Exercise - Scan from the build pipeline by using SonarCloud



This module is undergoing maintenance.

You're welcome to read through it to understand the concepts, but the procedures shown need to be updated to match the latest functionality.

In this part, you add tasks to your Azure Pipelines configuration to run the SonarCloud scanner during the build.

Here you will:

  • Install the SonarCloud Marketplace extension.
  • Create a SonarCloud service connection.
  • Add variables to Azure Pipelines.
  • Add scan tasks to your Azure Pipelines configuration.
  • Analyze the results on SonarCloud.

Install the Marketplace extension

The SonarCloud Marketplace extension provides the service connection type you need in the next step. The extension also provides the built-in task types that you use in your build pipeline.

  1. From a new browser tab, go to marketplace.visualstudio.com.

  2. On the Azure DevOps tab, search for "SonarCloud."

  3. Select SonarCloud from the results.

    Screenshot of Azure DevOps Marketplace showing search results for "SonarCloud".

  4. Select it and then Get it Free.

  5. Select your Azure DevOps organization from the drop-down box.

  6. Select Install.

Create a SonarCloud service connection

Your pipeline tasks require access to SonarCloud. Here you create a service connection from the Microsoft Azure DevOps portal. A service connection provides secure access to an external service, such as SonarCloud or Azure.

  1. From Azure DevOps, navigate to your project.

  2. Select Project settings in the lower corner.

  3. Under Pipelines, select Service connections.

  4. Select New service connection, then select SonarCloud, and then select Next.

    SonarCloud appears here because you installed the SonarCloud extension in the previous step.

  5. In the dialog box that appears, enter these fields:

    • SonarCloud Token: This is the login token that you worked with in the previous part.
    • Connection name: SonarCloud connection 1

    You can print your SONAR_LOGIN Bash variable if you need to get this value.

    echo $SONAR_LOGIN
  6. Select Verify and save.

    Azure DevOps performs a test connection to verify that it can connect to Sonar Cloud. If Azure DevOps is unable to connect, you'll have the chance to sign in a second time.

Create pipeline variables

You're almost ready to add pipeline tasks to your pipeline configuration. First, you add a few variables to your pipeline.

Recall that the SonarCloud Marketplace extension provides built-in task types that perform the scan. The first task you use, named SonarCloudPrepare@1, requires some information specific to your SonarCloud project, such as your project name and project key.

Although you could add these variables to your azure-pipelines.yml file, here you add them directly to Azure Pipelines to make your configuration more reusable.

Let's add a few variables to the pipeline.

  1. From Azure DevOps, navigate to your pipeline and select Edit.

  2. Select Variables at the top right.

  3. Select New variable.

  4. In the dialog box that appears, set the name to SonarProjectKey and the value to your project name, for example, mara_mslearn-tailspin-spacegame-web.

    You can print your SONAR_PROJECT_KEY Bash variable if you need a refresher.


    Notice the Keep this value secret option. If you select that option, the value for your variable is encrypted when it's standing still. This is a good way to store secrets like tokens, but you don't need to do that here.

  5. Create another variable and name it SonarProjectName. Then specify the same project name as its value, for example, mara_mslearn-tailspin-spacegame-web.

  6. Create another variable, and call it SonarOrganization. Set the value to the organization you created when you set up your SonarCloud project. You can find this value from the -Dsonar.organization argument in the sonar-scanner command that you copied earlier.

    Your final variables resembles this:

    Screenshot of Azure DevOps showing creating task variables: SonarOrganization, SonarProjectKey, and SonarProjectName.

  7. On the menu, select Save.

Add tasks to the pipeline configuration

Here you add the tasks that perform the scan to azure-pipelines.yml.

Recall that when you scanned locally, you used the dotnet-sonarscanner tool. Here's the dotnet-sonarscanner begin command you ran to prepare the scanner to collect build and test data. (You don't need to run this command right now.)

