ADO: Check pipeline runs


I have previously written how to copy all Azure DevOps (ADO) logs to a linux server. In this post I share a script I wrote which does a quality check on all the most recent pipeline runs. If there are any issues, a message is sent to a MS teams channel.

Let’s get into the details.

Preliminary details

I am using the api, needless to say. I cannot say I have mastered the api or even come close to understanding it. I however have leveraged the same api call I have previously used since I observed it contains a lot of interesting data.


This config file is written as json to make importing a breeze. You set up optional trigger conditions for the various pipeline runs you will have, or even whether or not to perform any checks on it at all.

"comment":{"maximum_processing_time_in_seconds":"integer_value","minimum_processing_time_in_seconds":"integer_value","(optional) check_flag - to potentially disable the checks for this pipeline":"either true or false"},
"Discover new vEdges":{"max_proc_time":3600,"min_proc_time":3,"check_flag":true},

So you see at the bottom is a dictionary where the keys are the names of the pipelines I am running, plus a default entry.

# fetch raw log to local machine
# for relevant api section, see:
import urllib.request,json,sys,os
from datetime import datetime,timedelta
from modules import aux_modules

conf_file = sys.argv[1]

# pipeline uses UTC so we must follow suit or we will miss files
#a_day_ago = (datetime.utcnow() - timedelta(days = 1)).strftime('%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ')
startup_delay = 30 # rough time in seconds before the pipeline even begins to execute our script
an_hour_ago = (datetime.utcnow() - timedelta(hours = 1, seconds = startup_delay)).strftime('%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ')
print('An hour ago was (UTC)',an_hour_ago)
format = '%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ'

#url = ''

# dump config file into a dict
config_d = aux_modules.parse_config(conf_file)
test_flag = config_d['test_flag']
if test_flag:
    print('We are in a testing mode because test_flag is:',test_flag)

url_base = f"{config_d['url_base']}{config_d['organization']}/{config_d['project']}/_apis/build/builds"
url = f"{url_base}?minTime={an_hour_ago}{config_d['url_params']}"
req = urllib.request.Request(url)
req.add_header('Authorization', 'Basic ' + os.environ['ADO_AUTH'])

# Get buildIds for pipeline runs from last 1 hour
with urllib.request.urlopen(req) as response:
   html =
txt_d = json.loads(html)
#{"count":215,"value":[{"id":xxx, "buildNumber":"20230203.107","status":"completed","result":"succeeded","queueTime":"2023-02-03T21:12:01.0865046Z","startTime":"2023-02-03T21:12:05.2177605Z","finishTime":"2023-02-03T21:17:28.1523128Z","definition":{"name":"PAN-Usage4Mgrs-2"
value_l = txt_d['value']
all_msgs = ''
header_msg = '**Recent pipeline issues**\n'
# check for too few pipeline runs
if len(value_l) <= config_d['run_ct_min']:
    all_msgs = f"There have been fewer than expected pipeline runs this past hour. Greater than **{config_d['run_ct_min']}** runs are expected, but there have been only **{len(value_l)}** runs.  \nSeomthing may be wrong.  \n"

for builds in value_l:
    msg = aux_modules.check_this_build(builds,config_d,url_base)
    if msg: all_msgs = f"{all_msgs}  \n{msg}  \n"

if all_msgs:
    if not test_flag: aux_modules.sendMessageToTeams(header_msg + all_msgs) # send to WebHook if not in a testing mode
    print(header_msg + all_msgs)
    print('No recent pipeline errors')

Short explanation

I consider the code to be mostly self-explanatory. A cool thing I’m trying out here is the f- format specifier to write to a string kind of like sprintf. I run this script every hour from, yes, an ADO pipeline! But since this job looks for errors, including errors which indicate a systemic problem with the agent pool, I run it from a different agent pool.

import json,re
import os,urllib.request
from datetime import datetime,timedelta
import pymsteams

def parse_config(conf_file):
# config file should be a json file
    f = open(conf_file)
    config_d = json.load(f)
    return config_d

def get_this_log(config_d,name,buildId,build_number):
# leaving out the api-version etc works better
        buildId_s = str(buildId)
        log_name = config_d['log_dir'] + "/" + name + "-" + build_number
# check if we already got this one
        if os.path.exists(log_name):
        #url = url_base + organization + '/' + project + '/_apis/build/builds/' + buildId_s + '/logs/' + logId + '?' + url_params
        url = config_d['url_base'] + config_d['organization'] + '/' + config_d['project'] + '/_apis/build/builds/' + buildId_s + '/logs/' + config_d['logId']
        print('url for this log',url)
        req = urllib.request.Request(url)
        req.add_header('Authorization', 'Basic ' + config_d['auth'])
        with urllib.request.urlopen(req) as response:
            html =
        print("Getting (name,build_number,buildId,logId) ",name,build_number,buildId_s,config_d['logId'])
        f = open(log_name,"wb")

