Postmortem published by the Microsoft VSTS Team on last week’s Azure outage

The Azure DevOps (VSTS) team have published the promised postmortem on the outage on the 4th of September.

It gives good detail on what actually happened to the South Central Azure Datacenter and how it effected VSTS (as it was then called).

More interestingly it provides a discussion of mitigations they plan to put in place to stop a single datacentre failure having such a serious effect in the future.

Great openness as always from the team

VSTS becomes Azure DevOps

Today Microsoft made a big announcement, VSTS is now Azure DevOps.

The big change is they have split VSTS into 5 services you can use together or independently, including Azure Pipelines for CI/CD – free for open source and available in the GitHub CI marketplace.

An important thing to note is that IT IS NOT JUST FOR AZURE.

Don’t be afraid of the name. There a wide range of connectors to other cloud providers such as AWS and Google Cloud, as will as many other DevOps tools

Learn more at have a look at the official post

Videos do not play in VSTS WIKI via relative links – workaround

The Problem

The documentation for the VSTS WIKI suggests you can embed a video in a VSTS WIKI using the markdown/HTML

<video src="_media/vstswiki_mid.mp4" width=400 controls>
</video>

Problem is that this does not seem to work, the MP4 just does not appear, you get an empty video player.

However, if you swap to a full URL it does work e.g.

<video src="https://sec.ch9.ms/ch9/7247/7c8ddc1a-348b-4ba9-ab61-51fded6e7247/vstswiki_high.mp4" width=400 controls> 
</video>

This is a problem if you wish to store media locally in your WIKI

The Workaround

The workaround is to either place the MP4 file in some URL accessible location e.g. some Azure web space (not really addressing the problem), or more usefully use the VSTS API to get the file out the repo that backs the WIKI.

The format of the HTML tag becomes

<video src="https://vstsinstance.visualstudio.com/MyTeamProject/_apis/git/repositories/MyTeamProject.wiki/Items?path=_media%2Fvstswiki_high.mp4 width=400" controls>
</video>

This will get the current version of the file on default branch, you can add extra parameters to to specify versions and branches if required as per the API documentation.

So not a perfect solution as you have to think about branches and versions, they are not handled automatically, but at least it does work

Registering an agent with VSTS and getting the message "Agent pool not found"

When you want to register a build agent with VSTS, you use the VSTS instance’s URL and a user’s Personal Access Token (PAT). Whilst doing this today I connected to the VSTS instance OK but got the error “Agent pool not found”.when I was asked to pick the agent pool to add the new agent to.

As the user who’s PAT I was using was a Build Administrator I was a bit confused, but then I remembered to check their user access level. It was set to Stakeholder, once this was changed to Basic I was able to register the agent without use.

Also, so as to not use up a Basic license, when I did not need to, I swapped the user back to being a Stakeholder once the agent was registered. This can be done as the token used for the actual build is not the one used to register it, but one assigned at build time by VSTS.

Experiences migrating TFS XML Team Project Templates to Inherited Team Project Templates

You have always been able to customise your Team Projects in TFS, by editing a host of XML files, but it was not a pleasant experience. In VSTS a far more pleasant to use web based inherited customisation model was added, much to, I think, most administrators relief.

If you used the TFS DB migration service you ended up with a VSTS instance full of the the XML style team projects, and you were stuck there, with no way to change these to the new inherited mode, that is until now as Microsoft have released to preview a conversion tool.

I have been trying this tool to migrate all our active XML based team projects to Inherited equivalents, and it has worked very well for me, but I have to say, we don’t have any hugely complex customisations, so your mileage may vary depending on how much you modified your XML based team project templates.

However, I wanted to go further than the basic process as documented

Since moving to VSTS all our new team project have been created  using an inherited template based on Scrum. I wanted to move all our active XML based team project to this standardised template. This took a little extra work.

The basic process is easy as to change Inherited Process you

  1. In the instance admin page https://[instance].visualstudio.com/_settings/process pick the target template
  2. Click on the ellipse (…) and pick ‘Change team project to use ….’
  3. Pick the team project you wish to migrate and you are done

REMEMBER: A really nice touch (with XML and Inherited templates) is that you can just switch back if you don’t like the result, no data is lost when you swap templates, but some of it might be hidden as fields are not shown on the new work item types.

The problem I had was that our old XML based team project templates had different customisation to our current inherited standard. To address this I needed to

  • Adding a few fields to our standard inherited template based on Scrum, for critical legacy customisations
  • In one case a work item types in use in the XML template had no match in our current template. In this case I changed the work item type to it’s equivalent (we had used a variety of ‘flavours of PBI’ so this was not a major problem), adding a tag to the work items to they could be identified, then deleting the offending work item type.
  • I could conceive of a need for more complex remapping for work item types and fields, but I was able to avoid this.

