Database Integration Tests in Visual Studio Team Services and Cake Build

I’m a big fan of unit tests. But not everything can and should be unit tested. Also I do love CQRS architecture – it provides awesome separation of read and writes and isolates each read from the next read via query classes. Usually my queries are reading data from a database, though they can use any persistence i.e. files. About 90% of my queries are run against database with Entity Framework or with some micro ORM (currently I’m a fan of PetaPoco, though Dapper is also grand).

And no amount of stubs/mocks or isolating frameworks will help you with testing your database-access layer without actual database. To test your database-related code you need to have a database. Full stop, don’t even argue about this. If you say you can do unit-tests for your db-layer, I say your tests are worth nothing.

A while ago I’ve blogged about integration tests and that article seems to be quite popular – in top 10 by visitors in the last 2 years. So I decided to write an update.

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Build Service in Visual Studio Team Services

First time I have tried TFS Build feature a few years ago and that was on hosted TFS 2010 version. And I hated it. It all was confusing XML, to change a build template I had to create a Visual Studio Project. I barely managed to get NUnit tests to run, but could not do any other steps I needed. So I abandoned it. Overall I have spent about 3 days on TFS. Then I installed Team City and got the same result in about 3 hours. That is how good TeamCity was and how poor was TFS Build.

These days I’m looking for ways to remove all on-prem servers, including Source Control and Build server. (Yep, it is 2016 and some companies still host version control in house)

Visual Studio Team Services Build – now with NuGet feed

Recently I’ve been playing with Visual Studio Team Services Build (used to be Visual Studio Online). This is a hosted TFS server, provided by Microsoft. Good thing about it – it is free for teams under 5 people. At the end of 2015 Microsoft announced a new Package Management service. So I decided to take it for a spin. So today I’ll be talking about my experience with VSTS build, combined with Package Management.


I’m not associated with Microsoft, nor paid for this post (that’s a shame!). All opinions are mine.
VSTS is moving fast with new features popping up every other week. So information in this post might become out-of date. Please leave a comment if things don’t work for you as expected here.

C# package in private NuGet feed

Today I actually need to create a C# library for internal use and publish it to a private NuGet feed. So I’ll write down my steps for future generations.
For the purposes of this guide, I presume you already have VSTS project and have some code in it. You also know what CI is and why you need a build server.

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Shutdown Azure VM when it is not required

My current setup for one of the projects requires a VM running in Azure – a tiny build server I set up just for myself. And I only need it when I actually working on the project. And the idea is to shut the VM down when I’m not working on the project. The fear was that one day I’ll forget to shut it down and I’ll be billed for time that I have not used.

So I’ve created a tiny script in PowerShell:

# Get your publishsettings file here:
Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile "c:\Path\to\subscription\file.publishsettings"

Select-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName "MySubscriptionName"

Stop-AzureVM -Name myVmName -ServiceName myVmName -Force

NB: you need -Force parameter otherwise the script will prompt for Y/N and will require user intervention.

And then I hooked the script as part of shutdown on my work PC:

  1. Run gpedit.msc
  2. Go to Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Scripts -> Shutdown
    2015-07-04 15_03_14-Local Group Policy Editor

    1. Open Shutdown option and switch to PowerShell tab; Add your script there.
    2. PROFIT!

Now your VM will be shut-down when you shut-down your PC.

Another alternative was to have free web-site running on Azure, deploy there a Web-Job that constantly polls on your PC if it is working or not. And if your PC if offline, shut-down the VM. But this sounds like a lot of work and you’ll have to expose some sort of publicly available endpoint on your PC. So nothing fancy!

Deploy Web Solution on Build

There are plenty of articles about how to deploy a solution to Azure Web-Sites. I’ll just leave this here for myself:

msbuild .\SolutionName.sln /p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:PublishProfile=ProfileName /p:Password=passwordForAzurePublishing /p:AllowUntrustedCertificate=true

This builds solution according to previously configured Publish Profile.

  • Good thing that all the configurations parameters are stored within Profile, where you can tell the thing to pre-compile the views and publish to folder where you need it.

  • Bad thing – you can’t specify where deploy to, as that is specified in the Publishing Profile. But you can configure different profiles to publish to testing and to production.

  • Another very bad thing – you can’t provide it with a pre-built web-deploy package, this builds the solution again every time you execute it. And this breaks the rule of Continuous Integration and Deployment: “Build once, deploy everywhere”. Suppose you have a Build Server with process that looks like this: Build => Run Unit Tests => Run Integration Tests => Deploy to Testing => Deploy to Production. And if for deployment you use the line I quoted above, you will be compiling your sources 3 times: first time to run tests, then every time to deploy. In some sense this is OK, because you are building from the same sources, but this is a waste of time. If I build my application with pre-compiled views, this can take a while. One of the applications I work on has 800 views and compilation of all these views takes about 7 minutes. If I compile them once, and re-use that, I don’t need to wait another 7 minutes for deployment to production. Well, OK, OK! Msbuild has got some clever stuff in it and probably will not re-compile all the views if nothing have changed and second time it’ll take less time to do compilation, but that still bothers me. Hopefully new Asp vNext will do something to make my life easier in this sense.

SVN Auto-commit files

Many times you would like to have a version control on your database. Here is a simple recipe how to set this up on you SQL Server datbase. And sometimes you need to set up automatic commits to SVN (or other version control system). Here is how to do it:

REM Script out database: all the tables, stored procedures, functions, etc.
REM then add missing files to the SVN version control
REM and commit all the changes to the repository.
REM Provide a comment for the commit as a parameter to this batch.
REM This is used as a scheduled task job - once a week do an automatic commit.

scriptdb -con:"Data Source=myServer;Initial Catalog=NorthenLights;user id=sa;pwd=password" -outDir:scripts -nocollation
cd d:\SQL_versioning\
"c:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin\svn" add --force * --auto-props --parents --depth infinity -q
"c:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin\svn" commit -m %1%

I hope I don’t need to tell you that you need to have TortoiseSVN installed, along with ScriptDB. If you are using SQL Server 2008, you can use my build for ScriptDb as the provided executable file does not work with SQL Server 2008 and 2012. Also don’t forget to modify the connection string for your database.

MySQL Backup script

Just for a future reference, mysql backup script:

@REM echo off
@REM this script creates a backup of all the mysql databases in the designated directory.
@REM Please provide day of a week as a parameter

set file=d:\Mysql_backup\%1%_backup
mysqldump -u backuper --all-databases > %file%
7z a %file%
del %file%

-u backuper specifies the mysql user. This user must have a read access to all the databases. Provide a day of the week as a first argument.