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Build Automation in PowerShell

Build Automation in PowerShell

Invoke-Build is a build and test automation tool which invokes tasks defined in PowerShell scripts. It is similar to psake but arguably easier to use and more powerful.

In addition to basic task processing the engine supports

  • Incremental tasks with effectively processed inputs and outputs.
  • Persistent builds which can be resumed after interruptions.
  • Parallel builds as a part of another with common stats.
  • Batch invocation of tests composed as tasks.
  • Ability to define new classes of tasks.

The package

Invoke-Build.ps1 alone is enough for invoking build scripts. Other files and tools are for built-in help, parallel builds, task visualization, and etc.


  • Invoke-Build.ps1 - invokes build scripts, this is the build engine
  • Invoke-Builds.ps1 - invokes parallel builds using the engine
  • Invoke-Build-Help.xml - external content for Get-Help
  • ib.cmd - Invoke-Build helper for cmd.exe


  • Convert-psake.ps1 - converts psake build scripts
  • Invoke-TaskFromISE.ps1 - invokes a task from ISE
  • Show-BuildTree.ps1 - shows task trees as text
  • Show-BuildGraph.ps1 - shows task trees by Graphviz
  • TabExpansionProfile.Invoke-Build.ps1 - completers

How it works

The engine builds a sequence of tasks defined in a build script by task statements which provide task names, script blocks, references, conditions, inputs and outputs. The tasks are checked for issues like missing or cyclic references. Then the specified tasks are invoked together with other tasks referenced by them recursively. Why is this needed at all? See Concepts.


Invoke-Build is distributed as the NuGet package Invoke-Build. Download it to the current location as the directory "Invoke-Build" by this PowerShell command:

iex (New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString('')

Alternatively, get it by NuGet tools or download. In the latter case rename the package to ".zip" and unzip. Use the package subdirectory "tools".

This is it, scripts are ready to use. Consider to include the directory with scripts to the system path so that script paths may be omitted in commands.

With cmd.exe use the helper ib.cmd. For similar experience in interactive PowerShell use an alias ib defined in the PowerShell profile

Set-Alias ib <path>\Invoke-Build.ps1

<path>\ may be omitted if the script is in the system path.

Getting help

To get help for Invoke-Build.ps1 make sure Invoke-Build-Help.xml is in the same directory and invoke this command:

help Invoke-Build -full

In order to get help for commands, at first dot-source Invoke-Build:

. Invoke-Build

The above command imports commands and makes their help available:

help task -full

Online resources

  • Script Tutorial : Take a look in order to get familiar with scripts.
  • Project Wiki : Detailed tutorials, helpers, notes, and etc.
  • Examples : Build scripts used in various projects.
  • Tasks : How to define and use custom tasks.

Questions, suggestions, and issues are welcome at Google Discussion Group and Project Issues. Or just hit me up on Twitter @romkuzmin


The project was inspired by psake. Some concepts come from MSBuild.

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