#DevOps Series: Building Dexterity Applications with Visual Studio Team Services Part 2/3

I am so amped-up after my return from the Microsoft Dynamics GP Technical Conference 2017 in Fargo, ND, where I had a chance to catch up with my friends in the partner and ISV community (more on that in a later post). This year, I had a chance to introduce the topics I have been discussing here in my DevOps series and now that I am back, I want to continue writing about the subject as it gets more and more exciting.

In Part 1 of this specific chapter within the series, I talked about building the actual Build-Engine project. If you remember, I specifically said that the build templates provided by Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) do not fit the bill for Dexterity projects. Dex projects tend to be a bit more cumbersome since we need to have the entire IDE around to compile, extract, and chunk our products. So, it's best if we can isolate these components into an altogether separate project (from that of our actual Dex product) for clarity sake and to maintain our own sanity.

Creating a Build Definition for your Build-Engine Project

Now that we have the Build-Engine project in place, we can proceed to setup a Build Definition. The Build Definition is going to encompass all of the steps required to do things like:

1. Download the resources from our Build-Engine project (Dex IDEs, clean dictionaries, PowerShell scripts, macro templates, etc.

2. Setup any folders needed to support the build process and temporarily store files, etc.

3. Pull the source code from our Dexterity project repository

4. Setup all environment variables

5. Extract dictionaries and create chunk files with (unused blocks) and without source code (total compression).

6. Copy the chunks without source code into an artifact folder

7. Copy chunks and source dictionaries for debugging into an artifact folder

8. Publish the artifact folder

To create a new build for our Build-Engine project:

1. Click on the Build & Release then click the New button.

2. Select an empty template. Dexterity projects, clearly do not conform to any of the existing, pre-defined molds.

3. Click the Apply button to continue.

4. You can now enter the name of your Build-Engine and select from a list of 4 agent queue modes. You can select from Default, Hosted, Hosted Linux Preview, or Hosted VS2017. For all intends and purposes, hosted build agents pools run in the cloud, but can run locally as well. For more information on Hosted Agents, click here. These options define the Build process itself.

The suited option for our Dexterity Build-Engine is Hosted.

5. On the left pane, we can now click on the first task, Get Sources, to identify where the resources for our Build-Engine will come from. In this case, they will come from our Build-Engine project itself, which contains the Dexterity IDEs for versions 12 (GP 2013), 14 (GP 2015), and 16 (GP 2016). All other options are defaulted and really not required to be changed.

This completes the first step (Download Resources for our Build Engine) for today. You can click on Save & Queue to test that all files download properly for the build agent pool.

NOTE: My agent failed in the video as I ran out of allocated build minutes for the month. You will need to assess the length of your build process and ensure you plan accordingly. For more information on Team Services pricing, click here.

I strongly encourage you to read MVP David Musgrave's series on Building a Dexterity Development environment, because all principles used in that series are still applicable in our cloud Build-Engine.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP