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Azure DevOps build fails with “The nuget command failed with exit code(1) and error(Cannot determine the packages folder to restore NuGet packages.”

This post was most recently updated on November 20th, 2019.

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This was another peculiar one – something, that didn’t bring up too many results on Google. Always fun trying to figure out those!

So, when configuring an Azure DevOps pipeline (build) for a .NET project, you might run into this annoying error:

##[error]The nuget command failed with exit code(1) and error(Cannot determine the packages folder to restore NuGet packages. Please specify either -PackagesDirectory or -SolutionDirectory.

Job: "The nuget command failed with exit code(1) and error(Cannot determine the packages folder to restore NuGet packages. Please specify either -PackagesDirectory or -SolutionDirectory. System.InvalidOperationException: Cannot determine the packages folder to restore NuGet packages. Please specify either -PackagesDirectory or -SolutionDirectory. at NuGet.CommandLine.RestoreCommand.GetPackagesFolder(PackageRestoreInputs ...

While your actual error might be something completely different, the biggest pointer comes from this message (or an internal error, if you had nested ones in the log):

Cannot determine the packages folder to restore NuGet packages. Please specify either -PackagesDirectory or -SolutionDirectory.

Okay – so NuGet doesn’t know where to restore the packages to. Suppose we just need to specify that!

And for the record: This is what I had specified in my pipeline configuration for the NuGet task. And this should work most of the time – just in my case, it didn’t!

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    restoreSolution: '$(solution)'

Solution

I hadn’t seen this ever before, and embarked upon furious googling. Very few results showed up, though, which is kinda weird with Azure DevOps – so many people are already sharing their experiences and best practices, that usually you can find someone who’s solved all the issues you might run into!

However, in this particular case I just ended up taking a few stabs in the dark and guessing what’s the kind of a value Azure DevOps might want for “packagesdirectory”. While I don’t know if it made a difference or not, the parameter name is in lowercase for me.

After a few different tries, this is how I fixed it. Hopefully it works out for you as well!

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    restoreSolution: '$(solution)'
    packagesdirectory: '..\packages'

This way, the NuGet packages are restored to the solution level. This might not always be what you want – but you can tweak it by changing the value for restoreSolution, and packagesdirectory if need be.

However, it is fine for my use case, as I’m actually building a single project with inside a solution with quite a few different projects. The $(solution) variable reference contains the name of a .csproj-file.

Finally, in case someone is interested, this is what my whole YAML for this very simple build pipeline looks like:

Example YAML for building ASP.NET Projects
# ASP.NET
# Build and test ASP.NET projects.
# Add steps that publish symbols, save build artifacts, deploy, and more:
# https://docs.microsoft.com/azure/devops/pipelines/apps/aspnet/build-aspnet-4

trigger:
- master
 
# this particular agent was required to make the build run for .NET Framework
pool:
  vmImage: 'VS2017-Win2016'

variables:
  solution: '**/[projectname].csproj'
  buildPlatform: 'AnyCPU'
  buildConfiguration: 'Debug'

steps:
- task: [email protected]

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    restoreSolution: '$(solution)'
    packagesdirectory: '..\packages'

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    solution: '$(solution)'
    msbuildArgs: '/p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:WebPublishMethod=Package /p:PackageAsSingleFile=true /p:SkipInvalidConfigurations=true /p:PackageLocation="$(build.artifactStagingDirectory)"'
    platform: '$(buildPlatform)'
    configuration: '$(buildConfiguration)'

- task: [email protected]
  inputs:
    PathtoPublish: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
    ArtifactName: 'drop'
    publishLocation: 'Container'

References

These links below were helpful in my investigation – hopefully they’ll prove useful to you, too!

Antti K. Koskela

Antti Koskela is a proud digital native nomadic millennial full stack developer (is that enough funny buzzwords? That's definitely enough funny buzzwords!), who works as a Solutions Architect for Valo Intranet, the product that will make you fall in love with your intranet.

He's been a developer from 2004 (starting with PHP and Java), and he's been bending and twisting SharePoint into different shapes since MOSS. Nowadays he's not only working on SharePoint, but also on .NET projects, Azure, Office 365 and a lot of other stuff. He's also Microsoft MVP for Office Development.

This is his personal professional (e.g. professional, but definitely personal) blog.
mm

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