Build TFVC repositories

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


In Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2018 and previous versions, run 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.

While editing a pipeline that uses a TFVC repo, you have the following options.

Feature Azure Pipelines, TFS 2018, TFS 2017, TFS 2015.4 TFS 2015 RTM
Clean Yes Yes
Specify local path Yes No
Label sources Yes No


Azure Pipelines, TFS 2017.2 and newer: Click Advanced settings to see some of the following options.

Repository name

Ignore this text box (TFS 2017 RTM or older).

Mappings (workspace)

Include with a type value of Map only the folders that your build pipeline requires. If a subfolder of a mapped folder contains files that the build pipeline does not require, map it with a type value of Cloak.

Make sure that you Map all folders that contain files that your build pipeline requires. For example, if you add another project, you might have to add another mapping to the workspace.

Cloak folders you don't need. By default the root folder of project is mapped in the workspace. This configuration results in the build agent downloading all the files in the version control folder of your project. If this folder contains lots of data, your build could waste build system resources and slow down your build pipeline by downloading large amounts of data that it does not require.

When you remove projects, look for mappings that you can remove from the workspace.

If this is a CI build, in most cases you should make sure that these mappings match the filter settings of your CI trigger on the Triggers tab.

For more information on how to optimize a TFVC workspace, see Optimize your workspace.

Clean the local repo on the agent

You can perform different forms of cleaning the working directory of your self-hosted agent before a build runs.

In general, for faster performance of your self-hosted agents, don't clean the repo. In this case, to get the best performance, make sure you're also building incrementally by disabling any Clean option of the task or tool you're using to build.

If you do need to clean the repo (for example to avoid problems caused by residual files from a previous build), your options are below.


Cleaning is not relevant if you are using a Microsoft-hosted agent because you get a new agent every time in that case.

Azure Pipelines, TFS 2018, TFS 2017.2

If you want to clean the repo, then select true, and then select one of the following options:

  • Sources: The build pipeline performs an undo of any changes and scorches the current workspace under $(Build.SourcesDirectory).

  • Sources and output directory: Same operation as Sources option above, plus: Deletes and recreates $(Build.BinariesDirectory).

  • Sources directory: Deletes and recreates $(Build.SourcesDirectory).

  • All build directories: Deletes and recreates $(Agent.BuildDirectory).

TFS 2017 RTM, TFS 2015.4

If you select True then the build pipeline performs an undo of any changes and scorches the workspace.

If you want the Clean switch described above to work differently, then on the Variables tab, define the Build.Clean variable and set its value to:

  • all if you want to delete $(Agent.BuildDirectory), which is the entire working folder that contains the sources folder, binaries folder, artifacts folder, and so on.

  • source if you want to delete $(Build.SourcesDirectory).

  • binary If you want to delete $(Build.BinariesDirectory).

TFS 2015 RTM

Select true to delete the repository folder.

Label sources

You may want to label your source code files to enable your team to easily identify which version of each file is included in the completed build. You also have the option to specify whether the source code should be labeled for all builds or only for successful builds.


You can only use this feature when the source repository in your build is a GitHub repository, or a Git or TFVC repository from your project.

In the Label format you can use user-defined and predefined variables that have a scope of "All." For example:


The first four variables are predefined. My.Variable can be defined by you on the variables tab.

The build pipeline labels your sources with a TFVC label.

Q & A

What is scorch?

Scorch is a TFVC power tool that ensures source control on the server and the local disk are identical. See Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2015 Power Tools.