Automatically retain a VSTS release

In some environments it can be convenient to retain production releases automatically. Richard Zaat and I worked on this together. Our objective was to retain a release automatically after it has been succesfully enrolled to an environment. To achieve this we wanted to utilize the PowerShell task to minimize the effort.

First we created a demo release pipeline containing one environment. The Release does not do anything and does not have any artifacts. To the environment we only added the PowerShell task.

We have configured to have it use the Preview 2.* version but this works for version 1.* too. The script we have is the following;

$baseurl = $env:SYSTEM_TEAMFOUNDATIONSERVERURI
$baseurl += $env:SYSTEM_TEAMPROJECT + "/_apis"
$uri = "$baseurl/release/releases/$($env:Release_ReleaseID)?api-version=3.0-preview.2"

$accesstoken = "Bearer $env:System_AccessToken"

Invoke-RestMethod -Uri $uri -Method Patch -ContentType "application/json" -Headers @{Authorization = $accesstoken} -Body "{keepforever:true}"

In the script we construct the URL for VSTS Release Management, together with a ‘template’ to call the Release REST API service, passing the current Release ID. It also constructs the Bearer token to be able to call the REST API authenticated. The last line invokes the contructed REST API call. The call sets the ‘KeepForever‘ attribute of the release. This will exempt it from the release retention policies.

In the release definition the “Agent Phase” needs to be configured to “Allow scripts to access OAuth token”. Listed under ‘Additional Options’ section. This will allow the script to use the $env:System_AccessToken.

The last thing to do is to make sure that the agent account has the “Manage Releases” permissions. This can be done very specifically or for all release definitions.

A few links to usefull resources

VSTS Release API overview
https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/integrate/api/rm/releases

VSTS Release Retention polocies
https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/docs/build/concepts/policies/retention#release

Interacting with VSTS and the Rest API’s
https://roadtoalm.com/2017/05/01/only-trigger-a-release-when-the-build-changed/

Enjoy!

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