VSTS with TeamCity – Configuration

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Part 3 in a series on integrating VSTS with TeamCity

Now that we’ve created the pull request server, we need to configure VSTS and TeamCity so that they can send event messages to it.


If you followed the steps in the sample tutorial, this will be familiar.

  1. Go to the Service Hooks tab for your project
  2. Click on the + icon
  3. Choose Web Hooks and click Next
  4. Select Pull request created. New Service Hooks Subscription dialog window screenshot
  5. If appropriate, select a specific repository and click Next
  6. In URL, enter the URL that VSTS will use to connect to the pull request server, including a query string that defines which TeamCity build should be queued. Eg. If the pull request server is hosted at https://www.example.com/pullrequestserver and the TeamCity build type id is My_CI_Build then you’d use https://www.example.com/pullrequestserver?buildTypeId=My_CI_Build
  7. In Username and Password, enter the credentials that will be used to authenticate with TeamCity
  8. Leave Resource details to send as All.
  9. Set Messages to send and Detailed messages to send to None
  10. Click on Test to try it out.
  11. Click on Finish to save this service hook.
  12. Repeat these steps to create another service hook for Pull request updated, also setting the Change filter to Source branch updated.

With the service hooks in place, you can now go to the Branches page, and click on the … (more actions) icon and choose Branch policies. Selecting branch policy from more actions menu

The Add status policy button should be enabled, and clicking on that you should be able to find the pull request server listed in the drop down.


To allow TeamCity to call the pull request server, you will need to install the Web Hooks plugin for TeamCity. With that in place, go to the build configuration page in TeamCity, and you’ll see a new WebHooks tab.

  1. Click on add build Webhooks, then Click to create new WebHook for this build and add a new web hook for the project
  2. In the URL, enter the URL that TeamCity will use to connect to the pull request server. Eg. If the pull request server is hosted at https://www.example.com/pullrequestserver, you would use https://www.example.com/pullrequestserver/buildComplete.
  3. Set the payload format to Legacy webhook (JSON)
  4. Clear all the trigger events except On Completion Trigger when build successful and Trigger when build fails
  5. Click Save

In the VCS Root settings for the VSTS Git repository, set Branch Specification to


We don’t need TeamCity to trigger the builds for the pull request branches as the pull request server will be queuing those builds, but we do still want TeamCity to trigger the master builds.

In the build configuration VCS Trigger, set the Branch filter to +:<default>

With all that configuration done, creating a new pull request in VSTS should now trigger a branch build in TeamCity. When the build completes, the status is posted back to VSTS, allowing the pull request to be completed by merging the changes into master.

VSTS with TeamCity – Building a pull request server

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Part 2 in a series on integrating VSTS with TeamCity

This is a web service that handles web hook messages triggered by events in VSTS and TeamCity.

I started by using the sample Create a pull request status server with Node.js. As the title suggests, this is a Node application and it uses the Express library to run as a web server. I’d never written a Node app before, but it turns out it is surprisingly easy. If you’re starting from scratch, I’d recommend following the sample tutorial first, so you get up to speed with creating a really simple Node app that VSTS can talk to. Once you’ve got that working, then you should be well placed to use the code samples below.

There’s really two main processes we need to support:

  1. VSTS – Pull Request Created or Updated → Trigger TeamCity build of branch</li>
  2. TeamCity build complete → Tell VSTS if build was success or failure</li>

It’s also worth highlighting a couple of design goals for the pull request server:

NPM packages

 "dependencies": {
    "basic-auth": "^2.0.0",
    "body-parser": "^1.18.2",
    "express": "^4.16.2",
    "teamcity-rest-api": "0.0.8",
    "vso-node-api": "^6.2.8-preview"
  "devDependencies": {
    "@types/basic-auth": "^1.1.2",
    "@types/body-parser": "^1.16.8",
    "@types/express": "^4.0.39",
    "@types/node": "^8.5.1",
    "nodemon": "^1.13.3",
    "ts-node": "^4.0.2",
    "tslint": "^5.8.0",
    "typescript": "^2.6.2"

Note that the following code snippets have been ‘tidied’ for the blog post - the original has a fair bit of file and console logging which is invaluable when diagnosing what’s going on as you’re modifying the logic. I also switched to using TypeScript as I really appreciated the type checking it provides.

