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C++ Distributed Builds: Strategies to Reduce Build Times

· 8 min read
Christopher McArthur
C++ DevOps Expert

Have you ever stared longingly at that time-consuming progress bar, willing your C++ project to compile faster? If you're nodding along, you're not alone. The ISO's annual "lite" developer survey consistently reveals that over 60% of respondents consider long build times a major pain point, with little improvement year over year.

Thankfully, there's an old solution: distributing the build burden across multiple machines. This approach can dramatically slash those wait times (either way you go) and free you to focus on what matters - writing great code. This blog post will explore two prominent distribution techniques and how they've evolved: distributing compilation units and distributing targets. But here's the secret sauce: a target-based approach, the current best practice, can not only accelerate builds but also lead you to design cleaner and more maintainable build pipelines. Let's dive in!