What is a Build in Software Development?

by Anna Khrupa on Jan 14, 2022

The term software build may refer to both the process itself and the result of your software development efforts. In short, a build in software development is when your engineers convert the source code into a functional, standalone program with executable code that can be run on a desktop computer or mobile device.

A software build is created when your project reaches a certain point in development. First, your designers, software architects, and business analysts outline their vision for product implementation. This vision is then turned into project specifications that your developers base the source code on. When the developers finish writing the source code, and the backbone of your program meets your project specifications, this usually means that the source code is deemed ready for implementation. It will be turned into a software build and thoroughly tested before the release.

Being a complex end-to-end process, a software build involves several distinct steps, including compilation, code quality control, and version control.

Compilation

One of the key steps in the software build process is called compilation. A developer runs the source code files through a compiler, a build tool that converts it directly into machine code that the processor can execute. What this means is that every time your developers need to make a change to the source code, they will have to recompile it, “rebuild” the program before they can test it or use it otherwise.

This doesn’t, however, apply to interpreted languages that don’t need compilation before their source code can be executed by a device.

Code quality control

In the software build process, it’s important to continuously monitor the health of your source code and keep it as high as you can. This includes metrics such as maintainability, extensibility, readability, and efficiency of source code that can have a direct impact on the ROI of your software solution. The higher these quality indicators are, the fewer bugs, blockers, and other quality-related issues your project is likely to face as it grows and prospers. 

High-quality code can be achieved through establishing strict coding and reporting rules in combination with code quality approaches such as code reviews, inspections, and static code analysis. To take the process one step further, you can also adopt efficient tools that automatically measure code quality and technical debt on your project.

Version control

As a rule, software products and services are continuously updated until the company controlling them decides to stop the support. From prototyping and pre-release testing to MVP and future extensions, a software solution can eventually have hundreds if not thousands of consecutive builds. This brings us to the next important step in the software build process — version control.

In software development, version control is the practice of effectively tracking and managing any changes to the source code over the time of development and growth of your software solution. This involves creating an environment for the build process, analyzing software build performance, and thoroughly documenting every change you make to ensure repeatability and reliability. The process can be facilitated with version control tools such as Git and Apache Subversion to reduce development time and increase successful deployments.

When the above incremental software build steps are implemented correctly on your project, every new version of your software solution should have more features and fewer bugs, be it a simple program built by a single developer or an extremely complex solution created by a large team.