Software development is a complicated process that involves several time-consuming tasks. An application needs to be packaged as a binary executable before consumers can use it. To do so, software developers first need to ensure all dependencies are present, then they have to compile the source files against the dependencies, run tests, and finally package the application. In small projects, developers usually invoke the build process manually. However, a large project, such as an enterprise-grade app, involves lots of complex tasks, and it becomes pretty difficult to keep track of different elements of the build process. This is where software build tools are helpful. These tools allow us to automate the build process and make it more consistent.
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What Are Software Build Tools?
In the world of software development, software build refers to the process of converting the source code files into the final software version that is ready to be used by consumers. In other words, the build is the process of converting the source code into the final software product that users can interact with. It usually involves tasks like compilation, updating database schema, linking, running tests, and packaging the code.
Software build tools are essentially the tools that automate the building process. Hence, build automation involves automating a variety of tasks involved in creating executable applications from source code. These include downloading dependencies, compiling source code, running test cases, packaging binary code, and deployment.
Here are a few tasks that JS build systems can help automate:
- Run unit tests with just a single command
- Replace strings of text in a file
- Create folders
- Move files into folders
- Combine all JS files into one file
Why Do We Use A Build Tool Or Build Automation?
Build tools allow developers to manage and organize build processes. While developers working individually on smaller projects can invoke the build process manually, build tools are essential in commercial environments where there are multiple inter-connected projects. These tools help ensure nothing gets broken when several people are working on the same project or different inter-connected projects. Hence, an automated build or build tool is also one of the prerequisites for CI. CI refers to a development practice where multiple developers merge their code changes into a shared repository every day. Every time the code is merged, an automated build verifies, enabling developers to detect bugs and errors early.
What Are The Benefits Of Software Build Tools?
Here are some of the major benefits of an automated build system:
Since a build tool automates the software build and the related processes – compiling source code, packaging code, and running tests – it requires little human interaction. As a result, these tools enhance developer productivity.
In a manual build process, each command is executed sequentially. However, build systems help run tasks (that are independent of each other) parallelly. As a result, these tools improve execution time and save time.
A build tool can help manage dependencies efficiently. It can essentially automate the tasks of downloading and managing dependencies. For instance, if you are a Java developer, you don’t have to keep JAR files in the lib folder and push it to the VCS (Version Control System) – the build tool will automatically make sure the right versions are used.
What Are The Best Software Build Tools?
Here are some of the most popular build tools that help speed up the software development process:
Scala Oriented Build Tool (SBT)
SBT is one of the best DevOps build tools designed mainly for Scala and Java programming languages. This build automation tool supports several build operations, such as compiling Scala code, packaging the code, running tests, downloading and managing dependencies, and more. It also comes with several plugins so that you can integrate other features as needed.
Apache Ant is an open-source Java library and command line tool designed to drive processes described in ANT build files as targets. It allows developers to run builds on Windows as well as Linux systems. The tool comes with a wide range of predefined tasks to help automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks involved in Java app development. One of the best things about Apache Ant is that it is highly customizable and configurable.
Apache Maven is another popular build tool for Java-based projects. However, we can also use it for other programming languages, such as Ruby, C#, Scala, etc. It is an open-source tool based on POM (project object model). Apache Maven is also a powerful software project management and comprehension tool.
Webpack is another JS builder tool primarily used to bundle JS files for use in a browser. However, the tool is also capable of transforming front-end elements, such as CSS, HTML, and images, provided that the corresponding loaders are included.
How Do Sencha Ext JS Tools Support To Improve Developer Productivity?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are build tools?
Software build tools are the programs that automate the building process. Build automation involves automating a number of tasks involved in creating executable applications from source code.
Which is the best build tool?
There are different build tools for different programming languages. For instance, if you’re looking for the best build tool for Java, Apache Ant and Apache Maven are good options. If you’re looking for the best JS build tool, ESbuild is the right choice.
Why do we use build tools?
Build tools help automate tasks involved in the building process, improving developer productivity and saving time.