For most of my published open source projects I’ve added a simple continuous integration (CI) pipeline using Travis CI. This time around I wanted a way to deploy a project after successful integration and try a new pipeline. Azure DevOps caught my attention. The goal here is to build, test and deploy my VS Code extension Git Mob to the marketplace.

I’ll provide bite size instructions to help you build a CI and continuous delivery (CD) pipeline for your VS Code extension on Azure DevOps platform. Following these steps I estimate it will take 15-25mins to get it all working.

Build and test pipeline

Setup a build and test

This section is about building the extension, running automated tests and creating a .vsix package, known as an ‘artifact’ in build pipelines. We will use this artifact later in the deployment stage. The artifact file name contains the version number from the package.json.

Let’s get started:

  1. Sign up to Azure DevOps it’s free.
  2. Create a project. It can be customised at any time. If you have an open source project it will be worth making it public. This allows people to read the status and errors of the build pipeline. Create a project
  3. In your Git repository create a file called .azure-pipelines/azure-pipelines.yml. Below is the code for the file.
  4. Copy the azure-pipelines.yml code. I’ve explained each of the steps as well.
  5. Push these changes to your remote repository (GitHub)
  6. The steps continue after the yml code

The azure-pipelines.yml file steps explained

  1. The trigger is set to master meaning that every push to master will trigger build.
  2. pool.vmImage means it will build on an Ubuntu virtual machine (VM).
  3. Customise the package name depending if built from master branch or pull request
  4. Install project dependencies
  5. Run unit tests
  6. Globally install vsce which is used to build and deploy VS Code extensions. In this case it will build a vsix package, which will be used to deploy at a later stage.
  7. Keep track of branch when needed for PRs
  8. Copy generated files ready to be published artifacts
  9. Finally publish files as artifacts. Now ready to deploy to VS Code marketplace.

Keep in mind that variables are not persisted between steps like PACKAGE_VERSION, they will need to be redefined. However, files are persisted through the build stage, which is why we create a version.txt file.

You will have noticed properties under steps like script, bash and tasks, these are types of steps. This is explained in the Azure yaml schema documentation.

azure-pipelines.yml file to test and build a .vsix file to deploy.

# CI and PR build script

  - master

  vmImage: ubuntu-16.04

  # for convenience, we tag CI-produced packages with a version number
  # pointing to the commit which was built. for PRs, also include the PR #.
  - bash: |
      PACKAGE_VERSION=$(node -p "require('./package.json').version")

        VERSION_STRING=${PACKAGE_VERSION}-ci-$(git rev-parse --short HEAD)

      npm --no-git-tag-version version $VERSION_STRING
      echo "##vso[build.updatebuildnumber]${VERSION_STRING}_${BUILD_BUILDID}"
      echo "$PACKAGE_VERSION" > version.txt
    displayName: Set version number of package and build

  - script: npm install
    displayName: npm install

  - script: npm run test
    displayName: Run unit tests

  # Acquire the `vsce` tool and use it to package
  - script: |
      sudo npm install -g vsce
      vsce package
    displayName: Create VSIX

  # For releasable builds, we'll want the branch
  # Expects that a 'version.txt' has been laid down by a previous step
  - bash: |
      echo $(Build.SourceBranch) | sed "s|refs/[^/]*/||" > branch.txt
      PACKAGE_VERSION=$(cat version.txt)
      VERSION_REGEX="## $(echo $PACKAGE_VERSION | sed 's/\./\\./g')"
    displayName: Get branch

  # Choose files to publish
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: Stage VSIX for publishing
      contents: |-
      targetFolder: $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)

  # Publish files as an artifact
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: Publish VSIX
      artifact: git-mob-vs-code
      targetPath: $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)

Create the pipeline in Azure DevOps

  1. In your new Azure project, go to Pipelines on the left hand navigation.
  2. On the top right click “New Pipeline”.
  3. Connect your repository (GitHub)
  4. Under the configure your pipeline select “Existing Azure pipeline YAML file” (See figure 1 below)
  5. Select the .azure-pipelines/azure-pipelines.yml from the dropdown. (See figure 2 below)
  6. You should see the file loaded in. If it looks correct to you then click the “run” button on the top right to test it.

Configure pipeline Figure 1: select Existing Azure pipeline YAML file

Select file Figure 2: select azure-pipelines.yml file

Deploy to VS Code marketplace

I’ve created a separate post for the deployment pipeline to keep this post concise. Azure DevOps pipeline separates build pipelines and releases. See deploy to VS Code marketplace.

I hope this post helps you build a pipeline for your VS Code extension. Please comment below if you have questions or improvements to the post. If you did find it useful, please take a moment to share this via Twitter.