But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

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.

Migrating work items to VSTS with custom fields using TFS Integration Platform

If you wish to migrate work items from TFS to VSTS your options are limited. You can of course just pull over work items, without history, using Excel. If you have no work item customisation them OpsHub is an option, but if you have work item customisation then you are going to have to use TFS Integration Platform. And we all know what a lovely experience that is!

Note: TFS Integration Platform will cease to be supported by Microsoft at the end of May 2016, this does not mean the tool is going away, just that there will be no support via forums.

In this post I will show how you can use TFS Integration platform to move over custom fields to VSTS, including the original TFS work item ID, this enabling migrations with history as detailed in my MSDN article

TFS Integration Platform Setup

Reference Assemblies

TFS Integration Platform being a somewhat old tool, design for TFS 2010, does not directly support TFS 2015 or VSTS. You have to select the Dev11 connection options (which is TFS 2012 by its internal code name). However, this will still cause problems as it fails to find all the assemblies it expects

The solution to this problem is provided in this post, the key being to add dummy registry entries

  1. Install either
  2. Add the following registry key after you have installed Team Explorer or equiv.
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0\InstalledProducts\Team System Tools for Developers]

    @="#101"

    "LogoID"="#100"

    "Package"="{97d9322b-672f-42ab-b3cb-ca27aaedf09d}"

    "ProductDetails"="#102"

    "UseVsProductID"=dword:00000001


MSI

Once this is done the TFS Integration Tools installation should work.

Accept the default options, you will need to select a SQL server for the tool to use as a database to store its progress. The installer will create a DB called tfs_integrationplatform on the SQL instance

Creating a Mappings File

TFS Integration platform needs a mapping file to work out which fields go where.

  1. We assume there is a local TFS server with the source to migrate from and a VSTS instance containing a team project using a reasonably compatible uncustomised process template
  2. Download the TFS Process Mapper and run it.
  3. You need to load into the process mapper the current work item configuration, the tools provides buttons to do this from XML files (exported with WITADMIN) or directly from the TFS/VSTS server.
  4. You should see a list of fields in both the source and target server definitions of the given work item type.
  5. Use the automap button to match the fields
  6. Any unmatch fields will be left on the left columns

    image
  7. Some field you may be match manually e.g. handing name changes from ‘Area ID’ to ‘AreadID’
  8. If you have local custom fields you can add matching fields on the VSTS instance, this is done using the process on MSDN.
  9. Once you have added your custom filed I have found it best to clear the mapping tool and re-import the VSTS work item definitions. The new fields appear in the list and can be mapped manually to their old equivalents.
  10. I now exported my mappings file.
  11. This process described above is the same as manually editing the mapping file in the form
    <MappedField MapFromSide="Left" LeftName="BM.Custom1" RightName="BMCustom1" />

    There is a good chance one of the fields you want is the old TFS servers work item. If you add the mapping as above for System.ID you would expect it to work. However, it does not the field is empty on the target system. I don’t think this is a bug, just an unexpected behaviour in the way the unique WI IDs are handled by the tool. As a workaround I found I had to also be an aggregate field to force the System.ID to be transferred. In my process customisation on VSTS I created an Integer OldId custom field. I then added the following to my mapping, it is important to note that I don’t use the  line in the mappedfields block, I used a AggregatedField. 
    <MappedFields>
             <-- all auto generated mapping stuff,
    This is where you would expect a line like the one below
             <MappedField MapFromSide="Left" LeftName="System.Id" RightName="OldID" /> –>
    </MappedFields>
    <AggregatedFields>
           <FieldsAggregationGroup MapFromSide="Left" TargetFieldName="OldID" Format="{0}">
               <SourceField Index="0" SourceFieldName="System.Id" valueMap=""/>
           </FieldsAggregationGroup>
    </AggregatedFields>
  12. I could now use my edited mappings file

Running TFS Integration Platform

I could now run the TFS Integration tools using the mappings file

  1. Load TFS Integration Platform
  2. Create a new configuration
  3. Select the option for work items with explicit mappings
  4. Select your source TFS server
  5. Select your target VSTS server
  6. Select the work item query that returns the items we wish to move
  7. Edit the mapping XML, but and past in the edited block from the previous section. Note that if you are moving multiple work item types then you will be combining a number of these mapping sections
  8. Save the mapping file, you are now ready to use it in TFS Integration Platform

 

And hopefully work migration will progress as you hope. It might take some trial and error but you should get there in the end.

