What is build automation?

Build automation is the process of creating and building software without direct human intervention. With build automation, tasks that were traditionally the responsibility of a developer are standardized, to become scripted, repeatable, automated steps to moving a new software forward to its final form.

Without automation, software development follows a single-track, step-by-step progression from architecture to deployment. However, this results in a cumbersome, slow, manual process that slows the lifecycle and leads to errors.

With automation, however, an organization can become flexible, agile, and responsive to changing demands of the business landscape. Because many software build processes are repetitive, they are excellent candidates for automation. And build automation sets the stage for a number of benefits, while providing the foundation for more sophisticated DevOps processes.

Often, build automation involves creating repeatable, standardized processes for compiling source code into binary code, packaging or compressing binary code, creating installers, and running automated tests, and updating to a centralized repository.

A build process may be partially automated, but is generally considered fully automated when these steps require no direct human intervention, can be performed at any time, and use only the information contained within the centralized source code control repository.

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What are the benefits of build automation?

Build automation is critical to DevOps, as it must be established before an organization can implement other DevOps processes, including continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment. In addition to advancing DevOps processes toward maturity and accelerating its benefits, build automation on its own provides a number of benefits, including:

1. Fewer Errors

Manual processes have more variables, and therefore, a higher number of errors than automated, standardized processes.

2. Faster Cycle

When steps are automated to follow one after the other, it streamlines the software delivery process and eliminates time wasted waiting on a developer to move a project forward to the next stage. Additionally, with fewer errors, less time is required to investigate and address problems in the software build.

3. Efficiency

A precursor to automation is standardizing and processes, eliminating unnecessary steps and duplication of effort. This makes the build process more efficient, and resources can be channeled to higher-impact tasks.

4. Transparency

An automated build provides visibility into the process, making it easier to analyze, and identify potential roadblocks or opportunities for improvement. It also expands process visibility to other stakeholders, such as project managers, who can access granular information about different process stages without waiting for employee updates.

5. Scalability

Automated processes are infinitely more scalable than manual processes. As an application grows in size or complexity, build automation can support and enable that growth without requiring enormous investments in additional resources.

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Build Automation Software

Build automation software is a pre-built application that can be integrated to automate the software build process. Ideally, build automation software supports Continuous Integration, the frequent updating of code in small packages to a centralized repository, which is fundamental to DevOps.

Selecting the right build automation software can help accelerate these benefits, while ensuring that an organization meets their current and future development needs. Build automation software is integrated into the process, and should include tools to automate the entire build and packaging process, eliminating any need for manual intervention or manual review.

When evaluating software options, look at the available integrations carefully to ensure you make the right choice for your organization. This is important because the build automation software must work with the applications, software, and tools already in place at your organization. Circumvent the need for costly, time-consuming customized scripted interfaces by selecting a software that already includes pre-constructed, working APIs that meet your needs.

Build automation, implemented successfully, can help companies to deliver better-quality software, in a faster time frame, at a lower cost, with less risk.

Continue learning about build automation software so you can choose the right tool for you.

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