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Software Build Systems: Principles and Experience by Peter Smith

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Chapter 18. Managing Build Size

The second major topic in Part IV, “Scaling Up,” is how to more effectively manage the size of a build system. Software products start with a single line of code but continuously grow as new developers join the project or when third-party libraries are added to the code base. What starts as a small and manageable piece of software eventually becomes a large and complex product.

A software build system is no exception to this rule. A program with 10 source files is trivial to manage with a single makefile or Ant script. With 1,000 files, you can still use the same build system, even if it now takes 15 minutes to compile the full product. The real problems start when the build takes 1.5 hours or even 15 hours to ...

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