Upgrading a TFS 2013 Continuous Delivery Platform to Update 5

Posted by Graham Smith on July 28, 2015No Comments (click here to comment)

For both Microsoft and .NET developers alike 20 June 2015 was a big day, with a huge raft of updates being released. Whilst the headline news was Visual Studio 2015 (TFS 2015 missing the original launch date because of quality issues) there was also an Update 5 release for Visual Studio 2013 and TFS 2013. Whilst I'm sure Microsoft would love everyone to move to TFS 2015 very quickly for many organisations this isn't a possibility for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, an upgrade to Update 5 may well be following a well-trodden path and a more realistic next step in the upgrade cycle.

I decided to upgrade the Azure-based TFS 2013 continuous delivery platform I've been using for my Continuous Delivery with TFS blog post series to Update 5 as it's one option we're considering where I work. However when I stopped to think about what was involved I realised that it amounted to quite a few upgrades. I've documented the high-level process I followed in case it helps anyone else considering this route.

Server Landscape

My setup in Azure is focussed on conserving the Azure credits I get with MSDN rather than creating a typical TFS environment, so I have fewer servers than might otherwise be present in a live environment. My setup comprises:

  • Active Directory Domain Controller running Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • All-in-one TFS server (including SQL Server 2012 SP2) running Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Development machine for Visual Studio, Release Management Client, Microsoft Test Manager and the like running Windows 8.1.
  • Application web server (for IIS) running Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Application database server (for SQL Server 2012 SP2) running Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Application client machine (for FireFox and Microsoft Test Manager) running Windows 8.1.

All machines were patched with the latest Windows Updates and the TFS ecosystem components were all at Update 4.

Team Foundation Server

Because I have an all-in-one machine for TFS that was the only box that needed the new version, however if you have build controller and build agent machines (and there are other variants) don't forget you will need to upgrade these machines as well. I have upgraded TFS many times and always found it to be a very slick, the wizard-driven process being very intuitive. However, if you are upgrading your live environment then do take all the usual upgrade precautions of having backups available and so on. Don't forget that the process involves uninstalling the current version of TFS (the databases are not affected) and then installing and configuring the new version, although the installer takes care of all of this. You can read the release notes here and the list of fixed bugs and known issues here.

Visual Studio

Whilst it's pretty obvious that you will have Visual Studio installed on your development machine(s) it's easy to forget that you probably have it installed on the machines running your build agents as this is the easiest way to ensure a build agent server has all of the bits needed to compile your application. This can add up to quite a few servers in a live environment but in my case I only had two instances. Update 5 for Visual Studio 2013 updates an existing instance of Visual Studio and the upgrade -- as usual -- was uneventful. One thing I did do after upgrading both versions of Visual Studio was check for any new versions of extensions (Tools > Extensions and Updates). The extensions that seemed most critical were an update to NuGet, the latest version of the Microsoft Azure SDK and the latest release of the SQL Server Data Tools.

Since there was an update to NuGet I also ensured that the version of NuGet used by TFS Build was updated, as this is not the one installed as the Visual Studio extension. The procedure is to open an Administrative command prompt at C:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 12.0\Tools and run nuget.exe update -self. You can read the release notes for Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 here and the list of fixed bugs and known issues here.

Release Management

The Release Management situation might seem confusing at first because there is no Update 5 for Release Management 2013 however there is a Release Management 2015 release. This 2015 release is fully compatible with TFS 2013 and is the upgrade to go for if you want the current latest and greatest. It's worth mentioning here that TFS 2015 Update 1 will ship with an all-new browser-based release management service which will presumably eventually replace the current offering so it's worth bearing this in mind if you are considering starting a new project with the Release Management 2013 / 2015 tooling.

There are three separate components to Release Management: server, client and deployment agent. As with TFS the existing components need uninstalling (the database is unaffected) before the new ones are installed, however unlike TFS the installer doesn't do this for you and it's a manual process. During the installation process for all components it amusingly looks like you are forced in to joining the customer experience program which is greyed-out and can't be unchecked:


As it turned out it was possible to change this when configuring each component -- possibly important if your servers don't have access to the Internet.

There is only one installed instance of the server component of course and for me this lives on my all-in-one TFS server. I have the client installed on my all-in-one TFS server and my development machine and the deployment agent on my three application machines. It's a few minutes' work to get all this upgraded and it's not helped by the components not remembering any of their previous configuration settings (with the exception of the server component that remembered a couple of them).

Whilst the upgrade process was successful the initial testing wasn't, and the release part of the build process kept returning an Exception Message: The directory name is invalid (type Win32Exception) error. I eventually traced this to an updated ReleaseTfvcTemplate.12.xaml template that shipped with Release Management 2015. Fixing this involved copying this file from C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Release Management\Client\bin to the BuildProcessTemplates folder of my Team Project workspace and checking the file in. I then cloned an existing (but failing) build definition and upgraded the template in Process > Build process template. The reason for cloning is that I've edited my build process template so when I get some time I'll need to fix the template in the original build definition. If you go down the cloning route do make sure you remove any spaces from the build definition name (otherwise automated tests run via tcm.exe are unlikely to run) and also update the properties of the Release Management template with the new build definition name or nothing will run. Don't ask me how I know.

Microsoft Test Manager

Although there is an Update 5 for Microsoft Test Manager 2013 it's not immediately obvious how to apply it since as far as I know there is no separate standalone installer for Microsoft Test Manager. Rather, if Microsoft Test Manager 2013 was installed at the same time as Visual Studio 2013 it will be upgraded to Update 5 when you upgrade Visual Studio. If you installed Microsoft Test Manager separately -- on a Web client machine for example -- then one way to upgrade is to use the Updates link on the home screen:



All this really does though is start the Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 installer so feel free to use that if you have a copy handy. Please don't miss upgrading standalone versions of Microsoft Test Manager as I have seen nasty bugs when using the recording tools on an outdated version against an upgraded TFS instance.

Agents for Visual Studio

Last but not least is ensuring that any test controller or test agent services are upgraded.  My test controller is on my all-in-one TFS server and upgrading was just a case of running the exe from the TestController folder of the mounted iso. A reboot was required after which it's necessary to run the Test Controller Configuration Tool. The settings hadn't been remembered so make sure you have these handy before upgrading.

You need the test agent installed anywhere you are running tests or collecting metrics and for me this was my Web client machine and my application Web server which I'd previously configured for Test Impact Analysis. The iso contains an exe in a TestAgent folder and this starts a configuration mini wizard which again doesn't remember previous settings. You'll probably find that after upgrading the environment that the machine running the test agent has errors so you'll need to go to Microsoft Test manager and repair the environment from Lab Center > Lab > Environments.

Final Thoughts

Although I encountered relatively few glitches with this multi-machine upgrade it took a good few hours to accomplish over several days. Having the iso files already downloaded from MSDN and copied  a media library was a big time saver as was knowing what was installed on which server. My continuous delivery platform is now in good shape to be upgraded to TFS 2015 soon after the RTM is available. As always, please share your own experiences in the comments!

Cheers -- Graham