BRDLite 1.0 Hands-on Lab – Glitches which are not for the faint hearted :)

The BRDLite reference template shipped as part of Visual Studio Build Customization Guidance and we recently made available a hotfixCLIPART_OF_27309_SMJPG (BRDLite Build Reference Template – Hotfix 1 has been posted) .

As part of ongoing testing and feedback from in-the-trench usage we have stumbled across a few more gremlins in the hands-on lab (HOL) manual and BRDLite reference template, which we would like to highlight herein and address in the next hotfix.

What has become apparent is that mingling in the world of the Team Foundation Build is still not for the faint hearted, as spaces in names, spelling mistakes in variables or arguments and incorrectly configured builds can often lead to interesting build log files, that contain warnings and errors that require many coffees and patience to analyse, isolate and resolve.

This blog post is based on v 1.0, 2011-07-01, of the hands-on lab manual.

#1 – HOL: User Rights… what is the bare minimum?

Exercise 6, p61, step 7, talks about modifying the Application Pool identity under the Process section to use a Custom Account. It does, however, not specify the access rights that the user requires. We are investigating the minimum rights needed … in the meantime work with the Admin user.

#2 – HOL & Template: DO NOT use Deploy Arguments & Feature

Exercise 6, p66, step 6, tells you to define False for the [Deploy] option.

We are going to remove the [Deploy] arguments as this feature has been retired and must NOT be enabled, especially not when using the [Web Deploy] features.

#3 – HOL: Misleading Figure Caption

Exercise 6, p67, has two illustrations with misleading captions. <-- 1 should be “Deploy Script: Invoked with the /T option” and <-- 2 should be “Deploy Script: Invoked with the /Y option”.

#4 – HOL: Command Line Syntax Error

Exercise 8, p73, step 2 contains a syntax glitch that could frustrate you for a while. In the highlighted argument TailspinCertificate the .cer suffix is missing. Note that the certmgr command in step 3 and the illustration are showing correct values.


#5 – HOL: Re-creating what has already been created … huh?

When you get to exercise 10, which is the “Extending the Template” exercise, the HOL currently asks you to create variables, assignments and @@ which already exist in the reference template. Three steps which are affected are:

  1. p84, step 11
  2. p85, step 15
  3. p87, step 18.b

We will be updating the reference template and/or the HOL to resolve the fifth gremlin as above.

If you are coming to TechReady 13 (Internal Microsoft event) bring your build stories and gremlins to the ChalkTalk “DEVCT302 - Rangers Build Customization Guidance and BRDLite Reference Template”, whereby we will probably blog about the session and discussed topics in 2-3 weeks.

Comments (5)

  1. Allen Feinberg says:

    How long did it take for you guys to write this guidance, how long was the legal review??? Months for writing the guidance, and weeks for legal review(without any changes), and you're uncovering these types of glaring errors just now? That doesn't bode well for your quality processes…sounds like you need more reviewers and early reviews….may i suggest that if you guys commit to shipping faster (like you did for 1.1 and hopefully for 2.0 – time < 90 days) then as in the scrum methodology you guys can at least quickly improve the quality and this template and guidance will continue to have added value and better quality. Thanks for the post and fixing these errors. We've been digging into the BRD template and the guidance and it's quite interesting.

  2. Allen, your candid feedback it appreciated as always 🙂

    The project took a few months, which at a glance looks like a lot of valuable time, but in fact is elapsed, not actual time. What makes the Rangers ecosystem somewhat unique is all Rangers have a day job and most importantly a family life. The team relies on individual Ranger’s sheer passion for the technology and the community, to find spare cycles for the project activities. I, for one, am humbled and incredibly proud of the Rangers commitment and willingness to invest their personal time, share their experiences and knowledge, and help remove adoption blockers for the community.

    As mentioned in previous discussions we are striving for higher quality and shorter deliverables. In the latest projects we took a conscious decision to put the guidance through stringent Ranger and User Education (UE) technical review to achieve the highest possible quality, while the BRDLite reference template and all the hands-on labs are put through numerous technical reviews, but are revised and improved in-flight, based on reviewer and community feedback to achieve shorter delivery cycles.

    I am not sure what you mean with 1.1, as we have only shipped 1.0 of the guidance and a hotfix for the BRDLite reference template. We will continue to deliver frequent hotfixes, but whether we will commit to a 2.0 release depends on feedback from the community and other sources of influence.

    I am happy to read that you are finding the guidance quite interesting, which is an encouraging message for the team.

  3. Darren Lewis says:


    As the lonely dev on our team trying to drag our ALM process into the 21st century I was delighted to come across the BRDLite HOL.  Specifically I was looking for guidance on post build deployment to multiple servers using Web Deploy.  I was very disappointed when the HOL mentioned the bug around automated deployment and now this update seems to have knocked the entire idea on the head.  This process template looks to have great potential for us but why is automated deployment proving such a pain point for so many people in a TFS 2010 build environment?  Is there any plan for this template to ever support automated deployment to the server(s) at the end of a successful build?  Many Thanks.

  4. Hi Darren, I will ask the lead of the BRDLite initiative to respond to your queries in more detail. This post does not state that automatic deployment is not supported, in fact the guidance covers a number of common scenarios and we may be adding SharePoint deployment in the next revision.

  5. John Jacob (JJ) says:

    Hi Darren:

    I can understand your expectations about the automatic deployment, but as Willy said, we didn't set out to address automatic deployment in the first version of BRDLite. Our express goal was to address common scenarios for automation that were otherwise not addressed in the out-of-the-box build templates that ship. Towards that end, we've focused heavily on ensuring a light-weight, yet easily pluggable template with the v1.0 release. That said, we are now evaluating the effort required for the next iteration of scenarios, such as SharePoint deployment, and we'd definitely like to hear your feedback and expectations on how the template can support deployment. We'll definitely consider those ideas, as long as we can collaborate with users like you and others towards developing such a template, which as you can understand, requires coordination of efforts of several volunteer TFS rangers across different geographic locations.


    BRDLite Feature Team Lead

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