If you do serious development then you probably know that you have to deliver executables to your client or to a tester occasionally or perhaps every day, every week, etc. When the project grows it becomes more and more annoying and error prone building it, including all files, copying it to the right folder, notifying the person(s), etc - you probably know all that already. That's why one has to use a proper build tool instead of manually hassle all that steps.
That's why I decided to try FinalBuilder 4 for my VS.NET 2003/.net 1.1 application. Build processes for this application includes building two different configurations and a third, obfuscated version (using Dotfuscator), creating help files (NDoc), an XML schema for certain objects, including some additional files and copy everything to a target folder - more than enough possibilities for a human error.
Creating a build automation rules out the human error and with FinalBuilder 4 it took me only an hour or so - it supports myriad of build actions (against various 3rd party products) out of the box, basically almost everything I needed (except for the XSD thing). All of the actions have an UI designer so setting them properly is just a matter of few clicks and key presses – easy and straightforward. And if it happens that an action you need is missing it is very easy to develop your own using your favorite development technology (COM, scripting, .net). I’ll write more about developing custom actions in the future.
The bottom line is that FinalBuilder 4 proved very useful and valuable tool for me. Setting up a new build process (without my prior knowledge of FB) was very easy and fast and all the actions I need were already there. I guess I could achieve similar automation using free NAnt tool but it would certainly took me more time and I guess NAnt doesn’t have all of the actions FB4 provides out of the box.