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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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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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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Updating Your Team Foundation Build Agents

Team Foundation Build, Visual Studio Online
One of the many improvements with the new version of Team Foundation Build is the ability for the build agents to self-update. This is a HUGE time saver for anyone that has lots of build agents spread across multiple build servers! There are a couple of ways to trigger an update to your build agent(s): The build agent gets updated automatically when a build task demanding a newer version of a build agent is executed. For example, if a task demands the build agent be from sprint 84 or higher (more on that in a moment) and your build agent is still on the sprint 83 release, then the agent will be instructed to update itself - automatically. Sweet! You can also manually update all build agents within a pool…
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