I have lot of my process using manifest file which inturn needs external input to run my process.
The manifest file in RA is accepting only XML files. I wanted to know if we have any tools available ready made or recommended by CA for entering details to the manifest file or any tools that someone has developed externally to provide details to a manifest file or have some sort of programs to do it.
We don't want to expose a manifest file looping 10 times to normal users.
Any idea around this would be helpful
What version of Release Automation are you using? If it is 5.x then I believe that the idea is to use parameters that are set with the scope of Release or Environment so that you can move away from manifest files. I also have a prompt in my pre-deploy phase that updates the Environment parameter to be used in the following Deployment steps. Hopefully this will be an option for you.
Thanks a lot for your response. We are in version 5.02 and my whole process uses release parameters.
There are lots of external user input which are needed to complete my process and the only option that I was left with is to use the release parameters & extract it out as a manifest file from the environment tab.
However the XML structure becomes too complex for external users to enter it
All I wanted to know is , are there any other means to enter data for Release parameters like Excel, CSV, text file ?
Also if XML is the only options are there any CA recommended tools to fill data into a manifest file? Or any external tools which can understand the XML structure and fill in the details into the manifest file.
My manifest file is as below and is not too user friendly
Where does the information that is used to fill in the manifest file come from? How did someone supply that information before CA Release Automation was in the picture?
In the day to day scenario, all the information are sent to us in an excel which would consist of three different sections
All the necessary information (like location of artifact file, SVN version) would be entered manually and a dedicated person does the deployment manually by going through it. We have the whole process automated via RA, but the biggest problem is filling the XML manifest file
The size of it is too huge and complex
The manifest (though it is the built in mechanism) is just one way to get data into RA. You could use scripts (and there may be a field developed set of actions for this as well) to read data from an excel spreadsheet. This would allow you to keep using your current approach. If I were tackling this, I'd go another level up and figure out how that spreadsheet gets filled out and if there's a way to get data even further upstream.
Thanks a lot for this
Can you please explain more about the script part? If this something that is already existing as a solution , is it possible to share a screenshot
Also are there any better ways to get input into RA from external sources . I will be happy to try it out , even if I have to redesign my flow
I don't have anything specific to show you. But let's say that you want to keep using Excel files, then you could design it so that you just pass in the location of the file and as part of a Pre-Plan Initialization, you read the file and do what you need to with its contents.
Here's a page that describes how to read Excel data using Powershell: http://www.lazywinadmin.com/2014/03/powershell-read-excel-file-using-com.html
I am not aware of any specific tools CA or Custom tools for editing manifest files - but you're in the right place for asking if such tools are available. But, in general, the Oxygen XML Editor/Developer is a good tool for working with xml.
If you're willing to entertain possibly doing things a little differently then maybe you can help explain:
Why is a manifest file necessary?
If a manifest file is absolutely necessary - is there no way for RA to automate editing of the manifest file?
Thanks a lot once again for your response
In our real life scenario, we handle 700+ customers and we have changes happening every day. The higher level components are the same (example TXT, JAR file deployment, DB script execution) but the input would vary every day and it needs to come from the development team
Hence we have designed a RA flow where in all these external inputs are defined as release parameter and we have extracted them as manifest file. Each time the development team enters these values and gives us a updated manifest file for deployment
Only challenge is How do we ask them to enter data into XML file ? Asking them to enter data into a complex XML data seems impossible
Sample current Excel deployment list
Based on the manifest file snapshot you included, and having gone through something similar here, it looks like you are relying on the manifest file to fill in the values of the release parameters. But, this can be done within the ROC itself. You can access the release parameters and give values to each of them by clicking on the step/process where all of these release parameters reside. Then you can click on the Release Parameters tab -> navigate to the path of your release parameters -> give values and save.
Here is a screenshot of where I am able to set the values for my release parameters and save them as a part of the deployment plan.
Hopefully this helps.
I forgot to mention this. But in my example I show/mention that those release parameters can be set at the deployment plan level. I didn't mention that these release parameter values can also be set at the template level. It can!
Thanks a lot for this.
This indeed was in my mind as one of the options but the only challenge we have is that the Development team does not have access to the Deployment plans for Production environment. The Support team has to create a deployment plan and my flows checks out the manifest file from SVN (using actions) and does the rest of tasks.
Also the frequency in which we have the deployments are quite high and hence was looking for automated options or some other means to get the data into RA
We don't have a official tool recommended by CA for editing manifest files. I personally like using notepad++ with the xml tools plugin.
Have you tried Tom's suggestion about reading the information from excel? Do you still have questions about working with the manifest?