The Benefits of Using a Build Framework

Continuous Integration (CI) and/or Continuous Delivery (CD) is the norm on software projects these days. There are many build servers such as Azure DevOps, TeamCity, Jenkins, and Cruise Control.Net. Most of these servers use proprietary languages to define build steps. But is codifying your build steps in a proprietary language a good thing?

Some applications are simple, with a few build steps, others are more complex with many build steps. When you define build steps in a proprietary language, the more complex the build steps (in sophistication or in number) the more coupled to a build platform you become. This becomes an issue when you want to switch build platforms. For example, you’re using JetBrain’s TeamCity in your on-premise datacenter, but the company decides to move to the cloud. Now you must re-write your build scripts because TeamCity isn’t supported in the new cloud platform.

Instead of writing your build scripts in a proprietary language, consider using a build framework.

Build frameworks have two benefits:

  1. Allowing transportability between build platforms.
  2. Allowing you to version your build scripts alongside your application code.

Transportability between platforms gives you the flexibility of moving between build platforms with minimal effort. There will always be some configuration on a new build platform, but build frameworks keep the effort low.

In my opinion, the biggest benefit to build frameworks is the ability to check-in and version your build scripts alongside your application code. Having the option to pull code from any point in your source control’s history and having that code build is well worth any downsides of a build framework.

There are two popular frameworks in the .Net space: Cake and Nuke Build. Both frameworks have been around for a while. I’ve used Nuke Build and enjoy it. I’ve heard great things about Cake and encourage you to look at it before deciding which is the best framework for your project.

So the next time you’re creating a new build definition for your application, consider using a build framework and checking it in source control with your application.