Home / Managing technical debt with SonarQube and Azure DevOps


Technical debt is the set of problems in a development effort that make forward progress on customer value inefficient. Technical debt saps productivity by making code hard to understand, fragile, time-consuming to change, difficult to validate, and creates unplanned work that blocks progress. Unless they are managed, technical debt can accumulate and hurt the overall quality of the software and the productivity of the development team in the long term

SonarQube an open source platform for continuous inspection of code quality to perform automatic reviews with static analysis of code to:

  • Detect Bugs
  • Code Smells
  • Security Vulnerabilities
  • Centralize Quality

What’s covered in this lab

In this lab, you will learn how to setup SonarQube on Azure and integrate with Azure DevOps project

  • Provision SonarQube server from an Azure template
  • Setup SonarQube project
  • Provision an Azure DevOps Project and configure CI pipeline to integrate with SonarQube
  • Analyze SonarQube reports

Before you begin

  1. Refer to the Getting Started page before you begin the exercises.

  2. Click the Deploy To Azure button below to provision SonarQube Server on Azure VM.

    Deploy to Azure


    Provide the following parameters as shown.

    Parameter Name Description
    Subscription Details Choose the active Azure subscription, create a new resource group along with the location of creation
    SQ_VM_App Name Name of the VM where SonarQube will be installed
    SQ_Public IP_DNS Pefix unique DNS name to be provided with the following pattern:- ^[a-z][a-z0-9-]{1,61}[a-z0-9]$ or it will throw an error. For ex: sonarqubedns
    SQ VM_App Admin_User Name Local admin account for the SonarQube VM
    SQ VM_App Admin_User Password Password for the SonarQube VM
    SQ DB_Admin_User Name Admin account for Azure SQL Server
    SQ DB_Admin_Password Password for Azure SQL Server
    SQ DB_DBEdition Choose Standard as the Azure SQL database edition
  3. After providing all of the required values in the above table, check the Terms & Conditions checkbox and click on the Purchase button.

  4. Once the deployment is successful, you will see the resources in Azure Portal.


  5. RDP into the machine and download Java JDK 8 from Oracle http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/jdk8-downloads-2133151.html.

    • To enable the file download on Internet Explorer, follow the below steps on the browser :
      • Click Tools and then Internet options.
      • Click on the security tab.
      • Select the Internet Zone
      • Click on the Custom Level Button and then scroll down to Download
      • Make sure to enable File download
      • Click Apply and OK
      • Restart Internet Explorer and check if that helps.
  6. Install JDK by the following the wizard.

  7. Start the SonarQube service by typing below command in command line
    net start SonarQube
  8. Use the Azure DevOps Demo Generator to provision a project on your Azure DevOps Organization.

Exercise 1: Create a SonarQube Project and configure Quality Gate

  1. Access the SonarQube portal providing the DNS name suffixed by the port number.


  2. Open a browser and login to the SonarQube Portal using the following credentials-

    Username= admin, Password= admin

  3. Click Skip this tutorial in the pop-up window to see the home page.

    Skip tutorial


  4. Choose Administration in the toolbar, click Projects tab and then Management.


  5. Create a project with Name and Key as MyShuttle.

    • Name: Name of the SonarQube project that will be displayed on the web interface.

    • Key: The SonarQube project key that is unique for each project.

    • Leave the Visibility option to Public.


    Let us create a Quality Gate to enforce a policy which fails the gate if there are bugs in the code. A Quality Gate is a PASS/FAIL check on a code quality that must be enforced before releasing software.

  6. Click the Quality Gates menu and click Create in the Quality Gates screen. Enter a name for the Quality Gate and click Create.


  7. Let us add a condition to check for the number of bugs in the code. Click on Add Condition drop down, choose the value Bugs.


  8. Change the Operator value to is greater than and the ERROR threshold value to 0 (zero) and click on the Add button.


  9. To enforce this quality gate for MyShuttle project, click on All under Projects section and select the project checkbox.


Exercise 2: Modify the Build to Integrate with SonarQube

Now that the SonarQube server is running, we will modify Azure Build pipeline to integrate with SonarQube to analyze the java code provisioned by the Azure DevOps Demo Generator system.

  1. Go to Builds under Pipelines tab, edit the build pipeline SonarQube. This is a Java application and we are using Maven to build the code. And we are using SonarQube extension tasks to prepare analysis on SonarQube and publish Quality Gate results.

  2. Prepare Analysis Configuration task is to configure all the required settings before executing the build. Click + NEW to add SonarQube server endpoint.

    In the Add SonarQube service connection wizard enter the SonarQube server URL and SonarQube security token detials. If you don’t have SonarQube security token follow this to create one. And make sure SonarQube project name and project key are same as you entered while creating SonarQube project in Exercise 1.

  3. Publish Quality Gate Result task is to display the Quality Gate status in the build summary.

  4. Save the changes and queue the build.


  5. You will see that the build has succeeded but the associated SonarQube Quality Gate has failed. The count of bugs is also displayed under SonarQube Analysis Report.


  6. Click on the Detailed SonarQube Report link in the build summary to open the project in SonarQube.


Exercise 3: Analyze SonarQube Reports

The link will open the MyShuttle project in the SonarQube Dashboard. Under Bugs and Vulnerabilities, we can see that there are 4 bugs reported.


The page has other metrics such as Code Smells, Coverage, Duplications and Size. The following table briefly explains each of these terms.

Terms Description
Bugs An issue that represents something wrong in the code. If this has not broken yet, it will, and probably at the worst possible moment. This needs to be fixed
Vulnerabilities A security-related issue which represents a potential backdoor for attackers
Code Smells A maintainability-related issue in the code. Leaving it as-is means that at best maintainers will have a harder time than they should making changes to the code. At worst, they’ll be so confused by the state of the code that they’ll introduce additional errors as they make changes
Coverage To determine what proportion of your project’s code is actually being tested by tests such as unit tests, code coverage is used. To guard effectively against bugs, these tests should exercise or ‘cover’ a large proportion of your code
Duplications The duplications decoration shows which parts of the source code are duplicated
Size Provides the count of lines of code within the project including the number of statements, Functions, Classes, Files and Directories
  1. Click on the Bugs count to see the details of the bug.


With Azure DevOps and SonarQube, the capability is to not only show the health of an application but also to highlight newer issues. With a Quality Gate in place, you can fix the leak and therefore improve code quality systematically.


With SonarQube direct integration with Azure Pipeline, you learnt how to have a quality management tool to ensure that your code is up to standards. You can embed automated testing in your CI/CD pipleine to automate the measurement of your technical debt including code semantics, testing coverage, vulnerabilities. etc.