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Use Dependabot in GitHub with Azure Artifacts

Overview

If you have heavy investment in Azure Artifacts, it can be hard to fully transition to GitHub Packages. However, there is a bit of a transition. In GitHub, while you can see a list of packages the organization level, the packages are installed to a specific repository. For further detail, here are the instructions for pushing various package ecosystems to GitHub:

Alright but you might be thinking, if I’m not using GitHub Packages, won’t Dependabot not work then? Well, no. Dependabot is not just for keeping your public packages up to date - Dependabot also supports private feeds, including Azure Artifacts!

Configuration

For this to work, you just have to set up a Dependabot secret. I called my secret AZURE_DEVOPS_PAT below.

Here is the full .github/dependabot.yml configuration:

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version: 2
registries:
  npm-azure-artifacts:
    type: npm-registry
    url: https://pkgs.dev.azure.com/jjohanning0798/PartsUnlimited/_packaging/npm-example/npm/registry/ 
    username: jjohanning0798
    password: ${{ secrets.AZURE_DEVOPS_PAT }}  # Must be an unencoded password
updates:
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    directory: "/"
    registries:
      - npm-azure-artifacts
    schedule:
      interval: "daily"

Confirming it works

Shortly after committing the .dependabot.yml file, we can confirm it works as there’s a new PR from Dependabot: Dependabot logs Pull request created by Dependabot

We can also look at our Dependabot logs:

Dependabot logs Dependabot logs showing that there is a new package version from Azure Artifacts

Troubleshooting

Don’t use token with Azure DevOps

If you follow the Dependabot documentation for NuGet that’s there today, for example, it has you use a token property instead of username and password:

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registries:
  nuget-azure-devops:
    type: nuget-feed
    url: https://pkgs.dev.azure.com/.../_packaging/My_Feed/nuget/v3/index.json
    token: ${{secrets.MY_AZURE_DEVOPS_TOKEN}} # this doesn't work

If you check your Dependabot logs, you will probably see 401 or private_source_authentication_failure errors. This is because Azure Artifacts needs to use basic authentication, which using the username and password fields provide. The username isn’t used, but the password has to be an unencoded personal access token.

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registries:
  nuget-azure-devops:
    type: nuget-feed
    url: https://pkgs.dev.azure.com/.../_packaging/My_Feed/nuget/v3/index.json
    username: octocat@example.com
    password: ${{secrets.MY_AZURE_DEVOPS_TOKEN}} # this works

Alternatively, you could still use token, but just append a : at the end of the PAT as mentioned in this issue here.

Pull request limit

Another reason you might not be seeing your pull request from an outdated dependency in Azure Artifacts is if the pull request limit is not defined. By default, the limit is 5, so Dependabot will only create 5 pull requests for version updates as to not inundate you. If you check your pull requests, you might see you have more than 5, but some of those might be Dependabot Security Alerts, which don’t count to that limit.

See the docs, but here’s an example (see: open-pull-requests-limit on line 15):

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version: 2
registries:
  npm-azure-artifacts:
    type: npm-registry
    url: https://pkgs.dev.azure.com/jjohanning0798/PartsUnlimited/_packaging/npm-example/npm/registry/ 
    username: jjohanning0798
    password: ${{ secrets.AZURE_DEVOPS_PAT }}  # Must be an unencoded password
updates:
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    directory: "/"
    registries:
      - npm-azure-artifacts
    schedule:
      interval: "daily"
    open-pull-requests-limit: 15

Dependabot misconfiguration

If you have any other misconfiguration, such as the registry names not matching, you will be able to see from the Dependabot logs as well. Here’s an example of such an error where the two registry names didn’t match:

The property ‘#/updates/0/registries’ includes the “nuget-azure-artifacts” registry which is not defined in the top-level ‘registries’ definition

See the docs for the configuration syntax and examples.

Re-running Dependabot

Even though you might have the schedule set to “daily”, Dependabot will run again if you push a change to the .github/dependabot.yml. You can also run it manually at any time by navigating to:

  1. Insights
  2. Dependency Graph
  3. Dependabot
  4. Click into the last run, e.g.: “last checked 16 hours ago”
  5. Check for updates

Manually run Dependabot again Check for Dependabot updates again manually

Summary

Being able to use Dependabot with Azure Artifacts is a great way to keep your internally-created packages up to date. Teams can be notified automatically that there’s a new version of the package available and after a successful build with passing unit tests, can accept and merge the PR. If a team doesn’t want to use the updated version, they can simply close the PR and it won’t be re-opened until a new version of the package is released. I always prefer to at least be notified of new versions, so I think this is awesome!

If the emails become too much, you can always modify your notification settings 😀.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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