Deploying to remote servers with AppVeyor Deployment Agent

AppVeyor Deployment Agent (Deployment Agent) is a service running on remote server and helping to deploy select artifact as IIS website or Windows application/service.

Software requirements

The following is required on the server to run Deployment Agent:

  • Windows Server 2012 (Windows 8) or newer
  • .NET Framework 4.5.2 or newer
  • Web Role (IIS) is installed if you are deploying web site

Installing AppVeyor Deployment Agent

  1. Add new environment with Agent provider selected. Open environment settings and copy Environment access key.
  2. Download AppVeyor Deployment Agent (.msi)
  3. Specify Environment access key during Deployment Agent installation.
  4. Server is ready for deployment.

Unattended Deployment Agent installation

Run the following in PowerShell console:

(new-object net.webclient).DownloadFile('https://www.appveyor.com/downloads/deployment-agent/latest/AppveyorDeploymentAgent.msi', 'AppveyorDeploymentAgent.msi')
msiexec /i AppveyorDeploymentAgent.msi /quiet /qn /norestart /log install.log ENVIRONMENT_ACCESS_KEY=<your_access_key> DEPLOYMENT_GROUP=<your_deployment_group>

Replace <your_access_key> and <your_deployment_group> with your environment access key and your your deployment group respectively.

What artifacts can be deployed

Deployment Agent recognizes artifacts of two types which may contain either web application or Windows application/service:

  • Zip archive
  • Web Deploy package

To be deployable with Deployment Agent artifact must have a name. Name should not have any spaces. All unnamed artifacts are skipped by Deployment Agent provider.

How to get named artifacts

There are few possible ways of packaging artifact deployable by Agent:

  1. When Package Web Application projects option is enabled on Build tab of project settings AppVeyor automatically publishes (applies web config transforms) and uploads VS.NET Web Application projects as artifacts named after the name of VS.NET project.
  2. Specify Deployment name while adding artifact entry on Artifacts tab of project settings.
  3. From script, for example After build script:

    text appveyor PushArtifact <zip_path> -DeploymentName MyApp

Configuring deployment settings

Use Provider settings of Agent environment to configure which artifacts should be deployed by Agent and how. By default, nothing configured - nothing deployed.

Settings have format <artifact_name>.<setting_name> where <artifact_name> is artifact’s Deployment name.

For example, let the build has the following artifacts:

Artifacts

In order for Deployment Agent to deploy that artifact as IIS web site Provider settings will be:

Artifacts

Overriding settings while deploying from build

You can use environment variables for setting values on environment configuration, for example:

agent-settings-with-variables

where site_name is environment variable. At the bottom of that screen we are defining its “default” value, i.e. the value used when you deploy from Environments and build environment variables are not present.

However, when you deploy from a build you can override those environment variables like:

deploy:
  - provider: Environment
    name: test-pc
    site_name: www.site-to-deploy.com

Alternatively, that site name can be deployed somewhere during the build, so the following construction is also possible:

environment:
  site_to_deploy: www.site-to-deploy.com

deploy:
  - provider: Environment
    name: test-pc
    site_name: $(site_to_deploy)

Deploying artifact package as IIS web site

<artifact_name>.deploy_website: true

Other settings:

  • site_id - Optional. Site numeric ID.
  • site_name - The name of existing or new website, e.g. “Default Web Site”.
  • application_name - optional web application name (IIS virtual directory) to deploy web app into.
  • application_path - optional root directory for web application (IIS virtual directory).
  • apppool_name - the name of IIS application pool. If pool does not exist it will be created.
  • port - Port of website binding.
  • ip - IP address of website binding.
  • hostname - Host header value of website binding.
  • protocol - Protocol value of website binding. Could be http (default if not specified) or https or net.tcp.
  • certificate - Certificate associated with https binding. This value could be certificate name or thumbprint, for example *.mydomain.com or 0B2D18387549968CB4CC30F21D6CC4C0830B679B. If certificate specified protocol is changed to https.
  • write_access - When set to true Agent sets Modify permissions for application pool identity on website root directory.
  • path - Website root directory on the target server. If not specified and website already exists its root directory is not changed.

