ASP.NET Core

Create an Application with Web Template Studio

Creating new applications is something I do a fair amount of. Most of the time they are throwaway projects used to test something out or demo projects used for this blog. With all the project creation going on I try and keep an eye out for tools that make the process easier. This post is going to cover a tool a came across a few weeks ago from Microsoft call Web Template Studio (WebTS).

What is WebTS?

From the project’s GitHub read me:

Microsoft Web Template Studio (WebTS) is a Visual Studio Code Extension that accelerates the creation of new web applications using a wizard-based experience. WebTS enables developers to generate boilerplate code for a web application by choosing between different front-end frameworks, back-end frameworks, pages and cloud services. The resulting web app is well-formed, readable code that incorporates cloud services on Azure while implementing proven patterns and best practices.

For the front-end, we have options of Angular, React, or Vue and on the back-end, there are options for ASP.NET Core, Flask, Molecular, or Node.

Installation

We are assuming you already have a recent version of Visual Studio Code (VSCode) installed, but if not you can download it from here. Open VSCode and from the left side of the screen select Extensions. In the search box at the top enter Web Template Studio and then from the list select Web Template Studio. In the detail page that opens click the green Install button at the top.

Project Creation

Now that we have the extension installed press Ctrl + Shift + P to open the VSCode command palette and enter Web Template Studio: Launch (or as much as needed for the option to show) and then select Web Template Studio: Launch.

This will launch the Web Template Studio project creation process. The first page that shows gives you a very basic set of options, but enough for our example. To see the full array of options Web Template Studio provides hit next on this first screen instead of Create Project like we do in this example. Also, note that if you want an ASP.NET [Core] back-end you need to select it on this summary screen as it isn’t yet an option later in the process. Back to our example, on this page, you will need to enter a Project Name, pick a Front-end Framework, and a Back-end Framework before finally clicking Create Project.

After the process finishes a dialog will show letting us know it is complete. Click Open Project to load the created project in a new instance of VSCode.

Running the Project

Before getting to a runnable state we need to run a couple of terminal commands first. This can be done from VSCode’s built-in terminal or from an external terminal of your choice. In VSCode if you don’t see a terminal you can use Cntrl + Shift + ` to open a new one, or from the menu select Terminal > New Terminal. The following are the two commands that need to be run using npm, but they can be adjusted to use yarn instead if you prefer it. The second command may be specific to an ASP.NET Core back-end, make sure and check the project README.md for verification.

npm install
npm run restore-packages

Now the project can be run with the following command.

npm start

The resulting application will look something like this.

Wrapping Up

WebTS seems to be a great tool for quickly getting a project up and running. I do recommend going through the full project creation wizard as it has options to set up Azure integration as well as the ability to add up to 20 different pages to the generated application. Also, keep in mind that the ASP.NET back-end framework option is pretty new so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes as it progresses through the preview stage. Make sure and check out the project’s GitHub repo.

GitHub: Use Actions to Run Multiple Jobs

In the post, we are going to take our sample Workflow that builds two ASP.NET Core web applications and split it so each web application is built individually. This post is using the repo and Workflow built in the following posts if you need to catch up.

GitHub: Import an Azure DevOps Repo
GitHub: Use Actions to build ASP.NET Core Application
GitHub: Use Actions to Publish Artifacts

Starting Point and the Plan

Our Workflow currently contains a single job that just happens to build two ASP.NET Core web application based on the fact that the .NET CLI picks up and builds both applications. The following is the YAML for our current Workflow.

name: .NET Core

on:
  push:
    branches: [ master ]
  pull_request:
    branches: [ master ]

jobs:
  build:

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
    - uses: actions/[email protected]
      
    - name: Setup .NET Core
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        dotnet-version: 3.1.101
 
    - name: Install dependencies
      run: dotnet restore
      
    - name: Build
      run: dotnet build --configuration Release --no-restore
      
    - name: Test
      run: dotnet test --no-restore --verbosity normal

    - name: Publish
      run: dotnet publish 
    
    - name: Upload WebApp1 Build Artifact
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        name: WebApp1
        path: /home/runner/work/Playground/Playground/src/WebApp1/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/
        
    - name: Upload WebApp2 Build Artifact
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        name: WebApp2
        path: /home/runner/work/Playground/Playground/src/WebApp2/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/

This post is going to take this Workflow and split the build and publish of the two web applications into two jobs. By splitting the Workflow into multiple jobs we open the possibility that the jobs can run in parallel. One reason to do this would be to speed up the total Workflow run time if you have parts of your build that are independent. Another example of why you would need multiple jobs is if the different jobs need different needed to run on different operating systems such as one needing to run Windows and another a Linux.

