated tests"
    -configurationname "Windows 8"
    -buildid  $(BUILD.BUILDID)
      -environmentName "Lab V.2.0"
       -testsettingsname "Test Settings"
    -testrunname "Smoke Tests"
    -testcontroller "mytestcontroller.domain.com"
    -releaseUri $(RELEASE.RELEASEURI)
    -releaseenvironmenturi $(RELEASE.ENVIRONMENTURI)

     

    Obviously this script is potentially a good candidate for a TFS build/release task, but as per my usual practice I will make sure I am happy with it’s operation before wrappering it up into an extension.

    Known Issues

  • If you run the script from the command line targeting a completed build and release the tests run and are shown in the release report as well as on the test tab as we would expect.

    image

    However, if you trigger the test run from within a release pipeline, the test runs OK and you can see the results in the test tab (and MTM), but they are not associated within the release. My guess is because the release had not completed when the data update is made. I am investigating this to try to address the issue.
  • Previously I reported there was a known issue that the test results were associated with the build, but not the release. It turns out this was due to the AD account the build/release agent was running as was missing rights on the TFS server. To fix the problem I made sure the account as configured as follows”":

    Once this was done all the test results appeared where they should

    So hopefully you will find this a useful tool if you are using network isolated environments and TFS build

    Typemock have released official VSTS build extension

    Typemock have just released an official VSTS build extension to run Typemock Isolator based tests. Given there is now an official extension I have decided to deprecate mine, it is still available in the Marketplace but I would recommend using the official one 

    The new Typemock extension includes two tasks

    SmartRunner Task

    The SmartRunner is a unit test runner, that can run nunit and mstest based tests. It handles the deployment of Typemock Isolator.  SmartRunner can run on both Shared and On Premises Agents

    Typemock with VSTests

    This task acts as a wrapper to enable Typemock Isolator and then run your tests via VSTest. This task can only be used with On Premises Agents as the build agent needs to be running with admin privileges.

    Why have I got a ‘.NETCore50’ and a ‘netcore50’ folder in my nuget package?

    I recently posted on how we were versioning our Nuget packages as part of a release pipeline. In test we noticed that the packages being produced by this process has an extra folder inside them.

    image 

    We expected there to be a netcore50 folder, but not a .NETCore50 folder. Strangely if we build the package locally we only saw the expect netcore50 folder. The addition of this folder did not appear to be causing any problem, but I did want to find out why it had appeared and remove it as it was not needed.

    Turns out the issue was the version of Nuget.exe, the automatically installed version on the on-prem TFS build agent was 3.2, my local copy 3.4. As soon as I upgraded the build box’s nuget.exe version to 3.4 the problem went away

    Experiences versioning related sets of NuGet packages within a VSTS build

    Background

    We are currently packaging up a set of UX libraries as NuGet packages to go on our internal NuGet server. The assemblies that make up the core of this framework are all in a single Visual Studio solution, however it makes sense to distribute them as a set of NuGet packages as you might not need all the parts in a given project. Hence we have a package structure as follows…

    • BM.UX.Common
    • BM.UX.Controls
    • BM.UX.Behaviours
    • etc…

    There has been much thought on the versioning strategy of these packages. We did consider independent versioning of each of these fundamental packages, but decided it was worth the effort, keeping their versions in sync was reasonable  i.e. the packages have the same version number and are released as a set.

    Now this might not be the case for future ‘extension’ packages, but it is an OK assumption for now, especially as it makes the development cycle quicker/easier. This framework is young and rapidly changing, there are often changes in a control that needs associated changes in the common assembly; it is hence good that a developers does not have to check-in a change on the common package before they can make an associated changed to the control package whist debugging a control prior to it being released.

    However, this all meant it was important to make sure the package dependencies and versions are set correctly.

