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Brandon Van Every wrote:

Usually when I see the "we prefer premake" sentiment, or some
such for another build tool, it's a small project.

I'm one of those people who prefer premake. I'm project leader on 127K lines of C++ code, 312K with generated code. Whatever size project that is.

I've been
interested in what advantages these tools offer, whether for small
projects, or otherwise.  I'm also interested in people's perceptions
about the advantages, and how that squares with design, maintenance,
and scale-up over the long haul.  For instance, many people are of the
opinion that a mainstream programming language is beneficial to a
build system.

I agree with the opinion that a mainstream language is beneficial to the build system (especially Lua). Lua has a great balance of power and simplicity, and is well documented and easy to learn.

Have you seen that actually pay off for you in some
tangible way?

Yes. We use Lua not only with premake, but also in custom build scripts (packaging for distribution, code generation, license key creation) and in embedded testing and scripting of the application.

Or was it about comfort level, feeling that you didn't
have to learn something new, and it didn't turn out to matter in

Learning something new isn't about discomfort. It is about cost versus benefit. If the new knowledge can be used in many ways, the benefit outweighs the cost. On the other hand, if the new knowledge can only be used to build the project, the cost may outweigh the benefit.

Knowledge used in multiple places could be called "Knowledge Reuse". Since Lua is easily used in different ways, it can also be beneficial for direct "Code Reuse". Some of our code for configuring premake is reused in other build scripts.

If CMake used Lua, I'd be more likely to use CMake.