Tag: CodeDeploy

Exploring ASP.NET Core Part 2: Continuous Delivery

by Norm Johanson | on | in .NET | Permalink | Comments |  Share

The first post in this series discussed how to use an Amazon EC2 instance and AWS CodeDeploy to deploy ASP.NET Core applications from GitHub. The setup assumed all git pushes to GitHub were deployed to the running environment without validation. In this post, let’s examine how we can create an AWS environment for our ASP.NET Core application that gives us quality control and takes advantage of AWS cloud scale.

You’ll find the code and setup scripts for this post in the part2 branch of the aws-blog-net-exploring-aspnet-core repository.

Validating the Deployment

In the first post, the appspec.yml file called the InstallApp.ps1 script during the ApplicationStart hook to extract the application and set up IIS. To verify the application is up and running, let’s update the appspec.yml file to call ValidateInstall.ps1 during the ValidateService hook.

version: 0.0
os: windows
  - source: 
    destination: C:ExploringAspNetCore
    - location: .RemoveApp.ps1
      timeout: 30
    - location: .InstallApp.ps1
      timeout: 300
    - location: .ValidateInstall.ps1
      timeout: 300

This script allows us to call tests to make sure our application is running correctly. In the GitHub repository, I added some xunit tests under .SampleAppsrcSmokeTests. My sample application is no more than a simple "Hello World" web application so I just need to test that I can make a web call to the application and get a valid response. In a real-world application you would have a much more exhaustive suite of tests to run during this validation step.

Let’s take a look at ValidateInstall.ps1 to see how the tests are run.

sl C:ExploringAspNetCoreSampleAppsrcSmokeTests

# Restore the nuget references
& "C:Program Filesdotnetdotnet.exe" restore

# Run the smoke tests
& "C:Program Filesdotnetdotnet.exe" test

exit $LastExitCode

To run the tests, switch to the directory where the tests are stored. Restore the dependencies, and then run the dotnet test command. The failure of any test will cause dnx to return a non 0 exit code, which we return from the PowerShell script. AWS CodeDeploy will see the failed exit code and mark the deployment as a failure. We can get logs from the test run from the AWS CodeDeploy console to see what failed.

Using AWS CodePipeline

Now that deployments are running smoke tests, we can detect bad deployments. In a similar way, we want to make sure users aren’t affected by bad deployments. The best practice is to use a pipeline with a beta stage during which we run smoke tests. We promote to production only if beta was successful. This gives us continuous delivery with safety checks. Again, as we discussed in part 1, we benefit from the ability of ASP.NET Core to run from source. It means we do not have to bother configuring a build step in our pipeline. Pipelines can pull source from Amazon S3 or GitHub. To provide a complete sample that can be set up with just a PowerShell script, we’ll use S3 as the source for our pipeline. AWS CodePipeline will monitor S3 for new versions of an object to push them through the pipeline. For information about configuring a GitHub repository, see the AWS CodePipeline User Guide.

Setup Script

The PowerShell script .EnvironmentSetupEnvironmentSetup.ps1 in the repository will create the AWS resources required to deploy the application through a pipeline.

Note: To avoid charges for unused resources, be sure to run .EnvironmentSetupEnvironmentTearDown.ps1 when you are done testing.

The setup script sets up the following resources:

  • An S3 bucket with a zip of the archive as the initial deployment source.
  • A t2.small EC2 instance for beta.
  • An Auto Scaling group with a load balancer using t2.medium instances.
  • An AWS CodeDeploy application for beta using the t2.small EC2 instance.
  • An AWS CodeDeploy application for production using the Auto Scaling group.
  • AWS CodePipeline with the S3 bucket as the source and the beta and production stages configured to use the AWS CodeDeploy applications.

When the script is complete, it will print out the public DNS for the beta EC2 instance and production load balancer. We can monitor pipeline progress in the AWS CodePipeline console to see if the deployment was successful for both stages.

The application was deployed to both environments because the smoke tests were successful during the AWS CodeDeploy deployments.

Failed Deployments

Let’s see what happens when a deployment fails. We’ll force a test failure by opening the .SampleAppsrcSmokeTestsWebsiteTests.cs test file and making a change that will cause the test to fail.

public async Task PassingTest()
    using (var client = new HttpClient())
        var response = await client.GetStringAsync("http://localhost-not-a-real-host/");

        Assert.Equal("Exploring ASP.NET Core with AWS.", response);

In the repository, we can run the .DeployToPipeline.ps1 script, which will zip the archive and upload it to the S3 location used by the pipeline. This will kick off a deployment to beta. (The deployment will fail because of the bad test.)

A deployment will not be attempted during the production stage because of the failure at beta. This keeps production in a healthy state. To see what went wrong, we can view the deployment logs in the AWS CodeDeploy console.


