common build and deploy infrastructure for .NET
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.
Acme Example


1. What is CM.NET

CM.NET is a build framework for .NET.  While my plans are for it to support both
MSBuild and NAnt, it is currently built out only for MSBuild.

At its core, CM.NET is a way to attack the Monolithic Build File by allowing
you to modularize your build scripts in a more cohesive fashion.  It uses
an observer-like pattern (which works out of the box in MSBuild, and with the
help of a couple custom tasks in NAnt) to allow scripts to wire themselves
into the build process in such a way that scripts can remain (mostly) ignorant
of each other.

While CM.NET is first and foremost a build library, it does have some tasks
that have been designed to help with deploy and dependency management.

CM.NET consists of a set of MSBuild scripts, a set of MSBuild tasks, and a GUI deployer.

2. MSBuild Scripts

The MSBuild scipts (with a .targets extension) are designed to allow you to add
functionality to your build simply by including additional targets files. The key
to understanding how this works is by examining Default.targets. The Build target
is defined in that file, as well as the core targets of the build process. However,
the targets have an empty body; they simply depend on a set of targets defined in properties:

<Target Name="Build" DependsOnTargets="
      $(PostBuildTargets)" />

<Target Name="Compile" DependsOnTargets="Clean;$(PreCompileTargets);$(CompileTargets);$(PostCompileTargets)" />
<Target Name="UnitTest" DependsOnTargets="Compile;$(PreUnitTestTargets);$(UnitTestTargets);$(PostUnitTestTargets)" />
<Target Name="Package" DependsOnTargets="$(PrePackageTargets);$(PackageTargets);$(PostPackageTargets)" />
<Target Name="Deploy" DependsOnTargets="$(PreDeployTargets);$(DeployTargets);$(PostDeployTargets)" />
<Target Name="FunctionalTest" DependsOnTargets="$(PreFunctionalTestTargets);$(FunctionalTestTargets);$(PostFunctionalTestTargets)" />

The idea is to define a workflow that other scripts can hook into simply by appending to
the relevant properties. This allows build scripts to be developed in isolation, without
knowing anything about the other build scripts that will be added (it's an example of the observer pattern).
For example, if you want your project to use clean the web bin directory during the Clean step, you can wire
into the process as shown below:


== Default.Targets ==
As described above, Defaults.targets is responsible for defining the build process that
other scripts wire themselves into.  The only functional task it does is to recreate
the build directory during the Clean step.

The build process is defined in a way that I've found useful.  Probably the most controversial
aspect of it is that it includes a deploy step, and runs the functional tests only after deploy.
I prefer this, because it tests the deploy as part of every build.  It's also nice to run
functional tests against a deployed application, and it provides an easy distinction between
unit and functional tests (functional tests depend on the deployed application - a database,
a web site, etc. - where as unit tests do not).  The Acme Example project included in the source
shows an example of this usage.

Probably the most useful target for debugging is Trace, defined in Default.targets.  Since
we've largely replaced MSBuild's static dependency analysis with a dynamic dependency analysis,
it can sometimes be easy to lose track of what's happening when.  Trace will give you all the
targets that run each step of the build process.

=== Properties ===
BuildDirectory (defaults to build)

== DotNet.Targets ==
DotNet.targets handles the common build and test tasks associated with most .NET applications.
To be generic, it has to make several assumptions:
* You have a single solution
* You have zero or one unit test projects for your solution
* You have zero or one functional test projects for your solution
* You're using NUnit as your testing framework.

If these assumptions are invalid, feel free to use DotNet.targets as a reference and create
your own script.

DotNet.targets will clean your previous build output (except for web application projects),
version your AssemblyInfo files, compile, restore your AssemblyInfo files, run your unit
tests, and run your functional tests.

== Properties ==
ProjectName                 (defaults to the MSBuild project file name, without the extension)
                            TeamCity doesn't call your MSBuild project directly, so if you're using
                            TeamCity, it's best to explicitly define ProjectName in your project file.
Solution                    (defaults to $(ProjectName).sln)
UnitTestProject             (defaults to $(ProjectName).UnitTests)
FunctionalTestProject       (defaults to $(ProjectName).FunctionalTests)
Configuration               (defaults to Release)
Version                     (defaults to - it's recommended to pull this from your continuous integration application)
NUnitDirectory              (defaults to Dependencies\nunit)
MSBuildCommunityTasksPath   (defaults to Dependencies\CM.NET, since CM.NET ships with these tasks)

== Subversion.targets ==
Subversion.targets does not wire itself into the build process.  Instead, it has a couple
of targets that can be used to form a standard checkin routine.  Specifically, the ci (checkin)
target makes a convenient checkin target, as it forces an svn update before the build.  If
the build is successful, it will not auto-commit; it just brings up a TortoiseSVN dialog box.

