Review: BuildIT

BuiltIT 1.0 Beta

I've written before about the importance of having an automated, repeatable build process for your software. In the past I've reviewed several commercial packages designed to do this for you. But what do you do when you just don't have the budget to spend? The answer is to turn to a free alternative, and BuildIT is the latest one of these to cross my desk.

In operation, BuildIT works like some other tools in the genre. It provides a GUI interface to which you can add tasks in the order that they should be performed. These include running a DOS application, VBScript or JScript script, performing file or zip operations, interacting with Visual SourceSafe, building Visual Studio projects, and so on. When you've got everything set up, you press a button and BuildIT executes each task in sequence. At the end of the road, you've got your software built according to the process that you set up, and optional e-mail and logging to record what happened.

One nice thing here is good support for scripting; with full scripting capabilities built in you're unlikely to need the DOS commands for much. The application is marked beta mostly because it doesn't have a help file yet. I had a bit of trouble with Visual Studio .NET solution builds (which it does by calling out to devenv.exe); a couple of add-ins I had loaded didn't like this very much. But other than that, BuildIT worked fine for the simple builds that I tried.

What do you give up moving to a free tool? Besides the missing help file, there's no branching here; a build either moves through all its steps and succeeds, or it fails. Also there are only a dozen task types, compared to the 30 or more you might find in a commercial package (Visual SourceSafe, for example, is the only source code control system that's directly supported). But as a starter automation utility, it should get you going.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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