A software build is a set of executable code ready for use by consumers that has been produced by compiling source code. This term can also be used to refer to the building process itself, where developers take their source code and run it through a compiling process to make it functional. Software programs are continuously updated until manufacturers decide to stop supporting them. This can involve a series of builds, many of which are released to the general public.
Designers of software typically start by outlining what they want the software to do and how they want to accomplish it. Developers begin developing the source code, the raw material that will make up the backbone of the software. One thing they consider as they work on the source is the need for future builds. Flexible source code can be modified, added on to, and altered as user needs change and the software needs to shift. Rigid code can be harder to work with in the future.
In the software build process, they compile the source code to create a program. They run the result through rigorous testing to make sure it works. If there are problems with the software build, they can return to the source code to modify them. Thus, not every build is released to the public; sometimes a grave mistake makes a build a complete failure, and in other cases, it has too many errors to be ready for general use.
Once developers are satisfied, they can issue a build. Software version numbers provide broad information about the version for customers; for example, 1.0 or 2.0. Build numbers offer more specific details about precisely which software build the customer is using. For example, a word processing program might display “Word Processor 5.0” at startup, letting the customer know that this is the fifth version. In the details about the program, it could display with a build number, in a form like 220.127.116.1165.
When the customer has a problem, the support technician may ask for the software build number, as this could be important. There may be a known issue that could be resolved by upgrading the build installed on the customer’s computer or applying a patch. If the problem hasn’t been reported before, the technician can enter a trouble ticket to alert the developers, with as much information as possible about the error for their benefit. This allows them to address the problem in future software builds. Sometimes very odd errors crop up in the wild, like a conflict between two programs the developers would not have thought to test together.