But really……

This all said, I would still recommend just bring over the active work item backlog and current source when moving to VSTS. It a easier, faster and give you a chance to sort out structures without bringing in all your poor choices of the past.

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

Putting a release process around my VSTS extension development

I have been developing a few VSTS/TFS build related extensions and have published a few in the VSTS marketplace. This has all been a somewhat manual process, a mixture of Gulp and PowerShell has helped a bit, but I decided it was time to try to do a more formal approach. To do this I have used Jesse Houwing’s VSTS Extension Tasks.

Even with this set of tasks I am not sure what I have is ‘best practice’, but it does work. The doubt is due to the way the marketplace handles revisions and preview flags. What I have works for me, but ‘your mileage may differ’

My Workflow

The core of my workflow is that I am building the VSIX package twice, once as a private package and the other as a public one. They both contain the same code and have the same version number, they differ in only visibility flags

I am not using a the preview flag options at all. I have found they do not really help me. My workflow is to build the private package, upload it and test it by sharing it with a test VSTS instance. if all is good publish the matched public package on the marketplace. In this model there is no need to use a preview, it just adds complexity I don’t need.

This may not be true for everyone.

Build

The build’s job is to take the code, set the version number and package it into multiple VSIX package.

  1. First I have the vNext build get my source from my GitHub repo.
  2. I add two build variables $(Major) and $(Minor) that I use to manually manage my version number
  3. I set my build number format to $(Major).$(Minor).$(rev:r), so the final .number is incremented until I choose to increment the major or minor version.
  4. I then use one of Jesse’s tasks to package the extension multiple times using the extension tag model parameter. Each different package step uses different Visibility settings (circled in red). I also set the version, using the override options, to the $(Build.BuildNumber) (circled in green)

    image
  5. As I am using the VSTS hosted build agent I also need to make sure I check the install Tfx-cli in the global setting section
  6. I then add a second identical publish task, but this time there is no tag set and the visibility is set to public.
  7. Finally I use a ‘publish build artifacts’ task to copy the VSIX packages to a drop location

Release

So now I have multiple VSIX packages I can use the same family of tasks to create a release pipeline.

I create a new release linked to be a Continuous Deployment of the previously created build and set its release name format to Release-$(Build.BuildNumber)

My first environment uses three tasks, all using the option - to work from a VSIX package.

Note In all cases I am using the VSIX path in the format $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/GenerateReleaseNotes.Master/vsix/<package name>-<tag>-$(Build.BuildNumber).vsix. I am including the build number variable in the path as I chose to put all the packages in a single folder, so path wildcards are not an option as the task would not know which package to use unless I alter my build to put one VSIX package per folder.

My tasks for the first environment are

  1. Publish VSTS Extension – using my private package so it is added as a private package to the marketplace
  2. Share VSTS Extension – to my test VSTS account
  3. Install VSTS Extension – to my test VSTS account

For details in the usage of these tasks and setting up the link to the VSTS Marketplace see Jesse’s wiki

If I only intend a extension to ever be private this is enough. However I want to make mine public so I add a second environment that has manual pre-approval (so I have to confirm the public release)

This environment only needs single task

  1. Publish VSTS Extension – using my public package so it is added as a public package to the marketplace

I can of course add other tasks to this environment maybe send a Tweet or email to publicise the new version’s release

Summary

So now I have a formal way to release my extensions. The dual packaging model means I can publish two different versions at the same time one privately and the other public

image

It is now just a case of moving all my extensions over to the new model.

