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What is "FAKE - F# Make"?

Mailing list

The "FAKE - F# Make" mailing list can be found at


Modern build automation systems are not limited to simply recompile programs if source code has changed. They are supposed to get the latest sources from a source code management system, build test databases, run automatic tests, check guidelines, create documentation files, install setup projects and much more. Some companies are even deploying virtual machines, which are created during a nightly build process. In order to simplify the writing of such build scripts and to provide reusability of common tasks most build automation systems are using a domain-specific language (DSL). These tools can be divided into tools using external DSLs with a custom syntax like make, tools using external DSLs with an XML based syntax like MSBuild or Apache Ant and tools using internal DSLs which are integrated in a host language like Rake, which uses Ruby.

FAKE - An integrated DSL

"FAKE - F# Make" is a build automation system, which is intended to combine the advantages of the above mentioned tools but to provide a better tooling support. Due to its integration in F#, all benefits of the .NET Framework and functional programming can be used, including the extensive class library, powerful debuggers and integrated development environments like Visual Studio 2008 or SharpDevelop, which provide syntax highlighting and code completion.

The new language was designed to be succinct, typed, declarative, extensible and easy to use. For instance custom build tasks can be added simply by referencing .NET assemblies and using the corresponding classes.


Main Features

Predefined tasks

  • Clean task
  • NUnit support
  • support
  • NCover support
  • FxCop support
  • ExecProcess task (To run tools via the command line)
  • MSBuild task (to compile *.csproj and *.fsproj projects or run MSBuild scripts)
  • XMLRead task
  • VSS task (Get sources from Visual Source Safe)
  • XCopy task
  • Zip task
  • git tasks
  • AssemblyInfo task

Using FAKE


Targets are the main unit of work in a "FAKE - F# Make" script. Targets have a name (usually given as a symbol or a string) and a action (given as a code block).

// The clean target cleans the build and deploy folders
Target? Clean <- 
    fun _ -> 
        CleanDir "./build/"
        CleanDir "./deploy/"


You can define prerequisites for tasks:

// Target Default is dependent from target Clean and BuildApp
// "FAKE - F# Make" will run these targets before Default
"Default"  <== ["Clean"; "BuildApp"]

There is also an alternative syntax for dependencies:

// Target Default is dependent from target Clean and BuildApp
// "FAKE - F# Make" will run these targets before Default
For? Default <-
    Dependency? Clean
      |> And? BuildApp

Running targets

You can execute targets with the "run"-command:

// Executes Default target
Run? Default

Final targets

Final target can be used for TearDown functionality. These targets will be executed even if the build fails but have to be activated via ActivateFinalTarget().

// FinalTarget will be excuted even if build fails
FinalTarget? CloseSomePrograms <-
    fun _ ->
        // close stuff and release resources

// Activate FinalTarget somewhere during build
ActivateFinalTarget? CloseSomePrograms


"FAKE - F# Make" uses similar include and exclude patterns as NAnt and MSBuild.

File includes

// Includes all *.csproj files under /src/app by using the !+ operator
!+ "src/app/**/*.csproj"

// Includes all *.csproj files under /src/app and /test with the ++ operator
!+ "src/app/**/*.csproj"
  ++ "test/**/*.csproj"

File excludes

// Includes all files under /src/app but excludes *.zip files
!+ "src/app/**/*.*"
  -- "*.zip"

Scan vs. ScanImmediately

"FAKE - F# Make" provides two scan methods: Scan() and ScanImmediately().

Scan is a lazy method and evaluates the FileSet as late as possible ("on-demand"). If the FileSet is used twice, it will be reevaluated.

The following code defines a lazy FileSet:

// Includes all *.csproj files under /src/app and scans them lazy
let apps = 
  !+ "src/app/**/*.csproj"
    |> Scan

ScanImmediately() scans the FileSet immediatly at time of its definition and memoizes it.

// Includes all files under /src/app but excludes *.zip files
//    eager scan ==> All files memoized at the time of this definition
let files = 
  !+ "src/app/**/*.csproj"
    -- "*.zip"
    |> ScanImmediately



// define test dlls
let testDlls = !+ (testDir + @"/Test.*.dll") |> Scan

Target? NUnitTest <-
    fun _ -> 
          |> NUnit (fun p -> 
                      {p with 
                         ToolPath = nunitPath; 
                         DisableShadowCopy = true; 
                         OutputFile = testDir + "TestResults.xml"})

// define test dlls
let testDlls = !+ (testDir + @"/Test.*.dll") |> Scan

Target? xUnitTest <-
    fun _ -> 
          |> xUnit (fun p ->
                      {p with
                          ShadowCopy = false;
                          HtmlPrefix = testDir})

Sample script

This sample script

  • Assumes "FAKE - F# Make" is located at ./tools/FAKE
  • Assumes NUnit is located at ./tools/NUnit
  • Cleans the build and deploy paths
  • Builds all C# projects below src/app/ and puts the output to .\build
  • Builds all NUnit test projects below src/test/ and puts the output to .\build
  • Uses NUnit to test the generated Test.*.dll's
  • Zips all generated files to deploy\

You can read Getting started with FAKE to build such a script.

// Include FAKE libraries
#I @"tools\FAKE"
#r "FakeLib.dll"
open Fake 

// properties 
let projectName = "MyProject"
let version     = "0.1" 
let buildDir    = "./build/"
let deployDir   = "./deploy/"
let nunitPath   = "./tools/NUnit/bin"
let nunitOutput = buildDir + "TestResults.xml"
let zipFileName = deployDir + sprintf "" projectName version

// files
let appReferences  = !+ "src/app/**/*.csproj"  |> Scan
let testReferences = !+ "src/test/**/*.csproj" |> Scan
let testDlls = !+ (buildDir + "*.Test.dll") |> Scan
let filesToZip = 
    !+ (buildDir + "/**/*.*") 
      -- "*.zip"
      |> Scan

// Targets

Target? Clean <- 
    fun _ -> 
      CleanDir buildDir
      CleanDir deployDir

Target? BuildApp <-
    fun _ ->          
          |> MSBuildRelease buildDir "Build"
          |> Log "AppBuild-Output: "

Target? BuildTest <-
    fun _ -> 
          |> MSBuildDebug buildDir "Build"
          |> Log "TestBuild-Output: "

Target? Test <-
    fun _ ->  
          |> NUnit (fun p -> 
                      {p with 
                         ToolPath = nunitPath; 
                         DisableShadowCopy = true; 
                         OutputFile = nunitOutput})

Target? BuildZip <-
    fun _ -> Zip buildDir zipFileName filesToZip

Target? Default <- DoNothing

// Dependencies
For? BuildApp <- Dependency? Clean

For? Test <-
    Dependency? BuildApp
      |> And? BuildTest

For? BuildZip <- Dependency? Test
For? Default <- Dependency? BuildZip

// start build
Run? Default
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