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Distribution Groups


Course Introduction
Mobile Build Services
Distribution Groups
Analytics and Diagnostics

The course is part of this learning path

AZ-400 Exam Prep: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions
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1h 6m

This course dives into creating a DevOps strategy for mobile applications using the Visual Studio App Center. The App Center gives us a centralized location where we can implement build services, carry out mobile UI testing with multiple devices sets, create public and private distribution groups, and perform release management for our distribution groups.

Build services include tvOS, iOS, Android, Xamarin, and more. UI testing includes UI testing across many popular flagship devices and uses a tier system to gradually cycle out older devices as newer ones become available. Distribution groups allow for deploying new releases to multiple types of users and can be utilized across multiple applications or projects. This course explains many of the options and services available in the App Center and provides guided demonstrations with a mobile app to show how each of these available services works.

By the end of this course, you should know how to utilize App Center to implement a DevOps strategy for integrating and deploying a mobile application. If you have any feedback relating to this course, please contact us at support@cloudacademy.com.

Learning Objectives

  • Create an App Center account and build a new application
  • Perform UI tests in both the App Center CLI and Azure DevOps pipeline
  • Create public and private distribution groups and release apps to them
  • Understand and use the analytics and diagnostics provided by App Center

Intended Audience

This course is intended for DevOps and IT professionals who are looking to implement a DevOps strategy for mobile applications using Visual Studio App Center to build, test, distribute, and deploy their mobile applications. This course is also useful for those preparing to take Microsoft's AZ-400 exam.


To get the most out of this course, you should know how to build and upload mobile applications if you are not using the build tools provided by the App Center. You should know how to work with Node package manager and have NPM installed or know how to install it. You should also be fairly comfortable with using command-line interface tools.


You can find the project files for a sample mobile application in the following GitHub repository: https://github.com/kelsosharp/MobileDevOps



Once an application has been built, regardless of how you build your application, App Center can distribute your release to a target audience.

A distribution group is a group of users that are managed together. This gives you the ability to manage access and releases on a group level. This can reduce the management headache of trying to get your application out to each of your users individually. Distribution groups can be public or private, and the App Center can also distribute your application to the various app stores for sale. Distribution groups are private by default.

Private distribution groups contain users that are invited via email, and are given access to releases that are set for that distribution group. Users in private distribution groups will be notified via email whenever a new release is made available to the group. They are required to have an App Center account, and log in to their account to access these releases.

Public distribution groups allow unauthenticated users to access releases from publicly available links. Once a group has been named, it can be set public or private, and members of a public group will receive a notification of a new release just like members of a private distribution group. They are not, however, required to log in to the App Center to download the release, and anyone that has the link to the application can download and install your application. Tread carefully here.

You can create distribution groups for many types of users. Testers, beta testers, pre-release users, pre-order users, the list goes on and on. And distribution groups gives you an easy way to manage these users.

Organizations in App Center are used to group applications and users into a container. This allows the ability to create a shared distribution group, and, if connected to an Azure subscription, allows you to use Active Directory to add and manage users. This can greatly simplify access permissions and release management if your users all need the same access permissions.

For example, it's highly likely that an organization will write multiple mobile applications that will be tested by the same group of testers. A shared distribution group is a quick and easy solution to this problem. Shared distribution groups are created at the organization level, rather than the application level, and shared groups can be either public or private. Shared distribution groups can access all applications that are part of the organization.

You can add users to a shared distribution group via email, or, if your organization is linked to an Azure subscription, by adding an Active Directory user or group. To add users from Active Directory, you must first link your Azure subscription to your organization. And then, add the Azure Active Directory tenant to the organization in App Center. Once the tenant is connected, you can add Active Directory groups and users to your App Center distribution groups.

Distribution groups are a simple but powerful tool for getting your mobile application out to the people that need it, and provides an easy way to notify your users of new releases and updates to your mobile applications. So let's go check out the next module that demonstrates how to add distribution groups to our mobile DevOps strategy.

About the Author
Kelso Sharp

As well being the owner and CTO of Sharp Solutions Group, a software development and IT staffing company based in the Philippines, Kelso is a Microsoft Certified professional and an avid knowledge seeker. His belief is that you need to learn something new each day to stay on top of the constantly changing IT world. He is an avid gamer (both video games and board games) and lives in the Philippines with his wife and soon-to-be-delivered son.