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From: Beman Dawes (bdawes_at_[hidden])
Date: 2007-04-06 10:57:06

There has been a thread running with the subject "[system] Why is this
not header-only?" that discusses header-only versus compiled-library
compilation models for Boost libraries.

Some users require the compiled-library approach. I'll characterize
these folks as requiring the shorter compile times and better software
engineering practice that compiled libraries provide. In some cases
these folks have had to rework Boost header-only libraries to create
compiled libraries.

Some users prefer the header-only approach. They need to be able to
quickly set up at new project without messing around with compiled
libraries. They want to be able to evaluate Boost libraries without
doing any preparatory work altogether.

Jeff Garland and Andrey Semashev argued that Boost should adopt a hybrid
compilation model that allows applicable Boost libraries to be used in
either header-only or compiled-library modes. Note that Boost.Test
already provides this, although with degraded functionality in
header-only form.

There was some discussion as to how to do this; my eyes glazed over when
discussions drifted into problems of dlls, singletons, etc.

I'll like to challenge Boosters to think about this problem a bit more,
and I'd love to see someone who understands the challenges take, say,
Boost.System and demonstrate how it could be packaged for either
header-only or compiled-library use. The important goal would be to
abstract what to done into a general set of guidelines (and any
configuration support needed). In other words, we don't so much need a
solution for Boost.System as for any Boost library that would benefit
from a hybrid computation model.



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