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NAnt : Little Pretty Automatic

, 17 Oct 2004
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Some little utility tasks for NAnt

Introduction

Do you automate your build process? I didn't, until found that one of my ASP.NET projects required too much handwork on every release: build, copy production files, update config, etc.

Ever heard of makefiles? Me too. Endless text files stuffed with ciphered spells, dashes and dots that do all magic for your build process. Forget about this — now we have NAnt.

Born in Java world and brought to .NET, NAnt let us build our programs with easy using simple human-readable XML build scripts.

Warming Up

After spending several days on learning NAnt's documentation, I got the following build script for my project:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<project name="MyProject" default="production" basedir="..">

    <description>MyProject NANT build script</description>

    <target name="build" 
    description="Compile MyProject using Release configuration">
 <solution solutionfile="MyProject.sln" configuration="Release">
     <webmap>
  <map url="http://localhost/MyProject/Web.csproj" 
  path="Web\Web.csproj" />
  <map url="http://localhost/AchService/AchService.csproj" 
  path="AchService\AchService.csproj" />
     </webmap>
     <excludeprojects>
  <includes name="Tests\Tests.csproj"/>
     </excludeprojects>
 </solution>
    </target>

    <target name="produce" description="Copy production files">
 <!-- Copy build results to Production folder -->
 <delete dir="Build\Production" failonerror="false" />
 <copy todir="Build\Production">
     <fileset basedir="Web">
  <includes name="**.aspx" />
  <includes name="**.ascx" />
  <includes name="**.config" />
  <includes name="**.gif" />
  <includes name="**.jpg" />
  <includes name="**.mdb" />
     </fileset>
 </copy>
 <!-- Reset attributes to Normal -->
 <attrib normal="true">
     <fileset basedir="Build\Production">
  <includes name="**" />
     </fileset>
 </attrib>
 <!-- Update connection string settings -->
 <xmlpoke file="Build\Production\Web.config" 
     xpath="/configuration/MyProjectConfiguration/add
      [@key='ConnectionString']/@value"
     value="Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;
      Data Source=D:\inetpub\wwwroot\Dev.MyProject.com\db\MyProject.mdb; 
      User ID=Admin; Password=" />
 <!-- Update path to e-mail templates -->
 <xmlpoke file="Build\Production\Web.config" 
     xpath="/configuration/MyProjectMailerConfiguration/add
     [@key='TemplatesFolder']/@value"
     value="D:\inetpub\wwwroot\Dev.MyProject.com\EmailTemplates" />
 <!-- Update path to reports templates -->
 <xmlpoke file="Build\Production\Web.config" 
     xpath="/configuration/MyProjectConfiguration/add
     [@key='ReportsTemplatesFolder']/@value"
     value="D:\inetpub\wwwroot\Dev.MyProject.com\
      landlord\Reports\Templates" />
    </target>

    <target name="production" depends="build, produce" 
     description="Build MyProject and copy production files">
 <!-- Target just refers to corresponding tasks -->
    </target>

</project>

The script builds the project, copies it to production folder and changes some key values in *.config files.

I was happy enough, but the project was growing and UI design was changing. I noticed that my script doesn't perform as expected. The problem was in the 'copy' part of the script. Take a look: to build the project, it's enough to specify solution file and map web projects to local path — the rest NAnt does itself. But when I copy cooked files, I have to specify each possible type in copy routine.

 ...
 <solution solutionfile="MyProject.sln" configuration="Release">
     <webmap>
  <map url="http://localhost/MyProject/Web.csproj" 
   path="Web\Web.csproj" />
  <map url="http://localhost/AchService/AchService.csproj"
   path="AchService\AchService.csproj" />
     </webmap>
     <excludeprojects>
  <includes name="Tests\Tests.csproj"/>
     </excludeprojects>
 </solution>
 ...
 <copy todir="Build\Production">
     <fileset basedir="Web">
  <includes name="**.aspx" />
  <includes name="**.ascx" />
  <includes name="**.config" />
  <includes name="**.gif" />
  <includes name="**.jpg" />
  <includes name="**.mdb" />
     </fileset>
 </copy>
 ...

Guess what happens when my designer adds some Flash animation to the UI?

Do It Yourself

Fortunately, NAnt was designed with extensibility in mind. And the solution is simple — develop your own task for the problem you faced.

NAnt's task is simply a descendant of NAnt.Core.Task class with overridden ExecuteTask method. The only trick is to name your assembly properly: the name should look like YourAssemblyNameTasks.dll. The assembly should be placed to %nant%\bin folder. The rest will be done by NAnt using .NET reflection magic. I developed extensions for various software in the past, but seems task development for the NAnt was the easiest.