Get things ready

import * as auth from 'basic-auth';
import * as bodyParser from 'body-parser';
import * as express from 'express';
import * as fs from 'fs';
import * as vsts from 'vso-node-api';
import { GitPullRequestStatus, GitStatusState } from 'vso-node-api/interfaces/GitInterfaces';

const teamcity = require('teamcity-rest-api');

const app = express();
app.use(bodyParser.json({ limit: '5mb'}));

const collectionURL = process.env.COLLECTIONURL;
const token = process.env.VSTSTOKEN;

const authHandler = vsts.getPersonalAccessTokenHandler(token!);
const connection = new vsts.WebApi(collectionURL!, authHandler);

const vstsGit = connection.getGitApi();

Handling a pull request event

app.post('/prserver', (req, res) => {
    const user = auth(req);

    const buildTypeId = req.query.buildTypeId;

    if (!buildTypeId || !user) {

    const mergeStatus = req.body.resource.mergeStatus;

    if (mergeStatus !== 'succeeded') {

    // Get the details about the PR from the service hook payload
    const repoId = req.body.resource.repository.id;
    const pullRequestId = req.body.resource.pullRequestId;
    const commitId = req.body.resource.lastMergeSourceCommit.commitId;

    // This needs to match the branch pattern in TeamCity
    const branchName = pullRequestId;

    // We need to find out the pull request IterationId
    vstsGit.getPullRequestIterations(repoId, pullRequestId, undefined, false)
    .then((iterations: any[]) => {
        return iterations.filter(item => item.sourceRefCommit.commitId === commitId)[0].id;
    .then((iterationId: string) => {

        // trigger TeamCity build
        const client = teamcity.create({
            url: 'http://localhost:8111',
            username: user.name,
            password: user.pass

        // This is the data we are posting to TeamCity
        // tslint:disable-next-line:max-line-length
        const buildNodeObject = `<build branchName='${branchName}'><buildType id='${buildTypeId}' /><properties><property name='vsts.pullRequestId' value="${pullRequestId}" inherited="false"/><property name='vsts.repositoryId' value="${repoId}" inherited="false"/><property name='vsts.iterationId' value="${iterationId}" inherited="false"/></properties></build>`;

            .then((buildStatus: any) => {
                // Build the status object that we want to post.
                // Assume that the PR is ready for review...
                const prStatus = {
                    'iterationId': iterationId,
                    'state': 'pending',
                    'description': `Queued build: ${buildStatus.buildTypeId}`,
                    'targetUrl': buildStatus.webUrl,
                    'context': {
                        'name': 'teamcity',
                        'genre': 'continuous-integration'
                    _links: null

                // Post the status to the PR
                vstsGit.createPullRequestStatus(prStatus as any, repoId, pullRequestId);
            }, (reason: any) => {
                // error logging
    }).catch((reason: any) => {
        // error logging

    res.send('Received the POST');

Handling build completion from TeamCity

app.post('/prserver/buildComplete', (req, res) => {
    const pullRequestIdNode = req.body.build.teamcityProperties.find((item: any) => item.name === 'vsts.pullRequestId');

    if (!pullRequestIdNode) {
        // ignore if we don't have expected property

    const pullRequestId = pullRequestIdNode.value;

    const repositoryId = req.body.build.teamcityProperties.filter((item: any) => item.name === 'vsts.repositoryId')[0].value;
    const iterationId = req.body.build.teamcityProperties.filter((item: any) => item.name === 'vsts.iterationId')[0].value as number;

    const prStatus = {
        iterationId: iterationId,
        state: GitStatusState.Succeeded,
        'description': 'Build succeeded',
        'targetUrl': req.body.build.buildStatusUrl,
        'context': {
            'name': 'teamcity',
            'genre': 'continuous-integration'
        _links: null

    if (req.body.build.buildResult !== 'success') {
        prStatus.state = GitStatusState.Failed; // 'failed';
        prStatus.description = `Build result: ${req.body.build.buildResult}`;