    If not specified and website does not exists default directory path is c:\appveyor\applications\<artifact_name>.

  • remove_files - Agent uses Web Deploy to synchronize website folder contents. By default, it only adds new files and modifies existing.

    When remove_files is set to true Agent performs full content synchronization, i.e. deletes files at destination that don’t exist in the package.

  • skip_dirs - semicolon list of regular expressions specifying the list of directories to skip while synchronizing web site contents, for example \\App_data;\\uploads.
  • skip_files - semicolon list of regular expressions specifying the list of files to skip while synchronizing web site contents, for example web.config (all web.configs) or only the root config for MVC apps ^((?!Views).)*web\.config$ (thanks to this blog post).
  • group - Deployment group.
  • deploy_order - Optional. Allows changing the deployment order of artifacts. Artifacts are deployed in ascending order. Deployment order is set to 0 if not specified.

When deploying web app from Web Deploy package you can use Web Deploy parametrization with environment variables.

You can specify multiple bindings in hostname, ip and port separated by semi-colon. Below is an example of how 3 bindings can be configured:

  • http *:80:mysite.com
  • http *:80:www.mysite.com
  • https *:443: cert=*.mysite.com

agent-multiple-bindings

Deploying artifact package as a Windows application

<artifact_name>.deploy_app: true

Other properties:

  • path - Application root directory. If not specified default application path is c:\appveyor\applications\<artifact_name>.
  • remove_files - Remove additional files at destination.
  • group - Deployment group.
  • skip_dirs - semicolon list of regular expressions specifying the list of directories to skip while synchronizing application folder contents, for example \\Logs;\\files.
  • skip_files - semicolon list of regular expressions specifying the list of files to skip while synchronizing application folder contents.
  • deploy_order - Optional. Allows changing the deployment order of artifacts. Artifacts are deployed in ascending order. Deployment order is set to 0 if not specified.

Deploying artifact package as a Windows service

<artifact_name>.deploy_service: true

Other properties:

  • service_executable - File name of Windows service executable, e.g. myapp.service.exe. If not specified the first executable found in application directory will be used.
  • service_name - The name of Windows service. If specified Windows service will be created.
  • service_display_name - Display name of Windows service. If not specified service_name will be used.
  • service_username - The name of user account to run service under. If not specific LocalSystem is used.
  • service_password - User account password if service_username is set.
  • path - Application root directory. If not specified default application path is c:\appveyor\applications\<artifact_name>.
  • remove_files - Remove additional files at destination.
  • group - Deployment group.
  • skip_dirs - semicolon list of regular expressions specifying the list of directories to skip while synchronizing application folder contents, for example \\Logs;\\files.
  • skip_files - semicolon list of regular expressions specifying the list of files to skip while synchronizing application folder contents.
  • deploy_order - Optional. Allows changing the deployment order of artifacts. Artifacts are deployed in ascending order. Deployment order is set to 0 if not specified.

Publishing SSDT package artifact to SQL Server

Deployment Agent supports publishing of SSDT package artifacts (with .dacpac extension) to SQL Server instance.

To direct AppVeyor that named artifact should be treated as DACPAC package:

<artifact_name>.deploy_database: true

Other properties:

  • connection_string - SQL connection string to the target database, for example Server=(local)\SQLEXPRESS;Database=my_app;User ID=myuser;Password=password
  • <artifact_name>.<deploy_setting> where <deploy_setting> is a setting described in Publishing SQL Server databases from SSDT packages.
  • <artifact_name>.sqlcmd.<variable_name> - format for specifying SQLCMD variables.

