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Build Automation in PowerShell
PowerShell Batchfile

Build Automation in PowerShell

Invoke-Build is a build and test automation tool which invokes tasks defined in PowerShell v2.0+ 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.

Invoke-Build can be used as a task runner in VSCode with tasks maintained in a PowerShell build script instead of tasks.json, see New-VSCodeTask.ps1.

Invoke-Build can invoke the current task from a build script being composed in ISE, see Invoke-TaskFromISE.ps1.

The package

The standalone script Invoke-Build.ps1 is enough for invoking build scripts. It can be downloaded directly from the repository and used alone right away. The package also includes helper scripts and the generated help file:

  • 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

Extra tools are available at the project repository:

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

Install as module

Invoke-Build is distributed as the module InvokeBuild. In PowerShell 5.0 or with PowerShellGet you can install it by this command

Install-Module InvokeBuild

The module provides commands Invoke-Build and Invoke-Builds. Import the module in order to make them available:

Import-Module InvokeBuild

You can also call the module scripts directly. Consider to include the module directory to the path. In this scenario you do not have to import the module.

Install as scripts

Invoke-Build is also distributed as the NuGet package Invoke-Build.

If you use scoop then invoke

scoop install invoke-build

and you are done, scripts are downloaded and their directory is added to the path. You may need to start a new PowerShell session with the updated path.

Otherwise download the directory "Invoke-Build" to the current location by this PowerShell command:

Invoke-Expression "& {$((New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))} Invoke-Build"

Consider to include the directory with scripts to the 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 a PowerShell profile

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

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

Getting help

If you are using the module then import it at first. If you are using scripts then make sure Invoke-Build-Help.xml from the package is in the same directory as Invoke-Build.ps1. Then invoke

help Invoke-Build -full

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

. Invoke-Build

This imports commands and makes their help available:

help task -full

Online resources

  • Basic Concepts : Why build scripts may have advantages over normal scripts.
  • Script Tutorial : Take a look in order to get familiar with build scripts.
  • Project Wiki : Detailed tutorials, helpers, notes, and etc.
  • Examples : Build scripts used in various projects.
  • Tasks : Samples, patterns, and various techniques.

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 came from MSBuild.

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