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Visual Studio Team Services/TFS Offer Streamlined iOS App Delivery

The new extension that provides continuous delivery services from within VSTS and TFS is now available in the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Services 2015 have had a continuous delivery mechanism in place for Android apps since May, and as of last week, CD capabilities are available for iOS apps. Dubbed the Apple App Store extension, it's now available in the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Continuous delivery is a software engineering practice in which software or services are actively built, tested, and released, with full confidence that the CD process can be repeated ad infinitum as new features are mainlined into an application. For mobile app developers, CD has become increasingly important in being able to deliver the latest app updates to users. With the Apple App extension, the Visual Studio team turned to Fastlane's CD tools.

"The Apple App Store extension uses Fastlane which is a popular open source tool for mobile developers," writes Madhuri Gummalla, a Microsoft senior software engineer, in a blog post. Fastlane, which Twitter acquired last year, is set of continuous build and release tools that can be used against iOS apps. (The company has also started to build tools for Android CD, but those tools weren't used for the Google Play extension for VSTS).

To be able to keep apps updated in the App Store via the extension, developers should have at least one app manually released in the App Store. The process for delivering apps to the App Store via VSTS or TFS includes a set of tasks, which installs Fastlane, but there are other prerequisites prior to being able to use the extension's CD features, as described in the release notes.

In a nutshell, once developers take the initial steps to properly install the extension, developers will then be able to upload a build for beta testing through Apple's TestFlight, automate the process of uploading the build with accompanying metadata and screen shots to iTunes Connect, and then automate the submission of the app for review through the Apple App Store.

You can find the VSTS extensions in the Visual Studio Marketplace, and because the project is open sourced, can also be downloaded directly from GitHub.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.

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