Set up a multi-developer NuGet environment

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017

Using a package mangement system helps increase your team's velocity and decreases the amount of code duplication across your organization. Multiple developers on a team need to coordinate where and how they access packages. For example, developers will need a compatible NuGet client and credentials to authenticate to any VSTS hosted feeds before they can restore or push packages.

Team leaders or architects can make it very simple for developers to get everything they need without having to do multiple downloads and find passwords and authentication tokens on team shares. We've developed a set of tools and conventions for integrating VSTS NuGet into your workflow. The tools are shipped as a NuGet package called Microsoft.VisualStudio.Services.NuGet.Bootstrap, available on the public NuGet Gallery. We also have an example repository which demonstrates these tools.

The bootstrapper package

The bootstrapper package takes care of several things for you:

  • Ensures that each developer has a compatible version of nuget.exe and the VSTS authentication extension in their environment
  • Separates feed configuration from credential management so you don't have to share passwords among developers
  • Allows build and continuous integration systems to seamlessly use the same configuration as individual developers

The bootstrapping tools work regardless of your version control system. Both Git and TFVC are supported.

You aren't required to use this bootstrapping package in order to use VSTS authenticated feeds. It's intended to help you get going without having to write a lot of code or invest in an extensive engineering system. Customers with unique needs can copy the package and example repo, and modify them to fit in their engineering system.

One-time setup

Perform the following steps one time in a repo containing your app's code. Anyone with the authority to make solution-wide changes can follow these steps.

  • Open a PowerShell prompt and cd to the root directory of your app's code.
  • Get a copy of nuget.exe to use temporarily. The PowerShell command Invoke-WebRequest -OutFile nuget.exe makes this easy.
  • In the PowerShell window, run the command .\nuget.exe install -OutputDirectory packages Microsoft.VisualStudio.Services.NuGet.Bootstrap to fetch the bootstrapping tools.
  • Run .\packages\Microsoft.VisualStudio.Services.NuGet.Bootstrap.*\tools\Bootstrap.ps1 to initialize your environment.
    • This will create a nuget.config in the root of your repo, where you can specify the feeds you want NuGet to use.
    • It will also create an init script which developers and build agents run each time they want to work with this repo. init ensures you always have the latest VSTS NuGet tools and also sets up authentication to VSTS-hosted feeds.
  • Delete the copy of nuget.exe you downloaded earlier: rm .\nuget.exe
    • Going forward, this repo will rely on a copy of nuget.exe installed by the bootstrapping tools.
  • Update your .gitignore/.tfignore file to exclude .tools/ and packages/.
  • Update nuget.config to list the feeds used by your app.
  • Check in the changes to your repo.


By default, the bootstrapper disables the public NuGet Gallery as a package source. Many customers use private feeds as a way to avoid dependencies on unknown or untrusted packages. If you depend on restoring packages from the public NuGet Gallery, edit nuget.config and uncomment the line pointing to (see the section on conventions for more about nuget.config).

Developer experience when using the bootstrapper package

The first time a developer enlists in a repo, they must run init in the root of the repo. This will ensure that NuGet can connect to authenticated feeds with the developer's credentials. For more about init, see the section on conventions.

At least once a month and whenever their password changes, the developer should refresh their environment by running init again. If your developers already run a script when they work on code (for example, to update tools or set environment variables), that script can call init each time it runs.


The bootstrapper package places init.cmd, init.ps1, and nuget.config in the root of your repo. init is the entry point for tools which live under scripts\ and .tools\. It's placed in the root for developer convenience.

Placing nuget.config in the root of the repo is a common NuGet convention.

Developer credentials are not placed in the repo's nuget.config. When init runs, it places credentials in the user's NuGet config under %APPDATA%. When restoring or pushing packages, NuGet merges the sources list from the repo and credentials from the machine-wide config.