List of build automation software

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Build automation involves scripting or automating the process of compiling computer source code into binary code. Below is a list of notable tools associated with automating build processes

Make-based tools[edit]

  • GNU make, a widely used make implementation with a large set of extensions
  • make, a classic Unix build tool
  • mk, developed originally for Version 10 Unix and Plan 9, and ported to Unix as part of plan9port
  • MPW Make, developed for the classic Mac OS and similar to but not compatible with Unix make; the modern macOS (OS X) comes with both GNU make and BSD make; available as part of Macintosh Programmer's Workshop as a free, unsupported download from Apple
  • nmake
  • PVCS-make, basically follows the concept of make but with a noticeable set of unique syntax features[1]

Non-Make-based tools[edit]

  • Apache Ant, popular for Java platform development and uses an XML file format
  • Apache Buildr, open-source build system, Rake-based, gives full power of scripting in Ruby with integral support for most abilities wanted in a build system
  • Apache Maven, a Java platform tool for dependency management and automated software build
  • ASDF LISP buildsystem for building LISP projects
  • A-A-P, a Python based build tool
  • Bazel, Google's own build tool, now publicly available in Beta.
  • BitBake, a Python-based tool with the special focus of distributions and packages for embedded Linux cross compilation
  • Boot, a Java build and dependency management tool written in Clojure
  • Buck, a build system developed and used by Facebook
  • b2 (or bjam), evolved from PerforceJam but is more powerful than make and is part of the Boost Project project. It can be used without all of Boost. It is called
  • Cabal, common architecture for building applications and libraries in the programming language Haskell
  • FinalBuilder, for Windows software developers. FinalBuilder provides a graphical IDE to both create and run build projects in a single application. Final builder also includes the ability the execute unit test, deploy web projects or install and test applications.
  • Flowtracer
  • Gradle, an open-source build and automation system with a Groovy-based domain specific language (DSL), combining features of Apache Ant and Apache Maven with additional features like a reliable incremental build
  • IncrediBuild
  • Leiningen, a tool providing commonly performed tasks in Clojure projects, including build automation
  • MSBuild, the Microsoft build engine
  • NAnt, a tool similar to Ant for the .NET Framework
  • Octopus Deploy, an automated deployment and release management server for deployment of ASP.NET applications, Windows Services and databases
  • Perforce Jam, a generally enhanced, ground-up tool which is similar to Make
  • Psake, domain-specific language and build automation tool written in PowerShell
  • Rake, a Ruby-based build tool
  • sbt (Scala Build Tool), a build tool built on a Scala-based DSL
  • SCons, Python-based, with integrated functionality similar to autoconf/automake
  • Stack, a tool to build Haskell projects, manage their dependencies (compilers and libraries), and for testing and benchmarking.
  • Tweaker, allowing task definitions to be written in any languages (or intermixed languages) while providing a consistent interface for them all
  • Visual Build, a graphical user interface software for software builds
  • Waf is a Python-based tool for configuring, compiling and installing applications. It is a replacement for other tools such as Autotools, Scons, CMake or Ant

Build script generation tools[edit]

  • BuildAMation, a multi-platform tool, using a declarative syntax in C# scripts, that builds C/C++ code in a terminal using multiple threads, or generates project files for Microsoft Visual Studio, Xcode or MakeFiles.
  • configure
  • CMake, a cross-platform tool that generates files for the native build environment, such as makefiles for Unix or Workspace files for Visual Studio
  • GNU Build System (aka autotools), a collection of tools for portable builds. These in particular include Autoconf and Automake, cross-platform tools that together generate appropriate localized makefiles.
  • GYP (Generate Your Projects) - Created for Chromium; it is another tool that generates files for the native build environment
  • imake
  • Meson build system, a multi-platform build system optimized for performance and usability
  • OpenMake Software Meister
  • Premake, a Lua-based tool for making makefiles, Visual Studio files, Xcode projects, and more
  • qmake

Continuous integration tools[edit]

  • AnthillPro, build automation with pipeline support for deployment automation and testing. Cross-platform, cross-language
  • Bamboo, continuous integration software
  • Apache Continuum - discontinued
  • Buildbot, a Python-based software development continuous integration tool which automates the compile/test cycle
  • BuildIT, a free graphical build or task tool for Windows with an emphasis on simplicity and ease of use
  • Buildout, a Python-based build system for creating, assembling and deploying applications from multiple parts
  • CABIE Continuous Automated Build and Integration Environment, open source, written in Perl
  • CruiseControl, for Java and .NET
  • DeployBot, a hosted continuous integration service
  • Hudson, an extensible continuous integration engine
  • Jenkins, an extensible continuous integration engine, forked from Hudson
  • Team Foundation Server, an extensible continuous integration engine from Microsoft
  • Visual Studio Team Services, provides Azure hosted build capabilities
  • TeamCity
  • Travis CI, a hosted continuous integration service
  • Shippable, a hosted cloud platform that provides hosted continuous integration, deployment, and testing to GitHub and Bitbucket repositories

Configuration management tools[edit]

Meta-build tools[edit]

A meta-build tool is capable of building many different projects using a subset of existing buildtools. Since these usually provide a list of packages to build, they are also often called package managers.

