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What Is a Daily Build?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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A daily build is a method of testing a program in which all the files that make up the program are made into an executable file each day, resulting in a slightly different program each time. While remaking a program may seem redundant, it presents many benefits, including easy quality checks and easier coding integration. When the daily build is compiled, it goes through a process known as a smoke test, in which the program is checked to ensure that everything works correctly. This method is good for software that has many different programmers working on it, but it's not very effective for small programs.

When a software development team creates a program, the team can compile the program once and then build upgrades on top of that program. Technically, there is nothing wrong with this approach, but using the daily build method may be better. At the beginning of each day, programmers will take all the new source code and files, and compile them to remake the program. This means the software is updated daily.

Recreating the program every day may seem like a chore to some users, but it presents several advantages. The program is being updated every day — and not just when a large update comes out — so quality checks are easier; if a bug suddenly develops, then programmers will know the bug most likely came from the most recent coding. Large development teams have many different programmers working on different parts of the source code, and each part has to be integrated into the main product. By performing a daily build, programmers will know if integration is successful each day or if there are integration issues. This also may boost morale, because some programmers may be excited to see the program work with all its updates.

After the software is compiled and ready for use for the day, programmers will perform a smoke test. A smoke test lets programmers check for any errors in coding, functionality or usage. This can be as simple as a programmer going through each function and tool, or as extensive as using other programs, such as validators and vulnerability checkers.

The daily build method is usually not as good for small programs, typically because the programs experience very little daily change. This method is meant more for programs with dozens, hundreds or thousands of programmers working on the same program simultaneously. While this method may assist in checking a smaller program, the smaller program may not experience the same benefits.

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