10/21/2007 2:14 PM
Sometimes building a software product from the source code requires more than just compiling. That is the case especially for big software systems where the build process consists of numerous steps.
A long long time ago (don't ask when :) the MAKE utility appeared to solve this problem. It offered a rather powerful scripting language for describing the build process. But time went by and new utilities came to substitute MAKE. They didn't have the drawbacks peculiar to MAKE and used XML as a script format. One of such tools was Ant and its .NET clone named NAnt. Microsoft suggested their own build tool too (well, that was expected :) under MSBuild name. Here I would not devle into MSBuild and Ant comparison, but I am going to list the things that really make MSBuild attractive compared to NAnt:
- Tight integartion with Visual Studio IDE. Actually VS projects are MSBuild scripts. And modifying the project means just modifying the MSBuild script. And any compile profiles chosen from the IDE (Debug/Release, Platform variants) are just conditions in the project script.
- MSBuild is a part of the .NET framework. That means you do not need to download MSBuild separetely as it is done for NAnt. And you may build any VS project (which, as said above, is just an MSBuild script) with only .NET framework installed (neither VS nor .NET SDK are required)
Finally I would like to give a link to the solution describing how to write MSBuild scripts (and use them from VS) targeting both .NET 1.1 and 2.0 versions (but not the default 2.0 only). Here it is: http://blogs.msdn.com/jomo_fisher/archive/2005/04/22/410903.aspx