def check_this_build(builds,config_d,url_base):
    format = '%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ'
    buildId = builds['id']
    build_number = builds['buildNumber']
    status = builds['status'] # normally: completed
    result = builds['result'] # normally: succeeded
    queueTime = builds['queueTime']
    startTime = builds['startTime']
    finishTime = builds['finishTime']
    build_def = builds['definition']
    name = build_def['name']
    qTime = re.sub(r'\.\d+','',queueTime)
    fTime = re.sub(r'\.\d+','',finishTime)
    sTime = re.sub(r'\.\d+','',startTime)
    qt_o = datetime.strptime(qTime, format)
    ft_o = datetime.strptime(fTime, format)
    st_o = datetime.strptime(sTime, format)
    duration_o = ft_o - st_o
    duration = int(duration_o.total_seconds())
    queued_time_o = st_o - qt_o
    queued_time = int(queued_time_o.total_seconds())
    queue_time_max = config_d['queue_time_max']
# and from the config file we have...
    pipes_d = config_d['pipelines']
    this_pipe = pipes_d['default']
    if name in pipes_d: this_pipe = pipes_d[name]
    msg = ''
    if 'check_flag' in this_pipe:
        if not this_pipe['check_flag']:
            print('Checking for this pipeline has been disabled: ',name)
            return msg # skip this build if in test mode or whatever
    if duration > this_pipe['max_proc_time'] or duration < this_pipe['min_proc_time']:
        msg = f"ADO Pipeline **{name}** run is outside of expected time range. Build number: **{build_number}**. \n  Duration, max_proc_time, min_proc_time: **{duration},{this_pipe['max_proc_time']},{this_pipe['min_proc_time']}**"
    if not status == 'completed' or not result == 'succeeded':
        msg = f"ADO Pipeline **{name}** run has unexpected status or result. Build number: **{build_number}**. \n  - Status: **{status}** \n  - Result: **{result}**"
    if queued_time > queue_time_max: # Check if this job was queued for too long
        msg = f"ADO Pipeline **{name}** build number **{build_number}** was queued too long. Queued time was **{queued_time}** seconds"
    if msg:
# get the logs meta info to see which log is the largest
        url = f"{url_base}/{buildId}/logs"
        req = urllib.request.Request(url)
        req.add_header('Authorization', 'Basic ' + os.environ['ADO_AUTH'])
# Get buildIds for pipeline runs from last 1 hour
        with urllib.request.urlopen(req) as response:
            html =
        txt_d = json.loads(html)
        value_l = txt_d['value']
        l_ct_max = 0
        log_id_err = 0
# determine log with either an error or the most lines - it differs for different pipeline jobs
        for logs_d in value_l[4:]:      # only consider the later logs
            url = f"{url_base}/{buildId}/logs/{logs_d['id']}"
            req = urllib.request.Request(url)
            req.add_header('Authorization', 'Basic ' + os.environ['ADO_AUTH'])
            with urllib.request.urlopen(req) as response:
                html ='utf-8')
                log_id_err = logs_d['id']
                print('We matched the word error in log id',log_id_err)
            l_ct = logs_d['lineCount']
            if l_ct > l_ct_max:
                l_ct_max = l_ct
                log_id_all = logs_d['id']
        if log_id_err > 0 and not log_id_all == log_id_err: # error over long log file when in conflict
            log_id_all = log_id_err
        url_all_logs = f"{url_base}/{buildId}/logs/{log_id_all}"
        msg = f"{msg}  \n**[Go to Log]({url_all_logs})**  "
    return msg

def sendMessageToTeams(msg: str):
    Send a message to a Teams Channel using webhook
# my Pipeline_check webhook
    webHookUrl = ""
        # escaping underscores to avoid alerts in italics.
        msg = msg.replace('_', '\_')
        teams_msg = pymsteams.connectorcard(webHookUrl)

    except Exception as e:
        print(f'failed to send alert: {str(e)}') contains most of the logic with checking each pipeline against the criteria and constructing an alert in Markdown to send to MS Teams. I’m not saying it’s beautiful code. I’m still learning. But I am saying it works.

