How Do We Deploy Serene Demo?

You may already know that we don't like hiding good things from you, thus we release often. If we didn't make use of some sort of auto deployment, it would be a real pain to publish Serenity NuGet packages, update Serene in VSGallery, and keep the live demo at up to date. Let's see how our basic Powershell script, combined with a GitHub webhook does the last one.

Serene Demo Directory Structure

Serenity applications are x-copy deployable, as it should be with any ASP.NET MVC application. That means it shouldn't require anything other than setting up an IIS site / app and changing some settings like connection strings in web.config.

Serenity Demo is currently an application under IIS root site.

Here is how its folder structure looks like:


I've an habit to not put my web sites under inetpub\wwwroot, so i usually prefer a separate directory like C:\Sites or similar.

SereneDemo is one of few sites under C:\Sites folder.

build directory contains our deployment script that we'll talk about (publish.ps1) along with a copy of NuGet.exe.

clone directory is a Git repository that contains a working copy of I did clone it using Git Extensions (my preferred Git UI), but you may use any UI you like. Just make sure you have Git installed in your server.

Finally, web folder contains actual files for our application, Serene Demo that is published at This is the folder that is mapped in IIS to demo application.

You only need to have a Web.config file under this directory, before running the publish script.

Let's examine our build script.

I must first admit that i don't think myself as a Powershell guru. I just learned what i need so far and pretty sure that any Powershell you'll see here could be done in a much better way.

param (
    [int]$auto = 0

function pressAnyKeyToExit() {
	if ($auto -eq 0) {
		try {
			Read-Host 'Press any key to exit...' | Out-Null
		catch {

function writeCaption($status) {
    echo ''
    write-host ('######## ' + $status + ' ########') -foregroundcolor "green"
    echo ''

function exitWithError($message, $exitcode = -1) {
    write-host ''
    write-host 'ERROR: ' $message -foregroundcolor "red"
    write-host ''
    Exit $exitCode

Our script starts with defining its command line arguments, or the only parameter, $auto.

It will control if pressAnyKeyToExit() method will actually wait for user to press some key. It will be helpful for times when this script is run from an automated task. If i run it manually, i would like it actually wait, so that i can see what's going wrong before the console window is closed.

writeCaption is a very simple helper to print a noticeable heading to console.

exitWithError() method prints a message to screen with red color, waits for user to press a key then exits the script with an Exit Code (-1 by default).

Here comes our first method that will make use of exitWithError.

function testedCd($path) {
    try {
      Set-Location $path -ErrorAction Stop
    catch {
        exitWithError('Cant cd to ' + $path + ' directory')   

This method tries to CD to a given path, and exits the application with an error message if can't. There are so many times that i remember, when i tried to CD into a non existent directory and kept moving like i'm in it, so i use this method to be certain.

Determining the Location of MsBuild

My quick and not so elegant method of locating the msbuild.exe:

$dotnetdir = $env:SystemRoot + '\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319'
if (-not (Test-Path $dotnetdir)) {
    $dotnetdir = $env:SystemRoot + '\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319'
$prgx86 = ${env:ProgramFiles(x86)};
$msbuild = $prgx86 + '\MSBuild\14.0\Bin\amd64\MSBuild.exe';
if (-not (Test-Path $msbuild)) {
    $msbuild = $prgx86 + '\MSBuild\13.0\Bin\amd64\MSBuild.exe';
    if (-not (Test-Path $msbuild)) {
        $msbuild = $prgx86 + '\MSBuild\12.0\Bin\amd64\MSBuild.exe';
        if (-not (Test-Path $msbuild)) {
            $msbuild = $dotnetdir + '\MSBuild.exe';

.NET framework might be under different directories for 32 and 64 bit systems, so i first determine its path, giving priority to 64 bit.

Next step is to get location for Program Files (x86) system folder.

Starting with Visual Studio 2013 (if my memory doesn't fail me), msbuild is placed under Program Files (x86)\MSBuild instead of .NET framework directory.

