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From Ittay Dror <>
Subject Re: request for enhancement: compile, package and artifacts support for C++
Date Tue, 29 Jul 2008 06:23:24 GMT
I merged the other email (ordering) and comments. My comments inline

Assaf Arkin wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 2:42 AM, Ittay Dror <> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I'm working on adding C++ support to buildr. I already have a prototype that
>> builds libraries and executables in Linux. I'd like to share some of the
>> difficulties I had and request changes to buildr to accommodate C++ more
>> easily. (Right now, I've created parallel route to that of building
>> Java-like code)
>> compile
>> ========
>> overview
>> --------------------
>> the compile method in project returns a CompileTask that is generic and uses
>> a Compiler instance to do the actual compilation. In C++, compilation is
>> also dependency based (.o => .cpp, sometimes precompiling headers). Also,
>> the same code can produce several results (static and shared libraries, oj
>> files with debug, profiling, preprocessor defines turned on and off). [1]
>> there is the 'build' task, which is used as a stub to attach dependencies
>> to.
>> suggestion
>> ---------------------
>> * there should be an array of compile tasks (as in packages)
>> * #compile should delegate the call to a factory method which returns a task
>> (again, as in packages)
> Yes.  And I know a few people just waiting for the change to compile
> multiple things in the same project, so here's another reason for
> adding this feature.
> But I have to warn you, it's not as simple as it looks, I took a stab
> at it before and deciding to downscale support to one compiler per
> project.  It's worth doing because a lot of languages would benefit
> from it, but that's also what makes it tricky.  I think it would be
> easier to get C support working without it first, and separately work
> on this feature and then improve C support using it.
How about this: classify compile commands with symbolic names. like 
compile('java') or compile('c++:shared') ? on bootstrap, the different 
extensions can create compile tasks based on directory structure (so the 
Java extension can see that the directory [:source, :main, :java] exists 
and create compile('java') with some default values.

All compile tasks are prerequisits of 'build'

Then 'package :jar' can create a package that depends on 
compile('java'), compile('groovy') or whatever makes sense to put in a 
jar, as long as the compile task exist of course (not to create them if 
they don't) (BTW, I have some issues with the lack of command-query 
separation, normally when using a query method, I wouldn't want a task 
to be created if it doesn't exist)
>> * generic pre-requisites (like 'resources') should either be tacked on
>> 'build' (relying on order of prerequisites), or the compile task can be
>> defined to be a composite (that is, from the outside it is a single task,
>> but it can use other tasks to accomplish its job).
> compile already is: resources is a prerequisite for compile, some
> other tasks (e.g. byte code enhancing) are tacked on to compile by
> enhancing it.
yes, but the compilation of the java family of languages is one task 
(calling javac), while compiling c++ is several tasks: task per obj file 
and task per link. so there's a chain of tasks already. having a generic 
method receive a task from the factory method and make it depend on 
'resources' won't do, since the lower level tasks should be the ones 
that depend.

of course the factory method can create just one task that does all the 
rest in its action (compile obj files and link), but i do want to use 
tasks for the following reasons:
1. it makes the logic more like make, which will assist acceptance
2. it can use mechanisms in unix compilers to help make. specifically, 
most (if not all) unix compilers have an option to spit out dependencies 
of the source files on headers.
3. it reuses timestamp checking code in rake (and if ever rake 
implements checksum based recompilation)
4. if rake will implement a job execution engine (like -j in make), then 
structuring compilation by tasks will allow it to parallelize the execution.

but, i think the solution is easy: similar to the 'build' "pseudo task", 
i can create a 'compile:prepare' pseudo task that depends on 'resources' 
etc. then, the factory method needs only to depend on 'compile:prepare' 
(the logic is that another extension can then add other things to do 
before compile without needing to change the compile extensions)
>> package & artifacts
>> =========
>> overview
>> ---------------
>> buildr has a cool concept that all dependencies (in 'compile.with') are
>> converted to tasks that are then simple rake dependencies. However, the
>> conversion is not generic enough. to compile C++ code against a dependency
>> one needs 2 paths: a folder containing headers and another containing
>> libraries. To put this in a repository, these need to be packaged into one
>> file. To use after pulling from the repository, one needs to unpack. So a
>> task representing a repository artifact is in fact an unzip task, that
>> depends on the 'Artifact' task to pull the package from a remote repository.
> Let's take Java for example, let's say we have a task that depends on
> the contents of another WAR.  Specifically the classes (in
> WEB-INF/classes) and libraries (WEB-INF/lib).  A generic unzipping
> artifact won't help much, you'll get the root path which is useless.
> You need the classes path for one, and each file in the lib (pointing
> to the directory itself does nothing interesting).  It won't work with
> EAR either, when you unzip those, you end up with a WAR which you need
> to unzip again.
> But this hypothetical task that uses WAR could be smarter.  It
> understands the semantics of the packages it uses, and all these
> packages follow a common convention, so it only needs to unpack the
> portions of the WAR it cares about, it knows how to construct the
> relevant paths, one to class and one to every JAR inside the lib
> directory.
> I think the same analogy applies to C packages.  If by convention you
> always use include and lib, you can unpack only the portion of the
> package you need, find the relevant paths and use them appropriately.
(note: not sure i'm following you here. )

my current implementation creates classes that have methods to retrieve 
the include paths, the library paths and the library names. I don't use 
the task name, since it is useless (as you mentioned). so I have an 
ExtractedRepoArtifact FileTask class that implements these methods by 
relying on the structure of the package ('include' and 'lib' 
directories), it depends on the Artifact class and its action is to 
extract the artifact.