Creating the Jobs

The following is the Workflow set up along with the job to build the first web application. The first change was of the ID from build to build_web_app1 since each job has to have a unique ID. Most of the rest of the highlighted changes are related to the .NET CLI commands that are now directed at a specific project. Do also note that we changed from a hardcoded path to using expression to get the workspace path which is the ${{ github.workspace }} bit instead of /home/runner/work/Playground/Playground/. See the expression syntax docs for more info.

name: .NET Core

on:
  push:
    branches: [ master ]
  pull_request:
    branches: [ master ]

jobs:
  build_web_app1:

    name: Build WebApp1
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
    - uses: actions/[email protected]
      
    - name: Setup .NET Core
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        dotnet-version: 3.1.101
 
    - name: Install dependencies
      run: dotnet restore ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj
      
    - name: Build
      run: dotnet build ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj --configuration Release --no-restore
      
    - name: Test
      run: dotnet test ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj --no-restore --verbosity normal

    - name: Publish
      run: dotnet publish ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj
    
    - name: Upload Build Artifact
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        name: WebApp1
        path: ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/

Here is the full file with both jobs defined. As you can see the second job is basically the same thing as the first one with a different ID, name, and project.

name: .NET Core

on:
  push:
    branches: [ master ]
  pull_request:
    branches: [ master ]

jobs:
  build_web_app1:

    name: Build WebApp1
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
    - uses: actions/[email protected]
      
    - name: Setup .NET Core
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        dotnet-version: 3.1.101
 
    - name: Install dependencies
      run: dotnet restore ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj
      
    - name: Build
      run: dotnet build ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj --configuration Release --no-restore
      
    - name: Test
      run: dotnet test ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj --no-restore --verbosity normal

    - name: Publish
      run: dotnet publish ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/WebApp1.csproj
    
    - name: Upload Build Artifact
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        name: WebApp1
        path: ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp1/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/
        
  build_web_app2:

    name: Build WebApp2
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
    - uses: actions/[email protected]
      
    - name: Setup .NET Core
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        dotnet-version: 3.1.101
 
    - name: Install dependencies
      run: dotnet restore ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp2/WebApp2.csproj
      
    - name: Build
      run: dotnet build ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp2/WebApp2.csproj --configuration Release --no-restore
      
    - name: Test
      run: dotnet test ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp2/WebApp2.csproj --no-restore --verbosity normal

    - name: Publish
      run: dotnet publish ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp2/WebApp2.csproj
       
    - name: Upload Build Artifact
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        name: WebApp2
        path: ${{ github.workspace }}/src/WebApp2/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/

After all the edits are done commit the changes to the repo to run the Workflow. From the results of the Workflow run, you will see that it now has two jobs and we still got the artifacts for both applications as we had before.

Wrapping Up

If your applications need it breaking them up into different jobs can be helpful not only with Workflow runtimes but it can also help your ability to reason about what each part of your build process is doing.

GitHub: Use Actions to Publish Artifacts

This post is going to take the GitHub Actions Workflow we set up in the last post and add a couple of steps that will provide us with access to our application’s binaries. If you are new to this series the following post will catch you up if needed.

GitHub: Import an Azure DevOps Repo
GitHub: Use Actions to build ASP.NET Core Application

Edit the Workflow

Our first step is to get back to the Workflow we want to edit. At the top of the repo click Actions.

On the left side of the screen select the specific Workflow, .NET Core in this case. Now that the list is filtered to just the Workflow we are interested in select the three dots on the most recent run and then click View workflow file.

On the next screen click the pencil above the Workflow file to edit the Workflow.

Add the end of the file adds a call to the .NET CLI to publish. The following is the full file and the last two lines are the publish step.

name: .NET Core

on:
  push:
    branches: [ master ]
  pull_request:
    branches: [ master ]

jobs:
  build:

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
    - uses: actions/[email protected]
      
    - name: Setup .NET Core
      uses: actions/[email protected]
      with:
        dotnet-version: 3.1.101
 
    - name: Install dependencies
      run: dotnet restore
      
    - name: Build
      run: dotnet build --configuration Release --no-restore
      
    - name: Test
      run: dotnet test --no-restore --verbosity normal

    - name: Publish
      run: dotnet publish

Click the Start commit button and commit the change to the branch of your choice. I committed the change directly to master which triggered the Workflow to run. From the logs of the Workflow, you can see that the publish step executed successfully.

Publish Build Artifacts

Now that we have the two web applications publishing we need a way to get the file for the applications. To do this we are going to use the Upload Artifacts Action. I used the output of the Publish step above to find the path to the publish folder for each application and then used an Upload Artifacts Action for each application. The following are the two steps added to the bottom of our existing Workflow.

