Software Build Tools | XenonStack

Introduction to Software Build Tools

Software Build Tools have a pivotal role in the deployment process in organizations nowadays. They are regarded as the best DevOps Tools for functioning in an organization. Before knowing about the best Software Build Tools, one must know what build is.

The build is generating artifacts of software from source code that could be run on a system. The compilation process is one of the most important parts of a build. Here, executable files are made from the source code files. This build process is, in general, controlled by tools known as the Software Build Tools. The build is made on certain checkpoints in the development process of the software. Also, when the code is ready for tests or release, these builds are created. What all does a build offer?


Aspects of a Build

According to the company guidelines, a build can be seen as a version of the software in its pre-release format. These builds are often kept as single packages and given a version number, mostly in incremental order. Some of the key aspects of a build are mentioned below:

1. Quality

The build is used to ensure the high quality of the code being written for greater efficiency and productivity ratios.

2. Version-based Control

Builds are created at various stages of the software development process, and thus, keeping track of newer forms is important. This is done by using Versions that are given to each build. Versions are generally incremental in nature, and thus the latest version is the latest build created.

3. Compilation

This is the process where the source code is turned into executable objects.


Software Build Tools in Use

Processing via Software Build Tools

When there is a need to manage the building process, the best Software Build Tools come right in the front. These are programs that control and coordinate other programs.

Some of the Well known ones include Gradle, Make, Maven, Ant, OpenMake Software, etc. These tools keep track of any changes to the source code and are required to perform compilation on various files when changes are made.

Generally, recompilation is not done if no changes are made. Newer and more sophisticated build tools being used include linking. These try to be alert about if the recompilation is needed or not and may even recompile certain parts of the code to reduce the build time and increase efficiency.


Software Build Tools: The Need

Build tools are a great way to handle projects. They allow us to automate multiple jobs like clicking on several choices, zip/unzip files, and so many other jobs can just be added to a single command. Build tools allow for a simpler packing mechanism for code into deployable using command-line interface.

As a market sector and an investment opportunity, developer tools had long been technology’s underachiever.

Forbes, Developer Tools Quietly Become A Growth Story

We can only imagine managing projects that grow exponentially. Various phases and agility make it very difficult to manage projects. This is where build tools come in handy.


Features of Software Build Tools

Some of the main features of Software Build Tools are listed below:

  • Life cycle management of a build
  • Managing Dependencies
  • Integration management
  • Keeping track of the project structure
  • Re-usage of packages that have been installed once
  • Customization of various phases of the build process

Make-based vs. Make-incompatible Tools

There are numerous Software Build Automation Tools that involve scripting the whole process of automation.

Learn about the best automation tools for DevOps here.

The given below ‘Two major categorizations’ of these tools are based on Make compatibility.

Make-based Build Tools:

Make – A classic build tool based on the Unix system

GNU Make – Implementation of Make having a large set of extensions

Nmake – A command-line tool, part of the Visual Studio package

MPW Make – Made for the classic Mac OS

Make-incompatible Build Tools:

Apache Ant – A well known Java platform development using XML

Maven – Java-based tool for dependency management and automated software build

Gulp – A front end based build tool, similar to the Grunt for the web development

Gradle – A well known open-source system combining Apache Ant and Apache Maven

Go through some prime types of Tools used in various fields of organizations ahead.


Build Script Generation Tools

Most build tools, such as Gradle, make a script file for handling the build process. They keep in check on the project and the task. Each build represents a project or maybe more. The Gradle script generated basically uses two types of objects:

1. Script Object

The script code took to implement Script interface and execute. All properties and methods are available here.

2. Project Object

Every script has information about one or multiple projects. The script configures the project object while executing, meaning we can call methods in our build script referenced to the project object.

Generation tools do not build themselves but generate files that are used by the native building tools. A project is made up of various tasks that need to be performed during a build. This may include compilation, zipping, unzipping, publishing, or creating a Javadoc. Some of the main Build Script Generation Tools are:

  • BuildAMation: It’s a multi-platform tool and uses C# scripts with a declarative syntax
  • GNU Build System: Portable build enabling tools collection
  • Cmake: Generator of files for various building tools like make, ninja
  • xmake and qmake

Meta-Building Tools

Meta-build tools are those who can build numerous projects using a subset of existing build tools. These are also known as the Package Managers, as these generally provide a list of packages to build.

Many meta-build tools range from NetBSD-based Pkgsrc, Gentoo Linux distro-based Portage, macOS-based Homebrew, an open-source software package management system used for simplifying software installs on macOS Linux.

We also have Nix, which is a functional meta-build tool for Linux and macOS. This mainly focuses on reproducible builds used in the NixOS Linux Distro.


Continuous Integration Tools

Continuous Integration is a well-defined process. Here, all the developers working copies are sent to a shared mainline code base multiple times a day. The workflow starts with the Test running locally, Compiling code in CI, Running the CI test, Deploying an artifact from CI.

A Continuous Integration tool is one that supports the concept of continuous integration, as mentioned above. Here, the developer’s changes are tested and reported when they are added to the mainline base.

Some examples of the Continuous Integration Tools are:

  • AnthillPro: A build automation tool with pipeline support. Cross-platform, cross-language.
  • Bamboo: A widely used CI software.
  • Azure DevOps: Known as the TFS and VSTS can be Azure-hosted or self-hosted.
  • BitBucket: Deployment and pipelines with CI from its hosted repos.

Conclusion

Software Build is a process that simplifies the management of projects and allows users to have an automated program for controlling and completing the build process. The best Software build tools comprise various categories and are specialized for various systems and use cases.

With the wide variety of build tools, meta-build tools, and many other types, project management has become way easier for any developer. As technology trends to grow further, the need for more advanced project management can only be met with the sophistication of build tools.


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