Thumbnail Quick tip: how to deploy to web app subfolders

Quick tip: how to deploy to web app subfolders

Can you deploy files to a specific subfolder of an Azure web app, using Azure DevOps pipelines? The short answer is: of course you can…but it does depend on the type of web app you are running! Azure offers multiple options for launching web apps. Let’s look at a few:

Azure App Service

First off, the Azure App Service. This well known type of web app is available running on Windows or Linux OS.

Using Azure App Service Deploy

When creating an Azure DevOps pipeline, you can add the Azure App Service deploy task to deploy to such a web app.

The default yaml configuration of this deployment task looks more or less as follows.

  - task: AzureRmWebAppDeployment@4
      ConnectionType: 'AzureRM'
      azureSubscription: 'some-subscription-or-service-connection'    
      appType: 'webApp'
      WebAppName: ''
      VirtualApplication: '' #Only on windows
      packageForLinux: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)/'

There is no option on the yaml task to designate a specific subfolder to deploy to. But, for App Services running on Windows, you can select a Virtual Application or directory using the VirtualApplication property. Virtual directories are an older concept coming from Internet Information Services. I won’t go into it, but suffice to say you can use this functionality to achieve the purpose of this post. The only drawback is that you would need to create this virtual application upfront in Azure. So it’s not a very dynamic thing. You can find the setting on your web app in Configuration > Path Mappings.

Azure CLI to the rescue

If your web app is running on Linux, or you just do not want to use virtual applications, there is an alternative. You can use an Azure CLI task. Azure CLI is a great commandline tool to manage Azure resources, and it offers functionality to deploy web apps. The yaml for that looks as follows:

  - task: AzureCLI@2
      azureSubscription: 'some-subscription-or-service-connection'
      scriptType: 'bash'
      scriptLocation: 'inlineScript'
      inlineScript: "az webapp deploy --resource-group 'some-resource-group' --name 'some-webapp' --src-path '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)/' --type zip --clean false --target-path some-subfolder" 

What the script above does, is deploy a zip artifact to the subfolder of the web app. Using the --target-path property, you can choose which folder you want to deploy to. The folder will be created for you if it does not exist. You also need the --clean false property to avoid deleting all the other files on the web app.

Static website on a storage account

So what if you are running a Static Website on an Azure Storage account?

Using Azure File Copy

This simple type of static web app is usually deployed with the Azure File Copy task. In this task you can deploy to a subfolder by using the BlobPrefix property. It is called BlobPrefix because Blobs do not really have folders. They do offer a visual hierarchy that looks like a folder structure. And when serving these blobs in a Static Website, they behave like a regular folder structure as well. You create this visual hierarchy by prefixing the blobs with a folder name and a slash. Hence the word BlobPrefix. So, deploying to a blob ‘subfolder’ will look as follows:

  - task: AzureFileCopy@4
      SourcePath: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)/*'
      azureSubscription: 'some-subscription-or-service-connection'
      Destination: 'AzureBlob'
      storage: 'somestorageaccount'
      ContainerName: '$web'
      BlobPrefix: 'somesubfolder'

Using Azure CLI

Or if you want, you can use an Azure CLI task as well. At the moment of writing the necessary commands are still in preview, but you can configure the Azure Pipeline Agent to install the necessary tooling by first running az config. The complete yaml looks as follows:

  - task: AzureCLI@2
      ... #omitted for brevity
      inlineScript: "az config set extension.use_dynamic_install=yes_without_prompt" 
  - task: AzureCLI@2
      ... #omitted for brevity
      inlineScript: "az storage blob directory upload -c '$web' --account-name 'somestorageaccount' -s '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)/*' -d 'somesubfolder' --recursive"

Static Web App

Last but not least, the latest and greatest type of web app Azure offers: the Static Web App. Not to be confused with the Static Website on a Storage account, these web apps are much more flexible. Publishing to a Static Web App uses the (in preview) Deploy Azure Static Web App task The yaml looks as follows:

  - task: AzureStaticWebApp@0
        app_location: ''
        api_location: ''
        output_location: ''
        azure_static_web_apps_api_token: ''  

Don’t mistake the output_location property for what we need though. This property designates the folder where the build output of the static site generator is located, respective to the app_location.

So unfortunately, it does look like you currently cannot deploy to a static web app subfolder. The Azure CLI also offers no alternative here. It’s all quite new yet. Who knows, the functionality might be added with time.

That’s all folks!

That’s it for now. Any tips and additions are welcome.


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Warm regards,

Microsoft 365 Architect
I4-YOU Business Solutions b.v.