A pipeline is one of the fundamental concepts in Release Management for DevOps CI/CD processes. It defines the end-to-end release pipeline for an application to be deployed across various Stages.
You start using Release Management by authoring a release pipeline for your application. To author a release pipeline, you must specify the Artifacts that make up the application and the release pipeline.
An artifact is a deployable component of your application. It is typically produced through a Continuous Integration or a build pipeline.
You define the release pipeline using Stages, and restrict deployments into or out of a stage using Approvals. You define the automation in each stage using jobs and tasks. You use Variables to generalize your automation and triggers to control when the deployments should be kicked off automatically.
In this example, a release of a website is created by collecting specific versions of two builds (artifacts), each from a different build definition. The release is first deployed to a Dev environment and then forked to two QA environments in parallel. If the deployment succeeds in both the QA environments, the release is deployed to Prod ring 1 and then to Prod ring 2. Each production ring represents multiple instances of the same website deployed at various locations around the globe. and deployments in VSTS.
The names of releases for a release definition are, by default, sequentially numbered. The first release is named Release-1, the next release is Release-2, and so on. You can change this naming scheme by editing the release name format mask. In the Options tab of a release definition, edit the Release name format property.
When specifying the format mask, you can use the following pre-defined variables.
|Rev:rr||An auto-incremented number with at least the specified number of digits.|
|Date / Date:MMddyy||The current date, with the default format MMddyy. Any combinations of M/MM/MMM/MMMM, d/dd/ddd/dddd, y/yy/yyyy/yyyy, h/hh/H/HH, m/mm, s/ss are supported.|
|System.TeamProject||The name of the project to which this build belongs.|
|Release.ReleaseId||The ID of the release, which is unique across all releases in the project.|
|Release.DefinitionName||The name of the release definition to which the current release belongs.|
|Build.BuildNumber||The number of the build contained in the release. If a release has multiple builds, this is the number of the primary build.|
|Build.DefinitionName||The definition name of the build contained in the release. If a release has multiple builds, this is the definition name of the primary build.|
|Artifact.ArtifactType||The type of the artifact source linked with the release. For example, this can be Team Build or Jenkins.|
|Build.SourceBranch||The branch of the primary artifact source. For Git, this is of the form master if the branch is refs/heads/master. For Team Foundation Version Control, this is of the form branch if the root server path for the workspace is $/teamproject/branch. This variable is not set for Jenkins or other artifact sources.|
|Custom variable||The value of a global configuration property defined in the release definition.|
For example, the release name format
Release $(Rev:rrr) for build $(Build.BuildNumber) $(Build.DefinitionName) will create releases with names such as Release 002 for build 20170213.2 MySampleAppBuild.