- name: Upload WebApp1 Build Artifact
  uses: actions/[email protected]
  with:
    name: WebApp1
    path: /home/runner/work/Playground/Playground/src/WebApp1/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/
    
- name: Upload WebApp2 Build Artifact
  uses: actions/[email protected]
  with:
    name: WebApp2
    path: /home/runner/work/Playground/Playground/src/WebApp2/bin/Debug/netcoreapp3.1/publish/

After checking in the changes let the Workflow run. Once complete if you click on the details of the Workflow run you will see it now has Artifacts that can be downloaded.

Wrapping Up

We now have a Workflow that results in files we could actually deploy on top of verifying that the applications builds and the tests pass. I hope this has given you a good jumping-off point to build your own Workflows. We have only scratched the surface of what can be done with GitHub Actions and I’m looking forward to seeing what else we can do.

GitHub: Use Actions to build ASP.NET Core Application

In this week’s post, we are going to use GitHub’s Actions to build one of the applications that we imported from an Azure DevOps Repo. The sample repo we are using can be found here.

Create an Action Workflow

From the repo in GitHub click the Actions option at the top center of the screen.

The Actions page will make suggestions based on the contents of the repo you are working with. In our case, the suggested .NET Core workflow is the one we are interested in. Click the Set up this workflow button.

The next screen that shows will be an editor loaded with the YAML for the .NET Core workflow we selected. For now, we are going to keep the YAML that was defaulted in and click the Start commit button. This workflow may or may not work for our repo at this point we are still exploring and can change as needed after we get a feel for how Actions work.

The next dialog is the commit details. For this initial change, we are going commit directly to master with the default commit message. Click Commit new file to continue.

View Workflow Status

Now that we have a workflow set up click on the Actions tab of the repo again to view the list of workflows and their status. As you can see in this screenshot the commit queued our new workflow to run.

The workflow finished quickly so I didn’t get to see the details while it was running, but if you click on commit title, Create dotnetcore.yml in this example, it will take you to the detail of this workflow run. From this view, you will see the jobs for the workflow listed on the left side of the screen, we only have one job which is the build. When you click on a job you will see the logs from that job. The following screenshot is the sample build job with the details of the build step expanded to show that both WebApp1 and WebApp2 were built.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this post will give you a good jumping-off point to create your own GitHub Actions. I was impressed with how easy it was to get started and the wide verity of languages supported especially for a feature set that has been out for less than a year. Check back in next week for more exploration of Actions.

Azure DevOps Pipelines: Reusable YAML

In this post, we are going to refactor our sample Azure DevOps Pipeline to move some of the redundant YAML to a new file and replace the redundant parts of our main YAML file. This post is going to build on the Azure DevOps project created in previous posts. If you are just joining this series check out the previous posts to find out how the project has progressed.

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

Starting YAML

The following is the YAML for our current pipeline that builds two different web applications using two different jobs. Looking at the two jobs you will notice that they both have the same steps. The only difference in the steps is which project to build (WebApp1.csproj or WebApp2.csproj) and what to call the published artifact (WebApp1 or WebApp2). When developing applications we would never stand for this level of duplication and the same should apply to our pipelines.

trigger: none

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

jobs:
- job: WebApp1
  displayName: 'Build WebApp1'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Use .NET 3.1.x'
    inputs:
      packageType: 'sdk'
      version: '3.1.x'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Build'
    inputs:
      command: 'build'
      projects: '**/WebApp1.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration)' 
  
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Application'
    inputs:
      command: 'publish'
      publishWebProjects: false
      projects: '**/WebApp1.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Artifacts'
    inputs:
      targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
      artifact: 'WebApp1'
      publishLocation: 'pipeline'

- job: WebApp2
  displayName: 'Build WebApp2'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Use .NET 3.1.x'
    inputs:
      packageType: 'sdk'
      version: '3.1.x'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Build'
    inputs:
      command: 'build'
      projects: '**/WebApp2.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration)' 
  
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Application'
    inputs:
      command: 'publish'
      publishWebProjects: false
      projects: '**/WebApp2.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Artifacts'
    inputs:
      targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
      artifact: 'WebApp2'
      publishLocation: 'pipeline'

Add a New File

To attack the duplication above we need to take the shared steps from above and move them somewhere they can be reused. We will be walking through the steps using the Azure DevOps web site and committing directly to the master branch, but these same steps could be performed locally or on the web on any branch. First, from the Repos section of the site we need to add a new file by clicking the three dots at the level we want the file added. In this case, we are adding to the root of the repo but the same option is available on any folder.

A dialog will show where you can enter the New file name, we are going to use build.yml in this case. Next, click Create to continue.

Shared YAML

Now that we have a new file we can start building the new YAML that will handle the repeated steps from the original jobs. The first thing we are going to do is define a set of parameters that this set of steps can be called with. We are going to use this to pass what project to build, which build configuration to use, and what name the published artifact. The following is the definition of our parameters.

parameters:
- name: buildConfiguration
  type: string
  default: 'Release'
- name: project
  type: string
  default: ''
- name: artifactName
  type: string
  default: ''

We can then use these parameters in the rest of the file using the ${{ parameterName }} syntax. Note that any pipeline variables are also available using the $(variableName) syntax. The following bit of YAML shows both types in the arguments line.

