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From: David Abrahams (dave_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-05-25 14:50:16

Note: I am keenly interested in making Boost installation better. I
have a lot of honest questions below, but they are not meant to be
challenges. In order to make things better, we need the answers.

"Paul A Bristow" <pbristow_at_[hidden]> writes:

> Recently we had a flurry of discussion of why Boost is not more
> widely used.
> I have used some bits of Boost happily for years, but recently I
> felt I had to use it 'properly' so concluded it was time I used the
> bjam build system - something I had felt looked a bit clever.
> Indeed my suspicion was proved correct - I couldn't get it to work.

Where did you get stopped? What was the problem?

> The instructions

I assume you mean

> are far too Unix/Make oriented for this mere Windows hacker;

In what way are they Unix/Make oriented?

> the Wiki Windows specific instructions are much better

In what way are they better?

> but suggest copying (duplicating) a lot of files to avoid an
> addition to the include directories, and don't apply to the most
> recent compilers.

Two points "against." What are the points "for?"

> Victor Wagner gave some hints recently using environment variables,
> but not the full text.
> I don't doubt the usefulness of the bjam to the congescenti - only
> with this could the incredibly impressive build & test system allow
> all the cracks and chasms of compiler non-compliance and language
> imprecision to be papered over - Boost's great strength.
> But if we are to interest your average Windows IDE programmer, for
> whom MAKE is a blank or a distant nightmare, IMO we need some much
> better and simpler instructions,

I think we need a Windows installer. 90% of C++ programmers use VC++
(sometimes along with others), so it's worth special-casing this one.

> including lots of examples of input and output,

I can't imagine how adding lots of examples could make the
instructions for installing Boost any better. Can you propose some

Maybe you are talking about instructions for using Boost.Build in
general, as opposed to instructions for "installing Boost"? If so, I
agree. Boost.Build version 2, which is not yet the official one we
use for testing, should be easier to use and better documented than
version 1. That said, the documentation needs a lot of work. Several
months ago I spent 2 weeks going through it all and putting editorial
comments in every place it was unclear, which was many. Vladimir
Prus, the author of the current docs, started going through my remarks
and making fixes, but he only got halfway done, and hasn't yet made
any of the overall structural changes AFAICT. So we could really use
some help on the documentation, especially from someone who has
credibility as a total novice with Boost.Build.

> and to be as well tested as the rest of Boost code. has been pretty darned
well tested.

> Like it or not, these are the potential customers and I spoken to
> many who are put off by the 'build barrier'.

I agree.

> I suggest that we explicitly say that you can use all of Boost
> (except the ones that must have built libraries) by adding to the
> include list - and say exactly how in Windows IDE-ese.

Sure, that's a good idea.
> If you share my concern, would some someone like to prepare
> something?

If you mean prepare the advice that "you can use all of Boost
(except the ones that must have built libraries) by adding to the
include list - and say exactly how in Windows IDE-ese," I think you're
the perfect man for the job. If you mean something else, then what?

> Or at least provide details of their way of doing it.

It would help a lot if you'd specify more carefully what "it" is.

Dave Abrahams
Boost Consulting

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