You had to compile some of the packages? You mean, the AUR? That's almost always not actual compiling. You see, it's quite the elegant process - you download a PKGBUILD from the AUR which is simply (gotta love Arch simplicity!) a bash script. makepkg runs the script, which usually downloads binaries from a site somewhere and puts them all together into an Arch package, .pkg.tar.gz. Then, pacman -U installs the package. Sometimes it downloads source and compiles, yes, but not often. Of course, if you do want to compile, there's the ABS, which is basically Gentoo's portage or *BSD's ports system. Without USE flags, sadly.
You want automation? Get 'yaourt' from the AUR - it's a wrapper to pacman with color, a bunch of other stuff, and complete AUR integration.
And remember, if you like a package in the AUR, vote for it! With enough votes, an AUR package will be added to the community repos. There's even a package called 'aurvote' that can instantly vote for packages - just make a file in your home called '.aurvote' with two lines... user=YOURAURUSERNAMEHERE and pass=YOUGETTHEIDEA
. To top it off, it can be integrated into yaourt if you edit /etc/yaourtrc. Quite elegant. And, if there's not a package in the AUR that you want, creating a package is actually disturbingly easy, much more so than any other distro I've found so far. All the info is on the wiki.
Hope you have an Archy day