Building feature branches on VSTS automatically

Currently VSTS lacks(see edit below) really handy feature, which lets you trigger a build based on a branch wildcard. For instance, I'd like to run my build definition only for refs/heads/feature/* branches. While it's super-easy when using e.g. TeamCity, with VSTS it requires us to prepare a smart workaround.

Service hooks

VSTS provides us a wide collection of different service hooks. They can be used to command builds, analyze logs or trigger any kind of an event. In fact the list of available services is already impressing and gets bigger - I strongly recommend you to take a look when you have a minute.

Besides integrating with third-party services like Slack, Bamboo or Trello, it allows us to use a simple Web Hook, which can send a specific event to a specific endpoint. Because we can send any event to any endpoint, the sky is the only limit - you can create a "lambda" using Azure Function(like me), a simple WebAPI or old but still reliable MVC application using technology stack of your choice. Whatever solution you'll create, it will work as long as it can process HTTP requests.

Kick it back!

Retrieving an event from VSTS is cool but gives information only. What we really need is to orchestrate VSTS to schedule a build using a specific build definition on a specific branch. Once again REST API provided by VSTS comes to the rescue:

/
POST https://{instance}/DefaultCollection/{project}/_apis/build/builds?api-version={version}

The important part of this request is its body:

/
{
  "definition": {
    "id": 25
  },
  "sourceBranch": "refs/heads/master",
  "parameters": "{\"system.debug\":\"true\",\"BuildConfiguration\":\"debug\",\"BuildPlatform\":\"x64\"}"
}

There're two things which are required to make it work: build definition ID and source branch. You can obtain the former from the URL when you go directly to the definition you choose, once the latter is being passed along with the whole request in data.resource.refUpdates[0].name field.

Code example

An example of a Azure Function which can handle the functionality:

public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run(HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log)
{
    log.Info("C# HTTP trigger function processed a request.");

    // Get request body
    dynamic data = await req.Content.ReadAsAsync<object>();

    if(data.eventType == "git.push" && data.resource.refUpdates[0].name.Value.Contains("refs/heads/feature")) {
        using(var client = new HttpClient()) {
            var branch = data.resource.refUpdates[0].name.Value;
            log.Info($"Build will be scheduled for {branch} branch.");

            client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Authorization = new AuthenticationHeaderValue("Basic", "yourToken");
            await client.PostAsync("https://{yourInstance}.visualstudio.com/DefaultCollection/{projectId}/_apis/build/builds?api-version=2.0", 
                new StringContent($"{{\"definition\": {{\"id\": {definitionId}},\"sourceBranch\": \"{branch}\"", Encoding.UTF8, "application/json"));

            log.Info($"Build scheduled successfully!.");
            return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "Build scheduled");
        }
    }

    return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, "Error occured");
}

Combining it all

To summarize steps needed here:

  1. Go to Service Hooks tab in VSTS and create new Web Hook pointing to your service endpoint using Code pushed as event
  2. Create a service, which will handle requests sent by VSTS and call its API to schedule a build
  3. Enjoy builds including only filtered branches

Edit:

After this was pointed I checked recently updated docs and it seems wildcard are now officially supported! You can treat this post as an inspiration for building new features around VSTS. You can find new documentation here -> https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/build/define/triggers

Building CSX files using VSTS

Azure Functions seem like a great idea to develop you microservices/APIs/gateways quickly and without too much overhead. They're scalable, can integrate with plenty of other Azure capabilities seamlessly and are really cheap. However, there's one problem when building your CI/CD pipeline - by default VSTS doesn't know how to build .funproj projects. Although it's easy to fix when building a project locally(by installing a SDK for Azure Functions), VSTS(and probably other build agents) is unable to do so and will greet you with sweet:

/
The imported project "C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\VisualStudio\v14.0\AzureFunctions\Microsoft.AzureFunctions.targets" was not found. Confirm that the path in the <Import> declaration is correct, and that the file exists on disk.

The solution for this issue is pretty simple - we have to provide missing files to VSTS.

Helping VSTS

If you installed Azure Functions SDK locally you can go directly to:

/
C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\VisualStudio\v14.0\AzureFunctions\

You will find all missing .props and .targets file needed to build Function Apps. Copy all file from the directory and paste them somewhere next to your project. 

The last thing needed to is to modify .funproj file so it searches for the correct file. Open your .funproj file with any text editor and find <Import Project="..." /> lines. Currently they point to Program Files (x86) directory, what causes VSTS to fail when it tries to build your project because they're unavailable for it. Just change them to something like <Import Project="..\.build\Microsoft.AzureFunctions.Props" Condition="'$(VSToolsPath)' != ''" /> and <Import Project="..\.build\Microsoft.AzureFunctions.targets" Condition="'$(VSToolsPath)' != ''" /> and push to your repository. Now when VSTS tries to run another build, it will go green again.