Mobile First Cloud First

A blog by Geert van der Cruijsen on Apps, Cloud & ALM

Author: Geert van der Cruijsen (page 2 of 2)

Xamarin Evolve Day 1 Recap

At the moment of writing i’m still at Xamarin Evolve. Yesterday was the first day of the conference where all the new goodies were announced. Time for a quick recap of what was announced and the sessions i followed.

The day started with a so called “mini-hack” at 6.15 in the morning. There are several mini-hacks at evolve most of them require you to do some basic exercise with a specific technology or tool such as Hockeyapp, MS Cognitive services, Bitwise etc. This one was a bit different. Craig Dunn organised a 5k run at 6.15 in the morning with a bunch of Xamarinians. I joined together with my Colleague Roy and other Dutchguy Marco Kuiper. It was a great run and really gave a boost of energy to start the day. After that it was time to get breakfast and head to the keynote.

Keynote: Nat took the stage and told everyone about some things that happened since the Microsoft takeover. Interest in Xamarin increased by 3x since the announcement of the Microsoft merge. Great times to be a Xamarin developer! After Nat, Miguel took the stage to show us the new stuff.

Miguel showed us the dark theme for Xamarin studio for us young hackers. (felt me feel young again) I  really like using the dark theme in Visual studio and now we also can in Xamarin Studio. Xamarin also included a lot of Roslyn features to improve code quality and to help you build beautiful code.

Xamarin also announced that they are open sourcing all the SDK’s and they will be located at open.xamarin.com. In the first few hours there were already pull requests which i think is pretty cool.

Miguel invited Nina Vyedin on stage to talk about the Xamarin forms previewer. Nina explained that XAML officially stands for Xamarin And Microsoft Love and after that she showed us how the Xamarin forms previewer works. I think this was THE feature where a lot of people were waiting for.

Miguel took over again after Nina and showed us his new baby the Xamarin Workbooks. i have to say i really love the workbooks and have played with it after they were released at BUILD. Workbooks are a great tool to teach people new features in Xamarin or C# in general. Workbooks are basically MarkDown files that contain text and also pieces of code. these pieces of code can be ran onto a simulator in real time. There are several sample workbooks which can be found here: https://github.com/xamarin/Workbooks

Xamarin Evolve 2016 pre-conference write up

Xamarin Evolve 2016 is about halfway now for the 600 people who attended the 2 days of training so time for me to do a quick write up on the last 2 days.

When Nat Friedman did the opening keynote he said: “This will be the best conference we ever did.. and with we i mean Microsoft” until now Xamarin/Microsoft is delivering.

 

 

Before Xamarin Evolve started we arrived in Orlando FL on Saturday. After having a great steak at Mortens on Saturday night we went to visit Kennedy Space Center on sunday before the training and conference kicked off. It was a great day with nice weather and really awesome things to see.

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on the way back we had an Uber driver who was retired but was actually an engineer on the space shuttles for 30 years. He had some great stories from all the launches he had witnessed and cool stuff he worked on.

So back to Xamarin Evolve:

I joined the 2 day intermediate training and thought it was pretty good. I knew most of the stuff already since i’ve been working with Xamarin for several years now but it was good to do the training since my colleague Roy Cornelissen and i are in the process of becoming certified Xamarin trainers so we can deliver in person Xamarin training in the Netherlands or Europe. It was a good learning experience on how training like this works and we had really good trainers with Andrew Ditmer and Rob Ringham

Here are some of the topics we followed during the intermediate track:

Async / Await

We started off with some deep dive on async and await. I believe this is a crucial part of knowledge to “build better apps” which was the Andrew and Rob’s slogan for the training. In my role as technical architect and consultant i’ve lead several teams of junior developers and using async and await is something a lot of people are doing wrong. The main reason why people use it incorrectly is because it seems so easy while before async/await was announced doing multi threading was quite a burden.  It’s really important for a developer to know what happens behind this syntactic sugar of async await and during this training Andrew and Rob told the class all about it.