So i try to find the latest version MSBuild possible. As a last resort, i fallback to one under .NET directory.

Building the Serene Project

$builddir = Split-Path -parent $MyInvocation.MyCommand.Definition
$nuget = $builddir + '\NuGet.exe'
$rootdir = (Split-Path -parent $builddir)
$solutiondir = $rootdir + '\clone';

function buildProject($sln) {

    writeCaption('Restoring NuGet Packages for Solution')
    & $nuget restore $sln
    writeCaption('Building Project/Solution in Release Mode')   
    & $msbuild $sln /m:8 /t:rebuild /p:Configuration=Release /v:Minimal
    if ($LASTEXITCODE -ne 0) {
        echo $LASTEXITCODE
        exitWithError('msbuild returned with ' + $LASTEXITCODE + ' exit code!')

I don't like hardcoding any paths, so i start by finding the path of our running script (publish.ps1) by making use of $MyInvocation.MyCommand.Definition.

NuGet.exe should be also under same build directory.

Our script is under SereneDemo\build, so parent of that directory is the root folder for SereneDemo.

Serene.csproj resides under SereneDemo\clone so $solutiondir will hold the location of that directory.

Our helper method buildProject will start by restoring packages for given solution / project.

We then invoke MsBuild with Release configuration and Rebuild mode.

If MsBuild results in any compile errors, we shouldn't continue deployment.

We'll call buildProject method soon.

Pulling Latest Changes From Serene GitHub Repository

try {
	testedCd $solutiondir
	& $git fetch --all
	& $git reset --hard origin/master
	buildProject $solutiondir\Serene.sln

} finally {
	testedCd $builddir

We start by test CD to solution dir (clone folder) residing under our working copy of GitHub Serene repository.

Invoking git fetch and git reset commands should be enough to fetch and checkout latest commit on master branch.

Next step is to invoke our buildProject method passing Serene.Web.csproj location.

Copying Changes to Deployment Folder

After building the project, i'll use robocopy to copy required files from C:\Sites\SereneDemo\clone directory to C:\Sites\SereneDemo\web.

Robocopy allows specifiying file and directory ignore patterns, so we can exclude files like .cs, .ts, .suo etc. while deploying.

Unfortunately, i couldn't find a way to ignore the Web.config at root directory, while including others under Views, Modules etc, so i had to use a dirty workaround:

function copyFilesToDeployment($src, $deployment) {
    writeCaption('Copying Changes To Deployment Folder')
    testedCd $src
    robocopy /s /MT:4 /np $src $deployment /xd App_Data obj "Service References" /xf *.git *.cs *.ts *.suo *.vspcc *.csproj *.csproj.user *.orig *.gitignore packages.config *.bak Web.Debug.Config Web.Release.Config *.datasource *.svcinfo ($src + '\web.config')
    testedCd $deployment

if (Test-Path ($solutiondir + '\Serene\Serene.Web\Renamed.Web.config')) {
	del ($solutiondir + '\Serene\Serene.Web\Renamed.Web.config') -force
ren ($solutiondir + '\Serene\Serene.Web\Web.config') Renamed.Web.config
try {
	copyFilesToDeployment ($solutiondir + '\Serene\Serene.Web\') ($rootdir + '\web\')
	del ($rootdir + '\web\Renamed.Web.config') -force
} finally {
	ren ($solutiondir + '\Serene\Serene.Web\Renamed.Web.config') Web.config

This simply renames Web.config at our clone directory to Renamed.Web.config temporarily, so that we won't override the Web.config under Web folder while copying.

Running the Script

Now it's time to run publish.ps1 with Powershell and see if we have any errors.

You might need to enable script execution for Powershell scripts at first run.

You need tools like .NET framework, Git etc. installed and any third party packages your project might require.

Automating the Deployment Using a GitHub WebHook

GitHub allows you to call some web address when some change like push to master occurs at your repository. So i simply set up such an hook, and called my Powershell script when it happens.