Best Build Tools for C# Developers

Build tools help developers to automate their build process, streamline the development workflow, and expedite the build and release cycle. In this programming tutorial, we will discuss the top 5 build tools in C# that you can use to boost your productivity.

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What are Build Tools in C# and .NET?

Build tools are used to automate the build process to help developers create and deploy applications and be more productive. They can also improve the quality of your software since they run automated tests at each build.

The build process includes running compilers, linking files, and bundling the compiled application with any necessary libraries. Build tools are crucial for larger projects, as they automate the time-consuming process of building applications.

This process can be used to compile, link, and package source code into libraries and executables, ensuring that all necessary files are included in the build and any errors are caught early on in the software development process.

By automating the steps needed for deployment, build tools can save your time doing them manually every time there is a change in the source code files. Additionally, build tools can be used to generate documentation and run tests against an application before the build for deployment is generated.

C# Build Tools

Build tools are needed because they make automation easier. Developers can use C# build tools to compile their code without having to run Visual Studio by hand every time they want to build a project, which can save time if you are always making changes or testing new features in Visual Studio.

We highlight the best build tools for C# developers in the sections below.

Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps

Using Azure DevOps is one of the most convenient and efficient ways to build your code in one place and then deploy it seamlessly anywhere you want to. The platform has support for both Windows and Linux environments as well as containers like Docker or Azure App Service Web Apps (WA).

This makes it easy to deploy your application into production, whether it is running on premises or in the cloud using Microsoft Azure services such as Cosmos DB or Kubernetes clusters hosted on AKS (Azure container service).

Azure DevOps includes Visual Studio Online, Team Foundation Server, and Git. It also includes a variety of other tools for managing the build process. It is free for up to a maximum of five users.

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Cake Build Automation Tool

Cake Build Automation

Cake is a cross-platform, and free build automation system for .NET developers written in C# for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. It can build, test, and deploy software across different environments. Cake uses a domain-specific language (DSL) to describe the tasks, such as copying files and folders, compressing files, compiling code, running unit tests, and so forth.

Cake uses Roslyn as its compiler platform, allowing you to use the same capabilities available in Visual Studio when writing your code – including IntelliSense support. Cake comes with extensive documentation and examples. This makes it easy for programmers to start their first project.

FinalBuilder Build Software

FinalBuilder Build Automation software

FinalBuilder is a cross-platform tool that facilitates the creation, management, and execution of automated builds for projects. Developers also get an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) for developing sophisticated build automation tasks. FinalBuilder simplifies the automated build process and eliminates the need to alter XML or write scripts. Before connecting your build scripts to Continua CI, Jenkins, or another continuous integration server, you may design and debug them graphically.

Jenkins Open Source Build Automation Tool

Jenkins Build Tool

Jenkins is a Java-based open-source automation tool that can help you build, test, and deploy your application based on a defined workflow. It is adept at creating and testing your applications continuously.

Jenkins is free and cross-platform, with extensive documentation and support. Jenkins was created in 2004 by Kohsuke Kawaguchi and was later released as an open-source tool in 2006 under the GNU General Public License 2.0 (GPLv2). Since then, it has quickly become one of the most widely used and popular CI automation tools in the world.

Programmers can Jenkins to execute build tasks, such as compiling, running unit tests, creating packages, and deploying applications. Jenkins also provides plug-ins for reporting and integration with other tools like version control systems, issue tracking systems, etc. It has a robust plug-in ecosystem with many plug-ins to significantly extend the functionality of Jenkins.

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When it comes to building C# and .NET applications, MSBuild is the de facto standard. MSBuild is the build engine for .NET that has existed for quite a while and is well-documented, making it a very reliable developer tool.

MSBuild is a command-line tool that compiles source code into assemblies, publishes binary versions of your application, and packages it all up so that you can deploy your application to production.

You can install the MS Build tool on your computer to run it from the command line, including all necessary dependencies. Once you have the Microsoft Build Tools installed, you can build your application from the command line by running the command MSBuild, followed by the path to your solution file.

MSBuild’s extensibility makes it possible for many third-party tools to be integrated with it as well. If you’re using Visual Studio, you don’t need to worry about the details of how MSBuild works–select your build configuration and let Visual Studio take care of it.

Team Foundation Server uses MSBuild to compile and package your application whenever developers check it in or publish an artifact to TFS. In addition, Visual Studio provides an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) for interacting with MSBuild at the command line via project files (.csproj) or solution files (.sln).

Final Thoughts on C# Build Tools and Build Automation Software

The choice of a build tool is important since it will influence the development process in its entirety. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right tool, including the automated builds, source control integration, and custom reporting to support your development team’s workflow, the programming language or technology used, the deployment environment, and any external dependencies.

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Joydip Kanjilal
Joydip Kanjilal
A Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in ASP.NET, Speaker, and Author of several books and articles. More than 25 years of experience in IT with more than 18 years in Microsoft .NET and its related technologies. He was selected as a Community Credit Winner at several times. He has authored 8 books and more than 500 articles in some of the most reputed sites worldwide including MSDN, Info World, CodeMag, Tech Beacon, Tech Target, Developer, CodeGuru, and more.

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