So once done, I was then able to migrate all the team project to my target process template.

So a very nice experience, and one that now means we can make sure all our team projects use the same set of customisation. No longer do we need to worry about customising in XML and Inherited models.

Hello sign in does not work on my first generation Surface Book after a rebuild – fixed

I have just rebuilt my first generation Surface Book from our company standard Windows image. These images are used by all our staff all the time without issue (on Surface and Lenovo devices), so I was not expecting any problems.

I used to rebuild my PC every 6 months or so, but got out the habit when I moved to a model I could not swap the hard drive out of as backup during the process (using a new disk for new install). I got around this by using Disk2VHD, not quite as good as I can’t just swap the disk back in, but I won’t have lost any stray files, even though I always aim to keep data in OneDrive, Source Control or SharePoint, so it should not been an issue anyway.

Anyway, the rebuild went fine, no issues until I tried to enable Hello to login using the camera. The process seemed to start OK, the wizard ran, but after a reboot there was no Hello login option.

After a bit of digging I found that in device manager there were no imaging devices at all – strange as the Camera App and Skype worked OK.

The Internet proved little help, suggesting the usual set of ‘you have a virus install our tool’ but after much more digging around I found that the cameras were all under ‘System Devices’ in device manager. So I then…

  1. Uninstalled them all (front, front IR and back)
  2. Scanned for hardware changes (they reappeared, still in ‘System Devices’
  3. Ran a Windows Update and some new Intel Drivers were downloaded
  4. I could then run the Hello setup wizard again, seems all old settings were lost

That was all much more complex than hoped for. My guess is that the system rebuild changed some firmware in a strange way that makes for the misdetection of the cameras.

Anyway it is working now.

Getting Remote Desktop Manager 2.7 working sanely with mixed high DPI screens

Updated 3 July 2018 – A colleague, Andy Davidson,  suggested mRemoteNG as an alternative tool to this address this issue. mRemoteNG also has the advantage that it support most major remoting technologies not just RDP, so I am giving that a try for a while.

This is one of those post I do mostly for myself so I don’t forget how I did something, it is all based on answers on SuperUser.Com, I can claim no credit

I have a SurfaceBook (first generation) and when I am in the office it is linked to an external monitor, with a different lower DPI, via a dock. If I use Remote Desktop (MSTSC) as built into Windows 10, I can drag sessions between the two monitors and the DPI shift is handled OK. However, if I use my preferred tool Remote Desktop Manager 2.7 (as it allow me to store all my commonly used RDP settings) I am in DPI hell. I either get huge fonts or microscopic ones. This is bad whether working on the single high DPI laptop screen work with an external screen.

As the SuperUser.Com post states the answer is to change the compatibility settings for the manager by right clicking on the file “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Remote Desktop Connection Manager\RDCMan.exe”, selecting compatibility, change high DPI settings, and unchecking high DPI setting override

image

Once this was done, I have readable resolutions on all screens.

Why did I not do a better search months ago?

A workaround for the error ‘TF14061: The workspace ws_1_18;Project Collection Build Service does not exist’ when mapping a TFVC workspace

Whilst writing some training material for VSTS I hit a problem creating a TFVC workspace. I was using VS2017, linking a TFVC Repo to a local folder. I was connecting to the VSTS instance using an MSA.

In Team Explorer, when I came to do a ‘Map & Get’ to map the source locations I got a ‘TF14061: The workspace ws_1_18;Project Collection Build Service does not exist’ error

image

Strange error, which I could see no obvious reason for. Turns out the work around was just to press the ‘Advanced’ link/button and accept the defaults

Still a few spaces left at the Yorkshire Global DevOps BootCamp Venue hosted at Black Marble

There are still a few spaces left at the Yorkshire Global DevOps BootCamp Venue hosted at Black Marble

Come and learn about all things cool in DevOps, including

  • Video keynote by Microsoft
  • Local keynote: Breaking down the Monolith
  • Hackathon/HandsOn DevOps challenges. The hands-on part with be based on a common application where we try to solve as many challenges as possible, including ideas like
    • How to containerize an existing application
    • How to add telemetry (app insights) to the application and gather hypothesis information
    • How to use telemetry to monitor availability
    • How to use feature toggles to move application into production without disrupting end users
    • How to use release gates
    • How to make DB schema changes
    • Use Blue Green Deployments

And there is free lunch too!

To register click here