    // Post the status to the PR
    vstsGit.createPullRequestStatus(prStatus as any, repositoryId, pullRequestId);


During development I ran the Node app from the command-line and made extensive use of console and file logging.

Once I was satisfied it was working as expected, I switched to using iisnode to run it under IIS.

Where this app runs depends on how accessible your TeamCity server is. If TeamCity is Internet-facing then the server could run anywhere (maybe even as something like an Azure Function). If TeamCity is running behind your firewall, then you might choose to host the pull server internally too. Note that VSTS does need to be able to contact the pull server – either directly (so the pull server itself is Internet-facing), or using a reverse proxy service like ngrok.

In the next post, I’ll describe how to configure TeamCity and VSTS to call the pull request server.

VSTS with TeamCity – Introduction

Monday, 1 January 2018

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) has become quite a compelling offering for managing software development. Features include source control, build, release, and issue tracking. With the product team working on 3 week sprints, new features are being added frequently.

One feature in particular that VSTS inherited from its on-premise predecessor/sibling Team Foundation Server is gated check-ins. This is a terrific way of keeping the build “green” – you avoid the risk of a developer committing changes that break the build (and that breaking change then ‘infecting’ the rest of the team). Instead their changes are isolated and not actually finally committed until after the build (potentially including unit tests) has passed.

If you use Git version control with VSTS, the equivalent to gated check-ins is branch policies. You can enable one or more of the following branch policies:

Build validation uses the built-in VSTS Build services, so what if you’re already using another build server – say JetBrain’s TeamCity for example? Well that’s where that last item “Approval from external services” can come into play.

TeamCity does have some support for building VSTS Git repositories. What it can’t currently do is integrate fully as a VSTS branch policy.

This is the first in a short series of blog posts in which I’m going to describe how I leveraged the VSTS Pull Request Status API and TeamCity’s API via a custom ‘pull request server’ to act as an intermediary between VSTS and TeamCity. With this in place, pull requests must have a passing build before the changes from the branch are allowed to be merged to master.

Unit Test Fixtures

Friday, 1 December 2017

Almost ten years ago, I bought and read Gerard Meszaros’ xUnit Test Patterns, Refactoring Test Code. It is very comprehensive and seeks to document all the common test design patterns. Meszaros uses italics to indicate named patterns, and I’ll follow that convention here.

The unit test framework I’ve used the most with .NET is NUnit. One quirk that I’m just beginning to understand better is the difference between Testcase Class and Fixture.

My confusion lies with how NUnit requires that classes which contain test methods, be decorated with the TestFixture attribute. I always assumed that this meant the class was “the fixture”, but no!

Meszaros defines them as follows:

(I) use ‘test fixture’ or just ‘fixture’ to mean ‘the pre-conditions of the test’ and Testcase class to mean ‘the class that contains the Test Methods and any code needed to set up the test fixture’. (xUnit Test Patterns p.59)

The key thing is that while NUnit defaults to the Testcase Class per Fixture, you can do things differently.

Take a look at one of the unit test projects from the Cake project.

Cake.NuGet.Tests project structure

Notice how they’ve separated the Fixture classes and the Testcase classes into separate folders.

