Tag Archives: release management


Invoking Pester and PSScriptAnalyzer Tests in Hosted VSTS


Pester and PSScriptAnalyzer are both fundamental tools for testing the effectiveness and correctness of PowerShell scripts, modules, and other PowerShell artifacts. While it is relatively convenient and straightforward to run these tools on a local development workstation, and even on owned/on-prem testing servers, it is somewhat more complicated to execute these tests in your own Microsoft-hosted Visual Studio Team Services environment.

Pester is an open source domain specific language developed originally by Dave Wyatt, which enjoys contributions from a variety of prominent members of the PowerShell community, as well as Microsoft employees on the PowerShell product team. Microsoft is a big enough fan of Pester that it comes with Windows 10, and reference it frequently in talks and written material. Pester is used for PowerShell unit testing.

PSScriptAnalyzer is a static code checker for PowerShell modules and scripts that checks the quality of code by comparing it against a set of rules. The rules are based on PowerShell best practices identified by the PowerShell team at Microsoft and the community. It is shipped with a collection of built-in rules but supports the ability to include or exclude specific rules, and also supports custom rule definitions. PSScriptAnalyzer is an open source project developed originally by the PowerShell team at Microsoft.

Lots of DevOps teams use the above tools together, along with their internally generated standards and style guide, to ensure that PowerShell code that is released into any environment meets their standards. By using Pester to ensure that a piece of code performs the tasks required, using PSScriptAnalyzer to inspect code for general best practice violations, and using a peer review process to validate that code conforms to our standards and style guidelines, you can rigorously test and ensure the quality and functionality of all PowerShell code that you produce.

As part of a PowerShell Release Pipeline, you may store your code in the source control portion of VSTS, hosted by Microsoft. I’d suggest you use the automated build and release components of VSTS to execute a series of tasks before deploying, and to deploy PowerShell code. Two of these tasks are running Pester tests and PSScriptAnalyzer. As a standard, don’t release builds if any part of either of these two tests fail.

In previous versions of VSTS, the hosted build service ran PowerShell 4.x. Because installing modules from the PowerShell Gallery (to get Pester and PSScriptAnalyzer module files so they may be run) requires PowerShell 5.0 or higher, it was necessary to use a third-party configured build step or perform some other hijinks that possibly compromised the integrity of a build. Now that VSTS runs PowerShell 5.0, we can run Pester, PSScriptAnalyzer, and many other helpful modules without exporting them with our other code, or using third-party build steps.

Continue reading