Use the visual designer

Azure Pipelines | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017

Note

Build and release pipelines are called definitions in TFS 2018 and in older versions. Service connections are called service endpoints in TFS 2018 and in older versions.

Note

This guidance applies to TFS version 2017.3 and newer.

Tip

For build pipelines, we recommend that you use YAML instead of the visual designer that is explained below. YAML allows you to use the same branching and code review practices for your pipeline as you would for your application code. See Create your first pipeline.

We'll show you how to use the visual designer in Azure Pipelines to create a build and release that prints "Hello world". If you plan to use a YAML file instead of the visual designer, then see Create your first pipeline instead.

We'll show you how to use TFS to create a build and a release that prints "Hello world".

Prerequisites

  • You need an Azure DevOps organization. If you don't have one, you can create one for free. If your team already has one, then make sure you're an administrator of the Azure DevOps project that you want to use. (An Azure DevOps organization is different from your GitHub organization. Give them the same name if you want alignment between them.)

Intialize your repository

If you already have a repository in your project, you can skip to the next step: Add a script to your repository

  1. Go to Azure Repos. (The Code hub in the previous navigation)

    Repos files

  2. If your project is empty, you will be greeted with a screen to help you add code to your repository. Choose the bottom choice to initalize your repo with a readme file:

    Initialize repository

  1. Navigate to your repository by clicking Code in the top navigation.

  2. If your project is empty, you will be greeted with a screen to help you add code to your repository. Choose the bottom choice to initalize your repo with a readme file:

    Initialize repository

Add a script to your repository

Create a PowerShell script that prints Hello world.

  1. Go to Azure Repos.

  2. Add a file.

  3. In the dialog box, name your new file and create it.

    HelloWorld.ps1
    
  4. Copy and paste this script.

    Write-Host "Hello world"
    
  5. Commit (save) the file.

  1. Go to the Code hub.

  2. Add a file.

On the Files tab, from the repo node, select the 'New -> File' option

On the Files tab, from the repo node, select the 'Add file' option

  1. In the dialog box, name your new file and create it.

    HelloWorld.ps1
    
  2. Copy and paste this script.

    Write-Host "Hello world"
    
  3. Commit (save) the file.

In this tutorial, our focus is on CI/CD, so we're keeping the code part simple. We're working in an Azure Repos Git repository directly in your web browser.

When you're ready to begin building and deploying a real app, you can use a wide range of version control clients and services with Azure Pipelines CI builds. Learn more.

Create a build pipeline

Create a build pipeline that prints "Hello world."

  1. Select Azure Pipelines, it should automatically take you to the Builds page.

  2. Create a new pipeline.

    For new Azure DevOps accounts, this will automatically take you to the YAML pipeline creation experience. To get to the visual designer and complete this guide, you must turn off the preview feature for the New YAML pipeline creation experience:

    Click settings in top right of screen and click preview features

    Click toggle to turn yaml preview feature off

  3. Make sure that the source, project, repository, and default branch match the location in which you created the script.

  4. Start with an Empty job.

  5. On the left side, select Pipeline and specify whatever Name you want to use. For the Agent pool, select Hosted VS2017.

  6. On the left side, select the plus sign ( + ) to add a task to Job 1. On the right side, select the Utility category, select the PowerShell task from the list, and then choose Add.

    builds-tab-add-task-to-job

  7. On the left side, select your new PowerShell script task.

  8. For the Script Path argument, select the ... button to browse your repository and select the script you created.

    PowerShell task

  9. Select Save & queue, and then select Save.

  1. Select Build and Release, and then choose Builds.

    navigate to builds tab

  2. Create a new pipeline.

    builds-tab-mine-new-button

  3. Start with an empty pipeline

  4. Select Pipeline and specify whatever Name you want to use. For the Agent pool, select Default.

  5. On the left side, select + Add Task to add a task to the job, and then on the right side select the Utility category, select the PowerShell task, and then choose Add.

    builds-tab-add-task-to-job

  6. On the left side, select your new PowerShell script task.

  7. For the Script Path argument, select the ... button to browse your repository and select the script you created.

    PowerShell task

  8. Select Save & queue, and then select Save.

  1. Select Azure Pipelines, and then the Builds tab.

    navigate to builds tab

  2. Create a new pipeline.

    builds-tab-mine-new-button

  3. Start with an empty pipeline.

  4. Select Pipeline and specify whatever Name you want to use.

  5. On the Options tab, select Default for the Agent pool, or select whichever pool you want to use that has Windows build agents.