Cross Platform Design

One of my favorite parts of doing software development is design patterns. During the second part of the training we looked at patterns on how to share code between several platforms and we mainly looked at 3 patterns: The Factory pattern, the service locator pattern and my favourite Dependency injection. although this seems basic for me it wasn’t that much for most people in the class. Setting up your software architecture to use dependency injection is really important to make testable maintainable code. Lot’s of people don’t like this kind of work but shaving yaks as it is called is one of my favourite things

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Testing

After we had set up a good testable software architecture it was time to talk testing. we started of with basic unit testing (which in my opinion should be part of any basic programming track) but i was baffled by the amount of people not doing any unit tests in our class.  We talked about AAA (Arrange, Act, Assert) and quickly moved to Xamarin UI tests and test cloud.

The testing subject concluded the first day and we continued the 2nd day of training on tuesday:

Securing local data

Security, a topic not that many people had to many knowledge about. We talked about the Xamarin.Auth library which can really help you with securing and encrypting local data. Of course this library is open source and located on github: https://github.com/xamarin/Xamarin.Auth

my Xpirit colleague Roy actually found a bug in Xamarin.Auth about a year ago and the cool thing of Evolve is that all the Xamarin guys are actually here on Evolve as well. so our trainers send a message to the guy who maintained Xamarin.Auth and he came to our classroom to talk about the bug and the pull request Roy made to get it fixed.

Oauth

After securing local data we continued the training with using Oauth which is a topic that a lot of apps will use. not that many people had to much knowledge about it because this is set up once most of the time and people don’t really understand what is going on. The Xamarin.Auth library can help you with OAuth as well and although we didn’t cover it you could also use the Microsoft ADAL library for doing Oauth.

Garbage collection and Memory management

The last topic was all about garbage collection (Rob’s favourite topic). When you are building apps and are not focussing on memory management or have no clue on how to do it  this will eventually bite you in the back so it was essential for the training. We talked about all the pitfalls and tips and tricks for doing memory management in both iOS and Android.

This rounded up the training. most of these topics can be found as tracks in Xamarin University so if you have an account there you can do these courses as well.

After the training the Darwin lounge was opened and Xamarin showed again how to throw a great party. On monday evening we already had a great party at La layettes and this time there was great food and drinks  throughout the darwin lounge and sponsor stands.

There was some local craft beer tasting, Artisan chocolate tasting. build your own tacos, paella and other great food. I had the chance to talk to a lot of Xamarin people, some Dutch people i met and my former Avanade Colleagues who i’ve bumped into.

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After having some great talks and beers it was time to go to bed because this morning at 6.15 we had to go for the Xamarin Evolve 5k minihack organised by Craig Dunn.

there was quite a lot of people there at 6.15 and it was a great run. Thanks Craig!

 

In about 45 minutes the keynote is starting so now it’s time for me to grab some breakfast and head to the keynote. For news about the keynote watch the live stream of follow my twitter updates.

New Challenge, New Adventure: Joined Xpirit

Last week was my first week at my new job at Xpirit. I joined Xpirit on april 1st to become a Lead Consultant focussing on Mobile technology. Xpirit is a new company that started about 1.5 years ago by a small group of rockstars from the Dutch .Net community such as Marcel de Vries (CTO Xpirit), Alex Thissen (Lead Consultant Cloud), Roy Cornelissen (Lead Consultant Mobility) and  Pascal Greuter (Managing Director & Sales). In the past 1.5 years even more rockstars joined such as Rene van Osnabrugge (Lead Consultant ALM) and my former Avanade colleague Jesse Houwing (Lead Consultant ALM). Xpirit has knowledge on the full Microsoft development stack and has 3 main focus areas: Cloud, ALM & Mobile.

Avanade Xpirit

I was asked to join Xpirit a few months back and I was honoured to be be chosen to work with these great guys and to help grow this company into becoming even more of an authority in the Cloud, ALM & Mobile space.  It was hard for me to leave Avanade though, a company where i started 8.5 years ago as a junior consultant working mostly on web technology in Asp.Net & C#. At Avanade i was able to grow my career and switch to Mobile application development as this emerged over the last years up to becoming the Mobile capability lead at Avanade Netherlands which was my final role before I left. I’m really thankful to Avanade of all the opportunities they gave me to grow as a consultant, developer but also as a person.

