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Migrating from TravisCI to Azure Pipelines

I'm in the process of testing out Azure Pipelines with ArviZ, and in the process have learned more about the platform. I'll share my motivation as well as some tips.

Note that this is a live blog post that I'll continue to update as a I learn more.


Many Open Source projects on free tiers of services quite heavily. TravisCI was one of those vendors which provided a free tier for open source but after its acquisition its future is uncertain.

At the same time Microsoft seems to be heavily investing in open source, through acquisitions like GitHub and by open sourcing projects like VScode.

Practically speaking Microsoft is also offering more parallel builds and longer runtime than TravisCI. PyMC3 recently ran into TravisCI's 50 minute build limit and we had to do some hacky stuff to get around it. Having 6 hours of build time in Azure is very convenient.

Due to these reasons we are trying both services in parallel to see which is a better fit for ArviZ given current circumstances.


This section is a grab bag of tips from my ramp up to Azure. I'll be updating it as I learn more.

Skip the main docs initially

One upside of Azure is that it's more flexible than TravisCI, but it's also more complicated and the docs aren't great. I would advise skipping to the migration section of the docs so you can start from known ground, before working into Azure's complexity.

I also found this blog post from Hynek Schlawack to be quite helpful.

Read others implementations

It's a lot easier to see the functionality if you look for other people's code. I referenced PyJanitor's implementation as a reference for mine.

For your aid here's both our TravisCI yaml file and our Azure Pipelines PR for a one to one comparison.

Docs exist for most major languages

Specific documentation exists for common workflows in common languages. For example this python doc was particularly helpful as ArviZ is written in Python.

Azure Pipelines has built in code coverage and test stats

Coveralls, codecov, and other provide great free tiers for their services but integration isn't always straightforward. In ArviZ's case Coveralls doesn't have an "out of the box" solution for Azure Pipelines yet.

Luckily Azure Pipelines has a bunch of these services built in as tasks. Having things in one place is convenient should mean a lesser chance of coverage or testing tools breaking.

Tasks are like functions

I found the docs for tasks to be particularly confusing and it took me a while to latch onto the central concept, so in attempt to help here's my two liner.

Tasks are like functions, they take inputs and then they "do a thing". You can add tasks to your CI pipeline by copying a task block into your YAML file

Here's an example of the Code Coverage task from ArviZ in context. The official documentation shows some screenshots , but after hours of clicking around I never found it and ended up realizing that that WebGUI was not needed.

What's next

We're going to trial both CI pipelines with ArviZ to see which one we should move forward with. When we know I'll update this blog post. Happy CIing.