- task: [email protected]
  displayName: 'Publish Application'
  inputs:
    command: 'publish'
    publishWebProjects: false
    projects: '**/${{ parameters.project }}'
    arguments: '--configuration ${{ parameters.buildConfiguration }} --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

While you can use pipeline variables I recommend passing all the values you need via parameters for the same reason that we try to avoid global variables when doing general programming. I’m using both here to show the usage of each. The following is the full YAML in our new file.

parameters:
- name: buildConfiguration
  type: string
  default: 'Release'
- name: project
  type: string
  default: ''
- name: artifactName
  type: string
  default: ''

steps:
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Use .NET 3.1.x'
    inputs:
      packageType: 'sdk'
      version: '3.1.x'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Build'
    inputs:
      command: 'build'
      projects: '**/${{ parameters.project }}'
      arguments: '--configuration ${{ parameters.buildConfiguration }}' 
  
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Application'
    inputs:
      command: 'publish'
      publishWebProjects: false
      projects: '**/${{ parameters.project }}'
      arguments: '--configuration ${{ parameters.buildConfiguration }} --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Artifacts'
    inputs:
      targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
      artifact: ${{ parameters.artifactName }}
      publishLocation: 'pipeline'

Finally, commit the changes to the new file.

Using Shared YAML

Not that we have the YAML that is the same between our two build jobs we can switch back over to our main YAML file, azure-pipelines.yml in the sample, and remove the steps we are wanting to replace. While the jobs will both have a steps section the only thing we will have left in them is a template call to our other YAML file, build.yml for the sample, that passes the parameters to run the other file with. The following is the resulting YAML file with the call to the shared file in both jobs highlighted.

trigger: none

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

jobs:
- job: WebApp1
  displayName: 'Build WebApp1'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - template: build.yml
    parameters:
      buildConFiguration: $(buildConfiguration)
      project: WebApp1.csproj
      artifactName: WebApp1

- job: WebApp2
  displayName: 'Build WebApp2'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - template: build.yml
    parameters:
      buildConFiguration: $(buildConfiguration)
      project: WebApp2.csproj
      artifactName: WebApp2

Wrapping Up

Being able to remove duplication from your YAML files should help improve the maintainability of your pipelines. I know the samples don’t show it, but the template is just a step and you could have other steps before or after it just like you would with normal tasks.

Azure DevOps Pipelines: Multiple Jobs in YAML

This post is going to show how to run multiple jobs out of a single YAML file from an Azure DevOps Pipeline. This post is going to build on the Azure DevOps project created in previous posts. If you are just joining this series check out the previous posts to find out how the project has progressed.

Getting Started with Azure DevOps
Pipeline Creation in Azure DevOps
Azure DevOps Publish Artifacts for ASP.NET Core

Starting Point and the Plan

As the sample stands now we have a single Pipeline that builds two different ASP.NET Core web applications in a single job using the following YAML.

trigger:
- master

pool:
  vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

steps:
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    packageType: 'sdk'
    version: '3.1.x'

- script: dotnet build --configuration $(buildConfiguration)
  displayName: 'dotnet build $(buildConfiguration)'
  
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    command: 'publish'
    publishWebProjects: true
    arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
    publishLocation: 'pipeline'

This post is going to take this pipeline and split the build and publish of the two web applications and make each application its own job. In Pipelines a job is something that a single agent takes and runs. By splitting into multiple jobs the pipeline can run multiple jobs at the same time if you have enough build agents available. One reason to do this would be to speed up the total Pipeline run if you have parts of your build that are independent. Another example of why you would need jobs is if the different jobs need different agents such as one needing a Windows agent and another a Linux agent.

Creating the Jobs

Having different jobs means we are going to have to move things like what agent pool to use and the steps for the job under a jobs element and then declare a specific job and the details that job needs to run. As you can see in the following example the end goal is the same as the YAML from above (except it is dealing with a specific project), but the details are nested under jobs and defined under a job.

trigger:
- master

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

jobs:
- job: WebApp1
  displayName: 'Build WebApp1'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Use .NET 3.1.x'
    inputs:
      packageType: 'sdk'
      version: '3.1.x'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Build'
    inputs:
      command: 'build'
      projects: '**/WebApp1.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration)' 
  
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Application'
    inputs:
      command: 'publish'
      publishWebProjects: false
      projects: '**/WebApp1.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Artifacts'
    inputs:
      targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
      artifact: 'WebApp1'
      publishLocation: 'pipeline'

