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GOP-PROP 5: build system output (probable 2?)

From: Graham Percival
Subject: GOP-PROP 5: build system output (probable 2?)
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 12:12:52 -0700
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

I still don't feel that we have any kind of consensus on this.
Here's an updated proposal.

** Proposal summary

When you run make or make doc,

    * All output will be saved to various log files, with the
      exception of output directly from make(1).
    * By default, no other output will be displayed on the
      console, with one exception: if a build fails, we might
      display some portion(s) of log file(s) which give useful
      clues about the reason for the failure.

      The user may optionally request additional output to be
printed; this is controlled with the VERBOSE=x flag. In such
cases, all output will still be written to log files; the console
output is strictly additional to the log files.

    * Logfiles from calling lilypond (as part of lilypond-book)
      will go in the relevant
      ‘build/out/lybook-db/12/lily-123456.log’ file. All other
      logfiles will go in the ‘build/logfiles/’ directory.
    * Both stderr and stdout will be saved in *.log. The order of
      lines from these streams should be preserved.
    * There will be no additional “progress messages” during the
      build process. If you run make --silent, a non-failing build
      should print absolutely nothing to the screen.
    * Ideally, a failing build should provide hints about the
      reason why it failed, or at least hints about which log
      file(s) to examine. 

** Rationale

When the lilypond build breaks, it’s too hard to figure out why it

We see emails to lilypond-devel approximately once every two
months about broken builds. On a subjective note, Graham has been
the documentation editor since 2003, but even he cannot reliably
pinpoint the cause of a failing doc build within 10 minutes. We
waste a ridiculous amount of time, effort, and patience on build

** Sea of output

Before any of the current work on reducing output from make, the
result of a "make doc" was over 500,000 lines of text. The prime
reason for the output being so verbose is that all the processes
that run as a result of the call to make echo their output to the
screen, often in verbose mode. Lilypond itself produces around
370,000 lines of output as a result of lilypond-book building all
the snippets.

Much of this output can be redirected to logfiles and so the
impossible-to-read clutter on the screen is cut out and could be
referred to later.

** Don’t cause more build problems

However, there is a danger in this approach, that vital error
messages can also be lost, thus preventing the cause of the
failure of a make being found. We therefore need to be
exceptionally careful to move cautiously, include plenty of tests,
and give time for people to experiment/find problems in each stage
before proceeding to the next stage.

** Implementation notes

There is an existing make variable QUIET_BUILD, which alter the
amount of output being displayed
). We are not planning on keeping this make variable.

The standard way for GNU packages to give more output is with a
V=x option. Presumably this is done by increasing x? If we support
this option, we should still write log files; we would simply
print more of the info in those log files to screen.

** Bottom line

If there are no build problems, there should be no change to
people’s workflow.

If there are build problems, then it should be easier to find out
why it’s failing. 

- Graham

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