    Builds

    We are using Git for this project (though this process is just as relevant for TFVC) with a development branch and a master branch. Each branch has its own CI triggered build

    • Development branch build …
      • Builds the solution
      • Runs Unit tests
      • Does SonarQube analysis
      • DOES NOT store any built artifacts
      • [Is used to validate Pull requests]
    • Master branch build …
      • Versions the code
      • Builds the solution
      • Runs Unit tests
      • Creates the NuGet Packages
      • Stores the created packages (to be picked up by a Release pipeline for publishing to our internal NuGet server)

    Versioning

    So within the Master build we need to do some versioning, this needs to be done to different files to make sure the assemblies and the NuGet packages are ‘stamped’ with the build version.

    We get this version for the build number variable, $(Build.BuildNumber), we use the format $(Major).$(Minor).$(Year:yy)$(DayOfYear).$(rev:r)  e.g. 1.2.16123.3

    Where

    • $(Major) and $(Minor) build variables we manage (actually our release pipeline updates the $(Minor) on every successful release to production using a VSTS task)
    • $(Year:yy)$(DayOfYear) gives a date in the form 16123
    • and $(rev:r) is a count of builds on a given day

    We have chosen to use this number format to version both the assemblies and Nuget packages, if you have different plans, such as semantic versioning , you will need to modify this process a bit.

    Assemblies

    The assemblies themselves are easy to version, we just need to set the correct value in their assemblyinfo.cs or assemblyinfo.vb files. I used my Assembly versioning VSTS task to do this

    NuGet Packages

    The packages turn out to be a bit more complex. Using the standard NuGet Packager task there is a checkbox to say to use the build number as the version. This works just fine versioning the actual package, adding the –Version flag to the package command to override the value in the project .nuspec file. However it does not help with managing the versions of any dependant packages in the solution, and here is why. In our build …

    1. AssemblyInfo files updated
    2. The solution is built, so we have version stamped DLLs
    3. We package the first ‘common’ Nuget package (which has no dependencies on other projects in the solution) and it is versioned using the –version setting, not the value in it’s nuspec file.
    4. We package the ‘next’ Nuget package, the package picks up the version from the –version flag (as needed), but it also needs to add a dependency to a specific version of the ‘common’ package. We pass the –IncludeReferencedProjects  argument to make sure this occurs. However, Nuget.exe gets this version number from  the ‘common’ packages .nuspec file NOT the package actually built in the previous step. So we end up with a mismatch.

    The bottom line is we need to manage the version number in the .nuspec file of each package. So more custom VSTS extensions are needed.

    Initially I reused my Update XML file task, passing in some XPath to select the node to update, and this is a very valid approach if using semantic versioning as it is a very flexible way yo build the version number. However, in the end I added an extra task to my versioning VSTS extension for Nuget to make my build neater and consistent with my other versions steps.

    Once all the versioning was done I could create the packages. I ended up with a build process as shown below

    image

    A few notes about the NuGet packaging

    • Each project I wish to create a Nuget package for has a nuspec file of the same ‘root’ name in the same folder as the csproj eg. mypackage.csproj and mypackage.nuspec. This file contains all descriptions, copyright details etc.
    • I am building each package explicitly, I could use wildcards in the ‘Path/Pattern to nuspec files’ property, I choose not to at this time. This is down to the fact I don’t want to build all the solution’s package at this point in time.
    • IMPORTANT I am passing in the .csproj file names, not the .nuspec file names to the ‘Path/Pattern to nuspec files’ property. I found I had to do this else the   –IncludeReferencedProjects  was ignored. The Nuget documentation seems to suggest as long as the .csproj and .nuspec files have the same ‘root’ name then you could reference the .nuspec file but this was not my experience
    • I still set the flag to use the build version to version the package – this is not actually needed as the .nuspec file has already been update
    • I pass in the  –IncludeReferencedProjects  argument via the advanced parameters, to pick up the project dependancies.

    Summary

    So now I have a reliable way to make sure my NuGet packages have consistent version numbers 

    New version of my generate release notes task–now with authentication options

    I have just released 1.4.7 of the release notes VSTS extension. This provides a new advanced options that allows you to switch the authentication model.

