Deploying Web resources or Plugins with Azure DevOps Pipeline

In this blog post, I will explain how to deploy Web resources automatically with Azure DevOps Pipelines. To achieve this, I will use Sparkle XRM from Scott Durow (LinkedIn & Twitter).

This article will not cover how to set up Sparkle, since Scott has some excellent videos about this already (Web Resources & Plugins)

To make it easier we will focus on deploying only Web resources in this article. The same approach can be used for Plugins as well.

You can find the demo project I use for this article as well as the yaml files of the pipelines on my GitHub.

I have created a video covering the same topic. You can find it on my YouTube channel and at the end of this article.

Idea

The idea is to automatically deploy all Web resources to our development environment whenever new code is pushed/merged to our development branch.

If you combine the things you will learn in this post with one of my previous posts, “Quality Gates for Check-Ins”, you can create a robust automated deployment.

Solution

To implement this, we will create two pipelines (1 build pipeline and one release pipeline).

  • Create Webres artifact
  • Deploy to Dev

Create Webres artifact

First, we create a build pipeline that will generate our Web resources as an Azure DevOps artifact. To do this we create an empty pipeline by opening “Pipelines” in the menu on the left and then press the “new pipeline” button. If you already have another pipeline it will be in the upper right corner otherwise it will be in the middle of the screen. In the next screen, you have to choose “use the classic editor”.

Classic Editor
Classic Editor

On the second screen, you can leave the defaults like they are.

Select Source
Select Source

On the third and last screen, you choose “empty Job” at the top of the page.

Empty job
Empty Job

Add Steps

This pipeline will have 6 Steps.

Use NuGet

This Step will install NuGet on the Build Agent. This step can be used with the standard configuration.

NuGet install
NuGet install

NuGet restore

This Step will restore all the NuGet packages. This step can be used with the standard configuration.

NuGet restore
NuGet restore

Build Solution

This Step will build the Solution. For our example, we will only build the Webresources solution. To achieve this, we will change “Solution” in the configuration to

**\Webresources.sln

The provided project will transform the written TypeScript on build to JavaScript.

Build Step
Build Step
Config Build Step

Copy files

This Step will copy all our Web resources from the build folder to the destination/artifact folder.

As “Source” we take our build directory and there the “Webresources” folder.

$(build.sourcesDirectory)\Webresources

As “Content” we take all the files in the html, css and js folders.

Webresources/html/**
Webresources/css/**
Webresources/js/**

As “Target” we choose our Artifact staging directory.

$(build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)
Add Copy files step
Add Copy files step
Configuration Copy files (Web resources)
Configuration Copy files (Web resources)

Copy files: spkl

This Step will copy the spkl files from the build folder to the destination/artifact folder.

As “Source” we, again, take our build directory and there the “Webresources” folder.

$(build.sourcesDirectory)\Webresources

As “Content” we take the release.bat and spkl.json file.

release.bat
spkl.json

As “Target” we choose our Artifact staging directory.

$(build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)
Add Copy files step
Configure Copy spkl files
Configure Copy spkl files

Publish Pipeline Artifacts

This Step will publish the staging directory as a pipeline artifact. So that our Release pipeline can pick it up and deploy it to Development.

As the path we choose the Artifact Staging Directory

$(build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)

You can configure whatever name you would like to; you just need it in the next pipeline. For the demo, I will choose “drop”.

Add Publish Pipeline Artifacts
Add Publish Pipeline Artifacts
Configure Publish Pipeline Artifacts step
Configure Publish Pipeline Artifacts step

Trigger

Since we would like to run the pipeline automatically whenever we push or merge something to our development branch, we will add a trigger to the pipeline.

Change to the “Trigger” tab, check the checkbox “Enable continuous integration” and make sure you have selected the correct branch.

Pipeline trigger
Pipeline trigger

Deploy to Dev

The second pipeline we need is a release pipeline, which will deploy the web resources to development whenever the first pipeline was ready.

To do this we create an empty pipeline by opening “Releases” in the menu on the left and then press the “new pipeline” button. If you have another pipeline already it will be above the list of pipelines otherwise it will be in the middle of the screen. On the next screen, you choose “empty Job” at the top of the modal that appeared on the right side.

Add Artifact

Here we choose the artifact the pipeline should use. This will be the output of the first Pipeline.

In “Source Pipeline” you choose our first pipeline from the dropdown list. Everything else should be filled in correctly.

Add artifact
Add artifact

Add Steps

This pipeline will have 3 Steps. To add those, you switch to the “Tasks” tab, either by directly clicking on it or by clicking on “1 job, 0 steps” underneath your stage.

Switch to Steps/Tasks
Switch to Steps/Tasks

Here you can add the following steps

Use NuGet

This Step will install NuGet on the Build Agent. This step can be used with the standard configuration.

NuGet install
NuGet install

NuGet restore

With this step we will install the spkl nugget package. To achieve this we change the command to “custom” and write in the following command

Install spkl
NuGet restore/install
NuGet restore/install
Configure NuGet
Configure NuGet

Batch Script

The last step will execute our release.bat. As the path we choose the folder of the Artifact, in there we have a folder which is the name of the artifact (we configured this in the last step of the first pipeline) (for this demo it is “drop”) and in there you can find the release.bat. For our demo the path looks like this

$(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/_Create Webres artifact/drop/release.bat

For the argument we choose the string below (including the quotation marks)

"$(connection)" "$(password)"

If you have worked with pipelines earlier, you will notice that this syntax shows that we use two variables. In the next section, we will configure those to our pipeline.

Configure Batch Step

Add variables

The Pipeline does need two variables

  • connection
  • password

connection

This variable should contain the connection string to your org, without the password. It should look something like the following.

Url=https://<your org>.crm4.dynamics.com/;Username=<your Username>;AuthType=Office365;RequireNewInstance=True;Password=

password

This variable will contain only the password of the user you are using. It is important to check the little lock so that DevOps knows that it contains a password. If this is checked DevOps will not show the content or write the content in logs.

Variable configuration
Variable configuration

Add trigger

The last bit that is missing is to add the trigger to the pipeline.

To activate a trigger we switch back to the “Pipeline” tab and press the small lightning button in the corner of the artifact.

Open trigger configuration
Open trigger configuration

Here we just have to activate the first checkbox.

Activate pipeline trigger
Activate pipeline trigger

Now the second pipeline will automatically trigger whenever the first pipeline is ready.

Video

I also recorded a video covering the same topic.

Conclusion

With this approach you can easily deploy your web resources automatically to your development environment.

I hope this article helped you. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I am happy to help.

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