  • Pkgsrc, package manager of NetBSD and other operating systems.
  • Portage, package manager of the Gentoo Linux distribution
  • Nix, functional package manager for the Nixos Linux distribution
  • Guix, functional package manager for the GuixSD Linux distribution
  • Collective Knowledge, cross-platform package manager to rebuild software environment for research workflows

Other tools[edit]

  • checkinstall, checkinstall is a program that monitors an installation procedure, and creates a standard package for your distribution.
  • Open Build Service, a hosted service to help build packages for various Linux distributions

Comparison of build automation software[edit]

Tool name Operating system Build language Description language License
A-A-P Unix, Windows, macOS C recipe GNU GPL
Ant cross-platform Java XML Apache License 2.0
AnthillPro cross-platform cross-language Wraps Make, Ant, Maven, MsBuild, Nant, etc. for controlled build, deploy, test processes. Proprietary
Bamboo cross-platform cross-language continuous integration Proprietary
BuildAMation Windows, macOS, Linux C, C++, Objective-C C# for build scripts, XML for high level dependencies New BSD License
Buildr cross-platform Java Ruby Apache License 2.0
Boot cross-platform Clojure, Java Clojure Eclipse Public License
b2 (or bjam) cross-platform cross-language uses Jamfile Boost Software License, Version 1.0
Capistrano cross-platform Ruby XML MIT License
CMake cross-platform cross-language uses CMakeLists.txt file New BSD License
Continuum cross-platform Java  ? Apache License 2.0
CruiseControl cross-platform cross-language XML BSD-style license
ElectricCommander cross-platform cross-language flexible including gmake, bmake, emake and ant scripts Proprietary
FinalBuilder Windows cross-language graphical IDE with support for Ant/NAnt, MSBuild, JScript, VBScript, IronPython, PowerShell Proprietary
Gradle cross-platform cross-language Groovy based DSL Apache License 2.0
Jenkins cross-platform cross-language continuous integration MIT License
Leiningen cross-platform Clojure-Java Clojure Eclipse Public License
make cross-platform cross-language uses Makefile Various
Maven cross-platform Java Project Object Model Apache License 2.0
Meson build system cross-platform cross-language custom DSL Apache License 2.0
MPW Make Classic Mac OS  ?  ?  ?
MSBuild Windows cross-language XML MIT
NAnt cross-platform .NET XML GNU GPL
nmake Unix, Linux, Windows/Interix cross-language uses Makefile  ?
Open Build Service Unix, Linux, Windows cross-language uses various package and image description formats (spec, dsc, ARCH, kiwi) GNU GPL
OpenMake Software Meister Unix, Linux, Windows, z/OS multi-language (Java, C, C++, C#, database, 4GL, Cobol, Assembler) ActivePerl Proprietary with free license (Artistic License) for small teams
Perforce Jam cross-platform cross-language uses Jamfile Proprietary, free license for open source projects
Rake cross-platform Ruby Ruby MIT License
sbt (Simple Build Tool) cross-platform Scala, Java Scala based DSL New BSD License
SCons cross-platform cross-language Python MIT License
Team Foundation Server (Team Build (vNext) - Post-2015) cross-platform cross-language MSBuild, Windows Presentation Foundation, JSON - REST interfaces, Programmatic (Can generate definitions through code) Proprietary
Team Foundation Server (Team Build - Pre-2015) Windows cross-language MSBuild, Windows Presentation Foundation Proprietary
Tweaker (build tool) cross-platform cross-language Any (Ant, bash, batch, C, Erlang, Java, SQL, and VBScript by default, with 3rd party interface for extensions) GNU GPLv3
Visual Build Windows cross-language XML Proprietary
Waf cross-platform cross-language Python New BSD License
Tool name Operating system Build language Description language License


  1. ^ mailing list discussion about porting PVCS-make scripts to GNU-make, From: Paul D. Smith, Subject: Re: PVCS to GNU, Date: 2003-02-25

External links[edit]