OK, so as I continue to play with Rake I am very quickly seeing what is happening. I am in effect building up a bunch of reusable scripts that can manage task dependencies but really are just orchestrating other applications and system admin tasks. The syntax is nice, Ruby is a very clean fluent language, however it is becoming abundantly clear that all I am really doing I reorganising my build flow from PowerShell and MSBuild to Rake and MSBuild... It quickly dawns on me that I probably have not understood how PSake really works. I have briefly looked into PSake only because James Kovacs (who I hold in very high regard) was the author. I quickly pushed it to the back of my to do list as it look more like a pet project that's only intention was to add to the variants of Make. The problem was I didn't really understand what it was supposed to do. At the time, in my mind all PSake provided was a means to have dependant task hierarchy written in PowerShell... that's it... buts that's all it needs to be! It should be calling out to MSBuild or csc.exe to build assemblies, it should be calling out to your test runners and analysis tools. The (R/B/M/Ps)ake tool is (IMCO) just a way to facilitate tasks and control their dependencies.
Ok so why the big rant? Well it was becoming obvious to me that what I was trying to do things in Rake last night were things that I could easily do in PowerShell. Not only easily but arguably much more appropriate to be done in PowerShell; things like file and directory manipulations. My build process is really pretty basic and can been done completely in an XML based tool like Nant or MSBuild. Its what I do after the most rudimentary clean/build/test that requires a bit more muscle, this is where I have been using PowerShell any way, so using PSake just makes sense. PSake is just PowerShell with a nice clean API to declare tasks with dependencies. Anything you can do in PowerShell you can do in PSake.
This is good news. So the next step is to refactor my PowerShell bootstrapper scripts into PSake tasks, pull some of my MSBuild task into PSake task and keep the MSBuild file down to the bare minimum that MSBuild does well.. namely: Build. One thing that I would have thought 6 months ago was that Rake/Ruby would soooo much cleaner sexier code... but no, I actually think the PowerShell code is very nice and very well suited to these types of task. Sure its got a few bugs to iron out, but my affection for PowerShell continues.
Sorry Rake, its been a fun 3 days, but its over... its not you, its me.