    The default remains the same i.e. use a personal access token provided by the server, but you have the option to enable use of the 'defaultcredentials' (via the advanced properties). If this is done the account the build agent is running as is used. Hopefully this should fix the 401 issues some people have been seeing when using the task with on-prem TFS.

    For most people the default PAT model should be fine

    New Build Management VSTS tasks

    Just published a new VSTS extension with a couple of tasks in it. The aim to to help formalise the end of a release process. The tasks

    • Allow you to set the retension ‘keep forever’ flag on a build (or all builds linked to a release)
    • Update increment a build variable e.g. all or part of a version number, in a build (or all builds linked to a release)

    The first just replicates functionality I used to have in house for builds

    The second one is important to me as once I have released to production a version of a product I never want to generate another build with the same base version number. For example we version stamp all our DLLs/builds with a version number in form

    $(Major).$(Minor).$(year:yy)$(dayofyear).(rev:r)     e.g. 1.2.16170.2

    Where the $(Major) and $(Minor) are build variables we set manually (we decide when we increment a major or minor release) and the second two blocks guarantee a unique build number every time. It is too easy to forget to manually increment the Major or Minor build variable during a release. This task means I don’t need to remember to set the value of one or both of these. I can either set an explicit value or just get it to auto-increment. I usually auto increment the Minor value as a default, doing a manual reset of both the Major and Minor if it is a major release.

    NOTE: You do have to add some permissions to the build service account else this second task fails with a 403 permission error – so read the WIKI

    Gotcha’s when developing VSTS Build Extension

    I recently posted on my development process for VSTS Extensions, it has been specifically PowerShell based build ones I have been working on. During this development I have come across a few more gotcha’s that I think are worth mentioning

    32/64 bit

    The VSTS build agent launches PowerShell 64bit (as does the PowerShell command line on dev PC), but VSCode launches it 32bit. Whilst working my StyleCop extension this caused me a problem as StyleCop it seems can only load dictionaries for spell checking based rules when in a 32bit shell. So my Pester tests for the extension worked in VSCode but failed at the command line and within a VSTS build

    After many hours my eventual solution was to put some guard code in my scripts to force a reload in 32bit mode

    param
    (
        [string]$treatStyleCopViolationsErrorsAsWarnings,
        [string]$maximumViolationCount,
        … other params
    )

    if ($env:Processor_Architecture -ne "x86")  
    {
        # Get the command parameters
        $args = $myinvocation.BoundParameters.GetEnumerator() | ForEach-Object {$($_.Value)}
        write-warning 'Launching x86 PowerShell'
        &"$env:windir\syswow64\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe" -noprofile -executionpolicy bypass -file $myinvocation.Mycommand.path $args
        exit
    }
    write-verbose "Running in $($env:Processor_Architecture) PowerShell"

    ... rest of my code

     

    The downside of this trick is that you can’t pass return values back as you swapped execution process. For the type of things I am doing with VSTS tasks this not an issue as the important data has usually be dropped to a file which is accessible by everything, such as test results.

    For a worked sample of production code and Pester tests see by GitHub repo.

    Using Modules

    In the last post I mentioned the problem when trying to run Pester tests against scripts, the script content is executed. I stupidly did not mention the obvious solution of moving all the code into functions in a PowerShell modules. This makes it easier to write tests for all bar the outer wrapper .PS1 script that is called by the VSTS agent.

    Again see by GitHub repo so a good sample. Note how I have split out the files so that I have

    • A module that contains the functions I can test via Pester
    • A .PS1 script called by VSTS (this will run 64bit) where I deal with interaction with VSTS/TFS
    • An inner PS1 string that we force into 32bit mode as needed (see above)

    Hacking around on your code

    You always get to the point I find when developing things like VSTS build tasks that you want to make some quick change to try something without the full development/build/release cycle. This is in effect the local development stage, it is just build task development makes with awkward. It is hard to fully test a task locally, it need to be deployed within a build

    I have found a way to help here is to use a local build agent, you can then get at the deployed task and edit the .PS1 code. The important bit to node is that the task will not be redeployed so you local ‘hack’ can be tested within a real TFS build without having to increment the task’s version and redeploy.