Effortless Copy

After spending couple of days on spare time coding, I got the task that makes 'production' copy of any ASP.NET project. Now my script looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<project name="MyProject" default="production" basedir="..">

    <description>MyProject NANT build script</description>

    <target name="build" 
    description="Compile MyProject using Release configuration">
 <solution solutionfile="MyProject.sln" configuration="Release">
     <webmap>
  <map url="http://localhost/MyProject/Web.csproj" 
  path="Web\Web.csproj" />
  <map url="http://localhost/AchService/AchService.csproj" 
  path="AchService\AchService.csproj" />
     </webmap>
     <excludeprojects>
  <includes name="Tests\Tests.csproj"/>
     </excludeprojects>
 </solution>
    </target>

    <target name="produce" description="Copy production files">
 <!-- Copy build results to Production folder -->
 <delete dir="Build\Production" failonerror="false" />
 <copywebproject project="Web\Web.csproj" 
todir="Build\Production" configuration="Release" />
 <copywebproject project="AchService\AchService.csproj" 
 todir="Build\Production\AchService" configuration="Release" />
 <!-- Reset attributes to Normal -->
 <attrib normal="true">
     <fileset basedir="Build\Production">
  <includes name="**" />
     </fileset>
 </attrib>
 <!-- Update connection string settings -->
 <xmlpoke file="Build\Production\Web.config" 
     xpath="/configuration/MyProjectConfiguration/add
     [@key='ConnectionString']/@value"
     value="Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;
      Data Source=D:\inetpub\wwwroot\Dev.MyProject.com\db\MyProject.mdb; 
      User ID=Admin; Password=" />
 <!-- Update path to e-mail templates -->
 <xmlpoke file="Build\Production\Web.config" 
     xpath="/configuration/MyProjectMailerConfiguration/add
     [@key='TemplatesFolder']/@value"
     value="D:\inetpub\wwwroot\Dev.MyProject.com\EmailTemplates" />
 <!-- Update path to reports templates -->
 <xmlpoke file="Build\Production\Web.config" 
     xpath="/configuration/MyProjectConfiguration/add
     [@key='ReportsTemplatesFolder']/@value"
     value="D:\inetpub\wwwroot\Dev.MyProject.com\
      landlord\Reports\Templates" />
    </target>

    <target name="production" depends="build, produce" 
     description="Build MyProject and copy production files">
 <!-- Target just refers to corresponding tasks -->
    </target>

</project>

The only thing you have to care of now, is to have all production files included in the project. You can do this right-clicking on the file name in Solution Explorer and selecting 'Include in Project' command.

<copywebproject> Syntax

<copywebproject project="PATH TO PROJECT" todir="TARGET PATH" 
  configuration="CONFIGURATION OF INTEREST" />

PATH TO PROJECT is an absolute or relative path to the web project you want to copy.

TARGET PATH is an absolute or relative path to the target directory.

The task uses CONFIGURATION OF INTEREST attribute to obtain path to compiled project files.

Note that <copywebproject> task supports only web project written in C#, VB.NET or any compatible .NET language.

History

  • Version 1.0 so far.

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

About the Author

Alex Kolesnichenko
Software Developer (Senior) w2bi, Inc
United States United States
Started professional career in software development back in 2000, in Ukraine. Founder and owner of a boutique software company called ByteGems.com Software. Currently employed full time at w2bi, Inc in New Jersey USA.
 
My buzzwords at the moment: .NET, C#, C++, Win32, ATL, MFC, SQL, ASP.NET, WinForms, WebForms, MVC, EF, LINQ, Sockets, TCP/IP, Remoting.

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionHow can I input user name and password when I exec a task PinmemberYouzelin5-Nov-11 21:33 
Questionversioning in .net 2005 Pinmemberkunal_singh9-May-06 20:11 
QuestionUsing NAnt I need to Customize the Installation PinmemberChowdaryR29-Aug-05 17:53 
Generalgui to build nant files Pinmemberpaul heap24-Jun-05 16:58 
GeneralRe: gui to build nant files Pinmemberstormelf18-Sep-07 6:39 
GeneralBuilding .Net ASP Project Using NAnt PinsussAnonymous21-Jun-05 22:10 
GeneralNant send mail PinmemberSoumik Ghosh26-Apr-05 21:46 
GeneralSeparate Domain with vssget PinmemberDattaSha25-Apr-05 5:14 
GeneralNANT Incremental Build PinmemberSoumik Ghosh19-Apr-05 23:01 
GeneralRe: NANT Incremental Build PinsussAnonymous21-Apr-05 19:47 
G'day Soumik, try
 



 

fwiw, I don't understand why the comments below think the NAnt docs are sub-par...I think they're really good! And you can always start digging into the source code, sometimes this is the best way to learn.
 
peace
si

GeneralRe: NANT Incremental Build PinsussAnonymous21-Apr-05 20:04 
GeneralConfig Override File Pinmemberdjsdjsdjsdjs29-Oct-04 3:56 
GeneralRe: Config Override File PinmemberAlex Kolesnichenko2-Nov-04 0:39 
GeneralAutomate creating building project PinmemberDipeshKhakhkhar22-Oct-04 15:28 
GeneralCopyWebProjectTask Pinmemberattackweasel18-Oct-04 4:08 
GeneralMentality PinprotectorMarc Clifton18-Oct-04 1:23 
GeneralRe: Mentality PinmemberAlex Kolesnichenko18-Oct-04 2:03 
GeneralRe: Mentality Pinmemberattackweasel18-Oct-04 3:47 
GeneralRe: Mentality PinmemberKevin McFarlane22-Oct-04 10:18 
GeneralRe: Mentality PinmemberJerryClinesmith21-Oct-04 16:35 
GeneralRe: Mentality PinmemberDGraham3-Nov-04 1:00 
GeneralRe: Mentality PinmemberTom.B.11-Jun-06 3:49 

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