Azure DevOps Pipelines: Naming and Tagging

In this week’s post, we are going to cover changing the naming of Pipeline runs to provide more information as well as tagging our source when a pipeline is run. This post will be using a sample Azure DevOps project built over the last few weeks of posts. If you want to see how this project has progressed check out the following posts.

Getting Started with Azure DevOps
Pipeline Creation in Azure DevOps
Azure DevOps Publish Artifacts for ASP.NET Core
Azure DevOps Pipelines: Multiple Jobs in YAML
Azure DevOps Pipelines: Reusable YAML
Azure DevOps Pipelines: Use YAML Across Repos
Azure DevOps Pipelines: Conditionals in YAML


By default, Pipeline runs are naming using the current date with a number for how many times the Pipeline has run for the day. For example, the fourth build on March, 17th, 2020 would start with the name 20200317.4 plus the description of the last commit. If you have the need you can change this naming scheme by using a name element in your YAML. As with the rest of the YAML related things you have all the same information available as the rest of the Pipeline to use in building whatever name might be helpful for your situation. For our example, we are going to add the branch name to the front of the run date and count by adding the following name element to the top of our YAML file.

name: $(SourceBranchName)_$(date:yyyyMMdd)$(rev:.r)

  - repository: Shared
    name: Playground/Shared
    type: git 
    ref: master #branch name

trigger: none

The above would result in master_20200317.4 using the same example as above. The following screenshot shows the actual results from this change in the sample Pipeline.


Tagging source code when running a Pipeline is a helpful way to know exactly what was included when a Pipeline is run. Here we are going to walk through using Azure DevOps to automatically tag on successful builds. From the Pipeline, you want to tag click the Edit button as you would if you were going to edit the Pipeline’s YAML. Then click the three dots and select Triggers.

Now click on the YAML tab, then Get sources, under Tag sources we are going to select On success so tags will only happen if the build completes successfully. Also, notice the Tag format which allows you to change how the tag is named. When done make sure and Save your changes.

After running a build with the above changes head over to the Repos area of the project. From Files click on History and from there you can see the tag on the last commit that was included in the build, which is displayed here as master_20200325.1.

Wrapping Up

Using clear naming for your builds can give you a lot of information at a glance, but it does take some thought to make sure information your including is helpful. Tagging is also super helpful when viewing history to know what went out with what release, and of course, they can also be used for branching. Come back next week for a look at how to manually tag when Azure DevOps automatic tagging doesn’t work for whatever reason.

Also published on Medium.

1 thought on “Azure DevOps Pipelines: Naming and Tagging”

  1. Be aware… At the end of this “Label Sources” section: it says “The tag is considered a build artifact since it is produced by the build. When the build is deleted either manually or through a retention policy, the tag is also deleted.”

    This means that if you ran a build, and at some point the “housekeeping” deletes its record of that “run”, then it will also remove the corresponding tag.

    This wasn’t the case on pre-YAML builds, where the “Retention” tab of the build page included settings to say what would (and would not) be deleted when that clean-up happened, including a checkbox for “Source label” (which looks like it was unticked by default); but it’s not there for YAML builds.

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