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Re: Extensions to M4sh

From: Michael Orlitzky
Subject: Re: Extensions to M4sh
Date: Wed, 04 May 2022 08:07:57 -0400
User-agent: Evolution 3.42.4

On Wed, 2022-05-04 at 06:00 -0400, Demi Marie Obenour wrote:
> Honestly, I feel like the autotools are dying.

They're feature-complete, up to support for some newer languages.

> If I use Meson or CMake, I get solutions to all of these problems,
> except perhaps IDE integration.  And that is far more important to me
> than being able to support Ultrix or IRIX.

Writing -- and especially debugging -- m4 is pretty awful, but the rest
aren't issues for many people who target UNIX systems. I haven't used
an IDE in $bignum years and could not care less about native Windows
now that WSL is available. What's the problem with reproducible builds?
What sort of dependency management do you expect a build system to

The trade-off you get for writing m4 is that the build system produced
by autotools doesn't require you to have autotools installed, and
instead uses only a portable subset of standard system tools. As a
result, end users can never encounter an error message that says "your
autotools is too old!" Similarly, autotools will never require you to
upgrade your system copy of (say) python before it will run. Which
would be especially annoying if python could only be built with the
very same autotools that would not run. IIRC that situation has
happened before with some of CMake's dependencies.

> A lot of projects have switched from the autotools to something else,
> often CMake or Meson.  Very few have made the reverse switch.

I think Meson makes some reasonable trade-offs between legibility and
portability. If you don't need what autotools is selling, Meson would
be my next suggestion. But CMake is hard for me to see as anything
other than autotools wrapped in a custom language that requires the
user to have (sometimes a specific version of) the CMake interpreter
installed to use it.

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