A special shoutout to a couple of guys at Avanade who i’ve worked with for a long time at Avanade and made my stay there really awesome. Tijmen van de Kamp, my manager and my peers: Sander Schutten, Rob Bakkers, Christiaan Veeningen & Albert Sluijter

The time to join Xpirit seems perfect looking at all the new announcements regarding Xamarin joining Microsoft (Everyone get’s a Xamarin) and all the momentum around Mobile technology and Xamarin in specific. Together with Roy Cornelissen i’ll helping our customers with everything related to Mobile technology such as Xamarin but also mobile devops & mobile ALM.

The first week was awesome and besides meeting all my colleagues (easier with 12 colleagues in our technical team  compared to 350 of Avanade in the Netherlands 😉 ) i’ve already met new exiting clients and prospects so i’m really exited about my future at Xpirit.

I’m also really exited about all the things Xpirit does for the developer community and am really glad i can be a part of this such as speaking at events, meetups, writing blogposts or publishing articles.  Regarding articles: check out the Xpirit magazine that was just released. You can download a PDF or order a free hardcopy to read at home. This magazine doesn’t contain an article by my hand yet since it was already finished before i joined but i hope to be part of the next one coming in a couple of months.

Xpirit magazine

By the way, Xpirit is still looking for other rockstars from the Microsoft community to join Xpirit. Are you an authority in Cloud, ALM or Mobile reach out to me so i can get you into contact with the right persons.

Geert

Improved Hockeyapp publishing from VSTS for Windows 10 UWP apps

In my last blogposts that  showed a tutorial on how to do automated builds in VSTS and continuous deployments to Hockeyapp. For UWP the support wasn’t that good and we couldn’t use the Hockeyapp Build steps from VSTS because Hockeyapp could not handle zip files containing the files from your app package such as the appx or appxbundle file, the powershell install script etc. I made a workaround using powershell but that is not needed anymore because the Hockeyapp team made some changes to the Hockeyapp build step.

This has changed last week although it wasn’t announced anywhere. I asked the question on the Hockeyapp slack group when the Hockeyapp team would implement this feature and they told me they just did it before the Microsoft Build conference started.

So if you’ve used my Powershell script before to publish your app to Hockeyapp you can now change it back to the  Hockeyapp build step and leave the rest of the steps the same. the zip file should contain all your files from the AppPackages folder. I’ve also updated the tutorial post for anyone who’s using it in the future to use the correct way right away.

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Hockey app UWP deployment

If there is an .appxsym file in the zip file as well the symbols will also be used within Hockeyapp.

I’m really glad that UWP apps are on the same level of maturity again as Android and iOS apps are regarding Continuous deployments in Hockeyapp.

The Hockeyapp team also announced in the public Hockeyapp Slack group that they are working with the Windows product team to improve installation of apps so more to come in the future. I can’t wait!

Happy Coding!

Geert van der Cruijsen

Continuous deployment of Xamarin.iOS apps to Hockeyapp using VSTS

Last week I’ve created 2 posts on setting up VSTS and Hockeyapp in a continuous deployment scenario for both Xamarin.Android and Windows 10 UWP apps. Today we’ll discuss the 3rd platform: Apps built using Xamarin.iOS

The basics of all 3 platforms are the same but there are still quite some differences so lets look at the steps for Xamarin.iOS apps:

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Context: the app we are going to deploy

We’re going to deploy the same app as yesterday in the Xamarin Android post. I’ve created a simple solution in Visual Studio containing an average Xamarin project. 1 PCL, 1 Android app, 1 iOS app and 1 Windows 10 UWP app.

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To make things easier during automated build I’ve also created a new solution that only contains the projects relevant for the iOS app.

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This solution only contains the PCL project and the Xamarin.iOS app project.

Setting up the build in VSTS: Prerequisites

 

There are some difficulties comparing the build of iOS apps to Android or Windows apps. first difficulty is that you are going to need a Mac to do the actual build steps. to do this you have 2 options. The first is to just use a Mac within your network and use that as a build agent, the other option is to use a service called MacInCloud.com which has a special plan for VSTS build agents.

