What is Build Automation?

Build automation tools automate the time-consuming tasks inherent in creating a “build,” or usable version of an application. They automate and orchestrate the sometimes complex processes of compiling computer source code into binary code and packaging that binary code as well as running automated tests

Some IT Central Station members use build automation solutions. In reviews, they offer opinions on the most significant selection factors to consider when looking at this type of software. One theme that emerges from user comments is the importance of vendors that can keep up with the high pace of the technical evolution of the products that must be automated. Application development tools evolve quickly, so build automation must keep up. For some aspects of build automation, an Open Source community may be the best way to for tool makers and users to stay in sync with rapid changes in development platforms and development methodologies.

Build automation tends to get complex, so users prefer build automation systems that have simplicity in adding custom functions and rules and a simple, intuitive model for doing the core tasks. Others ask for build automation solutions that are simple but can be complex. Centralized build automation and a web-based front end can help with this goal. Making builds auditable allows multiple stakeholders to have awareness of how builds have been put together.

Given their essential interconnectedness, build automation suites thrive on APIs and plug-ins. The more, the better. Templates can keep things streamlined, allowing for consistent configuration on how an application Is built. Users also recommend build automation products that can delegate the building of executable code to a machine. Then, the tool should have the ability to trigger subsequent builds in a chain based off of multiple types of triggers in a deterministic fashion. Ultimately, the tool can enable an on-demand, push-button release strategy.

Find out what your peers are saying about Chef, Jenkins, GitLab and others in Build Automation. Updated: June 2020.
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