Though I am still interested to hear what other people view are? Does this seem a reasonable process flow?

Updates to my StyleCop task for VSTS/TFS 2015.2

Tracking the current version of StyleCop is a bit awkward. Last week I got an automated email from CodePlex saying 4.7.52.0 had been released . I thought this was the most up to date version, so upgraded my StyleCop command line wrapper and my VSTS StyleCop task from 4.7.47.0 to 4.7.52.0.

However, I was wrong about the current version. I had not realised that the StyleCop team  had forked the code onto GitHub. GitHub is now the home of the Visual Studio 2015 and C# 6 development of StyleCop, while Codeplex remains the home of the legacy Visual Studio versions. I had only upgraded to a legacy patch version, not the current version.

So I upgraded my StyleCop Command Line tool and my VSTS StyleCop task to wrapper 4.7.59.0, thus I think bringing me up to date.

How to build a connection string from other parameters within MSDeploy packages to avoid repeating yourself in Release Management variables

Whilst working with the new Release Management features in VSTS/TFS 2015.2 I found I needed to pass in configuration variables i.e. server name, Db name, UID and Password to create a SQL server via an Azure Resource Management Template release step and a connection string to the same SQL instance for a web site’s web.config, set using an MSDeploy release step using token replacement (as discussed in this post)

Now I could just create RM configuration variables for both the connection string and ARM settings,

image

 

However, this seems wrong for a couple of reason

  1. You should not repeat your self, too easy to get the two values out of step
  2. I don’t really want to obfuscate the whole of a connection string in RM, when only a password really needs to be hidden (note the connection string variable is not set as secure in the above screenshot)

What did not work

I first considered nesting the RM variables, e.g. setting a the connection string variable to be equal to ‘Server=tcp: $(DatabaseServer).database.windows.net,1433;Database=$(DatabaseName)….’, but this does not give the desired results, the S(DatabaseServer) and $(DatabaseName) variables are not expanded at runtime, you just get a string with the variable names in it.

How I got want I was after….

(In this post as a sample I am using the Fabrikam Fiber solution. This means I need to provide a value for the FabrikamFiber-Express connection string)

I wanted to build the connection string from the other variables in the MSDeploy package. So to get the behaviour I want…

  1. In Visual Studio load the Fabrikam web site solution.
  2. In the web project, use the publish option to create a publish profile use the ‘WebDeploy package’ option.
  3. If you publish this package you end up with a setparameter.xml file containing the default connection string
    <setParameter name="FabrikamFiber-Express-Web.config Connection String" value="Your value”/>
    Where ‘your value’ is the value you set in the Publish wizard. So to use this I would need to pass in a whole connection string, where I only want to pass parts of this string
  4. To add bespoke parameters to an MSDeploy package you add a parameter.xml file to the project in Visual Studio (I wrote a Visual Studio Extension that help add this file, but you can create it by hand). My tool will create the parameters.xml file based on the AppSettings block of the projects Web.config. So if you have a web.config containing the following
    <appSettings>
        <add key="Location" value="DEVPC" />
      </appSettings>
    It will create a parameters.xml file as follows
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <parameters>
      <parameter defaultValue="__LOCATION__" description="Description for Location" name="Location" tags="">
        <parameterentry kind="XmlFile" match="/configuration/appSettings/add[@key='Location']/@value" scope="\\web.config$" />
      </parameter>
    </parameters>
  5. If we publish at this point we will get a setparameters.xml file containing
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <parameters>
      <setParameter name="IIS Web Application Name" value="__Sitename__" />
      <setParameter name="Location" value="__LOCATION__" />
      <setParameter name="FabrikamFiber-Express-Web.config Connection String" value="__FabrikamFiberWebContext__" />
    </parameters>
    This is assuming I used the publish wizard to set the site name to __SiteName__ and the DB connection string to __FabrikamFiberWebContext__
  6. Next step is to add my DB related parameters to the paramaters.xml file, this I do by hand, my tool does not help
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <parameters>
      <parameter defaultValue="__LOCATION__" description="Description for Location" name="Location" tags="">
        <parameterentry kind="XmlFile" match="/configuration/appSettings/add[@key='Location']/@value" scope="\\web.config$" />
      </parameter>

