Building with NAnt (and NUnit, and NCover, and NCoverExplorer)

A while back, I wrote a blog post, A quick introduction to Nant, which gave, well, a quick introduction to building C# libraries using NAnt.

Since then, I’ve been using NAnt to do a lot more — notably, to run unit tests and to report on test coverage (using NCover and NCoverExplorer). The usage is pretty straightforward, and I think you’ll see how each step builds on the previous step.

  • To run a default build (excluding unit tests): nant
  • To build all projects and unit tests (but don’t run : nant build-tests
  • To build all projects and unit tests, and run tests using NUnit: nant test
  • To build all projects and unit tests, and run tests using NCover to generate coverage reports: nant cover
  • To build all projects and unit tests, run tests using NCover to generate coverage reports, and open those reports in NCoverExplorer: nant coverex

The sample below is my NAnt build file. A few notes first.

  • There are only two projects referenced: Project1 and Project1.Tests. Repeat the appropriate sections to build against additional projects.
  • nunit-console.exe is expected to be in the system path.
  • nunit-console.exe, ncover.console.exe, and ncoverexplorer.exe are expected to be in the system path. I recommend you download and install TestDriven.Net to have all of these in a convenient place.

Now, on to the build file. It should be self-explanatory, but I added some XML comments for your convenience.

< ?xml version="1.0"?>
<project name="project build" default="build" basedir=".">
	<description>Project -- NAnt Build</description>
	<property name="debug" value="true" />
	<property name="build.dir" value="bin" />

	<echo message="debug: ${debug}" />
	<echo message="build.dir: ${build.dir}" />

	<target name="init" description="sets up environment for build">
		<mkdir dir="${build.dir}" />

	<target name="clean" description="removes old files, copies new reference DLLs">
		<delete dir="${build.dir}" failonerror="false" />
			<fileset basedir="${build.dir}">
			<include name="*.*" />
		<copy todir="${build.dir}">
			<!-- I keep shared DLLs in a directory called References -->
			<fileset basedir="References">
				<include name="*.dll" />
				<include name="*.xml" />

	<target name="build" description="build projects, excluding tests (default)" depends="clean,init">
		<csc target="library" output="${build.dir}\Project1.dll" debug="${debug}" doc="${build.dir}\Project1.xml">
			<sources basedir="Project1">
				<include name="**/*.cs" />
			<references basedir="${build.dir}">
				<include name="System.dll" />
				<!-- add additional references here -->

	<target name="build-tests" description="build all test projects" depends="build">
		<csc target="library" output="${build.dir}\Project1.Tests.dll" debug="true">
		<sources basedir="Project1.Tests">
			<include name="**/*.cs" />
		<references basedir="${build.dir}">
		<include name="System.dll" />
		<include name="NUnit.Framework.dll" />
		<!-- add additional references here -->
		<!-- this copies your App.config to a file that can be found by NUnit when testing -->
		<copy file="Project1.Tests\App.config" tofile="${build.dir}\Project1.Tests.dll.config" />

	<target name="test" description="builds all and runs unit tests" depends="build-tests">
		<exec workingdir="${build.dir}"
			<arg value="Project1.Tests.dll" />
			<arg value="/xml=Project1.Tests-results.xml" />

	<target name="cover" description="builds all and runs unit tests using NCover" depends="build-tests">
		<ncover program="NCover.Console.exe"
			commandLineArgs="Project1.Tests.dll /xml=Project1.Tests-results.xml"

	<target name="coverex" depends="cover">
		<exec workingdir="${build.dir}"
			<arg value="Project1.Tests-coverage.xml" />


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