Build Tools

8 07 2006

So all the talk about automation finally culminated to what the developers actually wanted. They had come up with the concept of making their lives easier and thus for doing the same, wanted us to automate the tedious process of automating the build process. Thus, began my search again for a build tool. Now people would be asking what would this do and where would it help out? Well! if anyone has gone through the software build process on VC, they would know what this entails – about 2-3 hours when your machine is completely taken over by the build monster in VC and immobilized by it.

So there are a few [I can say a lot many are just duplicates] tools available with the community to create and make great builds. The best till date is GNU Make. It has simple rules and features pattern-matching, parallel threads, makefile regeneration and advanced Make description language [this is one thing I am still to get over, every tool that comes up has a different description language portrayed… why can’t people make a standardized description language so as to make life easier for others migrating from one tool to another??!!]
Ant and NAnt are two other tools that make use of XML in a big way to get things done. NAnt, is the answer to building C# and .NET technologies created tools and applications. Electric Cloud is is another of the exciting build tools I found, although it is a commercial tool, but it has a lot of optimizations and frills that can be made use of anywhere and with any platform and language. For anyone having the cash to buy it, it is the best of the lot. [am not sure if a freeware/trial is also available or not]
CODE is another tool in this category, which is touted as a Make replacement. It has features like file fingerprints, dependency scanning, viewpathing and distributed RSH execution along with cross compiling and build actions. Uses ‘Cook’ as the description language.

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