I’ve revised the code to find the log file which is most likely to contain the “interesting” stuff. That’s usually the longest one excluding the first five or so. There are often about 10 logs available for even a minimal pipeline run. So this extra effort helps.

Then I further revised the code to fetch the logs and look for the word “error.” That may show up in the longest log or it may not. It not, that log takes precedence as the most interesting log.


# Python package
# Create and test a Python package on multiple Python versions.
# Add steps that analyze code, save the dist with the build record, publish to a PyPI-compatible index, and more:

##- main

trigger: none

  name: dsc-adosonar-drjohns4ServicesCoreSystems-agent
#  name: visibility_agents

#  matrix:
#    Python36:
#      python.version: '3.6'

#- task: UsePythonVersion@0
#  inputs:
#    versionSpec: '$(python.version)'
#  displayName: 'Use Python $(python.version)'

- script: pip3 install -vvv --timeout 60 -r Pipeline_check/requirements.txt
  displayName: 'Install requirements'

- script: python3 conf_check_all.ini
  displayName: 'Run script'
  workingDirectory: $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/Pipeline_check
    ADO_AUTH: $(ado_auth)
    PYTHONPATH: $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/Pipeline_check:$(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)
- cron: "19 * * * *"
  displayName: Run the script at 19 minutes after the hour
    - main
  always: true

This yaml file we sort of drag around from pipeline to pipeline so some of it may not appear too optimized for this particular pipeline. But it does the job without fuss.

Success compels further development

This pipeline watcher has been so successful – and frankly I’m surprised this post isn’t more popular than it is because it gives away for free a great idea – that I decided what we really need is a second pipeline checker to do nothing other than to check the first pipeline_checker! Fortunately I had written it in such a general-purpose way that this proved to be easy. I created a second yaml file and a second config file. The second config file made the defaults to NOT check other pipeline, and had an explicit entry for pipeline_check to enable checking. Then I run it on other ADO agents available to me. And all is good. This was needed because the pipline_check job itself has stopped running twice in the last couple months due to no fault of my own.

The hardest part was recalling my ADO_AUTH value, which is a secret variable. For the record It is the mime-encoded string formed from


where {PAT} is my Personal Access Token (which I had recorded). On any linux server you can mime encode by running base64. Encode is the default action. So, echo any:{PAT}|base64 should produce the needed string.


My ADO pipeline checker is conveniently showing us all our pipeline runs which have failed for various reasons – takes too long, completed with errors, too few jobs have been run ni the last hour, … It sends its output to a MS Teams channel we have subscribed to, by way of a webhook we set up. So far it’s working great!

References and related

Here’s my post on fetching the script log resulting from the pipeline run.


Azure DevOps: pipeline tips


I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned something from every one. I am trynig to pass on some of what I learned.

Limit of 1000 pipeline runs per week

This seems pretty crazy. In my unit we were going all gung-ho and imagining Azure DevOps pipelines as an elegant replacement for running cron jobs on our own linux servers. But something as simple as “I need to run this job every five minutes” seems to be overwhelming for a pipeline. What? Yes there is a hard limit of 1000 pipeline jobs a week. This limit is discussed here.

I wanted a job to run every six minutes, which will still hit that limit. So what I am trynig is to create two pipelines. Each is scheduled to run every 12 minutes. The yaml files are almost the same except in the one I sleep for six minutes. I also needed to remember to re-create the pipeline variables I was using.

Getting the raw logs from your pipeline runs

I wrote a little script to get the raw logs and copy them to a linux filesystem where I can use the linux command-line tools I know and love to examine them in bulk. The main point I wish to share right now is that it is not at all obvious that you need to use the get builds section of the api, not the log section! Who would have guessed?

Errors I am seeing in my pipeline

[error] We stopped hearing from agent dsc-adosonar-drjohns4servicescoresystems-agent-549c476959-whd72. Verify the agent machine is running and has a healthy network connection. Anything that terminates an agent process, starves it for CPU, or blocks its network access can cause this error. For more information, see:

We still need to figure this one out. The error appears only randomly.

I also saw a lot of more subtle errors which amounted to my variables not being defined correctly in the yaml section. Indentation is important! I had variables set up secret environment variables amongst other things. The behavior which results does not always make it obvious what the root cause is.

Don’t run the pipeline for every commit

In your commit comment, put

[skip ci]

somewhere on its own line. This will avoid that the pipeline runs each time you do a commit, which quickly gets annoying.