$HOME/.dotnet/tools/dotnet-sonarscanner begin \
  /d:sonar.host.url="https://sonarcloud.io" \
  /d:sonar.login="$SONAR_LOGIN" \
  /d:sonar.cs.opencover.reportsPaths="./Tailspin.SpaceGame.Web.Tests/TestResults/Coverage/coverage.opencover.xml" \
  /d:sonar.exclusions="**/wwwroot/lib/**/*" \

Although you could run this same command in your build pipeline, you would need to secure access to the /d:sonar.login argument, which defines your access token.

An easier way is to use these built-in task types provided by the SonarCloud extension:

  • SonarCloudPrepare@1
  • SonarCloudAnalyze@1
  • SonarCloudPublish@1

SonarCloudPrepare@1 maps to the dotnet-sonarscanner begin command you ran earlier. This task uses the service connection name you created earlier, rather than directly using your access token. This arrangement ensures that your access token doesn't appear in the build output.

The other two commands map to the dotnet-sonarscanner end command, which analyzes the results and uploads the report to SonarCloud.

  1. From Visual Studio Code, open azure-pipelines.yml and replace its contents with this code. The new parts are highlighted.

    - '*'
      vmImage: 'ubuntu-16.04'
        - npm
      buildConfiguration: 'Release'
      wwwrootDir: 'Tailspin.SpaceGame.Web/wwwroot'
      dotnetSdkVersion: '3.1.100'
    - task: UseDotNet@2
      displayName: 'Use .NET Core SDK $(dotnetSdkVersion)'
        version: '$(dotnetSdkVersion)'
    - task: UseDotNet@2
      displayName: 'Use .NET Core SDK 2.1.505 for SonarCloud'
        version: '2.1.505'
    - task: Npm@1
      displayName: 'Run npm install'
        verbose: false
    - script: './node_modules/.bin/node-sass $(wwwrootDir) --output $(wwwrootDir)'
      displayName: 'Compile Sass assets'
    - task: gulp@1
      displayName: 'Run gulp tasks'
    - script: 'echo "$(Build.DefinitionName), $(Build.BuildId), $(Build.BuildNumber)" > buildinfo.txt'
      displayName: 'Write build info'
      workingDirectory: $(wwwrootDir)
    - task: DotNetCoreCLI@2
      displayName: 'Restore project dependencies'
        command: 'restore'
        projects: '**/*.csproj'
    - task: SonarCloudPrepare@1
      displayName: 'Prepare SonarCloud analysis'
        SonarCloud: 'SonarCloud connection 1'
        organization: '$(SonarOrganization)'
        scannerMode: 'MSBuild'
        projectKey: '$(SonarProjectKey)'
        projectName: '$(SonarProjectName)'
        projectVersion: '$(Build.BuildNumber)'
        extraProperties: |
    - task: DotNetCoreCLI@2
      displayName: 'Build the project - $(buildConfiguration)'
        command: 'build'
        arguments: '--no-restore --configuration $(buildConfiguration)'
        projects: '**/*.csproj'
    - task: DotNetCoreCLI@2
      displayName: 'Install ReportGenerator'
        command: custom
        custom: tool
        arguments: 'install --global dotnet-reportgenerator-globaltool'
    - task: DotNetCoreCLI@2
      displayName: 'Run unit tests - $(buildConfiguration)'
        command: 'test'
        arguments: '--no-build --configuration $(buildConfiguration) /p:CollectCoverage=true /p:CoverletOutputFormat="cobertura%2copencover" /p:CoverletOutput=$(Build.SourcesDirectory)/TestResults/Coverage/'
        publishTestResults: true
        projects: '**/*.Tests.csproj'
    - script: |
        reportgenerator -reports:$(Build.SourcesDirectory)/**/coverage.cobertura.xml -targetdir:$(Build.SourcesDirectory)/CodeCoverage -reporttypes:HtmlInline_AzurePipelines
      displayName: 'Create code coverage report'
    - task: SonarCloudAnalyze@1
      displayName: 'Run SonarCloud code analysis'
    - task: SonarCloudPublish@1
      displayName: 'Publish SonarCloud quality gate results'
    - task: PublishCodeCoverageResults@1
      displayName: 'Publish code coverage report'
        codeCoverageTool: 'cobertura'
        summaryFileLocation: '$(Build.SourcesDirectory)/**/coverage.cobertura.xml'
    - task: DotNetCoreCLI@2
      displayName: 'Publish the project - $(buildConfiguration)'
        command: 'publish'
        projects: '**/*.csproj'
        publishWebProjects: false
        arguments: '--no-build --configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)/$(buildConfiguration)'
        zipAfterPublish: true
    - task: PublishBuildArtifacts@1
      displayName: 'Publish Artifact: drop'
      condition: succeeded()

