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Deploy SQL Dacpac Deployment Group


The Deploy SQL Dacpac Deployment Group task is used to deploy SQL Server database to an existing SQL Server instance, and the underlying technologies used by the task are DACPAC and SqlPackage.exe. DACPACs and SqlPackage.exe provide fine-grained control over database creation and upgrades, including upgrades for schema, triggers, stored procedures, roles, users, extended properties etc. Using the task, around eighty different properties can be set to ensure that the database is created or upgraded properly like:

  • Ignore Data Loss - If false, upgrade will fail if it results in a data-loss.
  • Verify Deployment - If true, the deployment is verified and blocked if can fail. For example, foreign keys have not been specified in the DACPAC but exist in the target database.
  • Block on Changes - If true, upgrade is terminated if a schema drift is detected.
  • Rollback on Failure - If true, then the upgrade is rolled back if errors are encountered.
  • Backup Database Before Changes - If true, a backup of the database is taken prior to applying the changes.

The task runs on the deployment target machine(s) registered with the Deployment Group configured for the task/phase. Deployment Groups are logical groups of deployment target machines with agents installed on each of them. They also specify the security context and runtime targets for the agents. When authoring a Team Services Release definition, you can specify the deployments targets for a phase using the deployment group. The task launches a bootstrapping executable program (VisualStudioRemoteDeployer.exe) on the deployment machine(s), and the bootstrap executable invokes the PowerShell scripts to locate the sqlpackage.exe on the machine, and creates or updates the SQL Server database using sqlpackage.exe. As the execution happens within the deploymenttarget machine(s), it is important to have the pre-requisites described below, installed properly on the deployment target machine(s).

Contact Information

Please contact the alias RM_Customer_Queries at microsoft dot com, if you are facing problems in making this task work. Also, share feedback about the task, and the new features that you would like to see in it.

Pre-requisites for the task

The following pre-requisites need to be setup in the target machine(s) for the task to work properly.

SQL Server

There should be a SQL Server instance that is already installed and configured on the pre-existing machines or virtual machines. The task deploys SQL Server database but does not install or configure SQL Server.


SqlPackage.exe is used to create or upgrade the database and it is installed during the installation of SQL Server 2008 R2/2012/2014/2016. If the SQL Server Database deployment task is targeting these versions of SQL Server, then there is no need to install SqlPackage.exe separately. However, the latest version of SqlPackage.exe ships with SQL Server 2014, and is also available as a web download, and installs when the products listed below are installed on a machine. The latest version of SqlPackage.exe can target database deployments from SQL Server 2005 onwards and it is advisable to install that on the deployment machine. If the deployment of the SQL Server database is happening on the Web Server which is targeting a database on a separate Database Server that is behind firewall in a DMZ zone, then SqlPackage.exe needs to be installed on the Web Server:

  • Install the latest version of sqlpackage.exe by installing the SQL Server Data-Tier Application Framework (July 2015) from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48203. On x64 machines, install both the en\x86\DACFramework.msi and the en\x64\DACFramework.msi.
  • Install it by using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI). Note that the link will open Web PI with the DACFX showing-up ready to install, where the DACFX download represents all the MSIs that need to be installed for SqlPackage.exe. Note that this is an older version of June 2014 as compared to the link given above for the July 2015 release.
  • SQL Server Management Studio for SQL Server 2014 or SQL Server Express or SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 and DAC Framework MSIs install SqlPackage.exe at C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\120\DAC\bin. Note that this is an older version as compared to the link given above for the July 2015 release.
  • Visual Studio 2015 installs the SqlPackage.exe at - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft\SQLDB\DAC\120. Here the install location of Visual Studio is - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0. Note that this is an older version as compared to the link given above for the July 2015 release.

The task PowerShell on Target Machines can be used to deploy SqlPackage.exe to Azure virtual machines or domain-joined/workgroup machines.

Pre-existing Deployment Group

This task requires a Deployment group to execute. If there is no pre-existing Deployment group, you can create one in the Deployment groups hub.

Carry out the following steps to create a Deployment group:

  1. Open your Visual Studio Team Services account in your web browser.
  2. Open the Deployment groups tab of the Build & Release hub and choose +Deployment group to create a new group
  3. Enter a name for the group in the Details tab and then save the group.
  4. In the Register machines using command line section, choose Regenerate script with PAT.
  5. Choose the icon to copy the script.
  6. Sign into the Azure virtual machine/physical machine where you wish to execute this task.
  7. Open an Administrator Powershell command prompt and paste the script you copied, then execute it to register the machine with this group.
  8. When prompted to configure tags for the agent, press Y and enter web.
  9. When prompted for the user account, press Return to accept the defaults. 10.Wait for the script to finish with a message Service vstsagent.account.computername started successfully. 11.In the Deployment groups page of the Build & Release hub, open the Machines tab and verify that the agent is running. If the tag named web is not visible, refresh the page.

Parameters of the task:

The parameters of the task are described in details, including examples, to show how to input the parameters. The parameters listed with a * are required parameters for the task:

Deploy SQL Server Database

This section of the task is used to deploy SQL Server Database to an existing SQL Server using sqlpackage.exe.

  • DACPAC File*: Location of the DACPAC file on the target machine or on a UNC path that is accessible to the administrator credentials of the machine like, \BudgetIT\Web\Deploy\FabrikamDB.dacpac. Environment variables are also supported like $env:windir, $env:systemroot etc. For example, $env:windir\FabrikamFibre\Web.
  • Specify SQL Using*: The task provides for three different ways to provide information to connect to a SQL Server instance. The options are to provide SQL Server instance and database details, or to provide a SQL Server connection string, or to provide the location of the Publish profile XML file on the target machine.
  • Server Name*: Provide the SQL Server name like, machinename\FabriakmSQL,1433, or localhost, or .\SQL2012R2. Specifying localhost will connect to the Default SQL Server instance on the machine.
  • Database Name*: The name of the SQL Server Database like Fabrikan. The Database will be created new if it does not exist, else it will be updated if it already exists.
  • Authentication*: Select the authentication mode for connecting to the SQL Server. If the Windows authentication mode is selected, the administrator's account, as specified in the Machine Detail section, will be used to connect to the SQL Server. If the SQL Server Authentication mode is selected, then the SQL login and Password have to be provided in the parameters below.
  • SQL Username : Provide the SQL Server login. The option is required and only available if SQL Server Authentication mode is selected.
  • SQL Password: The password for the SQL Server login. The option is required and only available if SQL Server Authentication mode is selected.
  • Connection String*: Specify the SQL Server connection string like "Server=localhost;Database=Fabrikam;User ID=sqluser;Password=password;".
  • Publish Profile: Publish profile provide fine-grained control over SQL Server database creation or upgrades. Specify the path to the Publish profile XML file on the target machine or on a UNC share that is accessible by the machine administrator's credentials. This is an optional parameter. However, if the seletced option for the 'Specify SQL Using' parameter is Publish Profile XML file, then this is a required parameter.
  • Additional SqlPackage.exe Arguments: Additional SqlPackage.exe arguments that will be applied when creating or updating the SQL Server database like:

/p:IgnoreAnsiNulls=True /p:IgnoreComments=True

These arguments will override the settings in the Publish profile XML file (if provided). A full list of the arguments that can provided is listed in the ' Properties' sub-section of the ' Publish Parameters, Properties, and SQLCMD Variables' in the SqlPackage.exe documentation. The SQLCMD variables can be also specified here. This is an optional parameter.