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SQL Server. SSIS. PowerShell. Azure.
1 wife. 1 daughter.3 dogs. 9 cats.

One of the new YAML pipeline steps I prepared recently involved interaction with work items. I wanted to add the comments to the task (with the task ID extracted from some file). So, I created a PowerShell step that was executing Invoke-WebRequest (with try/catch logic, obviously), the process finished successfully, but nothing happened. I mean - the comments were not there. Uhmmmm, why?! The log analysis gave me a slight hint about what was wrong (as seen in the post header picture):

StatusCode : 203
StatusDescription : NonAuthoritativeInformation

The problem began because I wanted to adjust the code from the other pipeline that would fit my needs, but it didn’t want to work in my project. I googled for the answers, fiddled with tokens, authorization headers, setting pipeline options and variables - nothing helped. I got even more errors and problems. I had to take one step back to go two steps forward.

To better understand the problem I created a two brand new separate Azure DevOps projects and built two pipelines: one using the classic interface, the second using YAML. Also, I made the testing easier and I just read all the comments.

Why two projects? To test how it works when I call to the task in the same project and the task outside the project. The initial problem I wanted to solve was running the build pipeline in project X and add the comments to the task in the project Y. But if I wanted to understand the mechanics from the ground up and find the solution I had to begin with smaller steps.

So, build me a classic pipeline

My setup is just one PowerShell script calling the task address using Invoke-WebRequest (or Invoke-RestMethod). The script uses two parameters - project name and task id, as I will test two cases and don’t want to prepare hardcoded values for both tests.

    $project = 'CrossProjectTest01',
    $workitem = 26

$uri = "$project/_apis/wit/workItems/$workitem/comments?api-version=6.0-preview.3"

Write-Host "Uri $uri"
Write-Host "AccessToken: $env:SYSTEM_ACCESSTOKEN"

$result = Invoke-WebRequest \`
    -Uri $uri \`
    -Method GET \`
    -Headers @{ Authorization = "Bearer $env:SYSTEM_ACCESSTOKEN" } \`


The most important part of the code is -Headers @{ Authorization = "Bearer $env:SYSTEM_ACCESSTOKEN" }. It involves a special system OAuth token available during the job execution. We could use a PAT (Personal Access Token) with required privileges to do the same, but why create one if we have already one at hand? Also pay attention that there is a Bearer keyword, not a Basic auth.

Using a default setup (create an empty classic pipeline, add steps) I get the output as described at the beginning of the post:


StatusCode : 203
StatusDescription : Non-Authoritative Information

The access token has no value - that explains why there is no access (203 code). To fix it - edit the pipeline, go to “Run on agent” job settings, scroll down and check the “Allow scripts to access the OAuth token” option.

Allow scripts to access the OAuth token

Now the job will finish as expected - the System.AccessToken is visible to the process.

AccessToken: ***

StatusCode        : 200
StatusDescription : OK
Content           : {"totalCount":1,"count":1,"comments":[{"workItemId":26,"id":2806326,"version":1,"text":"

This worked when the pipeline and the work item were in the same project. When I set the parameters for the PowerShell script to call the task from another project (CrossProjectTest02) I got the error “project with id (…) does not exist, or you do not have permission to access it":

AccessToken: ***
Invoke-WebRequest : {"$id":"1","innerException":null,"message":"VS800075: The project with id
'vstfs:///Classification/TeamProject/8634ba98-f13c-46c4-a30c-eedc6dbeb32b' does not exist, or you do not have
permission to access it.","typeName":"Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Core.WebApi.ProjectDoesNotExistException,

It’s because I have “Limit job authorization scope to current project” both for release and non-release pipelines set to ON (see: Project settings > Pipelines > Settings)

Pipeline settings

After setting the “Limit job authorization scope to current project for non-release pipelines” to OFF (in CrossProject01, as there is my pipeline) everything works. It’s enough for me to set off for non-release because I’m working on the build pipeline.

But… but I wanted the YAML pipeline to work

The crucial part for the YAML pipeline is: “In YAML, you must explicitly map System.AccessToken into the pipeline using a variable.

- task: PowerShell@2
  displayName: 'Get comments'
    filePath: Get-WorkItemComments.ps1
    SYSTEM_ACCESSTOKEN: $(System.AccessToken)

Note to self: ALWAYS pay attention to what you write in the env section of the PowerShell task. $(Aystem.AccesToken) looks similar but does not work.

So, the things to remember for the future:

  1. In the classic pipeline “Allow scripts to access the OAuth token”
  2. In the YAML pipeline map the $(System.AccessToken) to the variable if you want to use it in the script
  3. Disable the “Limit job authorization scope to current project” options to access different projects than the current one

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