Also notice that you can still define variables that can be used across jobs as is done above with the buildConfiguration variable. The following is the full YAML file that builds and publishes the artifacts for both web applications.

trigger:
- master

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

jobs:
- job: WebApp1
  displayName: 'Build WebApp1'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Use .NET 3.1.x'
    inputs:
      packageType: 'sdk'
      version: '3.1.x'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Build'
    inputs:
      command: 'build'
      projects: '**/WebApp1.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration)' 
  
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Application'
    inputs:
      command: 'publish'
      publishWebProjects: false
      projects: '**/WebApp1.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Artifacts'
    inputs:
      targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
      artifact: 'WebApp1'
      publishLocation: 'pipeline'

- job: WebApp2
  displayName: 'Build WebApp2'
  pool:
    vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

  steps:
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Use .NET 3.1.x'
    inputs:
      packageType: 'sdk'
      version: '3.1.x'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Build'
    inputs:
      command: 'build'
      projects: '**/WebApp2.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration)' 
  
  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Application'
    inputs:
      command: 'publish'
      publishWebProjects: false
      projects: '**/WebApp2.csproj'
      arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

  - task: [email protected]
    displayName: 'Publish Artifacts'
    inputs:
      targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
      artifact: 'WebApp2'
      publishLocation: 'pipeline'

After all your edits are done commit the changes to your YAML file and then run the pipeline. As you can see from the following screenshot of my sample pipeline run the pipeline has two jobs instead of one that the original YAML resulted in. Also, note that the pipeline results in two published artifacts (one per job in our case) instead of the one with the original.

Wrapping Up

As mentioned above there are a lot of reasons you might want to split up your pipeline into multiple jobs and hopefully, you now have a good idea of how that is done. Make sure and check back in the future for a post on how to take repeated tasks and make them reusable.

Azure DevOps Publish Artifacts for ASP.NET Core

This post is going to build on the Azure DevOps project we created in the last few posts and get the build pipeline to the point you have the application’s binaries. If you are just joining this series check out the previous posts to catch up.

Getting Started with Azure DevOps
Pipeline Creation in Azure DevOps

Edit the Pipeline

First, we need to get back to the pipeline we were working on. From the Project menu select Pipelines.

This will land you on a page that lists your recently run pipelines. If you don’t see your pipeline list you might have to click the All option near the top of the page. Since we only have one pipeline in this project we can use the ellipsis to open a context menu and click Edit.

Publish the Application

At this point, the YAML for our pipeline looks like the following.

trigger:
- master

pool:
  vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

steps:
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    packageType: 'sdk'
    version: '3.1.x'

- script: dotnet build --configuration $(buildConfiguration)
  displayName: 'dotnet build $(buildConfiguration)'

The pipeline will currently tell us if the included project builds, but doesn’t provide us with the results of that build. Using the Task panel on the right search for the .NET Core task and then click the resulting task. This is the task you would want to use to invoke any of the .NET CLI commands.

Use the drop-down for Command and select publish. For this sample, the defaults for the rest of the settings will be fine. Finally, click Add to add the task to the YAML file.

The following is the resulting YAML.

trigger:
- master

pool:
  vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

steps:
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    packageType: 'sdk'
    version: '3.1.x'

- script: dotnet build --configuration $(buildConfiguration)
  displayName: 'dotnet build $(buildConfiguration)'
  
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    command: 'publish'
    publishWebProjects: true

Before we move on I want to point out the Settings link above the tasks in the YAML editor. Clicking Settings will load that task into the task panel on the right of the screen where you can make changes and then if you hit the add button it will replace your existing task with a new one with your new options selected. Be careful to not change the selection in the YAML editor as the add button is just replacing the selected text not remembering what task you click settings on. When finished click the Save button and go through the commit process. When that is finished click the Run button to execute the pipeline.

Publish Build Artifacts

The pipeline run should succeed, but we still don’t have any files we can use. Learning what variables are available in the pipeline and how to use them is one of the hardest parts of getting started with Azure Pipelines. For our example, we are trying to get the two zip files created by the publish step above which means our pipeline will need to publish artifacts to make the files available. We are going to tweak the publish command from above with an output directory using the builtin Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory variable. The following is the full task with the changes.

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    command: 'publish'
    publishWebProjects: true
    arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

With the file we need in the artifact staging directory we need to publish those files using the Publish Pipeline Artifact task. The following is the full task that publishes the artifact staging directory to the pipeline.

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
    publishLocation: 'pipeline'

For reference, the following is the full YAML for the pipeline with all the above changes.

trigger:
- master

pool:
  vmImage: 'ubuntu-latest'

variables:
  buildConfiguration: 'Release'

steps:
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    packageType: 'sdk'
    version: '3.1.x'

- script: dotnet build --configuration $(buildConfiguration)
  displayName: 'dotnet build $(buildConfiguration)'
  
- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    command: 'publish'
    publishWebProjects: true
    arguments: '--configuration $(buildConfiguration) --output $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    targetPath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
    publishLocation: 'pipeline'

Save and run the pipeline. When the pipeline is complete on the result page you will see 1 published for artifacts.

