I have a project that uses Entity Framework 6.x, ASP .NET WebApi 5.x. Data Access is in a secondary project inside the solution. I want to use VSTS (aka Visual Studio Online) to build and release it as a website to environments for integration/dev, qa, stage, and production. There are some great videos on Channel 9 that deal with the generic high-level description. (for example https://channel9.msdn.com/Series/DevOps-Release-Management and https://channel9.msdn.com/Series/DevOps-Fundamentals/Infrastructure-as-Code) There are all kinds of articles and videos about how to do migrations from inside Visual Studio including generating scripts.
Searching around the web I don't even find any older resources or concrete examples of continuous deployment with code first migrations. There must be examples and best practices for methods other than auto-migrations or SQL scripts.
I have configured a Web Deployment Package publish profile. I use it via the
PublishProfile msbuild.exe directive. The package is added to the artifacts and then deployed by the Azure Web App Deployment task in each Release environment. However once this package is built, I don't know of a way of changing the connection string in the build package for each time it is released to an environment.
There is probably something I am overlooking, but how should environment specific migrations be done with via VSTS Release?
I hate to answer my own questions here but, ultimately my research took me to the conclusion I am posting at length here. In sort, Web.config and Parameters.xml require some custom scripting that will require you to maintain your own deployment automation. These routes will still require you to additionally create your resource groups or manage them manually.
To avoid these complications and cobbling tools and scripts together, the whole operation can be achieved with two JSON files. These JSON deployment templates allow you to create or update your resource group when your deployment runs. They also allow you to automate setting appsettings and connectionstrings that overwrite your Web.config values in the same manner as you can through the Azure Portal.
the steps: (1) Add the two JSON files to the project setting the name of you connection string on line 88 (2) Add a Azure Resource Group Deployment task to the Release environment. (3) Set Template (
WebSite.json) and Template Parameters (
WebSite.parameters.json) paths in the task. (4) Set Override Template parameters to
-hostingPlanName "myHostingPlan" -webSiteName "myWebsiteName" -connectionString "the-actual-connection-string" (5) make sure you are using the same website name in your Azure App Deployment task.
This does depend on having your code first migrations run via App_Start or something similar. I took the first part of @Eddie's suggestion since App_Start is easy to deal with and doesn't seem to run too often.
As a bonus you can add environment variables for any of this configuration so you can clone the environment and then just change the variables. This ultimately makes your application or api connection string a Release variable.
For Code First Migration, you can "Write App_Start code to run Migrations" or "Write Web.config transforms to configure the MigrateDatabaseToLatestVersion initializer to run", refer to this article for details: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/webdev/archive/2014/04/09/ef-code-first-migrations-deployment-to-an-azure-cloud-service.aspx
For the connection string transformation with profile, you need to add a web.config file for the publish profile and then enter the connection string in this web.config. Refer to this link for details: http://awaitwisdom.com/publish-profile-config-transform/