Thursday, September 11, 2008

Build Configurations

More build fun!
Having a chat with the lads at work and I was surprise that the Debug/Release option on Visual Studio was not a well understood build feature.
Debug and Release are just build configurations that can be modified. You can also add build configuration to fit your needs.
I follow the TreeSurgeon pattern (now out of habit) and create a new configuration eg AutomatedDebug and set up my build preferences there.
What are the benefits of doing this I here you ask?
• Ease of deployment
• Have a configuration for each deployment environment

Those for me are enough reason to do this. This build config and my nanat script means I can
• Build the solutions quickly
• Optionally run test based on category and optionally use code analysis tools (FXCop, NCover etc)
• Has all the dll’s in one place
• Have all tests dll’s in one place, separate to the production dll’s
• Have all my test reports in one place
• Have a distribution zip file with all I need (and nothing I don’t) to deploy the solution (dlls, config etc)
• Have the containing folder of all of this delete-able and be able to replace everything and not required to be in

It takes one click of to do this.
Well this to me sounds like its pretty hard to setup… I know it did because I was very reluctant to set it up… but it really wasn’t that bad and the time I have saved has paid me back 10 fold and continuing to do so.

If you want to try this approach on a clean soln just download TreeSurgeon from codeplex and get to it. You may have some issues with Ncover (I did). There are solutions on the web to fix it, but if you cant be bothered then you can just use NUnit and not worry about cod coverage.

Alright to do this with an exiting soln, right click on you soln in VS and select “Configuration Manager…”.

Under “Active Solution Config” drop-down select NEW.

You will get a pop up. Give the config a name eg AutomatedDebug and inherit from debug (my preference). Make sure the “Create New Project Config” check box is checked so all the projects get access to this build config.

Hit Ok and you will now see the active config is AutomatedDebug (or whatever you called it). Close the config manager and you will also notice that in the drop down box for soln config (in the VS tool bar) has been set to AutomatedDebug.

The next step I personally take is setting up all the projects in the solution to build to a standardised place. At the root of solution (ie in the trunk folder) I have a bin folder that is NOT under source control.
In this folder after a build using the AutomatedDebug configuration, I have “AutomatedDebug”, “AutomatedDebugTests”, “AutomatedDebugReports” and “AutomatedDebugDist” folders. In each of my production projects (i.e. not test project etc) I set the build location as a relative path to the AutomatedDebug bin folder eg
Whereas all of my test projects are built to
I do this to keep things clean for me; you can just dump everything in one folder if you want.

This now means you can call a build on your soln file using the new config from Nant (or whatever build tool you use).

<target name="compile" description="Compiles using the AutomatedDebug Configuration">
<msbuild project="${solnpath}\Fullstack.ExampleBuild.sln">
<property name="Configuration" value="AutomatedDebug" />

The other folders are created when running test and compressing relevant files to a zip file.

Deploying is now very easy, as is rerunning test as all your test are in one place, however to be honest the targets I use by default build and run all test every time.

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