Click on 1 published and it will take you to a page that lists the artifacts. If you mouse over any of the rows you will see the option to download the associated file(s).

Quick Tip

As I stated above getting a handle on what directories are where can be a pain. If you ever need to see what files are where you can use the following publish task to output the full set of files the pipeline is using by publishing the pipeline’s entire workspace. This has helped me in the past to orient myself.

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    targetPath: '$(Pipeline.Workspace)'
    publishLocation: 'pipeline'

Wrapping Up

Our pipeline is now at the point we have files we could deploy. Hopefully, this gives you a good jump start on your own build pipelines. Azure Pipelines is a huge topic and this is a very basic build so keep an eye out for more posts on this topic in the future.

Upgrade an ASP.NET Core Application to Bootstrap 4

As part of the work, I did on the application referenced in the web.config transform post from last week I also upgraded the application from Bootstrap 3 to Bootstrap 4 and this post is going to walk through a process to get the new version of Bootstrap up and running in a site.

Create a Sample Application

In case you want a project with Bootstrap 3 installed to play around with before attempting a production site the following command, run in a command prompt, will create an ASP.NET Core 2.1 application that has Bootstrap 3.

dotnet new webapp -f netcoreapp2.1

Upgrade Bootstrap Files

The first step I took was to delete the existing Bootstrap related file which can be found in the wwwroot/lib directory and delete the whole bootstrap directory.

Now open the project in Visual Studio and right-click on the project file and select Add > Client-Side Library.

The dialog that shows will allow you to search for client-side libraries to include in your application. In this case, we are looking for twitter-bootstrap. Your version number may be higher than the one shown in the screenshot below. I change the target location to match where Bootstrap was installed by the template by default, but that isn’t required. Finally, click Install.

The dialog above and the installation of the file is part of LibMan, which provides a lot of functionality for managing client-side libraries. Check out the official LibMan docs for more information.

Dealing with the Bootstrap Changes

This section is going to be really light on details as Bootstrap 4 was a reboot of Bootstrap and a ton of things changed. I will give an example or two here, but really the official Bootstrap Migrating to v4 guide is where you will want to go for all the details.

Here are a couple of examples of the type of changes you will be making.

Before:
<label asp-for="User" class="control-label"></label>

After:
<label asp-for="User" class="col-form-label"></label>

The look of buttons has changed so where we had used default before we changed to secondary.

Before:
<input type="submit" value="Load" class="btn btn-default" />

After:
<input type="submit" value="Load" class="btn btn-secondary" />

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this will help you get a jump start on upgrading sites from Bootstrap 3 to Bootstrap 4. Thankfully after you get the files in the right spot Bootstrap’s migration guide should get you the rest of the way.

ASP.NET Core 3.1 Web.config Transform for Production

I recently upgraded an application from ASP.NET Core 2.2 to 3.1 around the same time the application got moved to a new server. Side note, don’t make two large changes like that at the same time if you can help it as it always makes tracking down the cause of the issue much harder.  The application in question was created using the ASP.NET Core React template initially.

The Error

After the changes above the site started returning the following error.

HTTP Error 500.0 – ANCM In-Process Handler Load Failue

To diagnose the issue I enabled standard out logging by changing the stdoutLogEnabled to true. The following is the line from the application’s web config with the logging enabled.

<aspNetCore processPath="dotnet" arguments=".\YourApplication.dll" stdoutLogEnabled="true" stdoutLogFile=".\logs\stdout">

The Cause

The logging showed that the application was trying to start the React part of the application using the React Development Server, which uses npm. Here is the related code from the Configure function of the Startup class.

app.UseSpa(spa =>
           {
               spa.Options.SourcePath = "ClientApp";

               if (env.IsDevelopment())
               {
                   spa.UseReactDevelopmentServer(npmScript: "start");
               }
           });

As you can see from the highlighted area the Reac Development Server should only be used when the environment is set to development and sure enough, the web.config has environment variable for ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT and the value is Development as you can see in the following example.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<configuration>
  <location path="." inheritInChildApplications="false">
    <system.webServer>
      <handlers>
        <add name="aspNetCore" path="*" verb="*" modules="AspNetCoreModuleV2" resourceType="Unspecified" />
      </handlers>
      <aspNetCore processPath="dotnet" arguments="YourApplication.dll" stdoutLogEnabled="false" stdoutLogFile=".\logs\stdout" hostingModel="InProcess">
        <environmentVariables>
          <environmentVariable name="ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT" value="Development" />
        </environmentVariables>
      </aspNetCore>
    </system.webServer>
  </location>
</configuration>

A Fix

My knee jerk reaction was to find a way to get the value of that variable changed when the application is published in release mode. This helped me find the Microsoft docs for Transform web.config.

