One week using Octopus Deploy

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ODSo its been a one week of using Octopus Deploy for me and its fair to say I am impressed.

API
Octopus deploy was written API-first with the UI built on top, this mean that anything you need to do or access can be done either from the command line or from the available Nuget package, documentation for the API is also great and is up on github here.

Documentation
The documentation is very thorough, don’t think I have managed to come across anything which hasn’t either been covered or discussed via the support forums which have plenty of detail.

Blue/Green Deployment
One necessity at work for us is repeatable automated deployments, we currently have this already as I’ve mentioned before with MSBuild scripts and use of TeamCity for the builds. The idea of Blue/Green deployments is something we need for our external facing website at work and is a major plus point with Octopus Deploy, we can build our release version of the website and publish this internally for testing purposes and then switch this to production in an instant, this way we know our production environment includes the latest fixes/changes and has been tested by our QA department.

The documentation for OD covers Blue-green deployments and this along with Scheduled Deployments make the case for using Octopus Deploy a strong one.

Why you should look at Octopus Deploy
I have spent a week trying out different kinds of project deployment, as per previous post as well as testing out deploying an internal .Net website, its been pretty much very straight-forward, it handles web.config transforms, app.config transforms and even substituting variables held within OD for settings in both app.configs and web.configs (connection strings, NLog settings etc.).

Scheduled deployments, Blue/Green deployments are a big selling point to us, on top of that a well written API with good documentation (which uses confluence which is also nice) makes it an easy sell – I am fairly sure we will be changing our deployment strategy to use this going forward and I am happy about that.

One last very nice thing is the sharing of PowerShell scripts which means you can make use of existing scripts, write new ones and share them with the community up on github and help make OD even better – version 3.0 also looks like it will bring even more good stuff to the mix when that is released in the coming months.

I hope to look at deploying database’s using Octopus Deploy at some point fairly soon.

So take a look at Octopus Deploy and I’m sure you wont be disappointed! – that’s all for now.

Giving Octopus Deploy a Test Drive

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OD
The last couple of days I have been taking Octopus Deploy for a spin, we have been working on a new project and I have been tasked with using Octopus Deploy to see how easy it would be to deploy our application to our Development, Staging and Production environments.

The application itself isn’t really import but its a TopShelf Web Service running on Katana which includes the use of certificates, url acl’s, MSMQ and some RavenDB for good measure.

Current Setup
Our current deployment setup makes use of Teamcity and MSBuild to deploy our applications, making use of a set of standard .proj files we use to deploy all types of applications, we have it down to 1 click deployments, which covers:-

  • Checkout from Source Control
  • Inspections
  • Compile/Build
  • Unit Tests / Integration Tests
  • Deploy

Change to our process
With Octopus Deploy (calling it OD from here on in) I changed this slightly removing the Deploy step above from our MSBuild script and looked into how to deploy the code using OD.

OD takes your code and bundles into a nuget Package using a tool called OcotPack, an add-on for Visual Studio as well as an executable which looks at your code and figures out what’s needed to package your code into a Nuget package. Once you have your Nuget package you put that into your Nuget feed, either your own or using OD’s in built Nuget feed (very handy and much quicker to use) and then you create a Release based on the nuget package, steps outlined below for clarification:-

  • Run OctoPack on project you wish to Deploy, this creates you a Nuget package
  • Copy your nuget package to Nuget Feed (even has an option to do that for you)
  • Create a Release pointing to your package
  • Deploy to chosen environment
  • Job done

I will be covering more on Octopus Deploy but so far I have managed to deploy the application in question to Development and Staging, register URLACL’s, register the Certificate, create our private message queues, and install and start the Katana based Top Shelf Service in 2 days worth of work from having really no idea about how Octopus Deploy works, fair to say I like what I see and so far so good! – Oh and the documentation and sample videos are excellent – more coming soon on my use of OD, if your deployments aren’t using Octopus Deploy I recommend you take some time and take a look, its been well thought out with a REST API and the UI built on top of that, it allows you to run custom PowerShell scripts which I really like and in general looks like a good addition to our tools belt.

Nuget bug I ran into with solution level packages and dependencies

nugetIf your using nuget and have a solution level nuget package you wish to add to a project, install-package will install your package as suggested, however update-package wont work as it wont find the nuget package your trying to update, this is only the case if the solution level package contains any dependencies, remove your dependencies and update-package does work.

This appears to be a bug, the obvious way to get around it is to use uninstall-package then install-package but its a bug none the less, I spent some time trying to get around this.

I was hoping this would have been fixed in nuget version 2.8 but it hasn’t been as yet.

Issue I ran into when using Nuget/SlowCheetah

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nugetCannot add part to the package. Part names cannot be derived from another part name by appending segments to it

Last week I ran into an issue where I was using nuget to package a .csproj file.
What I was after was the contents of the nuget package to contain a Content folder and inside this Content folder have one file called app.config.transform, that’s it.

If my .csproj file contained the following:-

<PropertyGroup Label="SlowCheetah">
    <SlowCheetahTargets>..\.shared\SlowCheetah.Transforms.targets</SlowCheetahTargets>
  </PropertyGroup>
  <Import Project="$(MSBuildBinPath)\Microsoft.CSharp.targets" />
  <Import Project="$(SlowCheetahTargets)" Condition="Exists('$(SlowCheetahTargets)')" Label="SlowCheetah" />

Then the package contents had a single file called content – which is incorrect.

