Native build system for unity builds with sophisticated bundle strategies

Takafumi Kubota, Kenji Kono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Build systems are essential tools for developing large software projects. Traditionally, build systems have been designed for high incremental-build performance. However, the longer build times of recent large C++ projects have imposed a requirement on build systems: i.e., unity builds. Unity builds are a build technique for speeding up sequential compilation of many source files by bundling multiple source files into one. Unity builds lead to a significant reduction in build time through removal of redundant parsing of shared header files. However, unity builds have a negative effect on incremental builds because each compiler task gets larger. Our previous study reported existing unity builds overlook many better bundle configurations that improve unity-build performance without increasing the incremental-build time. Motivated by the problem, we present a novel build system for better performance in unity builds. Our build system aims to achieve competitive unity-build performance in full builds with mitigating the negative effect on incremental builds. To accomplish this goal, our build system uses sophisticated bundle strategies developed on the basis of hints extracted from the preprocessed code of each source file. Thanks to the strategies, our build system finds better bundle configurations that improve both of the full-build performance and the incremental-build performance in unity builds. For example, in comparison with the state-of-the-art unity builds of WebKit, our build system improves build performance by 9% in full builds, by 39% in incremental builds, and by 23% in continuous builds that include both types of the builds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-137
Number of pages12
JournalIEICE Transactions on Information and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 1


  • Build systems
  • C++
  • Unity builds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence

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