A build orchestration tool for Continuous Integration in a monorepo.
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cmd Make the internal API of the CLI a little less brittle Jun 2, 2018
graph Fix DOT output May 16, 2018
manifests Fix manifest types May 16, 2018
set Add support for scoping May 29, 2018
test/fixtures Support strong dependencies in manifests May 15, 2018
README.md Readme update May 30, 2018
monobuild.go Add diff command May 4, 2018



A build orchestration tool for Continuous Integration in a monorepo.

NOTE: this is Readme driven development. Not everything described in this readme is fully implemented.


Monobuild is a simple tool that understands a graph of dependencies in a monorepo codebase (where separate components live side by side in folders) and based on it, it can decide what should be built, given a set of changes.

For help, run

$ monobuild help


Monobuild constructs the dependency graph from dependency manifests. By default, manifests are files named Dependencies, which contain a simple line-by-line list of dependencies for the component in the directory of the file.

Declare dependencies

An example manifest in app1/Dependencies might look like this

# Content

# Libs

Monobuild will ignore any empty lines and lines starting with #. Every other line is considered a dependency and is a path relative to current working directory (typically repository root). Monobuild will expect a dependency manifest (possibly empty) to be present at that path.

Lines starting with ! are strong dependencies all other dependencies are considered weak. The difference is in the way the dependency graph is translated to a build schedule.

One of the benefits of a monorepo, is components and services can be built from code, including their dependencies. Changing a weak dependency of a component means a change to the component, which therefore needs to be rebuilt, but the builds can be run in parallel. Output or result of the dependency does not affect the build of this component.

A strong dependency has to successfully build first, in order for the build of the component to be possible. If the dependency build fails, the component build does not even start.

Typically, services are built from source, including their libraries, so the dependencies on libraries are weak (we still want to run the library build to run tests and get a result though). Deploying orchestrations of services typically has a strong dependency on the service builds (as they produce artifacts, e.g. docker images, needed by the deployment).

Visualise dependency graph and build schedule

To better understand the dependency graphs and build schedules, Monobuild can print them.

$ monobuild print

will print the build schedule, which will ignore weak dependencies

$ cd test/fixtures/manifests-test
$ monobuild print
stack1: app1, app2, app3

You can also print the dependency structure with one component per line. For example

$ cd test/fixtures/manifests-test
$ monobuild print --dependencies
libs/lib1: libs/lib3
libs/lib2: libs/lib3
stack1: app1, app2, app3
app1: libs/lib1, libs/lib2
app2: libs/lib2, libs/lib3
app3: libs/lib3

Print also supports graphical output using GraphViz

$ cd test/fixtures/manifests-test
$ monobuild print --dot

to produce a PDF, you can pipe the output into the dot tool:

$ cd test/fixtures/manifests-test
$ monobuild print --dependencies --dot | dot -Tpdf -o dependencies.pdf
digraph dependencies {
  "app1" -> "libs/lib1"
  "app1" -> "libs/lib2"
  "app2" -> "libs/lib2"
  "app2" -> "libs/lib3"
  "app3" -> "libs/lib3"
  "libs/lib1" -> "libs/lib3"
  "libs/lib2" -> "libs/lib3"
  "stack1" -> "app1"
  "stack1" -> "app2"
  "stack1" -> "app3"

Change detection

If the current directory is a git repository, monobuild can decide which components changed (using git).

$ monobuild diff

Monobuild assumes use of Mainline Development and changes are detected in two modes:

  1. for a feature branch, the change detection is equivalent to

    $ git diff --no-commit-id --name-only -r $(git merge-base master HEAD)

    in other words, list all the changes that happened since the current branch was cut from master.

    This is the default mode and the base branch is master by default. You can override this with

    $ monobuild diff --base-branch develop
  2. for a master branch (or other main branch) the change detection is equivalent to

    $ git diff --no-commit-id --name-only -r HEAD^1

    To work in the main-branch mode, use the --main-branch flag

    $ monobuild diff --main-branch

The main difference between the above git diffs and monobuild diff is the dependency graph awareness.

Monobuild will start with the list from git diff, filter it down to known components, and then extend it with all components that depend on any of the components in the initial list, including transitive dependencies.

For the resulting "to do" list, diff will then build a build schedule using the strong dependencies.

You can print the relevant part of the dependency graph (rather than the build schedule) with --dependencies

$ monobuild diff --dependencies

Both modes also support DOT output with --dot. You can also print the entire graph with the affected components with --dot-highlight.

Rebuilding strong dependencies

The assumption behind strong dependencies is that their outcome is required for the dependent builds to proceed. In most cases, this means that if no changes affected a component, the build does not need to run, because the outcome (e.g. a build artifact) already exists from a previous run of the build (when that component was affected).

In certain situations, it could be useful to run the build again, to ensure its output is present. This will result in wasted work, but ensures builds won't fail because, for example, an artifact cache was lost. The wasted work can also largely be prevented by making builds idempotent.

Monobuild supports this with an --rebuild-strong option on diff, which will include strong dependencies of all components affected by the change.

Override the manifest matching

If you want to use a different filename for the manifest files, you can do so using the global --manifests flag.



You can scope the results of both diff and print to a given component and its dependencies using the --scope flag

Top-level components

Sometimes it's useful to know the "entrypoints" into your dependency graph - the components that nothing depends on (typically services or applications). You can list only those with a --top-level flag on both diff and print.

Creating a Makefile

Monobuild can also generate a Makefile, that can be used by individual component builds to build their dependencies.

You can generate the makefile with

$ monobuild makefile

The resulting Makefile consists of targets like this:

directory/component1: [dependency1] [dependency2] [dependency3]
  @cd directory/component1 && make build

This assumes each component has a minimal Makefile which looks like this:

# directory/component1/Makefile

  @cd ../.. && make directory/component1

  # steps to make the component available as a dependency of others
  # this could be empty

You can also override the build command (make build by default) with the --build-command flag.