Mac Build agent

Mac in cloud has a special VSTS build agent plan which only costs 30$ a month. in my experience this works really well. If you have a spare Mac somewhere to use as build agent this would also work fine but most clients I come don’t have that Winking smile

Setting up a VSTS build agent on a mac isn’t that hard. There is a good guide on this on github here: https://github.com/Microsoft/vso-agent/blob/master/docs/vsts.md

make sure Xamarin Studio is installed on the mac because it’s needed for doing the actual builds. (not in the VSTS build agent guide)

App Certificates

To be able to build the iOS app and to do ad-hoc distribution we’re going to need to set up certificates from the apple developer portal on our mac build agent. Xamarin has a great guide on how to do this so I won’t copy all the steps in this blogpost: https://developer.xamarin.com/guides/ios/deployment,_testing,_and_metrics/app_distribution/ad-hoc-distribution/

After we’ve arranged a mac build agent and set up the app certificates we can actually start building our app.

Setting up the build in VSTS

in VSTS open your team project and go to the BUILD tab. in here we’re going to create a new build definition by clicking the green + sign.

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Choose the Xamarin.iOS build template to set up the build.

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In the next step select the correct repository you want to use for your app and make sure you select the Mac build agent in the drop down box.

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Click Create and now our build definition is created with 2 out of the box steps. The first step is doing the actual Xamarin.iOS build. select the iOS specific solution so only the iOS related projects are build.

We’ll be removing the Xamarin test cloud step for now. if you want to know more about this let me know in a comment so I can create a new blogpost about this if people would like that.

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so we only have the Xamarion.iOS step left but this will only build our app. we’re also going to need 2 extra steps which are not part of the Xamarin.iOS step:

  • Nuget package restore
  • Copy and Publish Artifacts.

Nuget Package restore:

I’ve you’ve read my previous posts on Android and Windows UWP you would expect we’re going to use the out of the box “restore nuget package” build step. But that is not possible for iOS. Why not? these steps are implemented using Powershell which doesn’t run on your mac agent. so we’ll have to do it manually by executing a shell script. So we’re going to create a shell script task. First we need to create the actual script. The script is quite simple. download the nuget.exe file and execute the nuget restore command

 

 

Save the .sh file in your repository so we can add it to our build step. Click the green + and select “Shell Script”

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Drag the .sh script to the top of the build so the nuget restore will be executed before the actual build step. Select your .sh file in the script path and as argumenets pass in the path to your iOS solution file so the script knows what packages to restore.

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Copy and Publish Artifacts

So we’ve set up the nuget restore and the build. the last step of our build is to copy and publish the build artificats  so we can send these to Hockeyapp later.

Add a “Copy and Publish Build Artifacts” step to your build definition.

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In the copy and publish step set the root to the correct folder and for contents we’re going to select the .ipa file. The Artifact name we’re naming “drop” of type server.

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These 3 steps should together be able to do a successful build. Go to triggers to schedule your build nightly or set it to build every time someone checks in code.

Queue a build to see if everything works.

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Setting up Hockeyapp

I assume you’ve already created an account at Hockeyapp otherwise just sign up at www.hockeyapp.net (It’s free for 2 apps or less) once you’ve logged in go and create your first app by pressing the New App Button

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Hockeyapp will ask you to upload a build. we’re not going to do that since we’re setting up automatic deployments. choose to add the app manually

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Choose  iOS as the platform and fill in your release type and title of the app.

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Click Save and in the overview of the app copy and save the App ID

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To be able to deploy from VSTS we need to set up an API token we can use in VSTS. If you already followed the Android or Windows UWP guide you might have already taken these steps so you can skip these steps and move to the chapter of deploying the app.

Click on your user icon in the top right and select API Tokens from the menu on the left.

Create a new API token and call it VSTS. Copy this API token. we’ll need it in VSTS

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Move back to VSTS and  open up the marketplace (top right next to your name) and click manage extensions. browse the marketplace and install the Hockeyapp extension

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After installing the extension go back to your VSTS team project and navigate to the settings window. in the settings menu go to Services and add a new service Endpoint of type “Hockeyapp”

Give the endpoint a proper name and copy in the API token you’ve generated earlier. now save the service endpoint.

