Initial setup of the environment

In my previous post “Azure DevOps Services – cloud based platform for collaborating on code development from Microsoft” I presented the basic information about Azure DevOps capabilities. Now, I will focus on the details. Mainly, I will build together a full CI/CD pipeline for automated builds and deployments of sample .NET Core MVC web application to Azure App service.

I assume that based on my previous post, a new project in Azure DevOps is created and you have access to it :). Before the fun begins, let’s setup a service connection between our CI/CD server and the Azure Portal. Navigate to the Azure portal. Service connections can be limited to subscription or resource group level. In our sample case we will set scope to the resource group. First, create a new resource group in Azure:

Azure DevOps

 

Ok, the resource group is ready, navigate now to the settings panel in Azure DevOps, then select the “Service connection” sub-category, and add a new “Azure Resource Manager” service connection:

Azure DevOps

After the confirmation, the provided values will be validated. If everything was provided correctly, the newly created service connection will be saved and ready to use in CI/CD pipelines configuration.

First important thing is ready, now let’s focus on accessing to the Azure Repos GIT repository. In the Azure DevOps user profile you can easily add your existing SSH public key. To do this, navigate to the “SSH public keys” panel in your profile and add your SSH key:

Azure DevOps

 

Later on, clone our new empty repository to the local computer. In the “Repos” section in Azure DevOps portal you can find the “Clone” button which shows a direct link dedicated for cloning. Copy the link to the clipboard and run your local GIT bash console, and run “git clone” command:

 

Azure DevOps

 

One warning occurs, but it is ok – our repository is new and empty 🙂 Now, our environment is ready, then we will create a new project and its code will be committed to our repo.

 

Creation of a development project and repository initialization

I will use the Visual Studio 2017 but here we do not have a limitation to a specific version. When IDE will be ready, navigate to the project creation action, then select “Cloud” and “ASP.NET Core Web application”:

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In next the step, we can specify the framework version and target template. I will base on the ASP.NET Core 2.1 Framework and MVC template:

Azure DevOps

After a few seconds a new sample ASP.NET Core MVC project will be generated. For our purpose it is enough to start the fun with Ci/CD pipeline configuration on the Azure DevOps side. This application will be used as a working example. Dealing with code and implementation of magic stuff inside the application is not a purpose of this post. When the project will be ready, you can run it locally, and after testing commit the code to our repository:

Azure DevOps

Build the pipeline (CI) by visual designer

Our source code is in the repository, so let’s create a build pipeline for our solution. Navigate to the “Pipelines” section, next “Builds” and click “Create new”. In this example we will create our build pipeline from scratch with visual designer. If the pipeline would be committed to the repo in a YAML file (Pipeline as a code) then we have a possibility to load the ready pipeline from the file as well.

 

Azure DevOps

 

The full process contains three steps. At the beginning, we must specify where our code is located. The default option is the internal GIT repository in our project in the Azure DevOps. In our case this selection is correct. In second step, we can use one of the pre-defined build templates. Our application is based on the .NET Core framework, so I will select the ASP.NET Core template. After that the pre-defined agent job will be created for us. The job will contains steps like NuGet packages restoring, building of our solution, testing (in our app test doesn’t exist) and final publishing of the solution to package which will be used in the release pipeline. Here we can also export our pipeline to a YAML file:

Azure DevOps

 

On the “Triggers” tab the “Continuous integration” feature is not activated by default. Let’s enable them manually:

 

Azure DevOps

 

After saving all changes in the pipeline, our setup CI build pipeline is ready. Below you can see the sample action triggered by committing new changes in the repository. The new “CI build” runs immediately after new changes in the application code have been committed. Also email notifications will be sent to all subscribers. In the reason field, we can see “Continuous integration”. The icons in the email and in the build panel in the portal are an easy way to show the status of the build:

Azure DevOps

 

Release pipeline (CD)

Now we will take care of the automatic release of our application to App Service on Azure. At the beginning, we need to create an App Service instance in the resource group, which has been selected to the service connection:

 

Azure DevOps

Ok, when the deployment is finished, we can start the creation process of the release pipeline in Azure DevOps. First we have to decide which template from the pre-defined list we will use. For our solution the “Azure App Service deployment” will be a good choice:

 

Azure DevOps

Next we must specify the source of artifacts. In our case, we will use the results of our build pipeline created in the previous steps:

Azure DevOps

 

Stages in the pipeline can be also renamed. This is a good practice in huge pipelines. We can observe what’s happened in each stage:

Azure DevOps

 

In the general settings for our new stage-agent, we must fill three very important parameters. First one is to specify which service connection the release pipeline will use, secondly, we must select the type of the application deployed to the  App Service. In the third parameter, we must put in the name of the existing App Service instance. We already created one at the beginning of this part of post.

 

Azure DevOps

 

Next in the configuration is to select the localization of the published application package. In our case this localization looks like this:

Azure DevOps

 

In a similar way like in the CI pipeline we need to enable the trigger in our newly created CD pipeline. To do that, we must click on the light icon on the artifact source and enable the trigger for the build:

Azure DevOps

 

It was the last step in the configuration. Looks like we are ready to commit some changes and check the final functionality 🙂

 

Final check

Let’s test our new full CI/CD pipeline then:

1. Add the new code in the application:

In the controller:

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In the view:

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2. Commit the changes to the repository:

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3. Our CI build pipeline started automatically and is ready:

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4. I received an email with confirmation of the correct building:

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5. The release CD pipeline started automatically after success. The build from the CI pipeline and deployment is ready:

Azure DevOps

 

6. Changes have been deployed to Azure App Service and are visible:

Azure DevOps

 

As we can observe, the configuration of the full CI/CD pipeline for ASP.NET Core MVC web application is pretty easy. However, you must have some knowledge related to the configuration this stuff on the Azure DevOps side.

We hope you will enjoy this post and this step-by-step guide will be useful for your future experience with Azure DevOps. Here you can find the first post of this series: Azure DevOps Services – cloud based platform for collaborating on code development from Microsoft