Mark Gilbert's Blog

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I’ve added a new tool to my growing collection: NAntRunner, a lightweight, standalone, GUI interface for NAnt:


You can browse to multiple NAnt scripts, and they will be saved (so they will appear the next time you start NAntRunner).  Selecting one from the list and clicking Run will do just that, and display the output to the text box on the lower half of the screen.

Why did I want a GUI interface for NAnt?  Frankly, I got tired of creating Windows Explorer shortcuts that would run the script via the NAnt executable (that practice alone saved me time from having to type in the command “nant.exe”).  Additionally, I have half a dozen build scripts that I use currently and I’m just getting started.  Having a tool that could roll up and manage many scripts was an attractive feature.

Before I built this, though, I looked around to see if someone had beaten me to the punch.  I found a couple of plug-ins for Visual Studio (Jay Flowers‘ Studio hack and the Sharp Builder toolset) which would do basically what NAntRunner does, except from within the IDE.  Why did I want a standalone interface, separate from Visual Studio?  I am in the process of moving my company to automating our builds with CruiseControl, and NAnt is going to be a key piece to the overall solution.  Several of our projects are not .NET, and therefore not in Visual Studio, so an IDE plug-in just wouldn’t be useful or appropriate across the board.

Additionally, I wanted something that I could use to quickly test a new build script, to see if it was working the way I intended it to.  Having to fire up VS just to do this would be a hassle.  For those developers in the office that don’t have VS, it wouldn’t be possible.

The first official release, 0.1, allows you to select the NAnt executable on your machine, as well as one or more build scripts.  The only command line option for NAnt that NAntRunner supports at this point is “buildfile” – just enough to specify the script itself.  I may eventually get around to adding support for the other command line options.

The NAntRunner page on my blog has both the executable (single .exe file) and full source code for the application.  To run NAntRunner you’ll need the .NET 3.5 Framework and NAnt (of course).

Try it out and let me know what you think.  I’d also be very interested to hear what features you’d like to see in it next.

May 20, 2008 - Posted by | Agile, Tools and Toys

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