Azure DevOps Repos: Branch Policies

For the last few weeks I have been doing a series of posts about Azure DevOps Pipelines and I hit a post I wanted to do that didn’t make sense without introducing the Branch Policies feature of Azure Repos. This post is going to assume you already have an Azure DevOps Project with some code in it. If not you can check out my post on Getting Started with Azure DevOps.

Repo Introduction

The repo used here is the same one used in the Pipelines posts linked above and contains two .NET Core 3.1 web applications. The repo also contains three branches (master, releases/1.0, and releases/1.1).

It is worth noting that putting a forward slash in a branch name displays as a folder in the UI as you can see with releases in the screenshot above.

Editing Policies

Mouse over either a specific branch or a folder and it will show the three dots for the menu. Click the dots and then select Branch policies. For this example, we are putting policies on the master branch.

This will bring you to the page that allows you to view and edit the policies on the selected branch or folder.

The descriptions do a good job of explaining what policies do what so I’m not going to bore you with repeating them. The official docs on branch policies also go into a lot more detail. If you are not working along I highly recommend using Require a minimum number of reviews and Check for comment resolution. Build validation I would recommend no matter your team size as it keeps you away from the possibility of having that one magical machine that is the only one your build will work on. The following screenshot is with the first two recommend policies set. The settings shown for the require a minimum number of reviews are based on the fact that my project only has one contributor. After your done make sure and click the Save changes button.

Build Validation Policies

There is a bit more to the build validation policy which is why I’m covering it in a different section. On the Branch policies screen click the Add build policy button.

In the edit build policy screen, the only required change is selecting the Build pipeline to make available when a PR that is targeting the branch that is policy is for. Here we are using the automatic Trigger so any time we push to our remote branch when it has an open pull request it will run the select build pipeline. Policy requirement controls if a successful build is required before the pull request can complete or not. For a since person project Build expiration isn’t a big deal, but if your working with a team it can be helpful. Click Save when you are done.

Back on the branch policies screen, you will see the new requirement listed. You can also add as many build validations as you need.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully this quick little into to branch policies will help your team improve the quality of the code that makes it into your branches. I know to require another person or two to review your code before you can check-in sounds like it will slow you down if you are new to the concept but in reality, it helps catch issues before they make it to QA and production which saves time and money in the long run.

Also published on Medium.

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