References and related

How to use the Azure DevOps api to for instance fetch the raw logs

Microsoft’s api documentation pertinent to this topic:

Cloud Python

Azure DevOps: How to work in a subfolder of a project


Our repo corresponds to a project. Within it are subfolders corresponding to individual apps we want to run in a pipeline.

Someone provided me with a starter yaml file to run my code in a pipeline. Originally my code was running just fine on my own linux server. In the pipeline, not so much as it became apparent it was expecting the current working directory to be the subfolder (directory in linux-speak) for references to modules, config files, etc. The documentation is kind of thin. So I spent hours checking things out and creating the solution which I now present.

The solution

The critical thing is to set the workingDirectory. Here is that section of the yaml file.

 script: python 'PAN4-5min.aql'
  displayName: 'Run script'
  workingDirectory: $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/PAN_Usage_4_Mgrs
    AUTH_TOKEN: $(auth_token)
#    PYTHONPATH: $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/PAN_Usage_4_Mgrs/modules

Note that that PYTHONPATH environment variable is another possible way out – if all you need is to include modules, but it won’t help you with other things like finding your config file.


Now suppose you see an error like I got:

ImportError: cannot import name 'ZabbixMetric' from 'jhpyzabbix' (unknown location).

I had tried to put jhpyzabbix folder at the same level as my subfolder, so, right under the top project level. At first I was getting module not found errors. So I put back my PYTHONPATH like so

    PYTHONPATH: $(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)/PAN_Usage_4_Mgrs:$(System.DefaultWorkingDirectory)

And that’s when I got that cannot import name error. Whar caused that is that although I had copied over the needed .py files to jhpyzabbix, I forgot one whose purpose seemed irrelevant to me. Turns out that tiny python file is quite important after all. School of hard knocks… It sets up the namespace mapping, I guess. To be concrete, mine looks like this:

from .api import ZabbixAPI, ZabbixAPIException, ssl_context_compat
from .sender import ZabbixMetric, ZabbixSender, ZabbixResponse
References and related

Passing secure variable in Azure DevOps to your program


Securing a sensitive variable in Azure DevOps


I’m a newbie at Azure DevOps. They sort of have to drag me kicking and screaming to give up the comfort of my personal linux to endure the torture of learning something brand new. But I iguess that’s the new way so I gotta go along with it. I work within a project that has a repo. And we intend to run a pipeline. Question is, how to deal with sensitive parameters like passwords?

One approach

If you just do raw Internet searches you can fall into any number of rabbit holes. Key vault, anyone? How about relying on secure files within the library? I guess – very tentatively – that using a key vault might be the right way to deal with this issue, but it all depends on the ACLs available and I do not know that.. I also do not see a simple-minded way to set up a key vault. So what the guy who seems to know a lot more than I do is to set up a hidden variable for the pipeline itself.

The thing is that even that has its own gotchas. I find that depending on where you start from, you may ior may not see the option to declare a pipline variable as hidden.

If I am in the Pipeline section and looking at Recently Run Pipelines, and click on my pipeline, before I run it I can add variables. Doing it that way, you only get the option to include a name and Value. No option for declaring it to be hidden.

So how do you do it?

Instead of Run Pipline > variables go to Edit Pipeline > Variables. Then variables you create will have the option to be kept secret.

It is a bad idea to pass a sensitive information on the command line. Anyone with access to that agent could do a process listing to read the secret. So instead you use an environment variable. It’s a little tricky as you have to understand yaml variable interpolation versus script interpolation.

My secret variable is auth_token for the Zabbix api token. So in my yaml file I have a reference to it which sets up an environment variable:

- script: python Delete_Unused_VEdges/ 'SA'
  displayName: 'Run script'
    AUTH_TOKEN: $(auth_token)

And in I read that environment variable like this:

token_zabbix = os.environ['AUTH_TOKEN']

And, voila, it’s all good.

But how secure is it really?

Question is, is this just performative security? Because I’m working with a project. Anyone else with access to the project could alter my python program temporarily to print out the value of the secret variable. I’m assuming they can both alter the repo I use as well as run a pipeline. Yes, they make it a tiny bit challenging because you need to break up a secret variable into two pieces in order to print it out, but come on. So maybe we’ve mostly achieved security by obscurity.

But again, I don’t really know the richness of this environment and perhaps more can be done to restrict who can alter the repo and run it in a pipeline.


People who know more than I, a newbie, have sugested a certain approach to dealing with sensitive variables with our Azure DevOps pipelines. I have described here what I as a newbie see as potential pitfalls as well as how to implement their chosen method.