Incremental Builds are critical for fast continuous build

Making Incremental Builds real

Incremental builds are important for managing continuous build for continuous delivery. Handing over a release from dev to prod must be easy and automated.  The prod side of the house cannot always be expert in every team’s application, there can be just too many in large organizations.  So one way to keep it simple is to perform incremental deploys when at all possible.  The key to incremental deploys is an incremental build.  One hand feeds the other.  In the Make world, or more specially ClearMake, this was called Build Avoidance.  It seems that the art of avoiding building objects has all been lost even though it is critical to agile developers and the DevOps process.

To fully support a development process where incremental changes are encouraged, the Build itself must become incremental.  If not, your Continuous Integration process is impeded by a Build process that was written to support a waterfall development methodology,  that must build all binaries each time – the “big bang” approach.  When using OpenMake Meister for powering Build, the default Build is an incremental Build.  Nothing special is required to execute a build using Build Avoidance.  Your Build will automatically be executed on an incremental basis reducing your Build times down from hours to minutes.

Incremental Builds substantially decrease Build times by avoiding the execution of Build steps that are not needed.  This is a critical component of lean methodologies such as Agile Unified Process (Agile UP), Scrum, and Rhythm (Unified Build Infrastructure).  If you are looking for ways to improve Build times, the use of incremental Build will allow you to reach your goal.

Incremental Builds determine all dependent relationships in the Build regardless of language.  For Java, an incremental Build determines the dependency of all .jar, .war and .ear files including jar files that are used by other jar files and their dependent java source files.   Similarly, in more traditional languages such as C/C++ or COBOL, dependency relationships are discovered for all included headers, copybooks, etc.

Note:  If you are using Meister and  choose to always execute Builds using a “clean all”  approach, pass the following parameters to the om process when executing your Builds:

-a or clean all

If the clean all parameter is not passed, your Build will be performed in the most efficient manner using Build Avoidance.


Ms. Ragan has had extensive experience in the development and implementation of DevOps for large organizations. She began her consulting career in 1989 on Wall Street specializing in build, testing and release management for the distributed platform. It was during her consulting experiences that Ms. Ragan recognized the lack of standardized development procedures on open systems that were common on the mainframe. In the years leading to the creation of OpenMake Software she worked with development teams in implementing a community driven standardized build and deploy process that enabled frequent builds and releases, automated around version control. Her knowledge and experience contributed to the creation of OpenMake Meister, the first commercial Build Automation solution. Ms. Ragan served on the Eclipse Foundation Board of Directors as an Add-in Provider Representative for 5 years. She has been published on numerous occasions and regularly speaks at conferences including CA World where she presented for 15 consecutive years. She holds a BS Degree in Business Administration, Computer Technology from California State University, Pomona.

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