    Notice that SonarCloudPrepare@1 appears before the project is built or any tests are run. Similarly, SonarCloudAnalyze@1 and SonarCloudPublish@1 appear after the project is built and all tests are run. This is the same process you used when you scanned locally from the command line.

    Also notice that SonarCloudPrepare@1 contains information specific to your account and uses the pipeline variables you created a moment ago.

    You may have noticed the additional UseDotNet@2 that specifies .NET version 2.1. At the time of this writing, the SonarCloud tasks for Azure Pipelines need .NET 2.1 installed on the machine.

    organization: '$(SonarOrganization)'
    projectKey: '$(SonarProjectKey)'
    projectName: '$(SonarProjectName)'

Watch Azure Pipelines build the application

Here you push your changes to GitHub and see the pipeline run. Recall that you're currently on the security-scan branch.

  1. From the integrated terminal, add azure-pipelines.yml to the index, commit the changes, and push the branch up to GitHub.

    git add azure-pipelines.yml
    git commit -m "Analyze code using SonarCloud"
    git push origin security-scan
  2. Go to Azure Pipelines project and watch the build.

Analyze the results

Return to the SonarCloud portal, refresh the page, and then examine the results. You see the same results as when you scanned locally because the project sources haven't changed.

As you resolve issues from the report and add new features to your application, your report changes over time. Issues you resolve are removed from the report. Likewise, new issues might appear as you add features or the security community provides new recommendations.

Andy and Mara discuss their progress over lunch.

Mara: I'm glad we were able to help Tim prepare his report for the security consultant. It would have been so much more difficult if we didn't have an automated way to understand potential vulnerabilities.

Andy: I agree. Our DevOps investment is paying off. We can also bring this report to leadership. If a high-severity vulnerability appears or we find we have too much technical debt, we can use the report to justify spending time to resolve them before adding new features. Often, new features can wait when security is a high priority.

Rethinking application config data

Now that you've seen how to detect vulnerabilities from within the pipeline, let's think about some general ways to think about one of the most common attributes of any application, it's configuration data.

One important rule to follow is to separate concerns. One of the key reasons we would want to move the configuration away from source control is to delineate responsibilities. Let's define some roles:

  • Configuration Custodian: Responsible for generating and maintaining the life cycle of configuration values, these include CRUD on keys, ensuring the security of secrets, regeneration of keys and tokens, defining configuration settings such as Log levels for each environment. This role can be owned by operation engineers and security engineering while injecting configuration files through proper DevOps processes and CI/CD implementation. Note that they do not define the actual configuration but are custodians of their management.
  • Configuration Consumer: Responsible for defining the schema for the configuration that needs to be in place and then consuming the configuration values in the application or library code. Development and test teams shouldn't be concerned about what the value of keys are. Rather, their concern is what the capability of the key is. For example, a developer may need different connection string variables in the application, but does not need to know the actual value across different environments.
  • Configuration Store: The underlying store that holds the configuration. This can be a simple file, but in a distributed application, it needs to be a reliable store that can work across environments. The store is responsible for persisting values that modify the behavior of the application per environment but doesn't contain sensitive information and doesn't require any encryption or hardware security modules.
  • Secret Store: While you can store configuration and secrets together, it violates our separation of concern principle, so the recommendation is to use a separate store for persisting secrets. This allows a secure channel for sensitive configuration data such as connection strings, enables the operations team to have credentials, certificate, and tokens in one repository, and minimizes the security risk in case the configuration store gets compromised.