Local TF Build with VSO – Intro

If you want to use a proper source control system with Dynamics AX, you have in fact only one option: Team Foundation Server (TFS). MorphX VCS can’t cover all versioning needs (because it works only for resources in AOT) and it lacks many features, and Visual SourceSafe is not supported anymore.

Because installation and maintenance of Team Foundation Server requires some effort and resources, using the cloud-hosted version, Visual Studio Online, makes good sense for many teams. It can be set up in minutes and you don’t have to care about maintenance, updates and so on.

VSO has some limitations, though – they may represent no problem for you, you may find some workarounds or maybe you depend on some feature so much that you have to use on-premise TFS after all.

One example is the build service. VSO offers a hosted build service, so you don’t need your own build server. Nevertheless it has several restrictions and you would quickly find that you can’t use it for builds of Dynamics AX, because you have to install some additional software, the build will likely run for more than one hour and so on.

Fortunately you don’t have give up using VSO. The solution is to install your own build server and merely connect it to VSO. The setup is almost the same as for on-premise TFS, therefore if you’re familiar with builds with TFS, you shouldn’t have many problems with VSO either.

There is one potential issue to take into account – if you use Team Foundation Build, you obviously need a licence for TFS. Namely you need a TFS server license and everybody “whose actions cause builds to to run” needs a TFS CAL. A great news is that the problem with CALs will disappear in a few months, because VSO licenses will also grant TFS CALs. Also don’t forget that MSDN subscription includes TFS licenses, therefore you may already have all licenses you need.

I’ll show how to set up a build server in a subsequent blog post.