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Create approvals on build and release Azure DevOps pipelines

On Azure devops you have the option to create both build and release pipelines. The build pipelines can be created using entirely the .yml notation in comparison with the release pipelines which should be created using a GUI. Build and release pipelines have their differences when it comes to approvals.

For release pipelines in order to create an approval flow you need to navigate in the stage and click the thunder strike. There you can locate the pre-deployment approvals and also gates that can be configured for that stage.

You can also define post-deployment approvals by clicking the person icon on the stage.

On the other hand in order to create approvals on build pipelines you will need to first create an environment. From environments you need to create a new blank environment

Then you need to navigate inside the environment and select approvals and checks

The last step would be to create a deployment job through YAML and point that environment. Every job which is created as deployment and has the environment configured will go through the approvals configured.

Lets see for example the below pipeline:

trigger: none

pool:
  vmImage: ubuntu-latest


stages:

- stage: stage1
  
  displayName: stage1
  jobs:
  - deployment: job1
    displayName: job1
    environment: appservice-west
    strategy:
      runOnce:
        deploy:
          steps:
          - task: PowerShell@2
            displayName: run powershell 1
            inputs:
              targetType: 'inline'
              script: |
                Write-Host "Hello from powershell 1"

- stage: stage2
  dependsOn: stage1
  displayName: stage2
  jobs:
  - deployment: job2
    displayName: job2
    environment: appservice-west
    strategy:
      runOnce:
        deploy:
          steps:
          - task: PowerShell@2
            displayName: run powershell 2
            inputs:
              targetType: 'inline'
              script: |
                Write-Host "Hello from powershell 2"

Before the execution of job1 and job2 an approval will be asked the way it is configured from the environment.

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Trigger azure Devops pipeline from another repository

For security reasons you may want to store the pipelines to another repository than the one that the code is hosted. Lets say for example that you have your application code located on test-project/repository location but your pipelines are stored on the consoleapp1 repository. Also you want to have continuous integration and deployment for the repository on which the code is hosted, so when code is pushed to repository then the pipeline should trigger which is hosted on ConsoleApp1.

You can do that using the repositories resource of azure devops. You will need to define the repository and also configure trigger for this repository based on your strategy.

The final result would be the pipeline to run when code is commited on the code repository instead of the one that pipelines are hosted.

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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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Create a build pipeline and push Image to external repository with Azure Devops

Azure Devops is the powerful Microsoft product for Devops solutions. In this article I will explain how you can create a build pipeline using predefined actions and tools provided in order to push an image to an external repository like Docker hub.

As a first step you should create two new service connections. As I am using Github, the one will be a github connection and a docker hub connection. To accomplish that you should go to project settings -> service connections and connect your accounts with your password credentials.

When you complete this step, the connected accounts will appear.

Then you should go to pipelines menu and create a new one. My pipeline has the name main-pipeline.

Azure Devops provides a large list of predefined tasks that will make your implementation easier and quicker. In my case I selected the build of a Dockerfile that will be listed in the Github repository.

In more detail the code will be checkout from the repository and the image will be created using a building machine that Azure provides from a shared pool of agents.

You can find the pipeline code below:

# Docker
# Build a Docker image
# https://docs.microsoft.com/azure/devops/pipelines/languages/docker

trigger:
- master

resources:
- repo: self

variables:
  tag: 'latest'

stages:
- stage: Build
  displayName: Build image
  jobs:
  - job: pushToDocker
    displayName: pushToDocker
    steps:
    - task: Docker@2
      displayName: Build an image
      inputs:
        containerRegistry: 'geralexgr-docker-repo'
        repository: 'geralexgr/aksjavarepo'
        command: 'buildAndPush'
        Dockerfile: '**/Dockerfile'
        tags: latest
    - task: PublishBuildArtifacts@1
      inputs:
        PathtoPublish: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
        ArtifactName: 'drop'
        publishLocation: 'Container'

A successful run of the pipeline is shown below. As the code indicates the tag of the image should be the latest.

The created image will be stored on docker hub as indicated in the instructions.

You can then go and pull your image locally to test the result. In my case I would use:

docker pull geralexgr/aksjavarepo:latest