Beautiful builds for .NET projects
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Physique - Beautiful builds for .NET

Physique is an opinionated build framework that allows you to create a professional build process for your solution with minimal configuration. You tell Physique a little about your solution, and it creates a complete set of rake tasks to build, test and package your apps for deployment.


  • Integrates with any unit testing framework. Provides built in support for NUnit and NSpec.
  • Support for packaging and publishing your assemblies as NuGet packages.
  • Provides powerful developer workflow tools when paired with FluentMigrator.
  • Built-in support for packaging and publishing applications to Octopus Deploy
  • Built on top of Albacore which provides a rich suite of build tools to support any project.
  • Actively maintained with several companies using it in production.

Getting Started with Physique

Installing Ruby

You will need to install Ruby on your workstation and build servers.

Project Structure

Physique was designed to minimize the amount of ceremony in defining a build process. It uses a set of practical conventions that when followed, eliminate most of the configuration required to set up your builds.

Out of the box, Physique expects your repo to look something like this:

├─ build                              # Compiled files
│  └─ packages                        # Compiled packages will be built here.
├─ docs                               # Documentation files
├─ lib                                # Included libraries
├─ src                                # Source folder
│  ├─ packages                        # Nuget restore location
│  ├─ .nuget                          # Nuget files
│  │   └─ nuget.exe                   # Nuget executable
│  ├─ YourProject                     # Project folder
│  │  └─ YourProject.csproj           # Project file
│  ├─ YourProject.Tests               # Test Project folder
│  │  └─ YourProject.Tests.csproj     # Test Project file
│  └─ YourProject.sln                 # Solution file
├─ tools                              # Tools and utilities

If your project doesn't look anything like this, don't worry, you can customize any of the conventions to match the structure of your solution.

Preparing Your Project

  • Open a command prompt and cd to the root of your repo.

  • Create a Gemfile in the root and add the following:

    source ''
    gem 'physique', '~> 0.3'
  • Install the Bundler gem and install the required Ruby gems

    $ gem install bundler
    $ bundle install
  • Physique uses the semver2 gem to manage the version of your solution. Use the included command line tool to create a .semver file for the solution.

    $ bundle exec semver init
  • Create a Rakefile in the root and add the following:

    require 'physique' do |s|
      s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'
  • If everything is set up correctly you should be able to run the following and see a list of tasks that Physique has created for you.

    $ bundle exec rake --tasks
    rake compile          # Builds the solution
    rake compile:build    # Builds the solution using the Build target
    rake compile:clean    # Builds the solution using the Clean target
    rake compile:rebuild  # Builds the solution using the Rebuild target
    rake restore          # Restores all nugets as per the packages.config files
    rake test             # Run unit tests
  • Now you can run your rake tasks. For example, to compile your solution, run the following:

    $ bundle exec rake compile

The Default Build Process

Physique's default build process consists of the following phases:

  1. version - Determines the version of the build.
  2. restore - Scans your repo for packages.config files and downloads the discovered packages to the Nuget restore location.
  3. compile - Runs MSBuild on your solution file.
  4. test - Scans your repo for test assemblies and runs all tests.
  5. package - Packages your apps and/or assemblies for deployment.
  6. publish - Publishes your packages to a Nuget repository.

Each phase depends on the ones before it. This means when you run the tests, Physique will run the restore and compile tasks to ensure you your assemblies are up to date. In addition, you can register custom tasks to run at the different phases of the build process.

Customizing Your Build

Physique provides several customizations to tailor your build to your needs. You configure these options in your Rakefile which is just a Ruby code file. Having the full power of the Ruby programming language at your disposal to define your builds is one of the best features of rake, and by extension Physique, over XML-based tools like NAnt or MSBuild. If you don't know Ruby, never fear, Physique's configuration syntax is straightforward enough for any .NET developer to pick up quickly.

The following describes the available configuration options. Unless otherwise specified, these examples show the default values.

NuGet Configuration

You can customize how NuGet packages are handled in your solution. do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.use_nuget do |n|
    n.exe = 'src/.nuget/NuGet.exe'          # Path to the NuGet executable
    n.restore_location = 'src/packages'     # NuGet package restore location
    n.build_location = 'build/packages'     # Output folder for built NuGet packages

Compilation Configuration

You can customize MSBuild configuration and targets. do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.compilation do |c|
    c.default_targets = ['Clean', 'Rebuild']  # The default targets executed by the 'compile' task
    c.configuration = 'Release'               # The build configuration
    c.logging = 'normal'                      # MSBuild logging level

If you have custom MSBuild targets you can tell Physique about them.

s.compilation do |c|
  c.add_target 'Custom'

Physique will then add a rake task for each target which you can call from the command line.

$ bundle exec rake compile:custom

By default, Physique will create additional tasks for the Clean, Build and Rebuild targets.