The way I fixed this was inside the .csproj file I changed the type of the app.config.transform from Content to None. I then changed my .nuspec file to have the following:-

<files>
    <file src="App.config.transform" target="Content" />
</files>

This fixed my issue with the contents of my nuget package, just incase anyone runs into the same issue.

Nuget Packages – solution level versus project level

nugetI’ve recently been working on a number of projects/solutions which contain nuget packages, one of the requirements I had been given was to add a nuget package which I had created at a solution level instead of it being at project level.

This means just that, the package is for the project solution and not for a particular project within the solution. If you’re still not sure what I mean let me explain with an example to better illustrate.

If you create an empty console application and add the nuget package called xunit runners:-

xunit.runners2

This will add the package at the solution level rather than to the consoleapplication1 project as shown below:-

xunit.runners3

Contrast this will a package level nuget package such as NUnit which is a project level nuget package:-

xunit.runners4

If you need to create a solution level nuget package then here is what I have found so far:-

  • Don’t reference a version of the framework within your Nuspec file
  • Don’t reference any dll’s

If you do either then you’ll end up with a project level nuget package.

There is more information on this here.

Learning PowerShell – Using PowerShell Community Extensions

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ps The PowerShell Community Extensions are a set of additional cmdlets, providers, functions and scripts which the community asked for and have been written for us to use and take advantage of.

Once you download PSCX you’ll want to add this module to something called your PowerShell Module path, this is the place you’d normally put your PowerShell Modules so that you can import them for using in your scripts. To check what your PowerShell Module path is from within PowerShell type:-

$env:PSModulePath

Add PSCX to your $env:PSModulePath so you can import it and use it anytime you start using PowerShell, to add PSCX type the following:-

$env:PSModulePath = $env:PSModulePath + “;C:\Program Files (x86)\PowerShell Community Extensions\Pscx3\;”

the last part should be where you chose to install PSCX.

Ok so no we have this added to our PowerShell Module path lets see if we can start using it.

To check what PowerShell modules are already imported type:-

Get-Module

The screen shot below shows me which modules have been imported:-

get-module

To add PSCX you need to import the module, so lets do that by typing:-

Import-Module PSCX

And that’s it we can call any of the PSCX cmdlets from our scripts, the list of which are extensive and include:-

Write-Zip
Format-XML
Get-XML
UnBlock-File

and many more

Hopefully this is enough to whet your appetite.

Learn PowerShell – Piping

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Piping in PowerShell is awesomesauce and best explained by some examples, but firstly a quick explanation of piping, lets say we want to get a list of files from the c:\windows folder on your machine, order them by the last modified date and select the first 50 files and output the list to a text file in the current folder, simple requirements and here it is:-

Set-Location c:\windows
Get-ChildItem | Sort-Object LastWriteTime -Descending | Select-Object -First 50| Out-File files.txt

  • Set-Location is the cmdlet which is roughly the equivalent to the cd command found in a command prompt.
  • Get-ChiLdItem is the cmdlet which is roughly the equivalent to the dir command found in a command prompt, but you can use it with objects, lists and so on.
  • Sort-Object is the cmdlet to sort obviously and can be used against your objects, lists and much more.
  • Select-Object tis the cmdlet to select a number of objects (files, records, results), you can use this with -first, -last, -skip and much more
  • Out-File will is the cmdlet to simply write output to a file.

Obviously a very simple example but you take A pass the results to B, B then does work on it, passes it to C and you got the idea. This is a how piping works and can yield the data your looking for quickly and in very little code indeed.

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Learn Powershell – ExecutionPolicy

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psCheck what the script execution policy is currently set to on your system:-

Get-ExecutionPolicy

The options are AllSigned, ByPass, Default, Remote Signed, Restricted or undefined

You can read about each of these by typing in the following command:-

Get-Help Set-ExecutionPolicy -online

This will load the online help for this command, if your ever needing help with PowerShell then you can search for help like so, Get-Help *services*, this will show you what commandLet’s are available for working with Services, i.e. starting them stopping them and so on.

I set the execution policy to RemoteSigned so that I can run my own PowerShell scripts but ones I download from the internet wont run unless I change the setting, so that my system is secure from any unwanted side effects from other peoples scripts.

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PowerShell useful Tools

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ps

As part of my blog post series on learning PowerShell I thought it might be a good time to list the tools I have came across and give them a shout out as I reckon the list of tools have been very helpful in learning some good practices when writing PowerShell scripts.

Lets get to the list:-

  • PowerShell ISE Steroids – this is a great add-on for PowerShell ISE, its not free but you get 10 days to check it out and I recommend you do.
  • PowerShell Script Browser Script Browser for Windows PowerShell ISE enables you to search for script samples in the TechNet Script Center, invaluable tool in my opinion for looking at example scripts
  • Power GUI PowerShell Editor with a few nice extras

I will add more as I come across them ;)

Learn PowerShell – Getting Started

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ps

To Start PowerShell, click Start, and type in PowerShell, choose Windows PowerShell ISE and run this as an Administrator (right click).

Tip:-  To check which version of PowerShell you have type $PSVersionTable, this will show a table of results and your looking for the top one which is the PSVersion, if this is 2.0 then you really should update before we go any further. At work I have been using PowerShell 3.0 and now 4.0 is out.

To update to version 3.0 the download link is PowerShell 3
To update to version 4.0 the download link is PowerShell 4

Tip:- PowerShell has in-built help which is really great, make sure its up to date by typing in Update-Help

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