Control Flow

A day in the life of the buildbot:

  • A developer commits some source code changes to the repository. A hook script or commit trigger of some sort sends information about this change to the buildmaster through one of its configured Change Sources. This notification might arrive via email, or over a network connection (either initiated by the buildmaster as it subscribes to changes, or by the commit trigger as it pushes Changes towards the buildmaster). The Change contains information about who made the change, what files were modified, which revision contains the change, and any checkin comments.
  • The buildmaster distributes this change to all of its configured schedulers. Any importantchanges cause the tree-stable-timer to be started, and the Change is added to a list of those that will go into a new Build. When the timer expires, a Build is started on each of a set of configured Builders, all compiling/testing the same source code. Unless configured otherwise, all Builds run in parallel on the various workers.
  • The Build consists of a series of Steps. Each Step causes some number of commands to be invoked on the remote worker associated with that Builder. The first step is almost always to perform a checkout of the appropriate revision from the same VC system that produced the Change. The rest generally perform a compile and run unit tests. As each Step runs, the worker reports back command output and return status to the buildmaster.
  • As the Build runs, status messages like “Build Started”, “Step Started”, “Build Finished”, etc, are published to a collection of Status Targets. One of these targets is usually the HTML Waterfalldisplay, which shows a chronological list of events, and summarizes the results of the most recent build at the top of each column. Developers can periodically check this page to see how their changes have fared. If they see red, they know that they’ve made a mistake and need to fix it. If they see green, they know that they’ve done their duty and don’t need to worry about their change breaking anything.
  • If a MailNotifier status target is active, the completion of a build will cause email to be sent to any developers whose Changes were incorporated into this Build. The MailNotifier can be configured to only send mail upon failing builds, or for builds which have just transitioned from passing to failing. Other status targets can provide similar real-time notification via different communication channels, like IRC.