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Detroit is an advanced lifecycle build system. With Detroit, build tasks are user defined service instances tied to stops along a track. Whenever the detroit console command is run, a track is followed from beginning to designated destination.



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Detroit is a software production management aid, aka a build tool. Detroit utilizes a life-cycle methodology to help developers prepare and release software in a clear, repeatable, and linear fashion. While written in, and therefore well-suited to Ruby development, Detroit can be used for any language and production requirements.

How It Works

Detroit defines development processions call assemblies which consist of a set of production lines each with a series of named stations, or stops. Developers attach work elements to stations by configuring tool instances in a configuration file placed in a project's root directory. This file can be written in either YAML or a Ruby DSL.

For example, a RubyForge tool can be configured:

  tool: Rubyforge
    site: <%= name %>
  active: true

As this example demonstrates, tool configurations can draw on project metadata via ERB embedded tags. Detroit gathers this information using .index file, but the data source can be customized to meet the needs of different projects. (For instance, for Ruby projects, if no .index file is found, Detroit will attempt get the information from a .gemspec file.)

With tool configuration and metadata in place, using Detroit is simply a matter of passing a stop to the detroit command.

$ detroit document

The use of lines may seem constrictive to users of tools like Rake, but there is a benefit to this approach. It helps ensure a project is always up-to-date and in-sync --that no necessary steps are missed. Detroit standard asembly has two lines. The most significant of which is main line which entails a route with ordred stops:

prepare     # prepare services and ensure requirements
generate    # code generation
compile     # compile source code
test        # run tests and/or specifications
analyze     # run code analysis
document    # generate documentation
package     # create packages
verify      # post package verification (eg. integration tests)
install     # install package locally
publish     # publish website/documentation
release     # release packages
deploy      # deply system to servers
promote     # tell the world about you awesome work

The second line is maintainence line which consits of three stops:

reset       # mark build files as out-of-date
clean       # remove minor build files
purge       # remove all build files

Where reset marks generated files out-of-date, clean removes temporary products and purge removes all generated prodcuts.

To refine control over the build process, tool instances can be grouped into different tracks. For example, a Github gh-pages tool might be configured to be on a site track, so publishing a project's website only occurs if the site track is specified along with publish stop.

$ detroit site:publish

Please see for more details on how to use Detroit, including the creation of tracks, stops and tool plugins. Also try the --help option to see the detroit command's help information.


Detroit can, of course, be installed via RubyGems:

$ gem install detroit

Once installed, developers need to also install the specific plugins for the tools to be used. For example,

$ gem install detroit-github
$ gem install detroit-minitest
$ gem install detroit-yard

If using Bundler, just add these to the project's Gemfile instead.


All in all, Detroit works well. There are some rough edges with regards to the plugins, so from time to time you might run into an odd error. Ususally it just means a tool confirguraiton needs adjustment.

Please note, Windows support has not been considered at all. While we see no specific reason it should not work, there may well be issues we have not considered since we do not use Windows. If you are Windows user and give Detroit a try please let us know of any issues you encounter.


Detroit is actaully a fork of Reap v10, and was called Syckle for a number of years as it matured. It represents many years of design considerations (and reconsiderations) that evolved Reap from its simple Rake extension origins (which pre-date Hoe) to the life-cycle system it is today.


Copyright (c) 2007 Rubyworks (GPL-3.0 License)

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

See LICENSE.txt for details.