Today the folks in our game studios team (XNA) used the Game Developer's Conference to roll out the first major public viewing of what they've been hard at work on. If you want to read about the overall technology preview they released you can look at Michael's blog entry. If you want to see what the press is saying, there are several articles floating around.

"Blah blah blah", I'm sure you're thinking. "Yeah yeah, Microsoft announces some new technology. Biggy dealydo. I'm reading this blog for MSBuild content. Why on earth should I care?"

Ah, but have faith :) It gets very interesting when you dig a little deeper. The CTP includes something called "XNA Build":

Microsoft® XNA™ Build is a tool which will help game studios manage the growing complexities of their game content builds. We invite you to install this pre-release into a non-production environment to learn more about how XNA Build will reduce development complexities.

Michael's blog includes a few more details:

This is the heart of our release at GDC this year. XNA Build is a set of tools that’s designed to help studios with both their code and asset pipelines by providing ways to create, debug, maintain, and optimize those pipelines throughout their studio. XNA Build has really three major components to it, the technology it’s built on, the custom XNA tasks behind it, and the graphical Designer. XNA Build’s underlying technology is powered by MSBuild, a scriptable XML-based build solution that uses pluggable components called “Tasks” to extend the functionality of MSBuild. We have taken the time to construct a set of XNA-specific tasks which facilitate things like dependency tracking, unused file tracking, and analysis using your own custom in-house tools. That’s something that I’d really like you to walk away with: we’re not trying to get you to change or write custom tools to work in our system; we want to work with yours. Finally, there is the Designer. Right now an early prototype, it allows people who aren’t familiar with XML coding or working with batch files to author complex build systems using a drag, drop, and connect methodology.

Wooo, that sounds pretty cool doesn't it? Based on MSBuild? A graphical designer? No wei! Wei!

Got your interest now? Want to see it in action? :) Check out the overview presentation on XNA, as well as the presentation on advanced XNA Build topics.

[ Author: Neil Enns ]