Release automation for .NET projects using gitlab pipelines

Release automation for .NET projects using Gitlab pipelines, This is Continues integration & Delivery pipleine tutorial for a basic .net application deployment using Gitlab.

This article can be used as a quick reference for setting up code release pipeline for .net based projects. Gitlab pipelines is used here , but the solution can be generalised for other CI/CD automation tools available in market

Set Up a Gitlab Runner Machine

Gitlab runner is a build agent where all the build operations happen . If you are using for your git repositories , then configuring a runner in your VPC is a valid candidate for security sustenance

  1. Launch a windows server ( 2016 base server AWS AMI ) 
  2. Verify .NET installation ( 4.6 is installed by default in this AMI )
  3. Download and Install nuget in C:\buildtools. Add it to system path
  4. Configure the gitlab runner ( follow this link )
  5. Download binary to C:\gitlab
  6. Go to Group settings and fetch runner registration token to be used in next steps

NOTE: It is a good practice to register a common group runner for all the projects in a group.

7. Register the runner with

PS C:\gitlab> .\gitlab-runner-windows-amd4.exe register
Runtime platform arch=amd4 os=windows pid=2076 revision=1b659122 version=12.8.0
Please enter the gitlab-ci coordinator URL (e.g.
Please enter the gitlab-ci token for this runner:
Please enter the gitlab-ci description for this runner:
Please enter the gitlab-ci tags for this runner (comma separated):
Registering runner… succeeded runner=D5fhWHEa
Please enter the executor: docker, docker-windows, docker-ssh, parallels, shell, ssh, virtualbox, docker+machine, docker-ssh+machine, kubernetes, custom:
Runner registered successfully. Feel free to start it, but if it’s running already the config should be automatically reloaded!
Setup the gitlab runner as a service
PS C:\gitlab> .\gitlab-runner-windows-amd4.exe install
PS C:\gitlab> .\gitlab-runner-windows-amd4.exe start
PS C:\gitlab> .\gitlab-runner-windows-amd4.exe status
view raw gitlab hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Verify Runner status on ( Group > Settings > CICD > Runners )

8. Install Git on this server from here.

9. Download build tools from Visual Studio Microsoft

NOTE: Installing build tools requires reboot

NOTE: Make sure to restart gitlab runner service after all the utilities are added to system path. Else changes will not be picked up by the service

Configure Application Servers

Application servers also need to be configured to support remote deployment via msdeploy command . This link can be referenced as an in-depth guide .

  1. Use Microsoft Web platform installer to download and install Deploy tools 2.1: Microsoft Platform

2. Windows Server 2008 supports Web Deploy Publishing using Remote Agent. This requires user credentials with Administrative privileges .Follow this link for setup.
3. Windows Server 2016 supports Web Deploy Publishing using Web Deploy Handler. This is more secure approach as compared to Remote agent .Follow this link for setup.

Configure gitlab pipelines

GItlab pipelines is now ready to use registered runner for build and deployment actions.

Gitlab CICD environment variables should be used to securely inject sensitive information in pipeline.

This is a sample yaml file which can be placed in project root directory

– build
– deploy
– master
stage: “build“
– nuget restore
– msbuild “.\dotnet-project\dotnet-project.csproj” “-p:Configuration=Release;Outdir=.\Build;DeployOnBuild=true;DeployTarget=Package”
– .\dotnet-project\Build\_PublishedWebsites\dotnet-project_Package\
– master
stage: “deploy“
when: manual
– .\dotnet-project\Build\_PublishedWebsites\dotnet-project_Package\dotnet-project.deploy.cmd /Y /M: /U:$env:CI_USER_NAME /P:$env:CI_USER_PASSWORD -allowUntrusted “-setParam:name=’IIS Web Application Name’,value=’sample web site'”
– curl
view raw gitlab.yaml hosted with ❤ by GitHub

/Y can be replaced while manually testing deploy command. It runs the deploy command with -whatif flag which executed the deploy command in dry run mode/M represents the machine address where site has to be deployed . : Address when when remote agent is used : Address when Web deploy handler is used

NOTE: notice the username and password injection in deploy script . both are CICD environment variables added in project settings and password is masked to avoid exposing value in build logs

Share this article: