Languages3 Best Build Automation Tools for 2023

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Build automation tools can automate compilation, testing, packaging, and other tasks to help developers streamline the software development process. As a result, they can lead to faster delivery, increased productivity, efficiency, and consistency, and less human error. This guide will feature the following top build automation tools in terms of their features, pros, cons, and pricing so you can pick the best fit for your team’s needs:

  • Maven: ideal for developers looking for an open-source build automation tool that is simple to set up and free to use.
  • Gradle: a solid pick for developers seeking a flexible and fast build automation tool with a large, supportive community.
  • Bamboo: a great choice for development teams of all sizes seeking an intuitive, scalable, flexible, and extensible build automation tool.

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Maven Developer Tool

Best for developers looking for an open-source build automation tool that is simple to set up and free to use.

Apache Maven is an open-source build automation tool launched to help Java developers manage projects. After 20-plus years on the market, it is now popular with the DevOps community and used by Agile development teams, project managers, developers, etc., to simultaneously build, publish, and deploy multiple projects, plus dependency management and other capabilities.

Features of Maven

Some of Maven’s top features include:

  • Minimal setup
  • Simultaneous builds
  • Seamless access to new features
  • Dependency management
  • Time-saving model-based builds
  • Documentation generation
  • Extensibility
  • Source control integrations

Thanks to its simple setup, it only takes seconds to start working on new projects or modules with Maven. The build automation tool lets developers build, publish, and deploy multiple projects at the same time, and when new features roll out, they can be accessed with little to no configuration tweaks.

Maven’s dependency management features include Ant tasks, automatic updating, transitive dependencies, etc. Its model-based builds leverage project metadata to eliminate the need for scripting when building multiple projects into JAR, WAR, or other output types, and the developer tool also uses build metadata to seamlessly generate documentation via PDF or website.

Developers looking to extend Maven can write plugins in Java or scripting languages and lean on Maven’s large repository of libraries and metadata. Maven also offers release management via integrations with source control systems like Subversion, Git, etc.

Pros of Maven

Maven’s pros that make it a popular build automation tool include:

  • Open source
  • Simple setup
  • Documentation generation
  • Saves time

Apache Maven is an attractive build automation option for software development teams with limited budgets. Thanks to its open-source nature, Maven is free to use. The developer tool makes setup and configuration a breeze and is also user-friendly. Another area where Maven excels is in generating project documentation, such as dependency lists and changelogs. And it also saves a ton of time by leveraging a standardized approach that lets developers build their first project and replicate future processes with ease.

Cons of Maven

Maven’s cons include:

  • Learning curve
  • Limited support and documentation
  • Slowed performance

Technical users will likely find Maven easy to set up and use. However, beginners new to build automation tools may find Maven a bit complex and may take some time to adapt and feel comfortable. Better support and documentation could alleviate this issue. And if you plan on working with large or complex projects, expect slowed performance.

Pricing of Maven

Contributions from online supporters and volunteers help keep Maven’s core features and plugins open-source and free to use. However, if you plan on using premium extensions or plugins, you may incur costs when using Maven.

Read: How to Use Maven for Project Management


Gradle Build Automation Tool

Best for developers seeking a flexible and fast build automation tool with a large, supportive community.

Gradle is an open-source build automation tool known for its speed and flexibility. Development teams can use the tool to deliver high-quality software faster.

Features of Gradle

Some of Gradle’s most noteworthy features include:

  • Customized builds
  • Multi-project builds
  • Versatile deployments
  • Dependency management
  • Tests
  • IDE integrations

Developers can use Gradle’s rich API to create customized builds that fit their unique needs. It lets them build multiple projects simultaneously to save time and cut costs. You can deploy projects to servers or cloud platforms and leverage the build automation tool’s dependency management capabilities to ensure projects have the most updated versions necessary. Gradle’s testing capabilities ensure projects are working properly, and it also integrates with widely-used IDEs like IntelliJ IDEA and Android Studio.

Pros of Gradle

Gradle’s advantages include:

  • Free for individuals
  • Multi-language and platform support
  • Customization
  • Fast build automation

Individual developers needing a build automation tool that will not break the budget will love Gradle’s Free plan. The support for multiple programming languages and platforms offers flexibility, and Gradle can also be used for a wide variety of projects since it is highly customizable. Gradle’s speed is another check in its favor.