    Hacky but handy to know.

    You of course do need to make sure you hacked code is eventually put through your formal release process.

    And maybe something or nothings…

    I may have seen these issues, but have not got to the bottom of them, so they may not be real issues

    • The order parameters are declared in a task.json file seems to need to match the order they are declared in the .PS1 file call. I had thought they we associated by name not order, but in one task they all got transposed until I fixed the order.
    • The F5 dev debug cycle is still a little awkward with VSCode, sometime it seems to leave stuff running and you get high CPU utilisation – just restart the VSCode  - the old fix!
    • If using the 32 bit relaunch discussed above write-verbose messages don’t awlays seem to show up in the VSTS log, I assume a –verbose parameter is being lost somewhere, or it is the spawning of another PowerShell instance that cause the problem.

    SO again I hope these tips help with your VSTS extension development

    Running TSLint within SonarQube on a TFS build

    I wanted to add some level of static analysis to our Typescript projects, TSLint being the obvious choice. To make sure it got run as part of our build release process I wanted to wire it into our SonarQube system, this meant using the community TSLintPlugin, which is still pre-release (0.6 preview at the time of writing).

    I followed the installation process for plugin without any problems setting the TSLint path to match our build boxes

    C:\Users\Tfsbuild\AppData\Roaming\npm\node_modules\tslint\bin\tslint

    Within my TFS/VSTS build I added three extra tasks

    image

    • An NPM install to make sure that TSLint was installed in the right folder by running the command ‘install -g tslint typescript ‘
    • A pre-build SonarQube MSBuild task to link to our SonarQube instance
    • A post-build SonarQube MSBuild task to complete the analysis

    Once this build was run with a simple Hello World TypeScript project, I could see SonarQube attempting to do TSLint analysis but failing with the error

    2016-07-05T11:36:02.6425918Z INFO: Sensor com.pablissimo.sonar.TsLintSensor

    2016-07-05T11:36:07.1425492Z ##[error]ERROR: TsLint Err: Invalid option for configuration: tslint.json

    2016-07-05T11:36:07.3612994Z INFO: Sensor com.pablissimo.sonar.TsLintSensor (done) | time=4765ms

    The problem was the build task generated sonar-project.properties file did not contain the path to the TSLint.json file. In the current version of the TSLint plugin this file needs to be managed manually, it is not generated by the SonarQube ruleset. Hence is a file in the source code folder on the build box, a path that the SonarQube server cannot know.

    The Begin Analysis SonarQube for MSBuild task generates the sonar-project.properties, but only adds the entries for MSBuild (as its name suggests). It does nothing related to TsLint plugin or any other plugins.

    The solution was to add the required setting via the advanced properties of the Begin Analysis task i.e. point to the tslint.json file under source control, using a build variable to set the base folder.

    /d:sonar.ts.tslintconfigpath=$(build.sourcesdirectory)\tslint.json

    image

    Once this setting was added I could see the TSLint rules being evaluated and the showing up in the SonarQube analysis.

    Another step to improving our overall code quality through consistent analysis of technical debt.

    Running WebTests as part of a VSTS VNext Release pipeline

    Background

    Most projects will have a range of tests

    • Unit tests (maybe using a mocking framework) running inside the build process
    • Integration/UX and load tests run as part of a release pipeline
    • and finally manual tests

    In a recent project we were using WebTests to provide some integration tests (in addition to integration tests written using unit testing frameworks) as a means to test a REST/ODATA API, injecting data via the API, pausing while a backend Azure WebJob processed the injected data, then checking a second API to make sure the processed data was correctly presented. Basically mimicking user operations.

    In past iterations we ran these tests via TFS Lab Management’s tooling, using the Test Agent that is deploys when an environment is created.

