Phing is a great little tool built on PHP for creating project builds. It is based on Apache Ant. For those who are developing in PHP, Phing is a natural choice as both project and build tool can share the same environment.
Reasons to use Phing
- To automate creation of daily builds of your project. The usefulness of daily builds is an essay in itself but essentially it boils down to the ability to constantly see the affects that different contributors are making to a product before it may be too cumbersome to turn back (easier integration). See here and here for more detail.
- Easier deployment. If your project requires several steps to create a build, the full process can be automated in the build.xml file. Pre written commands exist for the most common tasks such as svn checkout/update/etc, file system changes (rm, cp, mv), tarring/untarring, and so on. And if a task does not exist, its simple to extend Phing with your own.
- Database Version Control – One of the largest challenges groups of programmers face is maintaining changes to database schema. Phing would allow you to create a task or set of tasks to download schema changes from either subversion or a database and apply those changes automatically to the developer’s database. (You could of course customize this behavior to suite your needs – for example some people would prefer for phing to create a .sql file that is manually applied)
- Simplicity – Phing really just boils down to two components. You have a set of variables (aka properties). And then you have a list of instructions (the build.xml file). The properties are used to help phing complete the list of instructions.
To get an idea for how simple the xml for Phing is take a look at the following example:
The above takes all the files within the build directory and compresses them into a build.tar.gz file. For more examples like the above check out the User’s Guide.