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Pass parameters from build to release pipelines on Azure devops

When you need to pass parameters between your build and release pipelines it could be a real struggle if you do not want to use variable groups. Variable groups can accomplish the requested (to pass values between build and release pipelines) but this scenario is not useful for a parametric input which is a common case when deploying a project. You can accomplish that either by using a plugin from another publisher or by following the publish artifacts procedure that I will describe.

In order to pass variables between your build and release pipelines you can create/export a file containing your variable on your build agent. This file should be exported as build artifact and then downloaded on the release pipeline.

The below build pipeline implements the functionality I described. The exported file is named projectname.txt and will be located on artifacts folder on your build agent inside folder drop. For example C:\agent\1\a\drop

trigger:
- dev

pool:
  vmImage: windows-latest

parameters:
  - name: powerenvironment
    displayName: Where to deploy?
    type: string

steps:

- task: PowerShell@2
  inputs:
    targetType: 'inline'
    script: |
      $variable = '${{parameters.powerenvironment}}'
      $variable | Out-File $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)\projectname.txt
      Get-Content $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)\projectname.txt

- task: PublishBuildArtifacts@1
  inputs:
    PathtoPublish: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
    ArtifactName: 'drop'
    publishLocation: 'Container'

When you run the pipeline you will be asked for a parameter. I gave this entry my name which will be passed on release.

My release pipeline will download the build artifacts and get the value of the file. The release pipeline includes two steps.

The first one downloads the folder drop from build artifacts. The projectname.txt is located there.

Then the powershell will print the contents of the projectname.txt

You can check the result and verify you get the parameter input value from the powershell script.

Bonus content:

You can also write your input parameter as a variable on the build agent and reference this value on a later step. This should be again a powershell step on your release pipeline.

$myVariable = "ProjectName";
$myValue = Get-Content $(System.ArtifactsDirectory)/drop/projectname.txt;

Write-Host "##vso[task.setvariable variable=ProjectName]($myValue)";

Lastly create a dump archive step to reference the input parameter from the build pipeline.

In order to test, use in the archive path the ProjectName variable.

Run the pipeline and verify that input parameter is correct (I used gerasimos).

Youtube video:

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There is not enough space on the disk – Azure Devops build containers

If the retention policies are not defined properly on Azure DevOps you may encounter out of space issues on your windows build containers. Take for example the below build, which stopped as it could not copy the necessary files on the build/temp folder.

In order to fix the build, you can connect to the windows server which runs the containers and get a prompt for the one that failed.

docker exec -it agent-name-01 cmd.exe

You can then check for the available free space:

Navigate to folder work and delete some build folders to free up space.

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Connect to power platform – Azure Devops pipelines

In this article I will explain how to create a Power platform environment and connect on it through Azure Devops pipelines. Power platform is a low code environment provided by Microsoft that can implement services and functionality quickly with a GUI.

In order to follow the tutorial you will need an Azure subscription and a power platform subscription which will be connected.

First things first, you should create a power platform environment. You can do this, by logging in the Power Platform admin center and pressing the New button.

Then you should select the type and region and also the database connection. I chose a sample database so that I get automatically data to test.

By choosing the trial subscription the environment only works for 30 days. This is good enough for the purposes of this article but not for production environments. After the provision of the environment you will get the environment URL and also some sessions details that will be needed for Azure devops.

You can find the sessions details on the right upper corner.

The you will need to create an app registration on your Azure subscription.

Press New registration

Give a name and select which accounts could access this application.

After the provision of the application, you will have to set the API permissions. Select Dynamics CRM -> User impersonation

Then you will have to create a secret for the application. Go to certificates and secrets and create a new client secret. Copy the value, as it will be needed later.

On Azure Devops you should create a service connection. Go to project settings -> Service connections and add a new connection. Select power platform on the connection type.

You should then add the connection details gathered on previous steps. Client secret and application ID from the Azure application that you created. The server URL and tenant ID can be gathered from power platform admin center.

Then go and create a new Pipeline on Azure Devops and add the below two steps. The power platform tools installer is required any time you want to connect on power platform. This will instruct the build agent to download the necessary tools for the deployment. The WhoAmI task will authenticate with the instance and verify if the connection is working.

Edit the WhoAmI step and include the service connection

Check the result of the task, as it should be successful (Green)

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Deploy between different environments with variable groups – Azure DevOps

Group variables is a functionality provided by Azure pipelines that let one handle a lot of variables as one entity. It also supports key vault integration but also secrets on comparison with the standard pipeline variables which should not be used as secrets according to Microsoft, as their value can be seen.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/devops/pipelines/library/variable-groups?view=azure-devops&tabs=yaml

In this article I will describe how you can use variable groups for different deployments based on the environment you work. For example the company may want to differentiate the variables for a product on the test and production version. This could be injected and handled on the pipeline accordingly with group variables and parameters.

This article refers to a product which has the same variables (version, password, environment) on test and prod, but their values are different.

In order to create a variable group you should go to Pipelines -> Library -> +Variable group.

The values which I provided on prod variable group are below:

Accordingly the same values exist for test.

The pipeline will trigger when a commit is merged on the main branch.

trigger:
- main

parameters:
  - name: environment
    displayName: Where to deploy?
    type: string
    default: test
    values:
    - prod
    - test


pool:
  vmImage: ubuntu-latest

variables:
 - group: ${{parameters.environment}}

steps:

- script: |
    echo $(ENV)
    echo $(VERSION)
  displayName: Step 1 - print version and environment

- script: echo $(PASSWORD)
  displayName: Step 2 - print secret

- script: pwd ENV ${{parameters.environment}}
  displayName: Step 3 - print parameter
  
  

By running the pipeline the type of environment will be asked

Depending on the selected input, the group variables of the specific category will be printed. If I run with test as input then I will get the test version and env variable.