For this fix, I used a build configuration base transform. To do this I added a new file named web.Release.config. With this new file present, the transforms in the file will be executed when a release build is run. The following is the transform I used to get ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT set to Production.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<configuration xmlns:xdt="http://schemas.microsoft.com/XML-Document-Transform">
  <location>
    <system.webServer>
      <aspNetCore>
        <environmentVariables>
          <environmentVariable xdt:Transform="Replace" xdt:Locator="Match(name)" name="ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT" value="Production" />
        </environmentVariables>
      </aspNetCore>
    </system.webServer>
  </location>
</configuration>

It is important that the structure of your transforms match what is in your actual web.config or the transform won’t be able to locate the element that needs to be transformed which in this case we are looking for an element under configuration/location/system.webServer/aspNetCore/enviromentVariables.

In our example, we are telling the transform we want to replace the element  (xdt:Transform=”Replace”) that matches the name (xdt:Locator=”Match(name)”) ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT with the value Production.

Wrapping Up

This is just one small example of what can be done with web.config transforms. The official docs gave me a general high-level idea of what transforms can do, but wasn’t super helpful for what I needed to do. If the docs don’t cover your use case get ready to do a fair amount of searching.

Side note in the application I was referencing above it turns out that the web.config in the published for .NET Core 2.1 didn’t contain a value for ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT which was why it wasn’t an issue before.

Using NSwag to Generate an Aurelia Client for an ASP.NET Core 3.1 API

This week we are going to add an Aurelia project that will utilize the contacts API we created a few weeks ago using a client-generated by NSwag. This post is part of the revamp of the ASP.NET Core Basics repo that was kicked off when .NET Core 3.0 was released which is now targeting .NET Core 3.1. For details on how the associated samples got to their current point check out the following posts.

Swagger/OpenAPI with NSwag and ASP.NET Core 3
ASP.NET Core 3: Add Entity Framework Core to Existing Project
New Razor Pages Project Backed with an API
Using NSwag to Generate Angular Client for an ASP.NET Core 3 API
Using NSwag to Generate React Client for an ASP.NET Core 3 API
Using NSwag to Generate Blazor Server Client for an ASP.NET Core 3.1 API
Using NSwag to Generate a Vue Client for an ASP.NET Core 3.1 API

The sample code before any changes from this post can be found here.


 

Create the Aurelia Project

As with Vue there is no .NET CLI template from Microsoft that has Aurelia support so to crate the Aurelia project we will be using the Aurelia CLI. Before getting started ensure you have npm installed.

Install the Aurelia CLI using the following command from a command prompt.

npm install -g aurelia-cli

Next, use the following command to start the project creation process using the Aurelia CLI. Keep in mind that the CLI creates a directory with the project name.

au new

The above will result in a walkthrough of the project creation process. First is the name of the project, contacts-aurelia in this case. Next is the setup of the project and here we will be using the Default TypeScript App.

Finally, select how you would like to manage dependencies. The sample project is using npm, but Yarn is also an option. If you do go with Yarn some of the following steps will need the npm commands translated to Yarn commands.

After the project creation process is complete use the following command to change to the new directory created for the project.

cd contacts-aurelia

Now the project needs a few more dependencies installed. We are going to install a couple of UI related items, Bootstrap and Font Awesome, as well as the Aurelia Fetch Client which we will need to hit our API.

npm install bootstrap
npm install font-awesome
npm install aurelia-fetch-client

The application that the Aurelia CLI outputs is very basics so the Aurelia docs for creating a to-do application and creating a contact manager were used to build the basics of the sample application. I will be coving the contact related bits of the UI, but the application stops short of implementing the save functionality at this point.

Use NSwagStudio to Generate an API Client

NSwag provides multiple options for client generation including a CLI, code, or a Windows application. This post is going to use the Windows application which is called NSwagStudio. NSwagStudio can be downloaded and installed from here.

Next, make sure your API is running and get the URL of its OpenAPI/Swagger specification URL. For example, using a local instance of the sample solution’s Contacts API the URL is https://localhost:5001/swagger/v1/swagger.json. If you are using the Swagger UI you can find a link to your swagger.json under the API title.

Now that we have the OpenAPI/Swager specification URL for the API switch over to NSwagStudio. The application will open with a new document ready to go. There are a few options we will need to set. First, select the OpenAPI/Swagger Specification tab and enter your API’s specification URL in the Specification URL box.

In the Outputs section check the TypeScript Client checkbox and then select the TypeScript Client tab. There are a lot of options to play with, the highlighted options are the ones that are important for this sample. For Template, we just need an Aurelia based client. The final option that needs to be set is the Output file path and this is the location you want the generated file to be. I output to the Aurelia project directory under /src/contactApi.ts. After all the options are set click Generate Files.

