Scheduling NDepend for a set of solutions

In a project of mine, I use NDepend to continuously analyze a set of solutions that make up some of the the software infrastructure of a major Swedish company.

By scheduling the analyses to run once a week, using previous analyses as a baseline for comparison, I hope that this will make it easier to detect less favorable patterns that we want to avoid and pin-point good ones that we want to embrace.

Although we use Team City as build server, I have setup the scheduled analyses to run from my personal computer during this first test phase. It is not optimal, but for now it will do.

The analyses are triggered from a simple bat script, that does the following:

  • It first checks out each solution from TFS
  • It then builds each solution with devenv
  • It then run a pre-created NDepend analysis for each solution
  • Each analysis is configured to publish the HTML report to a web server that is available for everyone within the project
Once I had created the script, I scheduled it using the Task Scheduler.  I set it to run every Monday morning at 8.30. Since it runs from my personal computer, I have to be early at work, but with two kids at home, I always am 🙂

The scheduled script works like a charm. The analyses runs each week and everyone is happy (at least I am). Already after the first analysis, we noticed some areas that we could modify to drastically improve the architecture, reduce branch/merge hell, code duplication etc.

Who knows what we will find after some incremental analyses? It is exciting, to say the least!

One small tweak

During the experimentation phase, when the report generation sometimes did not work, I was rather annoyed when NDepend did not run a new analysis, since no code had changed. The solution was simple – under Tools/Options/Anaysis, tell NDepend to always run a full analysis:

In most cases, though, the default setting is correct, since it will run a full analysis at least once per day. However, in this case, I keep the “Always Run Full Analysis” selected for all NDepend projects.

One final, small problem – help needed!

A small problem that still is an issue, is that my NDepend projects sometimes begin complaining that the solution DLL:s are invalid…although they are not. The last time this happened (after the major architectural changes), it did not matter if I deleted and re-added the DLL:s – the project still considered them to be invalid. I had to create the delete the NDepend projects and re-create them from scratch to make them work.

Has anyone had the same problem, and any idea what this could be about? Why do the NDepend projects start complaining about newly built DLL:s?