04 Oct 04

Xcode On CruiseControl

I’ve been crafting Cocoa and Objective-C applications lately, for business and pleasure. The IDE of choice in that land is Xcode, and it’s a great one. Like most IDEs, Xcode has a "Build" button that gets a good workout when I’m hacking code. But unlike some IDEs, Xcode is also an automation-friendly IDE. Projects in Xcode can be built from the command line using the xcodebuild utility:
  $ xcodebuild -target MyCocoaApp -buildstyle Deployment build

That simple command might not look all that powerful, but it means that Xcode has, in addition to its other features, all the requisite skills for baking CRISP builds. Specifically, it means that Xcode builds are schedulable—the "S" part of CRISP. I don’t have to park myself in front of Xcode the IDE to get builds on a regular interval. Instead, I can delegate that recurring chore to the scheduler already on this computer: cron.

I was just about to put my Xcode builds on a cron schedule, and then I remembered all the other build monitoring goodies included in my CruiseControl builds that I’d be missing: email, text messaging, RSS build feeds, X10 devices, and a build status web page. I could write a build shell script that published the build results out to those monitoring tools, and then put that script on cron. Ultimately, I’d probably end up reinventing CruiseControl.

But CruiseControl is for building Java projects, right? Not so fast. CruiseControl will run anything that can present itself as an Ant (or Maven) file. And although Cocoa projects don’t produce all the XML droppings of a Java project being built, such as JUnit test results, the Ant build log is all that’s needed for CruiseControl’s Ant builder to determine if the build succeeded or failed.

So I simply took the CruiseControl configuration files from the book, plugged in a new project name, and slightly modified the cc-build.xml file to use an Ant <exec> task that fires up an xcodebuild:

  <project name="cc-build" default="build" basedir="checkout">
    <target name="build">
      <delete dir="MyCocoaApp" />
      <cvs command="co MyCocoaApp" />
      <exec executable="xcodebuild" dir="MyCocoaApp" failonerror="true">
        <arg line="-target MyCocoaApp -buildstyle Deployment build" />

That’s all there is to it! I now have my Cocoa and Objective-C applications being built, and tested with UnitKit, under the watchful eye of CruiseControl. With just a slight configuration change I got all of those build feedback mechanisms I’ve grown used to for free. And as folks in the CruiseControl community develop new publishers, I’ll get those for free, too.

Note: If you’re using Xcode to build Java projects, you can optionally use Ant as the underlying build system.