Build Event Protocol Examples

The full specification of the Build Event Protocol can be found in its protocol buffer definition. However, it might be helpful to build up some intuition before looking at the specification.

Consider a simple Bazel workspace that consists of two empty shell scripts and and the following BUILD file:

    name = "foo",
    srcs = [""],

    name = "foo_lib",
    data = [":foo"],

    name = "foo_test",
    srcs = [""],
    deps = [":foo_lib"],

When running bazel test ... on this project the build graph of the generated build events will resemble the graph below. The arrows indicate the aforementioned parent and child relationship. Note that some build events and most fields have been omitted for brevity.


Initially, a BuildStarted event is published. The event informs us that the build was invoked through the bazel test command and it also announces five child events: OptionsParsed, WorkspaceStatus, CommandLine, PatternExpanded and Progress. The first three events provide information about how Bazel was invoked. The PatternExpanded build event provides insight into which specific targets the ... pattern expanded to: //:foo, //:foo_lib and //:foo_test. It does so by declaring three TargetConfigured events as children.

Note that the TargetConfigured event declares the Configuration event as a child event, even though Configuration has been posted before the TargetConfigured event.

Besides the parent and child relationship, events may also refer to each other using their build event identifiers. For example, in the above graph the TargetComplete event refers to the NamedSetOfFiles event in its fileSets field.

Build events that refer to files (i.e. outputs) usually don’t embed the file names and paths in the event. Instead, they contain the build event identifier of a NamedSetOfFiles event, which will then contain the actual file names and paths. The NamedSetOfFiles event allows a set of files to be reported once and referred to by many targets. This structure is necessary because otherwise in some cases the Build Event Protocol output size would grow quadratically with the number of files. A NamedSetOfFiles event may also not have all its files embedded, but instead refer to other NamedSetOfFiles events through their build event identifiers.

Below is an instance of the TargetComplete event for the //:foo_lib target from the above graph, printed in protocol buffer’s JSON representation. The build event identifier contains the target as an opaque string and refers to the Configuration event using its build event identifier. The event does not announce any child events. The payload contains information about whether the target was built successfully, the set of output files, and the kind of target built.

  "id": {
    "targetCompleted": {
      "label": "//:foo_lib",
      "configuration": {
        "id": "544e39a7f0abdb3efdd29d675a48bc6a"
  "completed": {
    "success": true,
    "outputGroup": [{
      "name": "default",
      "fileSets": [{
        "id": "0"
    "targetKind": "sh_library rule"