Deprecating XAML Builds in VSTS

Team Build, Team Foundation Build, Team Foundation Service, Visual Studio Team Services
Last year, I wrote a post titled Hosted XAML Builds Ending Soon. Roughly nine months has passed since that post and, as of today, Microsoft has provided a bit more detail around their plans to deprecate the XAML build functionality within VSTS. Here’s an excerpt from the post:Deprecating XAML build support in future versionsTFS – In our next major TFS release, we will take the next big step in deprecating XAML Build support.  We will remove all support for XAML builds.  We will not ship updated installers and we will remove support for connecting XAML agents/controllers.  We will also be removing all support for creating/editing XAML build definitions from future versions of Visual Studio.  A customer that really needs to continue to use XAML builds will need to stay on…
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Connect(); 2016 – Announcement Recap

Azure, Conferences, Events, General News, TFS 2017, Visual Studio 2017, Visual Studio Team Services, VSTS, Xamarin
The second day of Connect(); 2016 wrapped up today. While there is one more day left, it is dedicated to on-line training. This means that pretty much all the planned announcements have been, well, announced ;-)If you’ve been watching Connect(); over the past couple of days you have likely come to the realization that, wow!, there was a lot of stuff demoed and talked about and a TON of announcements! To help you sort through some of the announcements, I’ve attempted to capture most of the highlights and related links below. If you were too busy watching and digesting all the cool things Microsoft was demoing and talking about rather than taking notes, you’re in luck!While I doubt I was able to capture every single announcement in the list below…
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VSTS Build Agent Selection Demystified

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Team Services
One of the (many!) features I like about Visual Studio Team Services is that, while I can create my build definitions in the cloud-hosted service, I do not have to rely on the hosted build agents to run my builds. This is important because my builds might rely on specialized software that isn’t installed on the hosted agents. It’s also possible that my build processes rely on access to other resources on my local network that is not exposed to the Internet. In the case of the company I work for, we have several on-premises build servers each running multiple build agents.When we first setup the new build servers and agents and registered them with our VSTS account it didn’t take long for us to notice something a bit odd…
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PSA: Hosted XAML Builds Ending Soon

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Team Services
Earlier this year, Microsoft posted/updated some information on the Hosted Pool (i.e. where you run your automated builds in Visual Studio Team Services – i.e. VSTS). One item of interest in that post is that the hosted XAML build controller is planned to be shut down sometime next month (September, 2016).For accounts created after on or after April, 2016, access to the hosted XAML build controller was never provided, so this should not be an issue. However, if you have XAML builds running in VSTS, or were planning on migrating XAML builds to VSTS, you should take note.Here is the excerpt I am referring to (emphasis is mine):I'm looking for the hosted XAML build controller. Where did it go?In September 2016 we plan to shut down the hosted XAML build…
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Custom Build Tasks in VSTS

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Online
[Updated 16 Jun 2016 to reflect name change from VSO to VSTS][Updated 28 Dec 2015 to reflect latest changes in command line interface]If you’ve been making use of the new Team Foundation Build technology in Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) or Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 then you might have wished you had the ability to create and upload your own custom build tasks. Well, that day is now here! You can now create a custom build task and upload it to your VSTS account for use across your build definitions. Caveat The ability to upload custom tasks is still considered to be in a “pre-release” mode so you might run into the occasional issue. However, if you do, Microsoft is committed to resolving any bugs/issues uncovered and will fully…
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Why Should I Leave XAML Builds?

Team Foundation Build, TFS, Visual Studio Team Services
If you have been using Team Foundation Server for any amount of time (say, 2 years or more) then it’s likely you have a decent investment tied up in your XAML-based builds. It’s likely that you have spent a lot of time tweaking the XAML ever-so-carefully to get your automated builds to do your bidding. It’s also possible that you have utilized multiple custom build tasks for scenarios specific to your organization that are not supported out of the box.Along with this, you and/or your team has gained a good amount of knowledge in learning how to tie the various pieces of a XAML-based build together. So, with all that said, you might be wondering why your company should make the move to the new(‘ish) VSTS-style builds. Here are a…
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Get (more) Build Agent Details with PowerShell

TFS, Visual Studio Online
Chance are you are already aware that you can use the system.debug variable with your builds to get diagnostics-level information (i.e. verbose) when running your builds. If this is news to you, then try setting system.debug to true in the Variables tab for one of your build definitions and run the build.   After running the build, check the build log and you will notice a lot of extra information that wasn’t there before. This is great for getting a better understanding of what is going on behind the scenes when your build runs. However, keep in mind that some build tasks provide more (or less) information than others. In some cases you might want to log additional information on your own. Enter PowerShell PowerShell can be used to provide…
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Personal Access Tokens and VSTS APIs

API, TFS, Visual Studio Online
One of the great features of Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and Team Foundation Server (TFS) is its extensibility model. I am specifically referring to the REST APIs that Microsoft has started making available for their platform. Until recently, you had two options for authenticating with the REST APIs:Basic Authentication – requires that you enable alternate credentials on your VSTS/TFS account, Base64-encode them and send them “over the wire” along with your REST API call. This approach is simple though not very secure since your credentials are not encrypted “at rest” (though they are encrypted when used since the APIs utilize HTTPS at the transport layer). You can read more about using Basic Authentication with the REST APIs here.OAuth – this is a more secure approach than Basic Authentication, however…
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VSTS/TFS Feature Index

TFS, Visual Studio Online
While the Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)/Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 Feature Index has been out for a little while now, I’m not sure how many people actually know about it. If you’re somewhat familiar with VSTS/TFS then you are aware that you can use the VSTS/TFS platform to manage your source code, track work items and even run automated builds and deployments. But are you aware of everything else that can be accomplished with VSTS/TFS? You might be surprised!I am not going to detail everything the index covers because there is simply too much. However, here’s a high-level list of the categories within the index:Access and supported clientsAgile tools to plan and track workBacklogsBugs, tasks and issue trackingCustomize (TFS)Customize (VSTS)KanbanScaleScrumWorkflowAlerts and notificationsCodeGitTFVCPackage management (VSTS)Continuous DeliveryBuildRelease (VSTS – Preview)TestDashboards and…
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Custom Build Task Permissions in VSO

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Online
Following up on my Custom Build Tasks in VSO post I wanted to quickly show how you grant a VSO user permissions to upload build tasks into your VSO account. On Microsoft’s Build Tasks web page, it states that you need to be in the top level Agent Pool Administrators group to manipulate tasks. To view the Agent Pool Administrators: Sign in to your VSO account. Click on the Settings (gear) icon on the upper-right side of the page: Click on Agent pools and then Roles: Notice the Agent Pool Administrators group under Roles. This is NOT the group you are looking for!Instead, click on the All Pools node on the left: You will see the same Roles appear but this time they apply to all pools in the account.…
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