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Now all the plumbing with Hockeyapp is done we can actually start deploying our app to hockeyapp

Deploying your automated build to Hockeyapp

Go back to your team project in VSTS and navigate to the Release tab

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Choose an Empty deployment template and press OK.

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First go to the Artifact tab and select the build we’ve created earlier as supplier of the artifacts we’re going to release to hockeyapp.

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Go back to Environments, name your deployment template and add a new Task

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This list should now contain a Hockeyapp step since we installed that as our extension

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Configure the Hockeyapp step by selecting the Hockeyapp connection from the list. (the service connection you’ve created earlier should be listed here) Enter the APP ID you copied earlier and select the .ipa file that was generated by the build.

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That’s all it takes to set up the release. for the final step we’re going to set the triggers in the “Triggers” tab of the release to be deployed continuously after each build.

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Press the Green + To start a manual release towards Hockeyapp. Everything should work and the release should be created in Hockeyapp.

If you have any questions let me know via twitter @geertvdc or by commenting below.

Happy coding!

Geert van der  Cruijsen

Continuous deployment of Windows 10 UWP apps to Hockeyapp using VSTS

In yesterdays post I’ve shown you how to set up Continuous deployments of Xamarin Android apps to Hockeyapp. Today we’ll focus on Windows 10 UWP apps since this process is a bit more complex.

This post is part of a series of 3 blogposts:

The basic process of setting up the continuous deployments is the same for all platforms: first build the sources, create a release and send that to Hockeyapp. However building the UWP app and sending it to hockey app require a few steps that aren’t so obvious. so lets start deploying

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Context: the app we are going to deploy

We’re going to deploy the same app as yesterday in the Xamarin Android post. I’ve created a simple solution in Visual Studio containing an average Xamarin project. 1 PCL, 1 Android app, 1 iOS app and 1 Windows 10 UWP app.

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This solution is checked into my GIT repository stored in VSTS so lets move to there to start building the UWP app today. please note that this also works for regular UWP apps that do not have any Xamarin involvement. it’s actually easiest to create a new solution containing only your class libraries (can be PCL) and your UWP project leaving out the Android and iOS specific projects (if you have any)

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Setting up the build in VSTS

in VSTS open your team project and go to the BUILD tab. in here we’re going to create a new build definition by clicking the green + sign.

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Choose the Universal Windows Platform build template and click next.

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Select the  repository containing the solution and select the branch you want to deploy. you can even choose to build apps that are stored in different sources such as GitHub or remote Git repositories.

After everything is set click on Create

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A build definition will be created and several build steps are generated for you. We’ll go over them one by one.

but first we need to set some other things up. UWP apps can run on both Mobile devices and tablets or pc’s. this will need different builds focussing on either ARM or the x86 architecture. We’ll set up 1 build definition that will handle both.

To make sure the build runs for each platform we go into the options tab of our build definition and select “Multi-configuration”. set the multipliers to “BuildPlatform” so the build will run for each different build platform we select.

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Next go to the “Variables” tab and set the “BuildPlatform” variable to both x86 as ARM

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Back to the build steps. We’ll start with restoring all nuget packages. this step was automatically generated and we only need to set the correct solution. set this to the .sln file that only contains the UWP related projects.

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Next step is building the projects in the Visual Studio build step that is already created for us. Set the solution to the solution containing the UWP projects and set the platform to the $(BuildPlatform) variable

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If you’ve read the Xamarin Android guide as well you might expect what is the next step: publishing the artifacts. but here is when Windows 10 UWP apps start to be different from the Xamarin Android guide.

Hockeyapp does not have any option to upload .appxbundles that contain both ARM ad x86 sources. we need to split them up into 2 packages and then send them to Hockeyapp separately. for Windows 10 Mobile we can still upload an .appxbundle file but for Windows 10 tablet/desktop (x86) we need to send a .zip file containing the .appxbundle, the .cer file and the .ps1 file to install the app on the pc or tablet (installing is currently still manually running the .ps1 file for Windows 10. I hope and expect this will become better in the near future.

