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The CodeMetric activity can be used to run the CodeMetric PowerTools and publish its results to TFS. In this example we aim to show the the basic steps that are required to get the activity integrated into a build.

Before you can make use of any of the TFS 2010 community build activities you have to make sure they are available for the build system and on your development PC. Instructions for this process can be found in the ALM Rangers build guide or in the StyleCop page of this wiki. This page assumes the CodeMetric activity is available in the developers build process workflow toolbox.

Get the CodeMetric Power Tool

Download Code Metrics Command Power Tool and install it onto the PC running the TFS Build Agent. This will place the metric.exe in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Team Tools\Static Analysis Tools\FxCop\ folder.

Creating an Application to build

We need a project that will show issues when scanned with the code metrics tool. Create a new ClassLibrary project, add a reference to nUnit (can do this via NuGet or manually). Add a single test to the class library, this will cause the nUnit assemblies to be built with the ClassLibrary and copied to the drops location. The nUnit assembly is complex enough to show issues when scanned with the CodeMetrics.

Add the activities to the workflow

The CodeMetric activity can be added to the workflow. As the tool works with compiled assemblies it is probably best to place it just after the build workflows Compile and Tests block.

As well as the CodeMetric activity there is also the associated CodeMetricHistory activity, this is used to manage your archive of CodeActivity metrics logs. This also can optionally be added to the workflow.


Setting the Properties

The following properties need to be set for the CodeMetrics activity


The entries shown above are minimum properties required

  • BinariesDirectory – the directory to scan for the assemblies to  run CodeMetrics on e.g. BinariesDirectory
  • CyclomaticComplexityErrorThresholds - must be set to some value. e.g. 50
  • CyclomaticComplexityWarningThresholds - must be set to some value. e.g. 10
  • MaintainabilityIndexErrorThresholds - must be set to some value. e.g. 50
  • MaintainabilityIndexWarningThresholds - must be set to some value. e.g. 10

For sensible threshold settings you will need to experiment for your code base, check the CodeMetric post for more information 

If these five are not set you will see errors in the form

TF215097: An error occurred while initializing a build for build definition \MSF Agile\BuildCustomisation: The build process failed validation. Details:  Validation Error: The private implementation of activity '1: DynamicActivity' has the following validation error:   Value for a required activity argument 'BinariesDirectory' was not supplied.

As well as the compulsory properties there a couple more you need to set. These set values that the metric.exe command line will default, but need to be set for a TFS build

  • GeneratedFileName – this properties help text says it is optional, but if not set it seems that the logic that is meant to parses the results file cannot find it. To avoid this issue set this property so that the file is created in the OutputDirectory using string.format("{0}\Metrics.xml",outputDirectory). This has the added advantage that the metric.xml results file is also automatically copied to the build drop location
  • FilesToProcess – you should be able to leave this blank and Codemetric will check all .EXE and .DLL files in the target folder. However, if not .EXE file is found you get a 
                 error : CA0055 : Could not load file: 'C:\Builds\1\MSF Agile\BuildCustomisation\Binaries\*.exe'.

    This might not be an issue for your project, but to avoid this potential problem specify the list of filenames (with wildcards) in the form new string() {“*.dll”}. Alternatively using the standard TFS build FindMatchingFiles activity could be used to build the list (see nUnit activity documentation for this technique)

If all you want is to do is put the code metric data in the drops location, this is enough. However the CodeMetricHistory activity allows you to keep a fixed number of CodeMetric results in a central location. The properties on the CodeMetricHistory activity to do this are


  • HistoryDirectory – The centralised store location e.g. c:\tmp\history
  • HistoryFileName – A unique name for each log file e.g. string.Format(“{0}.xml,LabelName) where LabelName is the build name
  • HowManyFilesToKeepInDirectory – as the name implies the max number of files before the oldest is deleted
  • SourceFileName – The source for the log file e.g. string.format("{0}\Metrics.xml",outputDirectory).   Note that this could be passed as a build variable form the previous activity

Note: I can see not reason why the CodeMetricHistory activity could not be used for any archiving purpose of a similar nature, it does nothing that is CodeMetric specific

Running the Build

The build output should be similar to that shown below


The Metric.XML file is also available for further processing in the builds drop folder.

Last edited Mar 27, 2012 at 8:50 PM by rfennell, version 3


t1seungy Feb 27, 2015 at 1:50 AM 
Thank you for sharing this activities.

I am wondering if you can advise me how to pass the MaintenabilityIndexErrorThreshod as an input parameter, so that user of the template can easily change before queue builds.

Currently, the MaintenabilityIndexErrorThreshold is set as a Properties on Build Definition Template. We wish to pass the MaintenabilityIndexErrorThreshold as an Arguement, when we edit Build Definition. Thank you for your kind advice.


TomKem81 Aug 16, 2013 at 2:43 PM 
The issue I was having was solved by copying whole C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0\Team Tools\Static Analysis Tools TO C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Team Tools\Static Analysis Tools

TomKem81 Aug 11, 2013 at 6:15 PM 
Hi, I managed to get this kind of working with the instructions. How ever I am getting this strange error with Team Build when running the tool. I made my own Build Process Template based on the newest Default Template 11.1. I added the metrics.exe to be run from the activity and included the DLL:s to the location where the activity wanted to search for the metrics.exe. Which was strange since it referred to location on C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Team Tools\Static Analysis Tools\FxCop. (Even though I have TFS 2012 with SP2 installed and those stuff were same location for VS 2012.
OK After paratmerizing the Metrics tool to run against out of the box WCF service app dll WcfService1 it gave the following results.

* Error(s) occurred during Metrics initialization:
* An exception was raised attempting to load engine 'c:\program files (x86)\microsoft visual studio 10.0\team tools\static analysis tools\fxcop\Engines\PhoenixAnalysisEngine.dll'.

Calculating metrics for file 'C:\Builds\3\SCRUMPRODUCTION\MetricsBuild\bin\WcfService1\WcfService1.dll'.
Writing report to \\machinename\Drops\MetricsBuild\MetricsBuild_20130811.13\Metrics.xml...
256 <-- This is Error code.

To me it looked like metrics were calculated to the xml file but why is it throwing this error? I could not find any logs related to it? How can the tool be debugged? Any experiences on that?

utbmxguy Jun 5, 2012 at 11:24 PM 
I have added the TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.dll to a Custom Assemblies folder. Everytime I try and get the CodeMetrics it gives me this error It has a path I have never seen before "D:\Projects\teambuild2010contrib\CustomActivities\VS2010\MAIN\Source\Common\"

Error: Value cannot be null. Parameter name: path1. Stack Trace: at System.IO.Path.Combine(String path1, String path2) at TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.CodeQuality.CodeMetrics.InternalExecute() in D:\Projects\teambuild2010contrib\CustomActivities\VS2010\MAIN\Source\Activities\CodeQuality\CodeMetrics\CodeMetrics.cs:line 405 at TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.BaseCodeActivity.Execute(CodeActivityContext context) in D:\Projects\teambuild2010contrib\CustomActivities\VS2010\MAIN\Source\Common\BaseCodeActivity.cs:line 67.
Value cannot be null. Parameter name: path1

Any ideas?

Snobordr4 May 10, 2012 at 6:20 PM 
This is a great explaination on this. The one issue I am having is with the FilesToIgnore property. I have entered some files to ignore, but they are still being checked.