private override


build automation evolution – CruiseControl.rb and .NET (and TFS!)

Last time we talked about using RAKE instead of NAnt/MSBuild to build .NET projects.  Start there if you're curious, or if you missed that episode.  I'll wait.

I've recently been helping out a colleague to get his build server up and running for his new project.  It has been a major pain.  The source code repository is TFS, the build automation tool is MSBuild, and the CI server is Cruise Control .NET.  While these three are all decoupled from each other (TFS/TeamBuild, does really like MSBuild, however), its a bit of a pain to configure all of the XML, get plugins in the right place, etc. to get everything to work just right.  I've been there, done that myself several times, its doable, but not always the easiest thing to do.

Installing CruiseControl.rb is a breeze, except there is an issue with the latest release when trying to run it on Windows.  So instead of downloading it from the website, I would suggest pulling the repository with git, and using that version instead.  First, install msysgit.

Then you can execute the following command in your console

git clone git://

The rest of the steps are pretty simple and straightforward:

cruise add projectname -u
cruise start

That will start up the builder and the dashboard.  The dashboard, by default will live on port 3333, so browse to http://yourmachine:3333 to view your dashboard.  The path you use above should point to the directory where your RAKE file lives, that will make it easiest for CruiseControl.rb to get it right.

It's pretty dead-simple to configure your project's builder too, you get sample configuration by default in your %USERDIR%/.cruise/projects/projectname/cruise_config.rb that you can modify however you want.  Here is what that sample looks like:

# Project-specific configuration for CruiseControl.rb

Project.configure do |project|

  # Send email notifications about broken and fixed builds to, (default: send to nobody)
  # project.email_notifier.emails = ['', '']

  # Set email 'from' field to
  # project.email_notifier.from = ''

  # Build the project by invoking rake task 'custom'
  # project.rake_task = 'custom'

  # Build the project by invoking shell script "". Keep in mind that when the script is invoked,
  # current working directory is [cruise data]/projects/your_project/work, so if you do not keep
  # in version control, it should be '../' instead
  # project.build_command = ''

  # Ping Subversion for new revisions every 5 minutes (default: 30 seconds)
  # project.scheduler.polling_interval = 5.minutes


Since it is just ruby code, I find that much more appealing than a big nasty XML configuration file, but I guess that's just my opinion.

Hooking it up to TFS

I live in a TFS world at the office, so I have to play by those rules.  But I learned from Morpheus that "... rules of a computer system... can be bent. Others can be broken."  I'm just bending them.

The SvnBridge provides this rule bending behavior, by letting your subversion clients talk to your TFS repository, thereby allowing CruiseControl.rb to poll against what it thinks is a Subversion repository, but is actually a TFS repository.  It's really simple to checkout your TFS repository against it using your favorite SVN repository, so I won't go into it here.

Build Outputs

The one thing I wanted to make super simple was putting things in the right place for build outputs.  Turns out this is fairly simple after a few minutes with the docs.  CruiseControl.rb sets an environment variable telling you where to put things.  I abstracted a getter over top of it, so I can conditionally pick a different output location if I'm not inside of a CruiseControl.rb build.  It looks like this:

def output_dir
  if ENV.keys.include?('CC_BUILD_ARTIFACTS')
    return 'results'

As mentioned last time, you can see the latest version of the full RakeFile mentioned above here:

I'm feeling some serious CI/Build Automation bliss, hopefully this will get you on your way there too!


build automation evolution – Rake and .NET

When I first started with build automation, I started out with NAnt.  I loved NAnt. NAnt loved me. We were happy.  I could program anything with the NAnt XML goodness.  If there wasn't a function or task to do what I wanted, I simply wrote one, compiled it,  and wrote some more XML; it couldn't be any more simple!  I think the part I liked the most was the instant gratification I had with being able to automate something that would/could not otherwise be automated [at least not in a simple manner] with a little bit of XML programming.

Soon after NAnt gained popularity, MSBuild was released from Microsoft, which eventually effectively squashed NAnt (IMHO, no stats to back this up).  We never migrated our scripts over to MSBuild because we had significant investment in NAnt already, but it wasn't hard to shell off to MSBuild to compile our solutions.  Eventually I worked on a new project (at a new company) and needed to learn how to use MSBuild since we were using TFS on that project.