To be able to publish both the artifacts: .appxbundle as the zip file we need to remove the predefined step called “publish build artifacts” and replace it with another. We’ll also be removing the “Index sources & publish symbols” step.

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Now it’s time to add 3 new steps. 2 powershell tasks (1 at the top of the build and 1 at the bottom) and after that a “copy and publish build artifacts”

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Wait! Powershell? You would expect for Windows 10 UWP that everything would work out of the box. Well it isn’t currently so we have to do some parts manually.

The First powershell script we will add to the top will increase the version number of the Windows package to a unique number so Hockeyapp will understand new incoming versions. The version number always contains 4 digits:X.X.X.X where I would like to keep the first 3 digits up to the development team to clearly define their releases. the last digit we’re going to use for our release number. This version number is stored within an XML file in the project so we’ll open it, increase the number and save it so the build will use this new number. We’ll insert the BuildID as the last number since this is a unique number and an integer.

You’ll need to store the powershell code below in a .ps1 file and store it somewhere in your repository.

to make it easier I’ve already created all 3 powershell scripts you are going to need during this guide and stored them on Github. so you can also download them from there so you always have the newest version. Check them in to your own repository so you can use them in the powershell task.

UpdateAppVersion.ps1

In the powershell step select the UpdateAppVersion.ps1 and for arguments make sure you set 2 parameters. –projectFolder pointing at the directory where your AppxPackages will be created and the –buildId that points to $(Build.BuildId) image So now this powershell script will change to build number and the Visual studio Build step will take this number into account and will version your appxpackage folder. next step is to create a .zip file of Appxpackage directory. again with powershell. ZipAppxPackage.ps1Select the ZipAppxPackage.ps1 as the script filename and pass a parameter called –dir to the script that has $(Build.BinariesDirectory) as its value.

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so now everything is build and zipped and we can send it to the drop folder. our last step of the build.

Set the copy root to the $(Build.BinariesDirectory)\ and set the contents to copy to both *.zip files as *arm*.appxBundle files. The artifact name and type are set to drop and Server.

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This was the final step of our build. you can run the app and everything should work. on to the next step: deploying to Hockeyapp

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Setting up Hockeyapp

I assume you’ve already created an account at Hockeyapp otherwise just sign up at www.hockeyapp.net (It’s free for 2 apps or less) once you’ve logged in go and create your first app by pressing the New App Button

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Hockeyapp will ask you to upload a build. we’re not going to do that since we’re setting up automatic deployments. choose to add the app manually

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Choose  Windows as a platform and fill in your release type and title of the app. Note that this is only the tablet/pc (x86) release of the app and not the ARM version.

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Repeat the steps above for the Windows 10 mobile (ARM) version but then select Windows Phone as plataform

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Copy the AppID of both apps and save them:

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To be able to deploy from VSTS we need to set up an API token we can use in VSTS. If you already followed the Android guide you might have already taken these steps so you can skip these steps and move to the chapter of deploying the app.

Click on your user icon in the top right and select API Tokens from the menu on the left.

Create a new API token and call it VSTS. Copy this API token. we’ll need it in VSTS

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Move back to VSTS and  open up the marketplace (top right next to your name) and click manage extensions. browse the marketplace and install the Hockeyapp extension

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After installing the extension go back to your VSTS team project and navigate to the settings window. in the settings menu go to Services and add a new service Endpoint of type “Hockeyapp”

Give the endpoint a proper name and copy in the API token you’ve generated earlier. now save the service endpoint.

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Now all the plumbing with Hockeyapp is done we can actually start deploying our app to hockeyapp

Deploying your automated build to Hockeyapp

Go back to your team project in VSTS and navigate to the Release tab

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Choose an Empty deployment template and press OK.

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First go to the Artifact tab and select the build we’ve created earlier as supplier of the artifacts we’re going to release to hockeyapp.

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Go back to Environments, name your deployment template and add a new Task

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This list should now contain a Hockeyapp step since we installed that as our extension

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This hockeyapp step will only work for Windows 10 Mobile (phone) and not for the pc/tablet (x86) version because sending .zip files is not supported by this step. we’ll cover this again by a custom powershell script.

