Upgraded older Build and Test Controllers to TFS 2013

All has been going well since our upgrade from TFS 2012 to 2013, no nasty surprises.


As I had a bit of time I thought it a good idea to start the updates of our build and lab/test systems. We had only upgraded our TFS 2012.3 server to 2013. We had not touched our build system (one 2012 controller and 7 agents on various VMs) and our Lab Management/test controller. Our plan, after a bit of thought, was to so a slow migration putting in new 2013 generation build and test controllers in addition to our 2012 ones. We would then decide on an individual build agent VM basis what to do, probably upgrading the build agents and connecting them to the new controller. There seems to be no good reason to rebuild the whole build agent VMs with the specific SDKs and tools they each need.


So we created a new pair of Windows 2012R2 domain joined server VMs, on  one we installed a test controller and on the build controller and a single build agent


Note: I always tend to favour a single build agent per VM, usually using a single core VM. I tend to find most builds are IO locked not CPU locked so having more smaller VMs, I think, tends to be easier to manage at the VM hosting resource level.


Test Controller


Most of the use of our Test Controller is as part of our TFS Lab Management environments. If you load MTM 2013 you will see that it cannot manage 2012 Test Controller, they appear as off line. Lab Management is meant to keep the test agents upgraded, so it should upgrade an agent from one point release to another e.g. 2012.3 to 2012.4. However, this upgrade feature does not extend to 2012 to 2013 major release upgrades. Also I have always found the automated deployment/upgrade of test agents as part of an environment deployment is problematic at best. You often seem to suffer DNS and timeout issues. Easily the most reliable method is to make sure the correct (or at least compatible) test agents are installed on all the environment VMs prior to their configuration at the deployment/restart stage.


Given this the system that seems to work for getting environment’s test agents talking to the new 2013 Test Controller is:


  1. In MTM stop the environment
  2. Open the environment settings and change the controller to the new one
  3. Restart the environment, you will see the VMs show as not ready. The test agents won’t configure.
  4. Connect to each VM
    1. Uninstall the 2012 Test Agent
    2. install the 2013 Test Agent
  5. Stop and restart the environment and all should work – with luck the VMs will configure properly and show as ready
  6. If the don’t
    1. Try a second restart, sometimes sorts it
    2. You can try a repair, re-entering the various password.
    3. If problem really persist try running the Test Agent Configuration tool on each VM, press next,next, next etc. and it will try to configure. It will probably fail, but hopefully it will have done enough port opening etc. to allow the next environment restart to work correctly
    4. If it still fails you need to check the logs, but suspect a DNS issue.

Obvious you could move step 4 to the start if you make the fair assumption it is going to need manual intervention


Build Controller


Swapping your build over from 2012 to 2013 will have site specific issues. It all depends what build activities you are using. If they are bound to TFS 2012 API they may not work unless you rebuild them. However from my first tests I have found my Build 2012 processes template seem to work I, this is whether I set my  build controller ‘custom assemblies path’ to either my 2012 DLL versions or their 2013 equivalents. So .NET is managing to resolve usable DLLs to get the build working.


Obviously there is still more to do here, checking all my custom build assemblies, maybe a look at revising the whole build scripts to make use to 2013 features, but that can wait.


What I have now allows me to upgrade our Windows 8.1 build agent VM so it can connect to our 2013 Build Controller. Thus allowing use to run full automated builds and tests of Windows 8.1 application. Up to now with TFS 2012 we had only been able to the basic build working due to having to hack i the build process as you need Visual Studio 2013 generation tools to fully build and test Windows 8.1 applications.


 


So we are going to have 2012 build and test controllers around for  while, but we have provided the migration is not going to be too bad. Maybe just needs a bit of thought over some custom build assemblies.