    The problem was we are migrating to VSTS/TFS 2015.2 Release Management. This uses the new Functional Testing Task, which uses the newer Test Agent that is deployed on demand as part of the release pipeline (not pre-installed) and this agent does not support running WebTests at present.

    This means my only option was to use MsTest if I wanted to continue using this form of webtest. However, there is no out the box MsTest task for VSTS, so I needed to write a script to do the job that I could deploy as part of my build artifacts.

    Now I could write a build/release task to make this nice and easy to use, but that is more work and I suspect that I am not going to need this script too often in the future (I might be wrong here only time will tell). Also I hope that Microsoft will at some point provide an out the box task to do the job either by providing an MStest task or adding webtest support to the functional test task.

    This actually reflects my usual work practice for build tasks, get the script working first locally, use it as PowerShell script in the build, and if I see enough refuse make it a task/extension.

    So what did I actually need to do?

    Preparation

    1. Install Visual Studio on the VM where the tests will be run from. I need to do this because though MSTest was already present  it fails to run .Webtest tests unless a suitable SKU of Visual Studio is installed
    2. Set the solution configuration so that the projects containing the webtests is not built, we only need the .webtest files copied to the drops location. If you build the project the files get duplicated into the bin folder, which we don’t need as we then need to work out which copy to use.
    3. Make sure the solution contains a .TestSettings file that switches on ‘Think Times’, and this file is copied as a build artifact. This stalled me for ages, could not work out why tests worked in Visual Studio and failed from the command line. Without this file there is no think time at all so my background process never had time to run.

      image
    4. Write a script that finds all my .Webtest files and place it in source control such that it is copied to the builds drop location.
    param 

    (

    $tool = "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE\MSTest.exe",
    $path ,
    $include = "*.webtest",
    $results ,
    $testsettings

    )

    $web_tests = get-ChildItem -Path $paths -Recurse -Include $include

    foreach ($item in $web_tests) {
        $args += "/TestContainer:$item "

    }


    & $tool $args /resultsfile:$Results /testsettings:$testsettings

     

    Build

    Once the script and other settings are made I altered the build so that the .webtests (including their associated JSON test data sub folders), the script and the .testsettings files are all copied to the drops location

     

    image

     

    Release

    In the release pipeline I need to call my script with suitable parameters so it find the tests, uses the .testsettings and creates a .TRX results file. I then need to use the ‘Publish Test Results’ task to uploaded these MSTest format results

    image

    So for the PowerShell MSTest task I set the following

    • Script name is $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/MyBuild\drop\Scripts\RunMSTest.ps1 
    • The argument is -path $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)\MyBuild\drop\Src\WebtestsProject -results $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)\webtests.trx -testsettings $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)\MyBuild\drop\src\webtest.testsettings

    And for the publish test results task.

    • Format – VSTest
    • Arguments - $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)\webtests.trx
    • I also set this task to always run to make sure I got test results even if some test failed

    Once all this was done and the build/release run I got my test results I needed

    image

     

    I can drill into my detailed test reports as needed

    image

    So I have a functioning release pipeline that can run all the various types of automated tests within my solution.

    New version of my VSTS Generate Release Notes extension - now supports Builds and Release

    I am pleased to announce that I have just made public on the VSTS marketplace a new version of my VSTS Generate Release Notes extension.

    This new version now supports both VSTS/TFS vNext Builds and vNext Releases. The previous versions only supported the generation of release notes as part of a build.

    The adding of support for release has meant I have had to rethink the internals of how the templates is process as well as the way templates are passed into the task and where results are stored

    • You can now provide a template as a file (usually from source control) as before, but also as an inline property. The latter is really designed for Releases where there is usually no access to source control, only to build artifact drops (though you could put the template in one of these if you wanted)
    • With a build the obvious place to put the release notes file is in the drops location. For a release there is no such artifact drop location, so I just leave the releases notes on the release agent, it is up to the user to get this file copied to a sensible location for their release process.

    To find out more check out the documentation on my GitHub repo and have a look at my sample templates to get you started generating release notes