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Good-bye NAnt, Hello FinalBuilder

I have been using NAnt since around version 0.81. It is more powerful than batch files, but still as annoying. Unfortunately, NAnt has stagnated at version 0.85. It can't compile solutions, so you have to shell out to MSBuild in order to do that.  Anything more complex than copying, zipping, and compiling turns into a morass of back referencing spaghetti. The one thing that could had kept NAnt shinning would have been a nice editor that was NAnt aware.

The only thing I've found to edit NAnt scripts in a contextual fashion was Nantpad. Unfortunately, this is priced above the sweet spot price for mISV. I've found that this price is around $150 for most developer tools. Anymore than that, has to be justified in doing more than one thing. My personal feeling is that NAnt is going to go the way of NDoc. The reasoning behind that could be a whole post in itself, but I'm not going to that today.

Enter Finalbuilder. I have been following this tool since the time it was a one man operation. Back then it was listed with AtoZed Software's website. The company has since grown and now host their own website. Back then I was a Delphi and VB6 programmer, doing system-type programming. I built tools for automating business processes, much like what FinalBuilder does now.

The beauty of FinalBuilder, is that I had only had to look at the help once, in all the years I had used it for work. Not only is it fairly intuitive to use, but it is a joy to work with. It doesn't get in my way. I know that Joel Spolsky uses it to do regular system maintenance activity at FogCreek. You can read what he says here: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/news/20020813.html

FinalBuilder is out of the sweet pricing spot I mentioned before, but it can justify the price, because it does the automation well for many things, not just doing daily builds. Just as Joel's team, I'm going to be using it to automate several of my system maintenance tasks.

I already been using it for building Beta 1. It has saved me about 45 minutes for the build time. The other big allure is that I now have a repeatable build process. This has also cut down on the manual typos that can creep in when doing NAnt scripts. I want to absolutely automate anything that I'm doing. I just don't have the time to be monkeying around, especially now that I'm much older (40 in a couple months). Monkey businesses is for younger people.

I find that FinalBuilder is the most polished build system in this class of software produts. I have tried several others. Here are the competitors:

I haven't used Automated Build Studio, but to be honest, I don't see how it could beat FinalBuilder. I think that the main reason for this, is that I, as a customer, have access to Vincent, the creator. That personal relationship/touch will trump any other emotional argument every time. I know a couple mISVs that use Automated Build Studio, and they tell me that they don't have that personal touch with that product. I always favor smaller companies, especially because of this personal touch. This touch is what is missing in today's business environment.

I'm going to cut this short here. I was in the hospital earlier today, and I'm still under the weather. I'm surprised that I was able to be this coherent at all. Maybe I just write better when I'm on drugs, Promethazine at this moment. LOL. Anyways, I hear my bed calling to me.

posted @ Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:02 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

Posted in: Code, .NET Tools

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