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Chapter 14. Build management > Build servers and continuous builds

14.3. Build servers and continuous builds

Though the power and flexibility of a build system like Maven is great by itself, there’s an added benefit we’ve only briefly mentioned so far. If you recall from the introduction, in order to have a new APK built and tested after every commit, we need two things: the tools to build it and the machinery that kicks off the build process. We’ve seen at some length how to achieve the first part, but kicking off the build was done manually so far. What’s missing is a tool that hooks into our version control system and decides when to trigger a new build. This is what build servers are for, and we’ll show you how to use one of the many available that has proven itself.

Having a build server in place has countless benefits. First and foremost, it can build your application, and run its test suite, completely automated. With good test coverage, this allows you to always have a stable application package whenever the tests pass after a commit. The build server can make all output files available as downloads, so you always have a single place where people can get their hands on the latest development snapshot. While a build server is building, it produces and archives all sorts of helpful output. Test reports, visual timelines and summaries of succeeded and failed builds, the amount of time it takes for a single test or the entire build to run, changelogs and links to commits in the source code control system—all this is provided via the build server’s interface. Figure 14.10 shows a snapshot of the build server we use at Qype, and a timeline of the build we recently set up for our Android application.


  

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