Posted by : Deepak Vasudevan Friday, September 12, 2003

A typical .NET development involves regular builds taking latest versions from the respective SourceControl system. To ensure that each build is unique in itself and ensure cross verification of the same, when the build is made, a labelling of the same would be useful on the Source Control level. Perhaps this labelling concept is easy to describe and use as far as Microsoft Visual SourceSafe  is considered. 

Though there may be Build Managers in the Team, to assist in daily builds and sending reports to the team, it would be an effective way to have regular builds moved to an Automated Scheduled Task, so that the system itself would automatically take care of getting the latest versions of the files from the Source Control, make the build and generate appropriate reports. The advantage is that an automated tool ensures accuracy of the sequence of operations, as this would have gone through an exhaustive testing stage, removes monotony that is a bane with human interventions and operations.

Of late, I came across a nice automated BuildTool from MSDN. The tool is cute in almost all the aspects that you see. Some of the salient features of the same (from a core developer's perspective) are:
  1. The Tool comes with full Source Code in C#. It is quite well documented in each step of what it does, so that a starting developer also can learn to program and an advanced developer learns more advanced techniques in programming as well refines his programming practices.
  2. It does not reinvent the wheel in making the Build Operation:
    1. The files are automatically checked out by the program itself from Visual SourceSafe, a Label is Set in SourceSafe.
    2. The building is done via Visual Studio .NET itself by automating Visual Studio .NET. This way if you had set a previous Build Options in Visual Studio .NET Solution or the project file, they are reused.  Furthermore, from the developer's perspective, we learn about automating Visual Studio .NET programmatically.
    3. Application Logging is achieved via Microsoft Application Blocks for Exceptions. All exceptions are logged onto the System EventLog. So some more interesting Exception Handling strategy that we can learn and adopt in our programming practices.
Perhaps, you can try out the free BuildIT Tool from the following URL:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnbda/html/tdlg_app.asp

In short, BuildIt is just not a Build Tool. It is a developer Guru for Beginners and advanced developers and also for Project and Technical Leads in giving them the exact picture of the daily build status.

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