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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!

mm
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Sandip

Thank you Antti for this atrticle.
Searched lot of places online but there is no precise solution with sample CI pipeline like this to build just one project in the solution.
My search ends here!

Sandip

I was wondering why you have kept “buildConfiguration: ‘Debug'”?
Also, I have one solution containing 8 projects : 3 .NET Core web apps, 4 MVC 5/6 webapps and 1 console app.

I at least got the build pipeline running with your suggested solution for only one desired MVC project but unfortunately in the artifact I am getting lots of DLLs and the artifact contents are like below :

–ArtifactName
—-_PublishedWebSites
——ArtifactName
——bin,content,scripts,views…. folders and
——Web.config, Web.Debug.config and Web.Release.config
—-ArtifactName.zip
—-NugetPackagedll1
—-NugetPackagedll2
—-NugetPackagedll3
….
—-NugetPackagedll_300

So, I am not sure why I am getting these many contents in the output?
My pipeline tasks:

– task: [email protected]
inputs:
solution: ‘$(solution)’
msbuildArgs: ‘/p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:WebPublishMethod=Package /p:PackageAsSingleFile=true /p:SkipInvalidConfigurations=true
/p:PackageLocation=”$(build.artifactStagingDirectory)” /p:OutputPath=$(build.artifactstagingdirectory)’

#and(I tried to change these parameters in msbuildArgs) like below as well and other combinations

msbuildArgs: ‘/p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:WebPublishMethod=Package /p:PackageAsSingleFile=true /p:SkipInvalidConfigurations=true
/p:PackageLocation=”$(build.artifactStagingDirectory)” /p:publishUrl=”$(build.artifactstagingdirectory)\\”
/p:DeployDefaultTarget=WebPublish /p:OutDir=$(build.artifactstagingdirectory) /p:OutputPath=$(build.artifactstagingdirectory) ‘

platform: ‘$(buildPlatform)’
configuration: ‘$(buildConfiguration)’

– task: [email protected]
inputs:
PathtoPublish: ‘$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)’
ArtifactName: ‘SGOrdersTracker’

Any possible reasons causing lot of output files except only zip file?
Thnx

Sandip

Thanks for your reply Antti.

I finally fixed it wout reducing projects, by making VSBuild args simpler it worked and I set the artifact name to ‘drop’ and it creates drop folder inside the build artifact named as per CI.
I was in wrong impression and thought that artifact is must to get CI output and then only we can start CD.

– task: [email protected]
inputs:
solution: ‘$(solution)’
msbuildArgs: ‘/p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:WebPublishMethod=Package /p:PackageAsSingleFile=true /p:SkipInvalidConfigurations=true
/p:PackageLocation=”$(build.artifactStagingDirectory)” /p:OutputPath=bin\Release\’
platform: ‘$(buildPlatform)’
configuration: ‘$(buildConfiguration)’

– task: [email protected]
inputs:
PathtoPublish: ‘$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)’
ArtifactName: ‘drop’

using “/p:OutputPath=bin\Release\” for one of MVC 6 site in the solution.
So, now the CI output with one zip and four extra files like:

CIName
–drop
—-CIName.zip
—-CIName – deploy.cmd, readme.txt, setparams.xml & srcmanifest.xml

Ahmed

Thanks very much,
that was helpful.

syed

Thank you !