Setting Up an Automated Build Server for iOS Apps

Setting Up an Automated Build Server for iOS Apps

21 May 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

Automating the build process for iOS applications can significantly enhance development efficiency and ensure consistent quality control. This guide will walk you through setting up a build server for iOS apps, covering both the basic setup and more advanced continuous integration (CI) options.

Why Automate Your Build Process?

Automated build servers offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Consistent and repeatable builds
  • Early detection of integration issues
  • Automated testing and quality assurance
  • Efficient use of development time

Initial Setup: Using a Mac Mini

To get started, it’s advisable to use a dedicated Mac Mini as your build server. This machine will run the builds independently of developer laptops, which may be offline overnight. Here’s a basic setup using shell scripts:

cd ${WORKSPACE}/Engineering/

set -e
set -v

xcodebuild -project foo.xcodeproj -alltargets -configuration Distribution clean
xcodebuild -project foo.xcodeproj -alltargets -configuration Release clean
xcodebuild -project foo.xcodeproj -alltargets -configuration Debug clean

xcodebuild -project foo.xcodeproj -alltargets -configuration Distribution
xcodebuild -project foo.xcodeproj -alltargets -configuration Release
xcodebuild -project foo.xcodeproj -alltargets -configuration Debug

This script navigates to your workspace and runs the build for various configurations.

Advanced Setup: Using Jenkins

For a more robust solution, Jenkins (formerly Hudson) is highly recommended. Jenkins is a powerful, extensible CI server that supports a wide range of plugins and configurations. Here’s a brief on how to set it up:

  • Install Jenkins on a Mac OSX server or any other platform.
  • Configure Jenkins to use shell scripts for building your iOS projects, similar to the script shown above.
  • Utilize plugins such as Email-ext for notifications, and build timeout and audit trail plugins for better control and monitoring.
  • Store build artifacts using Jenkins’ built-in “Archive the Artifacts” functionality.

For more details on configuring Jenkins, refer to our Continuous Integration Documentation.

Alternative: TeamCity

Another excellent CI tool is TeamCity by JetBrains. It provides integrated support for Mac/iOS builds and is relatively easy to set up. TeamCity can run on any platform, but the build agent must run on a Mac. Visit the TeamCity website for more information.

Modern Approach: Xcode Server

Xcode Server, part of macOS Server, offers a straightforward way to run automated tests for iOS apps. It supports:

  • Build and check for warnings
  • Static code analysis
  • Running tests on iOS simulators and connected devices

While it’s easy to set up, Xcode Server lacks customization options compared to Jenkins or TeamCity.

Enhancing Your Automated Testing with Repeato

For those looking to streamline their automated testing process, Repeato offers an efficient solution. Repeato is a no-code test automation tool designed for iOS and Android applications. It provides a user-friendly interface and an intuitive test recorder, making it quick to create, run, and maintain tests.

With Repeato, you can:

  • Set up tests without writing code
  • Leverage computer vision and AI for robust test automation
  • Utilize a scripting interface for advanced test scenarios
  • Run tests on websites inside an Android emulator or device, with explicit web testing support coming soon

Explore more about how Repeato can enhance your testing workflow by visiting our documentation or download page.

By setting up an automated build server and leveraging tools like Jenkins, TeamCity, and Repeato, you can significantly improve your development process and ensure higher quality iOS applications.

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