  6. On the Tasks tab, make sure that Get sources is set with the Repository and Branch in which you created the script.

  7. On the left side select Add Task, and then on the right side select the Utility category, select the PowerShell task, and then select Add.

  8. On the left side, select your new PowerShell script task.

  9. For the Script Path argument, select the ... button to browse your repository and select the script you created.

    PowerShell task

  10. Select Save & queue, and then select Save.

A build pipeline is the entity through which you define your automated build pipeline. In the build pipeline, you compose a set of tasks, each of which perform a step in your build. The task catalog provides a rich set of tasks for you to get started. You can also add PowerShell or shell scripts to your build pipeline.

Publish an artifact from your build

A typical build produces an artifact that can then be deployed to various stages in a release. Here to demonstrate the capability in a simple way, we'll simply publish the script as the artifact.

  1. On the Tasks tab, select the plus sign ( + ) to add a task to Job 1.

  2. Select the Utility category, select the Publish Build Artifacts task, and then select Add.

    publish artifact task

    Path to publish: Select the ... button to browse and select the script you created.

    Artifact name: Enter drop.

    Artifact publish location: Select Azure Artifacts/TFS.

  1. On the Tasks tab, select Add Task.

  2. Select the Utility category, select the Publish Build Artifacts task, and then select Add.

    publish artifact task

    Path to Publish: Select the ... button to browse and select the script you created.

    Artifact Name: Enter drop.

    Artifact Type: Select Server.

Artifacts are the files that you want your build to produce. Artifacts can be nearly anything your team needs to test or deploy your app. For example, you've got a .DLL and .EXE executable files and .PDB symbols file of a C# or C++ .NET Windows app.

To enable you to produce artifacts, we provide tools such as copying with pattern matching, and a staging directory in which you can gather your artifacts before publishing them. See Artifacts in Azure Pipelines.

Enable continuous integration (CI)

  1. Select the Triggers tab.

  2. Enable Continuous integration.

A continuous integration trigger on a build pipeline indicates that the system should automatically queue a new build whenever a code change is committed. You can make the trigger more general or more specific, and also schedule your build (for example, on a nightly basis). See Build triggers.

Save and queue the build

Save and queue a build manually and test your build pipeline.

  1. Select Save & queue, and then select Save & queue.

  2. On the dialog box, select Save & queue once more.

    This queues a new build on the Microsoft-hosted agent.

  3. You see a link to the new build on the top of the page.

    Choose the link to watch the new build as it happens. Once the agent is allocated, you'll start seeing the live logs of the build. Notice that the PowerShell script is run as part of the build, and that "Hello world" is printed to the console.

  4. Go to the build summary. On the Artifacts tab of the build, notice that the script is published as an artifact.

  1. Select Save & queue, and then select Save & queue.

  2. On the dialog box, select Save & queue once more.

    This queues a new build on the Microsoft-hosted agent.

  3. You see a link to the new build on the top of the page.

    build console

    Choose the link to watch the new build as it happens. Once the agent is allocated, you'll start seeing the live logs of the build. Notice that the PowerShell script is run as part of the build, and that "Hello world" is printed to the console.

    build console

  4. Go to the build summary.

    build console link to build summary

  5. On the Artifacts tab of the build, notice that the script is published as an artifact.

    artifacts explorer

You can view a summary of all the builds or drill into the logs for each build at any time by navigating to the Builds tab in Azure Pipelines. For each build, you can also view a list of commits that were built and the work items associated with each commit. You can also run tests in each build and analyze the test failures.

  1. Select Save & queue, and then select Save & queue.

  2. On the dialog box, select the Queue button.

    This queues a new build on the agent. Once the agent is allocated, you'll start seeing the live logs of the build. Notice that the PowerShell script is run as part of the build, and that "Hello world" is printed to the console.

    build console

  3. Go to the build summary.

    build console link to build summary

  4. On the Artifacts tab of the build, notice that the script is published as an artifact.

    artifacts explorer

You can view a summary of all the builds or drill into the logs for each build at any time by navigating to the Builds tab in Build and Release. For each build, you can also view a list of commits that were built and the work items associated with each commit. You can also run tests in each build and analyze the test failures.

