VSTS– Hosted Agent is the Default for Releases

In keeping with the idea I don’t want this to get out of date, this is VSTS as of Jun 1, 2017. If your screen looks different, find a different article.

I was setting up a test the other day using VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) and once had something bite me (again). This has happened a few times this year as the service has evolved, but it is one of those things that I keep having to change.

Here’s a new Release definition, where I start with an empty process. I clicked “New Release Definition” and then selected an Empty task, hooking this up to my current CI process.

2017-06-01 16_32_14-New Empty Definition 01-Jun - Visual Studio Team Services

Usually I add tasks, and then create a release and execute it. Since I mostly work with databases, I’m usually releasing to a local SQL Server instance and want to use my local agents. I have separate ones running on my desktop and laptops, so I can easily demo releases in different environments.

However, when I’ve done this, usually things fail at first. If I’m not paying attention, I won’t notice my build agent looking like this:

 2017-06-01 16_38_09-cmd - RunAgent.cmd

That’s the screen showing nothing happening with my agent.

Grouping Tasks in VSTS

Earlier this year, the release process in VSTS changed to allow us to group tasks. I can now add different groups of phases, which I stumbled upon by clicking the arrow next to “Add Tasks”. This is a UI Fail because the arrow in other parts of VSTS is linked to the text to the left (like the Add environment area).

2017-06-01 16_39_23-New Empty Definition 01-Jun - Visual Studio Team Services

I stumbled on this one day, thinking the arrow let me add tasks, but I accidently added a new agent phase. By default, we have a single agent phase, but clicking the arrow allows more.

What’s also interesting, and not intuitive to me, is that if I click on the “Run on agent” area, I get settings to the right. This is different than the old release section, which had the properties as a global item at the top.

2017-06-01 16_41_54-WWI_SSDT - Microsoft Visual Studio

This is where I need to change to the agent queue, in this case, the default for my desktop.

2017-06-01 16_44_24-New Empty Definition 01-Jun - Visual Studio Team Services

This might not be a big deal, and I’m sure lots of people are happy to use the hosted agent. I’m always wary of costs, so I try to avoid spending compute dollars in Azure when I don’t need to, and this is a place I want to avoid spending $$.

Hopefully, after writing this, I’ll remember to set the queue for my future demos the first time. Now if I can just get the VSTS people to give me a “default” setting I can change…

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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