Update: Hockeyapp made some changes to the Hockeyapp step in our deployment script so it can be used for both Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Desktop/Tablet (x86/x64)

Windows 10 Mobile

To set up the hockeyapp step select the Hockeyapp connection you’ve set up earlier and enter your App ID. for the binary file path click on the … and select your ARM.appxbundle file

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This step should do the trick. Schedule a release and you should be able to see a new version pop up in Hockeyapp.

Windows 10 (x86) Tablet/PC

For the Windows 10 (x86/x64) Tablet/PC version of the app we can now also use the hockey app build step so add another task of type Hockeyapp but let this one point to the other App ID for the Windows 10 desktop/tablet app and as Binary File path select the Zip file we created during the build instead of the appxbundle. Hockeyapp will see if there is already a version created and otherwise it will create a new version and upload it.

Now save the release definition and test it. press the green + to create a new release to see if everything works. if everything works fine go to triggers and set the build to continuous deployments so it will fire every time a new build is created.

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Hopefully this guide helps you into creating higher quality apps and will save you time by not having to manually create releases all the time.

If you have any questions contact me on twitter @geertvdc or leave a comment below.

Happy Coding & deploying!

Geert

Continuous deployment of Xamarin Android apps to Hockeyapp using VSTS

Continuous integration and continuous deployments are a hot topic in the web world and are becoming a common practice there.  In the mobile world however this is not the case “yet”.

Microsoft seems to have everything in place now for a full Mobile ALM suite. Building your cross platform apps with Xamarin (which they just acquired yesterday), storing your code and builds in VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) and deploying your app to Hockeyapp. Usage and bug tracking can be done by either Xamarin insights, Hockeyapp or Microsoft Application insights (although the last one is deprecated). In the end I believe these 3 applications will merge into 1. So how do we set up these continuous deployments of our apps to hockeyapp? I’ll be describing this in a series of 3 blogposts (1 for each platform).

There are quite some differences in deploying the apps for the 3 platforms to Hockeyapp so that’s why I’ve decided to split them up into separate blog posts.

We’ll start with Android because this is the easiest and most straight forward. (who would have expected that?)

 

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Context: the app we are going to deploy

I’ve created a simple solution in Visual Studio containing an average Xamarin project. 1 PCL, 1 Android app, 1 iOS app and 1 Windows 10 UWP app.

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This solution is checked into my GIT repository stored in VSTS so lets move to there to start building the Android

Setting up the build in VSTS

in VSTS open your team project and go to the BUILD tab. in here we’re going to create a new build definition by clicking the green + sign.

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Select the Xamarin.Android template which is already created by Microsoft for you.

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Select the  repository containing the solution and select the branch you want to deploy. you can even choose to build apps that are stored in different sources such as GitHub or remote Git repositories.

After everything is set click on Create

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A build definition will be created and several build steps are generated for you. We’ll go over them one by one.

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The first step is setting up your Xamarin license steps that will activate and deactivate your Xamarin license which is needed to execute the build of your Xamarin.Android project.

In this step you have to enter your email and password. Please note that the password field is a plain textbox and no password box. to fix this go to the “Variables” tab and create a variable with your password while you check the lock icon on the right. now you can store your password without other people being able to see it.

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After you’ve created the Variable enter your email address and password variable into the 2 Xamarin License Steps (1 for activation and 1 for deactivation)

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Please note that the deactivation step is set  to always run (even if the build crashes half way)

Next we’ll be removing the Xamarin Test cloud build step in our build. Xamarin test cloud is a very nice tool to test your app on real devices but for this blogpost it’s a bit off topic. if you want to know more about how this works let me know and I’ll write another blog post about it.

I’ll also be deleting the MSBuild step that would build the unit test projects since my sample project did not have any unit tests.

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Now the Xamarin license is set up we will start building the actual Android app. to do this we first need to build the PCL project. Add 2 extra build steps to our build definition by pressing the Add Build Step button

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First Add a Nuget Installer step.

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after that add a Visual Studio Build step.

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Drag both steps to the top so the Nuget Installer is the first step and the Visual Studio Build step is the second.

