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Re: Auto-tools & Win32 & Borland C++ Builder

From: Robert Boehne
Subject: Re: Auto-tools & Win32 & Borland C++ Builder
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 13:09:46 -0500

Martin Hollmichel wrote:
> Hi all,
> I think the great misunderstanding is that the autotools are
> not targeting real multiplatform development, but Unix centric
> distribution of (GNU) OpenSource Software.
> To do real multiplatform, multitools development the autotools
> are difficult to use (IHMO). Try to introduce other compilers then
> (GNU) C, (GNU) C++ Compilers (idl - Compiler, Javac, Resource Compiler,
> whatever compilers, other dependency generators and you
> going mad (in my experience).
> I was often ask why we (I'm responsible for build
> environment on Unix, Windows and Mac platforms) don't use autotools,
> I say: it's right now not possible and didn't make
> much sense for really big and multiplatform
> development). I would like to, but I can't, sorry.
> A few more examples:
> * changing a autotool file, then waiting for configure to write 1200
> makefiles.
> * Mixing up debug and non debug build, do both causes double compile
> time, double diskspace and x-time more RAM for the debugger. Imagine to
> need 10 GB for Openoffice debug build and more than 2GB RAM to start the
> result in a debugger.
> * try to build a four year old glibc on a two year old Linux system or
> vice versa. You have to begin to hack a
> * using 30 year old preprocessor technology is not the most comfortable
> way of doing Software Configuration Management (SCM) and script
> development.

30 year old technology?  You mean m4?  What do you use?  ;)

> Maybe I'm wrong but is there better bibliography than the info files and
> GNU Autoconf, Automake and Libtool book by Vaughan, Elliston, Tromey and
> Taylor?
> Don't get me wrong, I think the autotools a great tools and I don't want
> to miss them, but for doing active software development it's not the
> optimal tool.
> Anybody who like to give hints to use autotools for ?
> Flame me,
>         Martin Hollmichel

Ok Martin, you asked for it!  I would venture a guess to say that
your project's UNIX build system is either legacy code
written before the autotools were a viable option, OR
that you don't support most of the Unicies out there.  (just a guess)
  If you were in a position of creating a build system from
scratch, and you wanted to keep everything as portable as possible,
then there is NO WAY you'd ever decide to do it without Autotools, IMHO.

  Frankly, every time I see a "real" project's Makefiles/build system
it is far worse than any hacks that might exist in the C source.
Projects tend to think of compiling as a secondary issue and portability
as somthing they should worry about in C or C++, not make.  That doesn't
make sense when you think about it, but consider that there are language
standards for virtually everything but make's syntax.  (correct me
if I'm wrong)

  Now, I'll concede that the GNU autotools don't work perfectly for
building under Windows (yet) but that's on the way.  The tools are
also constantly adding support for different vendor's compilers, I've
never seen a patch rejected because it wasn't for gcc, I think
everyone's goal is to have a set of tools that work everywhere for
every situation.  Currently these tools will do the job for 95%
of projects on 95% of platforms (or better) and there is nothing
else that can claim that.




Robert Boehne             Software Engineer
Ricardo Software   Chicago Technical Center
TEL: (630)789-0003 x. 238
FAX: (630)789-0127
email:  address@hidden

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