== TeamCity.targets ==
This file simply sets the following properties, based on environment properties TeamCity
will pass into a running build:
* Version
* IsInContinuousIntegration

The idea is to support other continuous integration environments by setting these properties
in them as well, so other scripts can read these properties ignorant of what continuous build
application is in play.

TeamCity wreaks all kinds of havoc on the practice CM.NET takes of inferring many properties
from the MSBuild file name, because TeamCity doesn't actually call your MSBuild script directly.
Instead, it calls a wrapper script, which means that any properties based on $(MSBuildProjectName)
or $(MSBuildProjectFile) will be broken in the TeamCity environment.  CM.NET tries to accomodate
this by allowing the developer to set the ProjectName and ProjectFile explicitly in their build script,
and CM.NET uses those properties throughout.

== Packagers/Package.targets ==
This build script is not intended for direct use.  It serves as a "superclass" of sorts
for different packaging strategies.

== Packagers/Sfx.targets ==
This build script is not intended for direct use.  It serves as a "superclass" of sorts
for packaging strategies that rely on a self-extracting executable.  It is extracted
out intentionally to allow developers to replace the GUI deployer that ships with CM.NET
without having to copy the code to create a self-extracting executable.

== Packagers/Zip.targets ==
This build script will create a zip file of all files in the PackageDirectory.
This is a useful packaging strategy for libraries.

== Packagers/Deployer/Deployer.targets ==
When imported into your project, a self-extracting executable (sfx) of the
GUI deployer that ships with CM.NET will be created.  This will archive all of the files
into a single .exe file which, when executed, will run the deployer application.

The default strategy for managing configuration that differs between environments
is to create a separate MSBuild properties file for every logical environment you
have, with an identical set of properties in each environments file (although the values
will obviously differ).  The deploy process imports the environment file corresponding
to the environment being deployed to.

=== Properties ===
ProjectFile (defaults to MSBuildProjectFile - do not default if you use TeamCity)
Environment (defaults to dev)
EnvironmentsDirectory (defaults to environments)
ConfigFileExtension (defaults to properties)
ConfigPath (defaults to $(EnvironmentsDirectory)\$(Environment).$(ConfigFileExtension)
CMDirectory (defaults to Dependencies\CM.NET)
SdcTasksDirectory (defaults to $(CMDirectory), since it ships with SdcTasks)
SfxExe (defaults to deployer.exe)

3. MSBuild Tasks

== ChangeDirectoryPrefix ==
Provides a way to create an ItemGroup with the directory prefix changed.  It seems
like this should be a relatively simple thing to do, but I was unable to find a
way of doing it in MSBuild without a custom task.

== CopyToPhysicalDirectory ==
I prefer deploys to be completely non-destructive.  For server applications
(web sites and windows services), this means _not_ overwriting a production
directory during deploy.  CM.NET provides a CopyToPhysicalDirectory task
that enables this.

It copies files to a directory name, and appends a timestamp to the directory
name, cleaning up a configurable number of old deploys.  The idea is that
you simply re-point the virtual directory to the new physical directory.
The previous production physical directory is untouched, enabling rollback.
This has the added benefit of enabling hot deploys.  See the Acme Example
solution for an example

== PublishToSvn ==
While there are nice dependency management libraries available, I tend to
prefer having my dependencies available at source control update time, not
build time.  In my experience, using svn:externals (or equivalent) is a
nice robust way of managing dependencies.

For in-house developed libraries, I've found it convenient to "publish"
the output of each successful build in the continuous integration environment
to a "Dependencies" subversion repository.  CM.NET contains a PublishToSvn
task that does the trick.  It works by checking out the "trunk" (I tend to
call it "latest"), do an intelligent merge of the build outputs by using
svn adds and svn deletes appropriately, commiting, and tagging the commit
by version.  This allows downstream applications to svn:external to a
blessed version of the library.

4. Building CM.NET

build.bat should do the trick.  The functional tests assume you have a
command line subversion installed.  All output gets packaged up in
the build directory.

5. Contributing

Patches and suggestions are always welcome.  You can reach me at
Feel free to fork the repository at