Vanilla build server is a concept that says that the build server should have as few dependencies as possible. It should be like vanilla ice cream without any raisins (I have raisins in ice cream). Let me cite the classic (from: Continuous Integration in .NET):
“It’s strongly suggested that you dedicate a separate machine to act as the CI server. Why? Because a correctly created CI process should have as few dependencies as possible. This means your machine should be as vanilla as possible. For a .NET setup, it’s best to have only the operating system, the .NET framework, and probably the source control client. Some CI servers also need IIS or SharePoint Services to extend their functionality. We recommend that you not install any additional applications on the build server unless they’re taking part in the build process.”
I was recently preparing a talk for a conference and setting up a brand new CI server on Windows Server 2012. My ASP.NET MVC project build ended up of course with following error:
error MSB4019: The imported project "C:\Program Files
was not found. Confirm that the path in the <Import>
declaration is correct, and that the file exists on disk.
Well of course. I have a vanilla machine without any MSBuild targets for ASP.NET MVC. I was going to solve it like usual. Create a tools directory, copy the needed targets into the repository and configure the MSBuild paths to take the targets provided with the repository. It worked like a charm in the past and it would work now. But something (call it intuition) made check over at NuGet and to my joy I found this little gem:
“MSBuild targets for Web and WebApplications that come with Visual Studio. Useful for build servers that do not have Visual Studio installed.” Exactly!
I quickly installed it. Configured the MSBuild on the build server to use it like this:
It is a command line parameter I’ve added to the build arguments.