Add some variables and commit a change to your script

We'll pass some build variables to the script to make our pipeline a bit more interesting. Then we'll commit a change to a script and watch the CI pipeline run automatically to validate the change.

  1. Edit your build pipeline.

  2. On the Tasks tab, select the PowerShell script task.

  3. Add these arguments.

    PowerShell task

    Arguments

    -greeter "$(Build.RequestedFor)" -trigger "$(Build.Reason)"
    
  4. Save the build pipeline.

  5. Go to the Code hub, Files tab.

  6. Select the HelloWorld.ps1 file, and then Edit the file.

  7. Change the script as follows:

    Param(
    [string]$greeter,
    [string]$trigger
    )
    Write-Host "Hello world" from $greeter
    Write-Host Trigger: $trigger
    
  8. Commit (save) the script.

  1. Go to Azure Pipelines and select Queued. Notice under the Queued or running section that a build is automatically triggered by the change that you committed.
  1. Go to the Build and Release page and select Queued. Notice under the Queued or running section that a build is automatically triggered by the change that you committed.
  1. Select the new build that was created and view its log.

  2. Notice that the person who changed the code has their name printed in the greeting message. You also see printed that this was a CI build.

build summary powershell script log

We just introduced the concept of build variables in these steps. We printed the value of a variable that is automatically predefined and initialized by the system. You can also define custom variables and use them either in arguments to your tasks, or as environment variables within your scripts. To learn more about variables, see Build variables.

You've got a build pipeline. What's next?

You've just created a build pipeline that automatically builds and validates whatever code is checked in by your team. At this point you can continue to the next section to learn about release pipelines. Or, if you prefer, you can skip ahead to create a build pipeline for your app.

Create a release pipeline

Define the process for running the script in two stages.

  1. Go to the Pipelines tab, and then select Releases.

  2. Select the action to create a New pipeline. If a release pipeline is already created, select the plus sign ( + ) and then select Create a release pipeline.

  3. Select the action to start with an Empty job.

  4. Name the stage QA.

  5. In the Artifacts panel, select + Add and specify a Source (Build pipeline). Select Add.

  6. Select the Lightning bolt to trigger continuous deployment and then enable the Continuous deployment trigger on the right.

  7. Select the Tasks tab and select your QA stage.

  8. Select the plus sign ( + ) for the job to add a task to the job.

  9. On the Add tasks dialog box, select Utility, locate the PowerShell task, and then select its Add button.

  10. On the left side, select your new PowerShell script task.

  11. For the Script Path argument, select the ... button to browse your artifacts and select the script you created.

  12. Add these Arguments:

    -greeter "$(Release.RequestedFor)" -trigger "$(Build.DefinitionName)"
    
  13. On the Pipeline tab, select the QA stage and select Clone.

  14. Rename the cloned stage Production.

  15. Rename the release pipeline Hello world.

  16. Save the release pipeline.

  1. Go to the Build and Release tab, and then select Releases.

  2. Select the action to create a New pipeline. If a release pipeline is already created, select the plus sign ( + ) and then select Create a release definition.

  3. Select the action to start with an Empty definition.

  4. Name the stage QA.

  5. In the Artifacts panel, select + Add and specify a Source (Build pipeline). Select Add.

  6. Select the Lightning bolt to trigger continuous deployment and then enable the Continuous deployment trigger on the right.

    trigger continuous deployment

  7. Select the Tasks tab and select your QA stage.

  8. Select the plus sign ( + ) for the job to add a task to the job.

  9. On the Add tasks dialog box, select Utility, locate the PowerShell task, and then select its Add button.

  10. On the left side, select your new PowerShell script task.

  11. For the Script Path argument, select the ... button to browse your artifacts and select the script you created.

  12. Add these Arguments:

    -greeter "$(Release.RequestedFor)" -trigger "$(Build.DefinitionName)"
    
  13. On the Pipeline tab, select the QA stage and select Clone.

    clone-release-environment

  14. Rename the cloned stage Production.

  15. Rename the release pipeline Hello world.

    rename release pipeline

  16. Save the release pipeline.

  1. Go to Azure Pipelines, and then to the Releases tab.

  2. Select the action to create a New pipeline.

  3. On the dialog box, select the Empty template and select Next.

  4. Make sure that your Hello world build pipeline that you created above is selected. Select Continuous deployment, and then select Create.

  5. Select Add tasks in the stage.

  6. On the Task catalog dialog box, select Utility, locate the PowerShell task, and then select its Add button. Select the Close button.

