Setting Up Pull Requests in Azure DevOps

So last time I’ve set up a build and a two-stage deploy pipeline. Which is all well and good. However, today I want to look at how we can leverage continuous integration and add a branch policy. This will allow us to be selective about what code we accept to be included in our master branch and eventually put into production.

To access the branch policy for the master branch, navigate through Repos > Branches, then choose branch policies from the context menu:

The branch policy menu

Here we have several options to protect against accidentally updating any code to the master branch and thus triggering the release pipeline. For example, I always set a minimum number of reviewers to at least one. Remember, having the code read by an additional pair of eyes avoids silly mistakes and may bring up questions that you didn’t think about during development.

Another option I always set is to check for linked work items. Linking work items to a commit is always a good practice to help anyone to understand the code’s history and see the relation between code changes and functional requests. Once selected, this option can be either enforced as mandatory or optional which in the latter case will just show a friendly warning.

The build validation is used to trigger a build whenever there is a pull request. This will ensure that the code compiles and passes the tests. To set this up click on the + Add Build Policy button. This will open a new window where we can select the build pipeline to be triggered, and as before this policy can be set as required or optional. I always set this one as required since I never want code that breaks the build to be included in the master branch.

Setting up a build policy

Next, we can also add code reviewers automatically. This is helpful when there are specific people who have to approve the change. Setting them automatically will add them as reviewers when a pull request is created and they will get a notification. With some simple rules, I have set up a branch policy that suits me and keeps me from inadvertently causing issues.

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