Here’s one of the test methods from the NuGetPackageInstallerTests class. Note how concise and uncomplicated it is. You can look at this method and very quickly understand what it’s testing.

public void Should_Be_Able_To_Install_If_Scheme_Is_Correct()
    // Given
    var fixture = new NuGetPackageInstallerFixture();
    fixture.Package = new PackageReference("nuget:?package=Cake.Core");

    // When
    var result = fixture.CanInstall();

    // Then

Now let’s look at the fixture class – NuGetPackageInstallerFixture

internal sealed class NuGetPackageInstallerFixture
    public ICakeEnvironment Environment { get; set; }
    public FakeFileSystem FileSystem { get; set; }
    public IProcessRunner ProcessRunner { get; set; }
    public INuGetToolResolver ToolResolver { get; set; }
    public INuGetContentResolver ContentResolver { get; set; }
    public ICakeLog Log { get; set; }

    public PackageReference Package { get; set; }
    public PackageType PackageType { get; set; }
    public DirectoryPath InstallPath { get; set; }

    public ICakeConfiguration Config { get; set; }

    public NuGetPackageInstallerFixture()
        Environment = FakeEnvironment.CreateUnixEnvironment();
        FileSystem = new FakeFileSystem(Environment);
        ContentResolver = Substitute.For<INuGetContentResolver>();
        Log = Substitute.For<ICakeLog>();
        Config = Substitute.For<ICakeConfiguration>();

        ToolResolver = Substitute.For<INuGetToolResolver>();
        ToolResolver.ResolvePath().Returns(new FilePath("/Working/tools/nuget.exe"));

        Package = new PackageReference("nuget:https://myget.org/temp/?package=Cake.Foo&prerelease&version=1.2.3");
        PackageType = PackageType.Addin;
        InstallPath = new DirectoryPath("./nuget");

        ProcessRunner = Substitute.For<IProcessRunner>();
        ProcessRunner.When(p => p.Start(Arg.Any<FilePath>(), Arg.Any<ProcessSettings>()))
            .Do(info => FileSystem.CreateDirectory(InstallPath.Combine(Package.Package.ToLowerInvariant()).Combine(Package.Package)));

    public void InstallPackageAtSpecifiedPath(DirectoryPath path)
        ProcessRunner.When(p => p.Start(Arg.Any<FilePath>(), Arg.Any<ProcessSettings>()))
            .Do(info => FileSystem.CreateDirectory(path));

    public NuGetPackageInstaller CreateInstaller()
        return new NuGetPackageInstaller(FileSystem, Environment, ProcessRunner, ToolResolver, ContentResolver, Log, Config);

    public IReadOnlyCollection<IFile> Install()
        var installer = CreateInstaller();
        return installer.Install(Package, PackageType, InstallPath);

    public bool CanInstall()
        var installer = CreateInstaller();
        return installer.CanInstall(Package, PackageType);

As described in xUnit Test Patterns, this Test Fixture has everything we need in place to exercise the SUT (system under test). It instantiates both the SUT and all its dependencies, and also provides helper methods that are called by the Test Methods. Without this, all of the setup and configuration code would have lived in the Testcase class (NuGetPackageInstallerTests). This looks like an example of the Transient Fresh Fixture pattern.

If you want to get another perspective on using test fixtures, I’d also recommend taking a look at Mark Seemann’s Advanced Unit Testing course on Pluralsight.

Enterprise Service Bus libraries for .NET – Rebus

Monday, 27 November 2017

One in a series of posts giving a quick overview of ESB libraries for .NET

Rebus describes itself as “a lean service bus implementation for .NET”.



POCO classes


Use an instance of IBus to publish.

activator is an implementation of IHandlerActivator - either BuiltinHandlerActivator or an adapter class for your particular IoC container.

activator.Bus.Publish(new DateTimeMessage(DateTime.Now)).Wait();


Handlers implement IHandleMessages<T>

public class PrintDateTime : IHandleMessages<DateTime>
    public async Task Handle(DateTime currentDateTime)
        Console.WriteLine("The time is {0}", currentDateTime);

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