The Two Types of Builds: Developers and Project

I like to say that there are really only two types of builds: ones that work and ones that don't. Seriously, though, when you're shipping a product, you should consider these two different types of builds:

  • Developers' (local machine builds) These types of builds often happen within an editor such as Visual Studio, Emaqs, Slick, or VI. Usually, this is a fast compile/link of code that the developer is currently working on.

  • Project (central build process) This type of build typically involves several components of an application, product, or a large project, such as Windows, or in some cases several projects included in a product, such as Microsoft Office.

The developer's build process should be optimized for speed, but the project build process should be optimized for debugging and releases. I am talking about optimizing the process, not compiler or linker optimization switches. Although speed and debugging are important to everyone who is writing code, you must design a project build process to track build breaks and the offender(s) as quickly as possible because numerous people are waiting for a build to be released. For a developer, what seems to be most important is clicking some type of Build and Run button to make sure the code compiles without errors and then checking it in. For the build team, building without errors and having the ability to track down the person who broke the build is the most important thing.


In some simple scenarios, these two build cases can use the same process. If this is the case, the team what I refer to as the Central Build Team should dictate the build process. This team not the developers should design the project build process. All too often, the developers design the project build process, which causes problems. Because developers usually build just the code modules that they work on and not the whole project on a regular basis, they look for shortcuts that are not necessarily in the best interest of building the entire project. For example, they might use file references instead of project references.

If a developer specifically references a file in Visual Studio and the sources of that file change, they are not automatically picked up because a specific version of the file was referenced instead of the project that builds the referenced file. In the interest of saving time, developers use file references. They are not interested in picking up the latest sources of the specified file, but it is not recommended to use file references in a project build.

The Central Build Team should never be at the mercy of mandatory build environment settings for building a specific component. If such a setting is necessary to build a component, it should be proposed to the Central Build Team for inclusion. Then the CBT can determine the impact of the addition or change to the entire project and approve or disapprove the proposal.

The Build Master(c) Microsoft's Software Configuration Management Best Practices
The Build Master: Microsofts Software Configuration Management Best Practices
ISBN: 0321332059
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 186

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