Shortly after I started integrating MSBuild into NAnt, and then started learning MSBuild, I started feeling a twinge.  Now that automation is a given, I need something more than programming in this extremely limited XML environment.  Sure, I can write a new MSBuild task just like I did in NAnt, but is it worth it?  My answer is an emphatic no.  I need a great user experience.  Something that feels nice AND is powerful.

Enter RAKE.

It sounds like MAKE; if it looks and feels like MAKE, I might vomit!  No thanks!

Glad you brought that up, Dear Reader (If Hanselman can reference you like that, I can too).  It's not really like MAKE.  In fact, the things you do inside of a RAKE file, is write Ruby code!  RAKE really gives you a nice [internal] DSL for automating tasks.  If there is something you want to do that isn't built in, write a little ruby code to do it.  No compilation and putting the dll in the write place, etc. etc.  Programming in Ruby vs. XML... now that feels nice (requirement #1 above).

But wait!  RAKE is for building Ruby and Rails apps, we can't possibly use it for .NET!

RAKE, just like Ant, NAnt or MSBuild, is a general purpose, task based automation tool.  It may be written in Ruby, but it can build .NET solutions (with the help of MSBuild), Java projects (with the help of Ant or Maven), or Flex, or whatever.  I call that powerful (requirement #2 above).

Please note I'm not claiming to be the first person to do this in .NET, I've found lots of other guys doing it too.

Here is an example of my first rake script for .NET (some pieces borrowed heavily from the Fluent NH guys... thanks!).


An always updated version of this file can be found here:

require "BuildUtils.rb"
include FileTest
require 'rubygems'
gem 'rubyzip'
require 'zip/zip'
require 'zip/zipfilesystem'

#building stuff
CLR_VERSION = "v3.5"
SOLUTION = "src/CoreLib.sln"

# versioning stuff
BUILD_NUMBER = "0.1.0."
PRODUCT = "CoreLib"
COPYRIGHT = "Copyright © 2009 Jon Fuller"
COMPANY = "Jon Fuller"
COMMON_ASSEMBLY_INFO = "src/CommonAssemblyInfo.cs"

desc "Compiles, tests"
task :all => [:default]

desc "Compiles, tests"
task :default => [:compile, :unit_test, :package]

desc "Update the version information for the build"
task :version do
  builder = BUILD_NUMBER,
    :product   => PRODUCT,
    :copyright => COPYRIGHT,
    :company   => COMPANY
  builder.write COMMON_ASSEMBLY_INFO

desc "Prepares the working directory for a new build"
task :clean do
  Dir.mkdir output_dir unless exists?(output_dir)

desc "Compiles the app"
task :compile => [:clean, :version] do
  MSBuildRunner.compile :compilemode  => COMPILE_TARGET,
    :solutionfile => SOLUTION,
    :clrversion   => CLR_VERSION

desc "Runs unit tests"
task :unit_test => :compile do
  runner = :compilemode => COMPILE_TARGET,
    :source       => 'src',
    :tools        => 'tools',
    :results_file => File.join(output_dir, "nunit.xml")
  runner.executeTests Dir.glob("src/*Test*").map { |proj| proj.split('/').last }

desc "Displays a list of tasks"
task :help do
  taskHash = Hash[*(`rake.cmd -T`.split(/\n/).collect { |l| l.match(/rake (\S+)\s+\#\s(.+)/).to_a }.collect { |l| [l[1], l[2]] }).flatten] 

  indent = "                          "

  puts "rake #{indent}#Runs the 'default' task"

  taskHash.each_pair do |key, value|
    if key.nil?
    puts "rake #{key}#{indent.slice(0, indent.length - key.length)}##{value}"

desc "Packages the binaries into a zip"
task :package => :compile do
  source_files = Dir.glob("src/#{MAIN_PROJECT}/bin/#{COMPILE_TARGET}/**/*")
  dest_files ={ |f| f.sub("src/#{MAIN_PROJECT}/bin/#{COMPILE_TARGET}/", "#{MAIN_PROJECT}/")}, "#{MAIN_PROJECT}.zip"), 'w') do |zipfile|
    0.upto(source_files.size-1) do |i|
        puts "Zipping #{source_files[i]} to #{dest_files[i]}"
        zipfile.add(dest_files[i], source_files[i])

def output_dir
  if ENV.keys.include?('CC_BUILD_ARTIFACTS')
    return 'results'