Visual Studio Team Services Delivers iOS Apps to Apple Store

A new extension in the Visual Studio Marketplace provides continuous delivery of iOS apps to the Apple App Store from Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS).

Formerly called Visual Studio Online, the recently updated VSTS is a service that works with an IDE of choice to enable development teams "to share code, track work, and ship software for any language." The iOS continuous delivery functionality is also available from Team Foundation Server (2015 Update 3 or later).

"Along with the Google Play extension, this provides a good story for continuous deployment of iOS and Android mobile applications via Team Services and TFS," said Madhuri Gummalla in a blog post last week.

She said the extension, called Apple App Store in the Visual Studio Client Tools section of the Visual Studio Marketplace, is based on open source technology, namely the popular Fastlane project.

"Fastlane lets you define and run your deployment pipelines for different environments," its Web site says. "It helps you unify your app's release process and automate the whole process. Fastlane connects all fastlane tools and third party tools, like CocoaPods and Gradle."

Meanwhile, the Visual Studio Marketplace entry for the new extension says: "This extension contains a set of deployment tasks which allow you to automate the release and promotion of app updates to Apple's App Store from your CI environment. This can reduce the effort needed to keep your beta and production deployments up-to-date, since you can simply push changes to the configured source control branches, and let your automated build take care of the rest."

The open source code for the new Visual Studio extension can be found on GitHub, where developers are warned that they need to first manually ship at least one version of an app to the store before the continuous delivery functionality can be used to publish updates. Also, the use of Fastlane requires Ruby 2.0.0 or above.

"The extension provides two build/release tasks and a service endpoint to manage your Apple App Store/iTunes Connect credentials," Gummalla said. She said the extension enables developers to:

  • Upload a build for an existing app to TestFlight for beta testing.
  • Upload a build for an existing app along with metadata and screenshots to iTunes Connect.
  • Submit an app for review to the Apple App Store.

The new extension was heartily welcomed by one developer.

"I've been using the Google Play extension recently to continuously deploy a Xamarin Forms app to Google Play Store and have been pretty impressed with its capabilities, despite a few issues (like non en-US language support) which I am hoping to raise in the GitHub project space," said a commentator on the blog post. "I wasn't expecting the iOS equivalent to come out this quick. So, thank you for this, it can't be more timely for me."

Showing just how far Microsoft has come in its increased openness to other technologies, a couple of other developers asked about an equivalent option for the Windows store. Microsoft hadn't responded to those comments by press time.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.