      <parameter name="Database Server" defaultValue="__sqlservername__"></parameter>
      <parameter name="Database Name" defaultValue="__databasename__"></parameter>
      <parameter name="Database User" defaultValue="__SQLUser__"></parameter>
      <parameter name="Database Password" defaultValue="__SQLPassword__"></parameter>
    </parameters>
  7. If I publish again, this time the new variables also appear in the setparameters .xml file
  8. Now I need to supress the auto generated creation of the connection string  parameter, and replace it with a parameter that uses the other parameters to generate the connection string. You would think this was a case of added more text to the parameters.xml file, but that does not work. If you add the block you would expect (making sure the name matches the auto generated connection string name) as below
    <parameter 
      defaultValue="Server=tcp:{Database Server}.database.windows.net,1433;Database={Database Name};User ID={Database User}@{Database Server};Password={Database Password};Encrypt=True;TrustServerCertificate=False;Connection Timeout=30;"
      description="Enter the value for FabrikamFiber-Express connection string"
      name="FabrikamFiber-Express-Web.config Connection String"
      tags="">
      <parameterentry
        kind="XmlFile"
        match="/configuration/connectionStrings/add[@name='FabrikamFiber-Express']/@connectionString"
        scope="\\web.config$" />
    </parameter>

    It does add the entry to setparameters.xml, but this blocks the successful operations at deployment. It seems that if a value needs to be generated from other variables there can be no entry for it in the setparameters.xml. Documentation hints you can set the Tag to ‘Hidden’ but this does not appear to work.

    One option would be to let the setparameters.xml file be generated and then remove the offending line prior to deployment but this feels wrong and prone to human error
  9. To get around this you need to added a file name <projectname>.wpp.target to the same folder as the project (and add it to the project). In this file place the following
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <Project ToolsVersion="4.0" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">
    <Target Name="DeclareCustomParameters"
              BeforeTargets="Package">
        <ItemGroup>
          <MsDeployDeclareParameters Include="FabrikamFiber-Express">
            <Kind>XmlFile</Kind>
            <Scope>Web.config</Scope>
            <Match>/configuration/connectionStrings/add[@name='FabrikamFiber-Express']/@connectionString</Match>
            <Description>Enter the value for FabrikamFiber-Express connection string</Description>
            <DefaultValue>Server=tcp:{Database Server}.database.windows.net,1433;Database={Database Name};User ID={Database User}@{Database Server};Password={Database Password};Encrypt=True;TrustServerCertificate=False;Connection Timeout=30;</DefaultValue>
            <Tags></Tags>
            <ExcludeFromSetParameter>True</ExcludeFromSetParameter>
          </MsDeployDeclareParameters>
        </ItemGroup>
      </Target>
      <PropertyGroup>
        <AutoParameterizationWebConfigConnectionStrings>false</AutoParameterizationWebConfigConnectionStrings>
      </PropertyGroup>
    </Project>

    The first block declares the parameter I wish to use to build the connection string. Note the ‘ExcludeFromSetParameter’ setting so this parameter is not in the setparameters.xml file. This is what you cannot set in the parameters.xml