For example, given .dacpac artifact’s deployment name is MyDatabase:

MyDatabase.deploy_database                  true
MyDatabase.connection_string                Server=(local)\SQLEXPRESS;Database=my_app;Integrated security=SSPI;
MyDatabase.sqlcmd.MYVAR                     hello, world!
MyDatabase.backup_database_before_changes   true
  • deploy_order - Optional. Allows changing the deployment order of artifacts. Artifacts are deployed in ascending order. Deployment order is set to 0 if not specified.

Installing MSI package artifact on remote machine

With AppVeyor Deployment Agent you can run the installation of MSI artifact (with .msi extension) on the remote machine. Agent uses msiexec command-line utility to install the package. MSI package should support silent mode (/quiet switch). We recommend using WiX for building application installation packages.

<artifact_name>.deploy_msi: true

Other properties:

  • uninstall_application - if this setting is set the agent will try to uninstall the previous version of the application before installing a new one. Application name should be the same as you see in “Add/Remove Programs” control panel snap-in.
  • <artifact_name>.<property_name> - set <property_name> MSI custom property while installing the app. All properties are addedt to msiexec command as PROPERTY="VALUE" PROPERTY="VALUE" ....

For example, given .msi artifact’s deployment name is MyAppInstall:

MyAppInstall.deploy_msi                 true
MyAppInstall.uninstall_application      My Application

Running PowerShell scripts on target server during deployment

before-deploy.ps1 PowerShell script in the root of application folder will be called before every deployment. deploy.ps1 PowerShell script in the root of application folder will be called after every successful deployment.

During scripts execution the following environment variables are available:

Job details:

  • APPVEYOR - script runs in AppVeyor environment
  • CI - script runs in AppVeyor environment
  • APPVEYOR_PROJECT_ID - Unique system ID of project
  • APPVEYOR_PROJECT_NAME - Project display name
  • APPVEYOR_PROJECT_SLUG - Project slug that you can see in URL, e.g. myproject-123
  • APPVEYOR_BUILD_ID - Unique system ID of build
  • APPVEYOR_BUILD_NUMBER - Build number of deploying artifact
  • APPVEYOR_BUILD_VERSION - Build version on deploying artifact
  • APPVEYOR_JOB_ID - Unique system ID of deployment job
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_NAME - Repository name in the form owner-name/repo-name
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_BRANCH - Build branch
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_TAG - true if build has started by pushed tag; otherwise false.
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_TAG_NAME - contains tag name for builds started by tag; otherwise this variable is undefined.
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_COMMIT - Build commit ID (SHA)
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_COMMIT_AUTHOR - Commit author
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_COMMIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL - Commit author’s email
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_COMMIT_TIMESTAMP - Commit timestamp
  • APPVEYOR_REPO_COMMIT_MESSAGE - Commit message

Application details:

  • APPLICATION_NAME - application name (artifact deployment name)
  • APPLICATION_DEPLOY_WEBSITE - true if artifact deployed as IIS web site
  • APPLICATION_PATH - application or website root folder
  • APPLICATION_REMOVE_FILES - perform full sync of package/application folder contents, i.e. remove additional files at destination
  • APPLICATION_SITE_NAME - IIS web site name

Artifact details:

  • ARTIFACT_FILENAME - artifact file name as in cloud storage
  • ARTIFACT_LOCALPATH - local file name of downloaded artfact package
  • ARTIFACT_NAME - artifact deployment name
  • ARTIFACT_SIZE - package size in bytes
  • ARTIFACT_TYPE - artifact type
  • ARTIFACT_URL - artifact package download URL valid for 10 minutes

Calling script block once per deployment

In your before-deploy.ps1 or deploy.ps1 use the following code to run once per deployment/per cluster:

if (Enter-OncePerDeployment "block_name")
{
    # your code that must be run once per cluster
}

Replace block_name with some value identifying operations inside the block, e.g. “install_sql”

Troubleshooting

Open Event Viewer, expand Applications and Services Logs node and navigate to Deployment Agent event log.

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