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Bazel vs Pants: What are the differences?


Bazel and Pants are both build systems that provide tools and workflows for managing software builds. While they have similarities, there are key differences that set them apart.

  1. Build File Language: Bazel uses Starlark, a Python-like configuration language, for writing build files, while Pants primarily uses a declarative BUILD language, which is more concise and easier to read and write.

  2. Build Execution: Bazel has a distributed caching feature that enables efficient reusability of build artifacts across different machines and builds, making it ideal for large-scale projects. On the other hand, Pants focuses more on incremental builds and maximizing parallelism within a single machine, making it suitable for smaller and medium-scale projects.

  3. Build Graph: Bazel represents the build graph as a directed acyclic graph (DAG), which allows for fine-grained control over build dependencies and enables efficient parallelization. Pants, on the other hand, represents the build graph as a target hierarchy, which provides high-level visibility but can be less optimal for some complex dependency scenarios.

  4. Ecosystem: Bazel has a mature and extensive ecosystem with support for various programming languages and frameworks, including C++, Java, and Python. It also has a large community and a well-documented set of rules and tools. Pants, while also supporting multiple languages, has a smaller ecosystem and a more focused community primarily around Python projects.

  5. Configuration and Extensibility: Bazel allows users to extend its functionality through custom rules and provides a flexible and extensible configuration system. Pants, on the other hand, focuses on simplicity and convention-over-configuration, aiming to minimize the need for customization by providing a set of sensible defaults.

  6. Tooling and Integration: Bazel integrates well with popular development tools and IDEs, such as Visual Studio Code and IntelliJ, providing features like code navigation, autocompletion, and integrated test runners. While Pants also has some tooling support, it may not be as extensive or seamless as Bazel's integration.

In summary, Bazel and Pants differ in their build file languages, build execution strategies, representation of build graphs, ecosystem support, configuration approach, and tooling/integration capabilities.

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Pros of Bazel
Pros of Pants
  • 28
  • 20
    Deterministic incremental builds
  • 17
  • 16
  • 14
    Enforces declared inputs/outputs
  • 10
    High-level build language
  • 9
  • 5
    Multi-platform support
  • 5
  • 4
    Dependency management
  • 2
    Windows Support
  • 2
  • 1
    Android Studio integration
  • 6
    Creates deployable packages
  • 4
    Runs on Linux
  • 4
    Runs on OS X
  • 4
    BUILD files
  • 4
    Runs tests
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2

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Cons of Bazel
Cons of Pants
  • 3
    No Windows Support
  • 2
    Bad IntelliJ support
  • 1
    Poor windows support for some languages
  • 1
    Constant breaking changes
  • 1
    Learning Curve
  • 1
    Lack of Documentation
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    What is Bazel?

    Bazel is a build tool that builds code quickly and reliably. It is used to build the majority of Google's software, and thus it has been designed to handle build problems present in Google's development environment.

    What is Pants?

    Pants is a build system for Java, Scala and Python. It works particularly well for a source code repository that contains many distinct projects.

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    What companies use Bazel?
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    What tools integrate with Bazel?
    What tools integrate with Pants?
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      Blog Posts

      Mar 24 2021 at 12:57PM


      Apache MesosApache AuroraPants+3
      What are some alternatives to Bazel and Pants?
      A bundler for javascript and friends. Packs many modules into a few bundled assets. Code Splitting allows to load parts for the application on demand. Through "loaders" modules can be CommonJs, AMD, ES6 modules, CSS, Images, JSON, Coffeescript, LESS, ... and your custom stuff.
      Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
      Buck encourages the creation of small, reusable modules consisting of code and resources, and supports a variety of languages on many platforms.
      It is used to control the software compilation process using simple platform and compiler independent configuration files, and generate native makefiles and workspaces that can be used in the compiler environment of the user's choice.
      In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
      See all alternatives