Use Azure Pipelines

Azure Pipelines | Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015

Azure Pipelines supports continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to constantly and consistently test and build your code and ship it to any target. You accomplish this by defining a pipeline. You define pipelines using the YAML syntax or through the user interface (Classic).

Azure Pipelines supports continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to constantly and consistently test and build your code and ship it to any target. You accomplish this by defining a pipeline using the user interface, also referred to as Classic.

Note

In Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2018 and previous versions, build and release pipelines are called definitions, runs are called builds, service connections are called service endpoints, stages are called environments, and jobs are called phases.

Automate tests, builds, and delivery

Continuous integration automates tests and builds for your project. CI helps to catch bugs or issues early in the development cycle, when they're easier and faster to fix. Items known as artifacts are produced from CI systems. They're used by the continuous delivery release pipelines to drive automatic deployments.

Continuous delivery automatically deploys and tests code in multiple stages to help drive quality. Continuous integration systems produce deployable artifacts, which includes infrastructure and apps. Automated release pipelines consume these artifacts to release new versions and fixes to the target of your choice.

Continuous integration (CI) Continuous delivery (CD)
- Increase code coverage
- Build faster by splitting test and build runs
- Automatically ensure you don't ship broken code
- Run tests continually.
- Automatically deploy code to production
- Ensure deployment targets have latest code
- Use tested code from CI process.

Define pipelines using YAML syntax

You define your pipeline in a YAML file called azure-pipelines.yml with the rest of your app.

Pipelines YAML intro image

  • The pipeline is versioned with your code. It follows the same branching structure. You get validation of your changes through code reviews in pull requests and branch build policies.
  • Every branch you use can modify the build policy by modifying the azure-pipelines.yml file.
  • A change to the build process might cause a break or result in an unexpected outcome. Because the change is in version control with the rest of your codebase, you can more easily identify the issue.

Follow these basic steps:

  1. Configure Azure Pipelines to use your Git repo.
  2. Edit your azure-pipelines.yml file to define your build.
  3. Push your code to your version control repository. This action kicks off the default trigger to build and deploy and then monitor the results.

Your code is now updated, built, tested, and packaged. It can be deployed to any target.

YAML pipelines aren't available in TFS 2018 and earlier versions.

Define pipelines using the Classic interface

Create and configure pipelines in the Azure DevOps web portal with the Classic user interface editor. You define a build pipeline to build and test your code, and then to publish artifacts. You also define a release pipeline to consume and deploy those artifacts to deployment targets.

Pipelines designer intro image

Follow these basic steps:

  1. Configure Azure Pipelines to use your Git repo.
  2. Use the Azure Pipelines classic editor to create and configure your build and release pipelines.
  3. Push your code to your version control repository. This action triggers your pipeline and runs tasks such as building or testing code.

The build creates an artifact that's used by the rest of your pipeline to run tasks such as deploying to staging or production.

Your code is now updated, built, tested, and packaged. It can be deployed to any target.

Feature availability

Certain pipeline features are only available when using YAML or when defining build or release pipelines with the Classic interface. The following table indicates which features are supported and for which tasks and methods.

Feature YAML Classic Build Classic Release Notes
Agents Yes Yes Yes Specifies a required resource on which the pipeline runs.
Approvals Yes No Yes Defines a set of validations required prior to completing a deployment stage.
Artifacts Yes Yes Yes Supports publishing or consuming different package types.
Caching Yes Yes No Reduces build time by allowing outputs or downloaded dependencies from one run to be reused in later runs. In Preview, available with Azure Pipelines only.
Conditions Yes Yes Yes Specifies conditions to be met prior to running a job.
Container jobs Yes No No Specifies jobs to run in a container.
Demands Yes Yes Yes Ensures pipeline requirements are met before running a pipeline stage. Requires self-hosted agents.
Dependencies Yes Yes Yes Specifies a requirement that must be met in order to run the next job or stage.
Deployment groups Yes No Yes Defines a logical set of deployment target machines.
Deployment group jobs No No Yes Specifies a job to release to a deployment group.
Deployment jobs Yes No No Defines the deployment steps.
Environment Yes No No Represents a collection of resources targeted for deployment. Available with Azure Pipelines only.
Gates No No Yes Supports automatic collection and evaluation of external health signals prior to completing a release stage. Available with Classic Release only.
Jobs Yes Yes Yes Defines the execution sequence of a set of steps.
Service connections Yes Yes Yes Enables a connection to a remote service that is required to execute tasks in a job.
Service containers Yes No No Enables you to manage the lifecycle of a containerized service.
Stages Yes No Yes Organizes jobs within a pipeline.
Task groups No Yes Yes Encapsulates a sequence of tasks into a single reusable task. If using YAML, see templates.
Tasks Yes Yes Yes Defines the building blocks that make up a pipeline.
Templates Yes No No Defines reusable content, logic, and parameters.
Triggers Yes Yes Yes Defines the event that causes a pipeline to run.
Variables Yes Yes Yes Represents a value to be replaced by data to pass to the pipeline.
Variable groups Yes Yes Yes Use to store values that you want to control and make available across multiple pipelines.

TFS 2015 through TFS 2018 supports the Classic interface only. The following table indicates which pipeline features are available when defining build or release pipelines.

Feature Classic Build Classic Release Notes
Agents Yes Yes Specifies a required resource on which the pipeline runs.
Approvals No Yes Defines a set of validations required prior to completing a deployment stage.
Artifacts Yes Yes Supports publishing or consuming different package types.
Conditions Yes Yes Specifies conditions to be met prior to running a job.
Demands Yes Yes Ensures pipeline requirements are met before running a pipeline stage. Requires self-hosted agents.
Dependencies Yes Yes Specifies a requirement that must be met in order to run the next job or stage.
Deployment groups No Yes Defines a logical set of deployment target machines.
Deployment group jobs No Yes Specifies a job to release to a deployment group.
Jobs Yes Yes Defines the execution sequence of a set of steps.
Service connections Yes Yes Enables a connection to a remote service that is required to execute tasks in a job.
Stages No Yes Organizes jobs within a pipeline.
Task groups Yes Yes Encapsulates a sequence of tasks into a single reusable task. If using YAML, see templates.
Tasks Yes Yes Defines the building blocks that make up a pipeline.
Triggers Yes Yes Defines the event that causes a pipeline to run.
Variables Yes Yes Represents a value to be replaced by data to pass to the pipeline.
Variable groups Yes Yes Use to store values that you want to control and make available across multiple pipelines.

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