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Have you ever looked at your build? I mean, really looked at your build?

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Have you ever looked at your build? I mean, really looked at your build?

· DevOps Zone ·
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DevOps involves integrating development, testing, deployment and release cycles into a collaborative process. Learn more about the 4 steps to an effective DevSecOps infrastructure.

Bazel has a feature that lets you see a graph of your build dependencies. It could help you debug things, but honestly it’s just really cool to see what your build is doing.

To try it out, you’ll need a project that uses Bazel to build. If you don’t have one handy, here’s a tiny workspace you can use:

$ git clone https://github.com/kchodorow/tiny-workspace.git
$ cd tiny-workspace

Make sure you’ve downloaded and installed Bazel and add the following line to your ~/.bazelrc:

query --package_path %workspace%:[path to bazel]/base_workspace

There should already be a line in your ~/.bazelrc that is almost identical to this, but starts with “build”. So, when you’re done, it’ll look something like:

build --package_path %workspace%:/home/k/gitroot/bazel/base_workspace
query --package_path %workspace%:/home/k/gitroot/bazel/base_workspace

(except your username probably isn’t “k”).

Now run bazel query in your tiny-workspace/ directory, asking it to search for all dependencies of //:main and format the output as a graph:

$ bazel query 'deps(//:main)' --output graph > graph.in

This creates a file called graph.in, which is a text representation of the build graph. You can use dot (install with sudo apt-get install graphviz) to create a png from this:

$ dot -Tpng < graph.in > graph.png

If you open up graph.png, you should see something like this:


You can see //:main depends on one file (//:main.cc) and four targets (//:x, //tools/cpp:stl, //tools/default:crosstool, and //tools/cpp:malloc). All of the //tools targets are implicit dependencies of any C++ target: every C++ build you do needs the right compiler, flags, and libraries available, but it crowds your result graph. You can exclude these implicit dependencies by removing them from your query results:

$ bazel query --noimplicit_deps 'deps(//:main)' --output graph > simplified_graph.in

Now the resulting graph is just:


Much neater!

If you’re interested in further refining your query, check out the docs on querying.

Read the 4-part DevOps testing eBook to learn how to detect problems earlier in your DevOps testing processes.


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