And multi-stage pipelines for all: Azure DevOps Server 2020 is here

microsoft azure devops

The team behind Azure DevOps Server 2020 has pulled off the training wheels and finally released a new RTW version of the project formerly known as Team Foundation Server.

After lots of bug fixing in the last months, the collaborative software development product can now provide teams with new features for multi-pipeline handling, progress tracking, and cross-repo branch policy administration.

A lot has improved, especially in terms of pipeline management, and teams can now handle both their classic build and multi-stage YAML pipelines from a single interface. The reworked tooling gives insight into the details of a run, allows users to skip single stages if, for example, deploying to production isn’t needed, and scroll logs even if the pipeline is still in progress.

The release also introduces Azure Pipeline YAML CD features, so that users can integrate deployment steps into their codified workflows as well. To support this further, the interface includes a new service connections element for managing authorisations and sharing across projects.

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Aside from multi-stage functionality, the YAML CD addition provides so-called environments, resource collections such as VMs and Kubernetes clusters, that can be targeted via deployments, as well as review helpers. YAML writers also got a mode for previewing pipelines without committing or running them, and, should they prefer cron syntax, can use that to schedule builds.

To improve pipelines, the DevOps server team has added reports for pipeline failures and duration, showing which tasks in a pipeline often lead to failure and pointing out those that take the most time. They also finally came up with an UI to set branch policies across repositories, so that users who  don’t want to access the REST API directly have a way of configuring those settings as well.

Team members not too keen on UIs, on the other hand, can now switch to the Azure DevOps CLI to interact with the product tools via command line. The extension was first introduced in February, so has been available for a while already, but is now said to be good for general consumption. 

Recent enhancements in the CLI include the capability to run pipelines for specific PR branches, skip the first run of a pipeline in case the infrastructure connected isn’t ready yet, and commands to set up and manage pipeline variables and variable groups.

Those working with boards a lot will certainly appreciate the newly added option to filter requirements level backlog items by their parent, as well as the live reloading for work items. The latter can now, along with people and pull requests, also be referenced in an item’s description area, something the Azure team seems to have gotten many requests for. 

Other than that, custom fields can be hidden from layouts, the process used by a project can be changed and team members are able to add reactions to comments, amongst other things. More details are available via the Azure documentation.

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