With AWS CodeDeploy and AWS CodePipeline, we can build out a full continuous delivery system for deploying ASP.NET Core applications. Be sure to check out the GitHub repository for the sample and setup scripts. In the next post in this series, we’ll explore ASP.NET Core cross-platform support.

Exploring ASP.NET Core Part 1: Deploying from GitHub

by Norm Johanson | on | in .NET | Permalink | Comments |  Share

ASP.NET Core, formally ASP.NET 5, is a platform that offers lots of possibilities for deploying .NET applications. This series of posts will explore options for deploying ASP.NET applications on AWS.

What Is ASP.NET Core?

ASP.NET Core is the new open-source, cross-platform, and modularized implementation of ASP.NET. It is currently under development, so expect future posts to cover updates and changes (for example, the new CLI).

Deploying from GitHub

The AWS CodeDeploy deployment service can be configured to trigger deployments from GitHub. Before ASP.NET Core, .NET applications had to be built before they were deployed. ASP.NET Core applications can be deployed and run from the source.

Sample Code and Setup Scripts

The code and setup scripts for this blog can be found in the aws-blog-net-exploring-aspnet-core repository in the part1 branch.

Setting Up AWS CodeDeploy

AWS CodeDeploy automates deployments to Amazon EC2 instances that you set up and configure as a deployment group. For more information, see the AWS CodeDeploy User Guide.

Although ASP.NET Core offers cross-platform support, in this post we are using instances running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2. The Windows EC2 instances must have IIS, .NET Core SDK and the Windows Server Hosting installed. The Windows Server Hosting, also called the ASP.NET Core Module, is required to enable IIS to communicate with the ASP.NET Core web server, Kestrel.

To set up the AWS CodeDeploy environment, you can run the .\EnvironmentSetup\EnvironmentSetup.ps1 PowerShell script in the GitHub repository. This script will create an AWS CloudFormation stack that will set up an EC2 instance and configure AWS CodeDeploy and IIS with the .NET Core SDK and Windows Server Hosting. It will then set up an AWS CodeDeploy application called ExploringAspNetCorePart1.

To avoid ongoing charges for AWS resources, after you are done with your testing, be sure to run the .\EnvironmentSetup\EnvironmentTearDown.ps1 PowerShell script.

GitHub and AWS CodeDeploy

You can use the AWS CodeDeploy console to connect your AWS CodeDeploy application to a GitHub repository. Then you can initiate deployments to the AWS CodeDeploy application by specifying the GitHub repository and commit ID. The AWS CodeDeploy team has written a blog post that describes how to configure the repository to automatically push a deployment to the AWS CodeDeploy application.

Deploying from Source

When you deploy from GitHub, the deployment bundle is a zip archive of the repository. In the root of the repository is an appspec.yml file that tells AWS CodeDeploy how to deploy our application. For our application, the appspec.yml is very simple:

version: 0.0
os: windows
  - source: 
    destination: C:\ExploringAspNetCore
    - location: .\RemoveApp.ps1
      timeout: 30
    - location: .\InstallApp.ps1
      timeout: 300

The file tells AWS CodeDeploy to extract the files from our repository to C:\ExploringAspNetCore and then run the PowerShell script, InstallApp.ps1, to start the application. The script has three parts. The first part restores all the dependencies for the application.

# Restore the nuget references
"C:Program Files\dotnet\dotnet.exe" restore

The second part packages the application for publishing.

# Publish application with all of its dependencies and runtime for IIS to use
"C:Program Files\dotnet\dotnet.exe" publish --configuration release -o c:\ExploringAspNetCore\publish --runtime active

The third part updates IIS to point to the publishing folder. The AWS CodeDeploy agent is a 32-bit application and runs PowerShell scripts with the 32-bit version of PowerShell. To access IIS with PowerShell, we need to use the 64-bit version. That’s why this section passes the script into the 64-bit version of powershell.exe.

C:\Windows\SysNative\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -Command {
             Import-Module WebAdministration
             Set-ItemProperty 'IIS:sitesDefault Web Site' 
                 -Name physicalPath -Value c:\ExploringAspNetCore\publish

Note: This line was formatted for readability. For the correct syntax, view the script in the repository.

If we have configured the GitHub repository to push deployments to AWS CodeDeploy, then after every push, the code change will be zipped up and sent to AWS CodeDeploy. Then AWS CodeDeploy will execute the appspec.yml and InstallApp.ps1 and the EC2 instance will be up-to-date with the latest code — no build step required.

Share Your Feedback

Check out the aws-blog-net-exploring-aspnet-core repository and let us know what you think. We’ll keep adding ideas to the repository. Feel free to open an issue to share your own ideas for deploying ASP.NET Core applications.