BitRot | Why Automate Builds?

Why Automate Builds?


Before we get started into why use build automation, better to start with the question of what it is.

So what is BA?

Build Automation is just that. Automating your build process. That means everything from initially compiling the code to zipping it into an archive and emailing a copy to your TA, uploading it to your website, and sending an email to your boss telling him to check the latest update.

Most of the time, though, you’ll just use it to compile your program automatically.

Some Terminology

Build Artifact
A build artifact is any file created by the build process. Usually, it’s referring to the end product (jar, exe, zip).
Deployment is when you upload the build artifact of a project to a server.
Continuous Integration
Continuous integration is a concept where you automatically build your project and run a test suite on it (typically larger test suites that ensure basic functionality). There are many products that do this.
Distributable Artifact
A single build artifact that contains all the necessary components to run the project.

So why use it?

3 reasons:

  1. Build automation makes your life easier, since you spend less time copy and pasting files, renaming folders, zipping things, and then sending them via email.
  2. Build automation means anyone in your team can build the project, since it doesn’t require any special knowledge (beyond knowing the build system).
  3. Build automation is an industry standard. Knowledge is power, and this is powerful knowledge.

Types of BA

Each platform/language usually has its own build automation system: