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Question concerning "How to integrate the extensions into a build template" documentation, steps in "Get the custom activities into Visual Studio" section

Sep 14, 2013 at 12:07 AM
As I mentioned on the other thread, I have not previously used the Community TFS Build Extensions. I have downloaded the September 2013 release to try it out.

I am confused about the "How to integrate the extensions into a build template" document (, specifically the "Get the custom activities into Visual Studio" section.

Instead of creating a separate project, I was able to add the activities for TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.StyleCop.dll in a much more direct manner, which is listed below.

I am trying to figure out if there is a technical reason why you would create a separate project instead of adding activities through the approach that I used. Is it simply that you want to have a project so that the other developers on the team that are going to maintain the Build Templates can use the project going forward?

  • Created local folder to have all the .dll files from TfsBuildExtensions September 2013\Code Activities\VS2012 folder (including Ionic.Zip.dll)
  • Closed all solutions in VS2012
  • Open the Build Template that I wanted to modify
  • The Toolbox showed all of the available tabs
  • Created a new tab called "Community TFS Build Extensions - Activities.StyleCop"
  • RIGHT-clicked on the "Community TFS Build Extensions - Activities.StyleCop" tab and selected “Choose Items…”
  • On the “Choose Toolbox Items” window, if “System.Activities Components” tab isn't selected, click that tab
  • Clicked “Browse…” and went to the local folder
  • Selected TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.StyleCop.dll
  • The StyleCop activity should now be in the toolbox
Sep 30, 2013 at 4:39 AM
I have finally got back to this, so I can answer some of my own questions.

The above steps did let me see the StyleCop activity in the Toolbox in VS2012. However, after I closed the container project described in the "How to integrate the extensions into a build template" document when I tried to drag the activity from the toolbox to the workflow I got the "no allowed" icon (the circle with a diagonal line).

After doing some more research, I found that you the assemblies that you add to the toolbox need to be put into the GAC into order to allow you to drag them to the workflow. In order to be put into the GAC, the assemblies need to be signed.

Unfortunately, the assemblies from Community TFS Build Extensions, Code Activities\VS2012 are not signed as discussed in a different thread (

I will create an issue and a patch to cover signing all of the assemblies in Community TFS Build Extensions, Code Activities\VS2012 except for Activities.Azure as there is an issue with that project.
Sep 30, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Hi Jim

They don't need to be in the gac, but do need to be discoverable. You can find a bunch of info in the ALM Rangers Build Guide ---

WRT signing the assemblies, we'll provide an update to the docs shortly and hopefully a build target so that you can sign the assemblies with your own key if required.

Marked as answer by mikeFourie on 10/16/2013 at 11:51 AM