Unit Testing Configuration

To execute your tests, Physique will look for the test runner executable in the NuGet restore location at runtime. If multiple versions are available, the latest version will be used. Make sure that you include the NuGet package for the test runner in a packages.config file somewhere in your solution.

Physique supports NUnit by default, but also has built in support for NSpec. Each of these test runners have their own defaults. If you are using something different, it's easy to provide a custom configuration.

NUnit Configuration

Since NUnit is the default, no additional configuration is required to use it. Physique will automatically find and run any assembly ending in ".Tests".

To tweak this behavior, you have the following configuration options: do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.run_tests do |t|
    # Find all assemblies ending in '.Tests'
    t.files = FileList["**/*.Tests/bin/Release/*.Tests.dll"]

    # Default command line args
    t.parameters = ['/labels', '/trace=Verbose']

NSpec Configuration

With the NSpec runner configured, Physique will automatically find and run any assembly ending in ".Specs".

Like wth NUnit, you have the following configuration options. Note the runner must be set to :nspec. do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.run_tests do |t|
    t.runner = :nspec

    # The default method for finding NSpec assemblies
    t.files = FileList["**/*.Specs/bin/Release/*.Specs.dll"]

    # You can add additional command line args
    t.parameters = ['--failfast']

Custom Configuration

You can use any unit testing framework. You just need to provide a bit more configuration. This effectively just wraps the Albacore method for declaring a test runner.

s.run_tests do |t|
  t.runner = :custom

  # Specify the test runner
  t.exe = 'root-relative-path/to/the/test-runner.exe'

  # Specify the test assemblies
  t.files = FileList["**/*.Tests/bin/Release/*.Tests.dll"]

  # Specify additional command line args
  t.parameters = ['/option1', '/option2']

NuGet Publishing Configuration

Physique provides an easy way to publish your NuGet packages to public or private Nuget repos. Each assembly in your solution will be published as a separate NuGet package with the correct dependencies. do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.publish_nugets do |p|
    # The NuGet repo you want to publish to
    p.feed_url = ''

    # The NuGet repo for your symbol package (Optional)
    p.symbols_feed_url = ''

    # The API key to authenticate to the repo.
    # If your source code is public, make sure to pass this in as an environment variable.
    p.api_key = ENV['NUGET_API_KEY']

    # Metadata to be included in your Nuspec
    p.with_metadata do |m|
      m.description = 'My Awesome Library'
      m.authors = 'My Company, Inc.'

When you configure NuGet publishing, the package and publish tasks become available.

$ bundle exec rake --tasks
rake nuget:package        # Package all NuGets
rake nuget:publish        # Publish nuget packages to feed
rake nuget:publish:local  # Copy nuget packages to local path

Third Party Tools

FluentMigrator Configuration

If you are using FluentMigrator to manage your databases, Physique can create several useful tasks to improve your development workflow. Simply tell Physique where your migrations project is located and it will take care of the rest. do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.fluently_migrate do |db|
    db.instance = '(local)' = 'MyDatabase'
    db.project = 'src\MyProject.Database\MyProject.Database.csproj'

Currently Physique only works with SQL Server, but support for additional databases is planned.

For more information, see Using Physique with Fluent Migrator

Octopus Deploy Configuration

If you are deploying your applications with Octopus Deploy, Physique allows you to package and publish your applications without needing to modify your project file. do |s|
  s.file = 'src/YourSolution.sln'

  s.octopus_deploy do |octo|
    # Octopus Deploy server's NuGet feed URL
    octo.server = 'http://octopus-deploy-server/nuget/packages'

    # Octopus Deploy API key
    # For security it's a good idea to pass this in as an environment variable.
    octo.api_key = ENV['OCTOPUS_API_KEY']

    # You can specify multiple apps to deploy

    # A hypothetical web application
    octo.deploy_app do |app|
      # App name for rake tasks = 'web'

      # App type
      # Valid options include :service, :website, :console
      app.type = :website

      # App project file
      app.project = 'src/MyProject.Website/MyProject.Website.csproj'

      # Nuspec metadata for your application
      app.with_metadata do |m|
        m.description = 'My Web Application'
        m.authors = 'My Company, Inc.'

When you configure Octopus deployments, the octo:package and octo:publish tasks become available.

The following tasks would be available with the configuration above:

$ bundle exec rake --tasks
rake octo:package       # Package all applications
rake octo:package:web   # Package MyProject.Website for Oct...
rake octo:publish       # Publish all apps to Octopus ...
rake octo:publish:web   # Publish MyProject.Website app to ...


  • Add conventions for more unit test frameworks.
  • Add support for additional databases.
  • Optionally use Packet instead of NuGet during restore phase
  • Mono support is possible but completely untested.


Special thanks to Henrik Feldt and Amir Rajan for the inspiration to make this project.


Feel free to contact me @scardetto if you have any questions.


  1. Fork it ( )
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create a new Pull Request