The nuget installer step will be configured so it will install and update all nuget packages that are part of our solution. select your solution file in the “Path to Solution” field.

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This is all we have to set up for the nuget packages. If you don’t have any nuget packages (is that possible these days?) you can remove this build step.

Next we’re going to set up the build of the PCL project. select the Visual Studio Build Step and select all the csproj file(s) that are part of your project.

Set the build platform to AnyCPU and make sure the configuration takes the $(BuildConfiguration) variable.

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So now the PCL project builds lets move to the actual Android App build step.

Select your Android csproj file and make sure that the output directory is set to $(build.binariesdirectory)\$(BuildConfiguration) and the Configuration is set to $(BuildConfiguration)

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Now all projects are being built and the only thing we need to do is publish the build artifacts so we can deploy them to Hockeyapp.

Set the Path to publish to $(build.binariesdirectory)\$(BuildConfiguration) and set the Artifact name to drop and the artifact type to Server.

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Save your build and give it a test spin by clicking “Queue Build” you can also set the build to run automatically by adding a trigger in the Triggers tab.

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if all is correct your build should now pass. on to the next step deploying a release to Hockeyapp!

Setting up Hockeyapp

I assume you’ve already created an account at Hockeyapp otherwise just sign up at www.hockeyapp.net (It’s free for 2 apps or less) once you’ve logged in go and create your first app by pressing the New App Button

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Hockeyapp will ask you to upload a build. we’re not going to do that since we’re setting up automatic deployments. choose to add the app manually

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Choose Android as your platform and select Alpha or Beta for release type. (whatever fits your app builds best). Give the app a title and fill in the Package Name and click save.

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Now the app is created and it will show up on your dashboard. click on your app and copy your App ID. we’ll need it later.

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To be able to deploy from VSTS we need to set up an API token we can use in VSTS. Click on your user icon in the top right and select API Tokens from the menu on the left.

Create a new API token and call it VSTS. Copy this API token. we’ll need it in VSTS

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Move back to VSTS and  open up the marketplace (top right next to your name) and click manage extensions. browse the marketplace and install the Hockeyapp extension

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After installing the extension go back to your VSTS team project and navigate to the settings window. in the settings menu go to Services and add a new service Endpoint of type “Hockeyapp”

Give the endpoint a proper name and copy in the API token you’ve generated earlier. now save the service endpoint.

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Now all the plumbing with Hockeyapp is done we can actually start deploying our app to hockeyapp

Deploying your automated build to Hockeyapp

Go back to your team project in VSTS and navigate to the Release tab

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Choose an Empty deployment template and press OK.

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First go to the Artifact tab and select the build we’ve created earlier as supplier of the artifacts we’re going to release to hockeyapp.

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Go back to Environments, name your deployment template and add a new Task

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This list should now contain a Hockeyapp step since we installed that as our extension

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Configure the Hockeyapp step by selecting the Hockeyapp connection from the list. (the service connection you’ve created earlier should be listed here) Enter the APP ID you copied earlier and select the .apk file that was generated by the build.

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The last step is setting the trigger to automatically start your hockeyapp deployment after each successful build.  go to triggers, select Continuous deployment and make sure that the environment trigger is set to “Automated: after release creation.”

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Save the deployment template and now you are ready to go. you can now manually create a new release using the deployment template or start a new build and you should see your app show up in Hockeyapp so your testers can download the app.

If you have any questions let me know via twitter @geertvdc or by commenting below.

Hopefully you’ll be back tomorrow for the next post explaining all the steps for Windows 10 UWP apps.

Geert van der  Cruijsen

Hello world!

Hello World. this should always be the name of the first post for a blog that is about software development. This blog is a fresh start for my personal blog since my last blog died an wasn’t updated for a while so wasn’t worth reviving.

I wanted to create this blog to focus on a few areas I’m really enthusiastic about and on which I can hopefully share my knowledge with the rest of the world.

keep checking this blog for posts on enterprise mobility, Mobile app development, Azure, Xamarin, Windows 10, iOS,  and Android

for any questions reach me on twitter: @geertvdc or by leaving a comment below.

Geert van der Cruijsen

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