Create UI and Use Generated Client

Again the UI bit mostly comes from the docs, but I’m going to show the bits for the contact list here and the rest of the UI you can look at the sample code. All of the following will be taking place in the src directory of the Aurelia project.

First, add a file named contact-list.html which will hold the template for the UI of the contact list with the following contents. This is a mix of HTML and Aurelia’s syntax. We aren’t really going into the Aurelia specific bits, but even if you are new to Aurelia this should be readable.

<template>
  <div class="contact-list">
    <ul class="list-group">
      <li repeat.for="contact of contacts" class="list-group-item ${contact.id === $parent.selectedId ? 'active' : ''}">
        <a route-href="route: contacts; params.bind: {id:contact.id}" click.delegate="$parent.select(contact)">
          <h4>${contact.firstName} ${contact.lastName}</h4>
          <p>${contact.email}</p>
        </a>
      </li>
    </ul>
  </div>
</template>

Next, add a contact-list.ts file which is what the template from above will be bound to. The lines specific to the usage of the NSwag generated client are highlighted.

import {ContactsClient, Contact} from './contactsApi';
import {inject} from 'aurelia-framework';

@inject(ContactsClient)
export class ContactList {
  contacts: Contact[];
  api: ContactsClient;
  selectedId: any;
  
  constructor(api: ContactsClient) {
    this.api = api;
    this.contacts = [];
  }

  created() {
    this.api.getContacts().then(contacts => this.contacts = contacts);
  }

  select(contact) {
    this.selectedId = contact.id;
    return true;
  }
}

As you can see from the above Aurelia is injecting an instance of the ContactsClient via the class’s construction and then that client is used in the created function to call the API client’s getContacts function and using the resulting data from the API to replace the contacts field with the results of the API call.

The application is displaying the contact list in app.html via the contact-list element. The import and usage of the contact list component are highlighted in the following chunk of code.

<template>
  <require from="./styles.css"></require>
  <require from="./contact-list"></require>

  <nav class="navbar navbar-light bg-light fixed-top" role="navigation">
    <a class="navbar-brand" href="#">
      <i class="fa fa-user"></i>
      <span>Contacts</span>
    </a>
  </nav>

  <div class="container">
    <div class="row">
      <contact-list class="col-md-4"></contact-list>
      <router-view class="col-md-8"></router-view>
    </div>
  </div>
</template>

At this point, I tried out the application and it wasn’t pulling back any data. After doing some digging in the network tab of my browser’s dev tool I noticed that the API call was missing the base part of the URL. This hasn’t come up before for the other times I have used the NSwag generated client and if you look at the constructor of the client it defaults the base URL to the endpoint that was used to generate the client, see the following code.

constructor(baseUrl?: string, http?: { fetch(url: RequestInfo, init?: RequestInit): Promise<Response> }) {
    this.http = http ? http : <any>window;
    this.baseUrl = baseUrl ? baseUrl : "https://localhost:5001";
}

It turns out that the Aurelia dependency injection system calls the constructor with an empty string instead of null. One option would have been to change the above constructor to handle an empty string, but that would mean any time the client got regenerated I would have to remember to follow it up with the constructor modification which would be too easy to screw up. After some digging, I found out that Aurelia provides a way to control how an instance of a class is created. Open main.ts and make the following highlighted changes. I’m injecting the URL, but using null instead would also work and the base URL from the ContactClient would get used.

import { HttpClient } from 'aurelia-fetch-client';
import {Aurelia} from 'aurelia-framework'
import * as environment from '../config/environment.json';
import {PLATFORM} from 'aurelia-pal';
import 'bootstrap/dist/css/bootstrap.css';
import 'font-awesome/css/font-awesome.css';
import { ContactsClient } from 'contactsApi';

export function configure(aurelia: Aurelia) {
  aurelia.use
    .standardConfiguration()
    .feature(PLATFORM.moduleName('resources/index'))
    .instance(ContactsClient, 
              new ContactsClient("https://localhost:5001",
                                 aurelia.container.get(HttpClient)));

  aurelia.use.developmentLogging(environment.debug ? 'debug' : 'warn');

  if (environment.testing) {
    aurelia.use.plugin(PLATFORM.moduleName('aurelia-testing'));
  }

  aurelia.start().then(() => aurelia.setRoot(PLATFORM.moduleName('app')));
}

After all the change from a command prompt set to the root of the Aurelia project, you can use the following command to run the application. If you drop the open it will run the application without opening a browser.

au run --open

Wrapping Up

As always NSwag makes it very easy to create a client to interact with an API. Hopefully, this was useful even if my Aurelia code might not be idiomatic.

The sample projects after all the changes in this post can be found here.