The rake build automation tool is a Ruby implementation of the make tool, which has been around since ever.

I tried it out for the first time as part of a Go application I’m currently pushing into Production and found it a joy to work with. So much so, that I’ve taken to creating a Rakefile for projects that aren’t destined for deployment, as a wrapper for repetitive tasks like go build -o thing.exe; .\thing.exe

Getting started

First of all, you’ll need to have an installation of Ruby. Head over to Ruby Installer to download the latest version.

Then, you’ll need to install rake:

$ gem install rake

Add it to your path so you can call rake from the command line.

As with make, rake allows you to write named tasks with commands to execute. I won’t delve into the nitty-gritty details of tasks and namespaces but here’s an example Rakefile I use to make the process of building and running my Go code quicker. This particular example is taken from my Guilded Rose kata:

require 'rake'

OUTPUT = 'rose.exe'

task :run do
    sh('go', 'build', '-o', OUTPUT)

…and here’s a breakdown of what everything’s doing:

require 'rake'

Bring in the rake module, same as you would bring in any other Ruby module.

OUTPUT = 'rose.exe'

As the resulting executable is never going to need referencing by name (outside of this file), I provide a hard-coded name I can build to and run from.

task :run do

A rake task definition called “run”. This will be accessible on the command line when invoking the rake command.

sh("go build -o #{OUTPUT}")
# OR
sh('go', 'build', '-o', OUTPUT)

Executes the “go build -o rose.exe” command on the command line and fails the rake run task if it isn’t successful. Either of the above commnds work as expected, the second one just specifies arguments explicitly.


Runs the resulting executable file creating during the “go build” step.


Kick off the rake run task on the command line and you’ll see the following output in the console:

go build -o rose.exe
{+5 Dexterity Vest 9 19}
{Aged Brie 1 1}
{Elixir of the Mongoose 4 6}
{Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros 0 80}
{Backstage passes to a TAFKAL80ETC concert 14 21}
{Conjured Mana Cake 2 4}

…assuming you’ve CD’d into the directory your Rakefile is in and it’s in the same directory as your code.