Exploring various .NET build solutions: Albacore vs FAKE vs PSake

As I said in a previous post, I am changing our build process for our application, so I’m testing several build solutions.

FAKE is the newest and shiniest tool for .Net users. F# looks like a cross between Ruby (for the general syntax), and PowerShell (for the piping-fever-dream). Unfortunately, it seems to be missing a core piece of any proper build system: running an arbitrary exe file. I need to run the setup builder (InnoScript), but all I can find is creating a custom task, and it’s way overkill, and not very evolutive. Documentation is incredibly hard to find because of its generic name. Pro tip: do not name your software after a random generic word.

Albacore is great, running on Ruby, using Rake tasks. Installing Ruby on Windows is easy, as long as you don’t try to use some gems that won’t compile on your system. Unfortunately, Jenkins installed on Windows won’t run the ruby installed with Ruby Installer, for various reasons: PATH problems, rights problems, etc. Too bad, because my build script was working great.

PSake might be the easiest to use on a Windows build system. Documentation for PSake itself is very light, but Powershell is very well documented, very powerful, and we already use it in various places in our systems, so we know it pretty well.
The only thing I don’t like with Powershell is that, to keep things simple on one side, you have to do complicated things on the other. I don’t want to install a thousand plugins in Jenkins, so I need to build a batch “boostraper” that runs the PS scripts.

The good thing is that PSAke and Rake are very similar, so I was able to write the equivalent script in a few hours, just by putting my Rakefile and build.ps1 files side-by-side in Sublime Text.


After a year working with PSake for all of my build scripts, I can confirm that it’s awesome. Powershell is a great automation language, it’s very mature, and it has thousands of libraries and extensions.