When given a project dependency, i return the build task which 
implements the artifact methods mentioned above by returning the 
[:source,:main,:include] and [:target,, :lib] paths. It also 
allows the user to add include paths (e.g., for generated files) which 
are then both used for compilation and returned by the artifact methods.
>> furthermore, when building against another project, there is no need to pack
>> and unpack in the repository. one can simply use the artifacts produced in
>> the 'build' phase of the other project.
> Yes.  Right now it points to the package, which gets invoked and so
> packs everything, whether you need the packing or not.  You don't,
> however, have to unpack it, if you know the packaging type you can be
> smarter and go directly to the source.
but i don't want to pack if there's no use for it. speed is critical in 
this project, since there's no eclipse to constantly compile code for 
you, so developers need to run the build after each change. having it 
pack unnecessarily wasts time.
>> finally, in C++ in many cases you rely on a system library.
>> in all cases the resulting dependency is two-fold: on a include dir paths
>> and on a library paths. note that these do not necessarily reside under a
>> shared folder. for example, a dependency on another project may depend on
>> two include folders: one just a folder in the source tree, the other of
>> generated files in the target directory
>> suggestion
>> -------------------
>> While usage of Buildr.artifacts is only as a utility method, so one can
>> easily write his own implementation and use that, I think it will be nice to
>> be able to get some reuse.
>> * when given a project, use it as is (not 'spec.packages'), or allow it to
>> return its artifacts ('spec.artifacts').
> Yes.  Except we're missing that whole dependency later (that's
> something 1.4 will add).  Ideally the project would have dependency
> lists it can populates (at least compile and runtime), and other
> projects can get these dependency lists and pick what they want.  So
> the compile dependency list would be the place to put headers and
> libraries, without having to package them.  We don't have that right
> now.
this is the purpose for the 'spec.artifacts' suggestion (that is, an 
'artifacts' method in Project). maybe need to classify them similarly to 
my suggestion for 'compile', so the Buildr.artifacts method receives a 
'classifier' argument, whose value can be, for example,  'java' and 
calls 'spec.artifacts(classifier)'. are we on the same page here?
>> * if a symbol, recursively call on the spec from the namespace
>> * if a struct, recursively call
>> * otherwise, classify the artifact and call a factory method to create it.
>> classification can be by packaging (e.g. jar). but actually, i don't have a
>> very good idea here. note that for c++, there need to be a way of defining
>> an artifact to look in the system for include files and libraries  (maybe
>> something like 'openssl:system'? - version and group ids are meaningless).
>>  * the factory method can create different artifacts. for c++ there would be
>> RepositoryArtifact (downloads and unpacks), ProjectArtifact (short circuit
>> to the project's target and source directories) and SystemArtifact.
>> I think that the use of artifact namespaces can help here as it allows to
>> create a more verbose syntax for declaring artifacts, while still allowing
>> the user to create shorter names for them. (as an example in C++ it will
>> allow me to add to the artifact the list of flags to use when
>> compiling/linking with it, assuming they're not inherent to the artifact,
>> e.g. turn debug on). The factory method receives the artifact definition
>> (which can actually be defined by each plugin) and decides what to do with
>> it.
> 1.4 will have a better dependency mechanism, and one thing I looked at
> is associating meta-data with each dependency.  So perhaps that would
> address things like compiling/linking flags.
> > ordering
> > =========
> > overview
> > -------------------
> > to support jni, one needs to first compile java classes, then run javah to
> > generate headers and then compile c code that implements these headers. so
> > the javah task should be able to specify it depends on the java compile
> > task. this can't be by depending on all compile tasks of course or on
> > 'build'.
> Alternatively:
> compile do |task|
>   javah
> end
> This will run javah each time the compiler runs.
but running each time is what i want to avoid. not only do i want to 
avoid the invocation of 'javah', but when invoked it will change the 
timestamp of the generated headers and so many source files will get 

note that compiling a C/C++ source file is a much slower process than 
compiling java.
>> suggestion
>> -------------------
>> when creating a compile task (whose name can be, as in the case of c++, the
>> result library name - to allow for dependency checking), also create a "for
>> ordering only" task with a symbolic name (e.g., 'java:compile') which
>> depends on the actual task. then other tasks can depend on that task
> And yes, you'll still need that if you want to run the C compiler
> after the Java compiler, so I think the right thing to do would have
> separate compile tasks.
>> I hope all this makes sense, and I'm looking forward to comments. I intend
>> to share the code once I'm finished.
> Unfortunately, the last time I wrote C code was over tens years ago,
> so my rustiness is showing.  I'm sure I missed some points because of
> that.
I hope I cleared things. I think it is worth investing in C/C++ as it is 
a space where there's still no solutions (that i know of) that handle 
module dependency.

To make sure it is clear, I'm not asking for the buildr team to 
implement C/C++ building, I intend to do that, and have already made a 
demo of it working, but I do want to ask for the infrastructure in 
buildr to make it easier, since currently it looks like a "stepson".

> Assaf
>> Thank you,
>> Ittay
>> Notes:
>> [1] I don't consider linking a library as packaging. First, the obj files
>> are not used by themselves as in other languages. Second, packaging is
>> required to manage dependencies, because in order for project P to be built
>> against dependency D, D needs to contain both headers and libraries - this
>> is the package.
>> --
>> --
>> Ittay Dror <>

Ittay Dror <>

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