Cons of Gradle

Gradle’s disadvantages include:

  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Steep learning curve
  • Technical knowledge required

Gradle is not the most beginner-friendly build automation software on the market. It has a steep learning curve, and most users will have to invest significant time to digest its extensive documentation. You will likely find Gradle complex unless you have plenty of technical knowledge or build automation experience.

Pricing of Gradle

Gradle Enterprise, which recently rebranded to Develocity, comes in two pricing plans:

  • Free (individual developers): Free forever.
  • Core (enterprise deployments): Custom pricing.

Individual developers can use the Free plan to enjoy the Unlimited Build Scan feature with an enhanced console log and build performance summary, plus test behavior details, dependency graphs, environment data, custom values, tagging, build plugin list view, performance data, and a visual build timeline. Enterprise customers can use the Core plan to enjoy access control, distributed cache node management, REST API, comprehensive failure metrics, enterprise-wide build failure aggregation, cross-build analysis, automation invocation, build and test performance, and failure trends. Gradle also offers custom-priced predictive test selection, test failure analytics, and test distribution extensions.

Read: 3 Best Automation Testing Tools for Developers


Bamboo build tool

Best for development teams of all sizes seeking an intuitive, scalable, flexible, and extensible build automation tool.

Atlassian Bamboo is a scalable and reliable CI/CD tool for teams of all sizes. It helps developers maintain software quality and accelerate release cycles by automating building, testing, and releasing.

Features of Bamboo

Many software development teams choose Bamboo for its long list of features that is highlighted by:

  • Customizable build plans/deployment environments
  • Continuous delivery pipelines
  • Parallel builds
  • Multi-language support
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Third-party integrations

Developers can use Bamboo to customize build plans and define custom deployment environments to fit their needs. Its continuous delivery pipelines automate building, testing, and deployment, and you can run parallel builds to save time and increase efficiency.

Bamboo supports multiple programming languages, platforms, and build tools for ultimate flexibility. It offers detailed insights via reporting and analytics on test results, build times, etc. Extensibility comes via third-party integrations with Jira, Bitbucket, Opsgenie, and other developer tools. And the REST API opens the door for even more automations and integrations.

Pros of Bamboo

Bamboo’s strengths include:

  • Minimal setup
  • Customizable
  • Multi-language and platform support
  • Integrations with Atlassian tools

It does not take much time to start using all of Bamboo’s features, as the build automation tool has a simple setup. Even better, it can be customized to fit your development team’s needs. Bamboo offers flexibility with its support for various programming languages, platforms, and developer tools. And if your software development team already uses Atlassian tools like Bitbucket or Jira, Bamboo’s seamless integration with those and other Atlassian products is another major plus.

Cons of Bamboo

Bamboo’s weaknesses include:

  • Third-party integrations
  • Cost

Bamboo’s integrations with other Atlassian offerings make it a no-brainer for users of Bitbucket, Jira, and the like. But if you are looking for integrations outside the Atlassian umbrella, you may be disappointed. Another Bamboo weakness is its cost, which may be too high for some development team’s budgets.

Pricing of Bamboo

Atlassian Bamboo’s pricing is as follows under the Data Center model. Prices represent an annual term license and maintenance:

  • One remote agent: $1,200.
  • Five remote agents: $3,200.
  • 25 remote agents: $11,600.
  • 100 remote agents: $23,280.

Pricing goes up to 2,000 remote agents. There is also a 30-day free trial. Bamboo’s Data Center plans come optimized for build resilience and offer high availability and bundled priority support.

What to Look for in Build Automation Software

Development teams should consider several factors when looking for build automation software. Compatibility is essential, so make sure the build automation software supports your preferred programming languages, platforms, and tools. User-friendliness is another factor, so look for reviews on the tool that mention setup complexity, ease of use, and the overall intuitiveness of the user interface.

If you plan on working on larger projects in the future, scalability is important. And if you are on a limited budget, so is the price. If you have minimal money to invest, seek an open-source build automation tool that is free to use. Other things to look for in build automation software include solid customer support, a large, active user community, and features like customizable build scripts/configurations, dependency management, reporting and monitoring, and integrations with version control systems, CI/CD pipelines, and other third-party developer tools.

Final Thoughts on Build Automation Tools for 2023

The build automation tools listed above are some of the best available for software development teams looking to save time, minimize human error, and increase efficiency, consistency, and productivity. Before choosing a build automation tool, make sure it fits your development team’s needs in terms of user-friendliness, pricing, and features.

Read: Best Tools for Remote Developers

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