  7. For the Script Path argument, select the ... button to browse your artifacts and select the script you created.

  8. Add these Arguments:

    -greeter "$(Release.RequestedFor)" -trigger "$(Build.DefinitionName)"
    
  9. Rename the stage QA.

    rename release environment

  10. Clone the QA stage.

    clone-release-environment

    Leave Automatically approve and Deploy automatically... selected, and select Create.

  11. Rename the new stage Production.

  12. Rename the release pipeline Hello world.

    rename release pipeline

  13. Save the release pipeline.

A release pipeline is a collection of stages to which the application build artifacts are deployed. It also defines the actual deployment pipeline for each stage, as well as how the artifacts are promoted from one stage to another.

Also, notice that we used some variables in our script arguments. In this case, we used release variables instead of the build variables we used for the build pipeline.

Deploy a release

Run the script in each stage.

  1. Create a new release.

  2. Define the trigger settings and artifact source for the release and then select Create.

  3. Open the release that you just created.

  4. View the logs to get real-time data about the release.

  1. Create a new release.

    create release

  2. Define the trigger settings and artifact source for the release and then select Queue.

  3. Open the release that you just created.

    release created

  4. View the logs to get real-time data about the release.

    release logs

  1. Create a new release.

    create release

  2. Open the release that you just created.

    release created

  3. View the logs to get real-time data about the release.

    release logs

You can track the progress of each release to see if it has been deployed to all the stages. You can track the commits that are part of each release, the associated work items, and the results of any test runs that you've added to the release pipeline.

Change your code and watch it automatically deploy to production

We'll make one more change to the script. This time it will automatically build and then get deployed all the way to the production stage.

  1. Go to the Code hub, Files tab, edit the HelloWorld.ps1 file, and change it as follows:

    Param(
    [string]$greeter,
    [string]$trigger
    )
    Write-Host "Hello world" from $greeter
    Write-Host Trigger: $trigger
    Write-Host "Now that you've got CI/CD, you can automatically deploy your app every time your team checks in code."
    
  2. Commit (save) the script.

  3. Select the Builds tab to see the build queued and run.

  4. After the build is completed, select the Releases tab, open the new release, and then go to the Logs.

    Your new code automatically is deployed in the QA stage, and then in the Production stage.

    release script step final log


release script step final log

In many cases, you probably would want to edit the release pipeline so that the production deployment happens only after some testing and approvals are in place. See Approvals and gates overview.

Next steps

You've just learned the basics of using the visual designer to create and run a pipeline. Now you're ready to configure your build pipeline for the programming language you're using. Go ahead and create a new build pipeline, and this time, use one of the following templates.

Language Template to use
.NET ASP.NET
.NET Core ASP.NET Core
C++ .NET Desktop
Go Go
Java Gradle
JavaScript Node.js
Xcode Xcode

Q & A

Where can I read articles about DevOps and CI/CD?

What is Continuous Integration?

What is Continuous Delivery?

What is DevOps?

What kinds of version control can I use

We've used a Git repository in Azure Repos to keep things focused on CI/CD for this tutorial.

When you're ready to get going with CI/CD for your app, you can use the version control system of your choice:

How do I replicate a pipeline?

If your pipeline has a pattern that you want to replicate in other pipelines, clone it, export it, or save it as a template.

all-definitions-build-action-menu-replicate-actions

After you clone a pipeline, you can make changes and then save it.

After you export a pipeline, you can import it from the All pipelines tab.

After you create a template, your team members can use it to follow the pattern in new pipelines.

Tip

If you're using the New Build Editor, then your custom templates are shown at the bottom of the list.

How do I work with drafts?

If you're editing a build pipeline and you want to test some changes that are not yet ready for production, you can save it as a draft.

save-as-draft

You can edit and test your draft as needed.

edit draft

When you're ready you can publish the draft to merge the changes into your build pipeline.

publish draft

Or, if you decide to discard the draft, you can delete it from the All Pipeline tab shown above.

What else can I do when I queue a build?

You can queue builds automatically or manually.

When you manually queue a build, you can, for a single run of the build:

Where can I learn more about build pipeline settings?

To learn more about build pipeline settings, see:

How do I programmatically create a build pipeline?

REST API Reference: Create a build pipeline

Note

You can also manage builds and build pipelines from the command line or scripts using the Azure Pipelines CLI.