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I'm working on adding my Arduino to continuous integration and I came across two different possible ways of doing this, Arduino command line, and arduino-builder. Can someone explain why the arduino-builder tool exists separately from calling Arduino from the command line? And what are the advantages of using one over the other?

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    ...and platformio.org/#!/frameworks – Arjan Mar 1 '16 at 19:41
  • I've discovered one downside of calling arduino_debug (on windows) from the command line. It generates graphical pop-ups for errors instead of command line messages. – Ian Mar 2 '16 at 6:57
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The Arduino IDE command line predates arduino-builder and was made available when the source pre-processing and compiling was implemented by a Java class (deeply) embedded in the IDE.

The current IDE uses arduino-builder behind the scenes to process and compile the code so if you use arduino-builder you avoid having to load the whole Java IDE. Try it out it does some pretty cool stuff

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I've written a new option for Arduino CI/unit testing and put together a decent size writeup about it as an answer to this related question.

I ended up using the Arduino command line instead of arduino-builder, because it worked better cross-platform for me. It assumes a graphical display though, even if you just use the CLI features. In the case of Travis CI, I needed to spin up a fake X display to handle the initial splash screen and other graphical error messages. (Fortunately, you can tell based on how long a command takes to complete whether it's waiting for you to acknowledge a graphical error message.)

Some examples of how to enable CI on your own project:

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