SharePoint Advanced Large Scale Deployment Scripting – “Dev and QA gold-plating” (part 3 of 3)

I have been battling deployments for a while and finally decided to do something about it.


The challenge is to handle a dozen WSP packages on farms that host 20-50 web applications (or host header named site collections) to complete the deployments in a timely manner, ensure that the required features are uniformly activated every time while minimizing the human error element of the poor guy deploying through the night.

The deployment scripts require PowerShell v2 and are equally applicable to both SharePoint 2007 and 2010 – the need is roughly the same and the APIs are also largely unchanged. Some minor differences in service names are covered by the code.

To keep this post reasonable in length I’ve split the subject into three parts:

Part 1 is the main (powershell) deployment scripts primarily targeted at your test/QA/production deployments

Part 2 is the scripts and configuration for automatic large scale feature activations

Part 3 (this part) is about gold-plating the dev/test/QA deployment scenario where convenience to developers is prioritized while maintaining strict change control and records

Note: This took a long time to write and it will likely take you, dear reader, at least a few hours to implement in your environment.

If you have not done so already read the two other parts first.

The Challenge

When you have a number of developers working on the same service line you need to be able to keep strict control of your QA and test environment.
So either you have one guy as the gatekeeper or you automate as much as possible. I’m the last type of guy so I’ve developed a “one-click” deployment methodology where the focus is
1. Simple and consistent deployment
2. Easy collection of solutions for next production deployment – you should deploy the exact code that you tested not a “fresh” build(!)

The Solution

Our build server is set up to produce date labelled zip files with the wsp and manual installer (exe) within folder of the same name.
I’m sure yours are different therefore the scripts work with a solution drop directory that accepts both zip files (that includes a wsp file) and also plain wsp files.
The folder structure is up to you I’ll just search recursively for zip and wsp.

The script files are:

03 DeployAndStoreDropDir.bat: The starting batch file that will execute the deployment process as a specific install user. That way the developers can login with their personalized service accounts and use a specialized one for deployment purposes. You need to change the user name in this batch file. The first time you run this you need to enter the password for your install account subsequent runs will remember it  (“runas /savecred”).

03b DeployAndStoreDropDirAux.bat: The batch file doing half the work. It’ll archive old log files in “.\ArchivedDeploymentLogFiles” (created if not present) and it execute “QADeploymentProcess.ps1” that is doing the hard work. At the end it’ll look for error log and write an alert that you should look for it. Saves a lot of time – I don’t go looking in log files if I don’t get that message.

SharePointLib\QADeploymentProcess.ps1: The script that is handling the unzipping and storage of the zip/wsp files and executing both the deployment and feature activation scripts. The goal is to have a simple drop dir where for WSP/zips and a single storage location, “SolutionsDeployed”, for the currently deployed code. The “SolutionsDeployed” folder will be updated at every deployment, so that there is only the latest version of each wsp deployed. You do not need to drop all wsps in the drop dir every time; it does not just delete the SolutionsDeployed folder at every deployment.

This is how the files are moved around for a couple of WSPs and a zip file:

In short:

  1. If you want to start it with a specific install user, just execute “03 DeployAndStoreDropDir.bat”
  2. If you want to start it in your own name, execute “03b DeployAndStoreDropDirAux.bat” and perhaps delete the other bat file.
  3. If you want to modify how it works go to the “QADeploymentProcess.ps1” file.
  4. If you want to work with zip files they can have the name and internal folder structure that you like. The one important thing is that they should only contain one WSP file. It is pretty smart; at the next deployment your zip file may be named differently (e.g. with a date/time in the name) and it will still remove the old version from “SolutionsDeployed” and store your new version with the new folder/zip name.
  5. At the end of your build iteration SolutionsDeployed will contain the latest version of your deployed code (provided that you emptied it at the last production deployment)

Closing Notes

It is not a big challenge to connect the remaining dots and have your build server do the deployment at certain build types and have a “zero-click” deployment, however I opted to not do it. It should be a conscious decision to deploy to your test and QA environments, not something equivalent to a daily checkin. Your milage may wary.

I would generally provide these scripts to everyone in the team and encourage them to use them on their own dev box once in a while – it always pays to have your dev environment resemble the actual production environment this makes it feasible to keep the code (almost) in sync on all dev environments.

The challenge may be the complexity of the scripts and the effort to understand them – you shouldn’t rely too much on stuff you don’t understand 😉

Feel free to adjust the script a bit (likely QADeploymentProcess.ps1) to suit your environment.

If you make something brilliant then let me know so I can include it in my “official” version. Please also leave credits in there so it’ll be possible for your successors to find the source and documentation.


Grab the files here – part 1, 2 and 3 are all in there. I’ll update them a bit if I find any errors or make improvements.

Note: Updated Aug 29 2011, minor stuff.

Don’t forget to change the user name in “03 DeployAndStoreDropDir.bat” to your “install” account.

About Søren Nielsen
Long time SharePoint Consultant.

2 Responses to SharePoint Advanced Large Scale Deployment Scripting – “Dev and QA gold-plating” (part 3 of 3)

  1. Pingback: SharePoint Advanced Large Scale Deployment Scripting – “Features” (part 2 of 3) « Thoughts on computing, SharePoint and all the rest

  2. Pingback: SharePoint Advanced Large Scale Deployment Scripting – “Deploy” (part 1 of 3) « Thoughts on computing, SharePoint and all the rest

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