    The second block stops the auto generation of the connection string. (Thanks to Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi for various posts on getting this working)
  10. Once the edits are made unload and reload the project as the <project>. wpp.targets file is cached on loading by Visual Studio.
  11. Make sure the publish profile is not set to generate a connection string

    image
  12. Now when you publish the project, you should get a setparameters.xml file with only the four  SQL variables, the AppSettings variables and the site name.
    (Note I have set the values for all of these to the format  __NAME__, this is so I can use token replacement in  my release pipeline)
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <parameters>
      <setParameter name="IIS Web Application Name" value="__Sitename__" />
      <setParameter name="Location" value="__LOCATION__" />
      <setParameter name="Database Server" value="__sqlservername__" />
      <setParameter name="Database Name" value="__databasename__" />
      <setParameter name="Database User" value="__SQLUser__" />
      <setParameter name="Database Password" value="__SQLPassword__" />
    </parameters>
  13. If you deploy the web site, the web.config should have your values from the setparameters.xml file in it
    <appSettings>
       <add key="Location" value="__LOCATION__" />
    </appSettings>
    <connectionStrings>
         <add name="FabrikamFiber-Express" connectionString="Server=tcp:__sqlservername__.database.windows.net,1433;Database=__databasename__;User ID=__SQLUser__@__sqlservername__;Password=__SQLPassword__;Encrypt=True;TrustServerCertificate=False;Connection Timeout=30;" providerName="System.Data.SqlClient" />
    </connectionStrings>

You are now in a position manage the values of the setparameters.xml file however you wish. My choice is to use the ‘Replace Tokens’ build/release tasks from Colin’s ALM Corner Build & Release Tools Extension, as this tasks correctly handles secure/encrypted RM variables as long as you use the ‘Secret Tokens’ option on the advanced menu.

image



 

Summary

So yes, it all seems a but too complex, but it does work, and I think it makes for a cleaner deployment solution, less prone to human error. Which is what any DevOps solution must always strive for.

Depending on the values you put in the <project>.wpp.targets you can parameterise the connection string however you need.

In place upgrade times from TFS 2013 to 2015

There is no easy way to work out how long a TFS in place upgrade will take, there are just too many factors to make any calculation reasonable

  • Start and end TFS version
  • Quality/Speed of hardware
  • Volume of source code
  • Volume of work items
  • Volume of work item attachments
  • The list goes on….

The best option I have found to a graph various upgrades I have done and try to make an estimate based in the shape of the curve. I did this for 2010 > 2013 upgrades, and now I think I have enough data from upgrades of sizable TFS instances to do the same for 2013 to 2015.

image

 

Note: I extracted this data from the TFS logs using the script in this blog post it is also in my git repo 

So as a rule of thumb, the upgrade process will pause around step 100 (the exact number varies depending on your starting 2013.x release), time this pause, and expect the upgrade to complete in about 10x this period.

It is not 100% accurate, but close enough so you know how long to go for a coffee/meal/pub or bed for the night

Announcing release of my vNext build tasks as extensions in the VSTS/TFS Marketplace

In the past I have posted about the vNext TFS build tasks I have made available via my GitHub repo. Over the past few weeks I have been making an effort to repackage these as extensions in the new VSTS/TFS Marketplace, thus making them easier to consume in VSTS or using the new extensions support in TFS 2015.2

This it is an ongoing effort, but I pleased to announce the release of the first set of extension.

  • Generate Release Notes – generates a markdown release notes file based on work items associated with a build
  • Pester Test Runner – allows Pester based tests to be run in a build
  • StyleCop Runner – allows a StyleCop analysis to be made of files in a build
  • Typemock TMockRunner – used TMockrunner to wrapper MSTest, allowing Typemock test to be run on a private build agent

To try to avoid people going down the wrong path I intend to go back through my older blog posts on these tasks to update them to point at new resources.

Hope you find these tasks useful. If you find any log any issues on Github

New books on VSTS/TFS ALM DevOps

It has been a while since I have mentioned any had new books on TFS/VSTS, and just like buses a couple come along together.

These two, one from Tarun Arora and the other from Mathias Olausson and Jakob Ehn are both nicely on trend for the big area of interest for many of the companies I am working with at present; best practice ‘cook book’ style guidance on how to best use the tools in an ALM process.

 

          

If your are working with TFS/VSTS worth a look