12.2 Automating Your Build Process with MSBuild

NAnt, the automated build framework modeled after Java’s Ant, is a terrific tool that’s garnered a huge following across the .NET world. Automated build tools are a critical piece of infrastructure to have in place if you’re looking at your development cycle as a value process—if it’s well structured and as lean as possible, each step of the process brings more value to the product.

The hitch with NAnt is that it’s a completely separate entity from Visual Studio. The NAnt build process takes place outside of your current working environment, which means some information may be duplicated, and you lose out on the ability to bring larger processes into your Visual Studio session.

MSBuild, an automated build platform that ships with .NET 2.0, offers developers an attractive alternative to NAnt. With MSBuild, you can use the same tools to create your software when you build in the IDE, via the command line, or in some automated CI system.

MSBuild at a Glance



Version covered

2.0.50727.42 (.NET 2.0 version)

Home page


Power Tools page



Manage your project’s builds and tie into automated continuous integration processes

License type

Distributed with .NET 2.0 SDK

Online resources

Blogs, Wiki, forum, online reference

Supported Frameworks

.NET 1.1 (with ...

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