How do you test partial rebuilds?

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How do you test partial rebuilds?

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My team sometimes discovers bugs in our build system where modifying one particular file doesn't trigger a rebuild of some dependent file.

While our continuous integration system (Jenkins) catches problems when building the whole project, we don't currently have any way to detect problems with partial rebuilds — other than developers getting temporarily confused when they make a change, rebuild, and don't see their change take effect.

As we're in the process of moving from qmake to CMake, now seems like a good time to add some tests of partial rebuilds.

Have you written similar tests? Did you use a shell script (touch, rebuild, grep), or are more advanced tools available?

[There was a similar question on this list from 2009 (, but the thread didn't answer our question.]


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