Subject: Re: [boost] Let's stop distributing binaries
From: Cem Bassoy (cem.bassoy_at_[hidden])
Date: 2018-08-30 16:32:41
Some ideas and questions.
Let us assume we do not provide any binaries and let's say all library are
using cmake (or possibly boost.build) with their own C++ standard
End users would compile/include some boost libraries with a compiler that
uses a certain ABI and libstdc++ version.
Do we have ABI conflicts then?
Say one library is built and tested with C++03 conformance while the second
library is built and tested with C++17 conformance using e.g. 'if
Do we have potential conflicts when compiling both libraries with say 'gcc
-std=c++17' (e.g. value initialization gone wrong with the first library)?
Do all boost libraries guarantee that they are compiling with newer C++
Do we have rules somewhere? What about http://blincubator.com/?
Let us assume we want to provide binaries (for windows) similar to Qt.
Would it be possible to provide different types boost versions, e.g.
boost1 contains libraries requiring full C++03 conformance with a given ABI
boost2 contains libraries requiring full C++11 conformance with a given ABI
etc.? Maybe too much work.
Could we separate boost to header-only boost and standard boost?
Would that help?
If we assume that cmake could be more of a help than boost.build,
could cmake with very good description and introduction, tutorial be ever
enough for an end-user to build his/her own boost?
Am Do., 30. Aug. 2018 um 17:18 Uhr schrieb Edward Diener via Boost <
> On 8/29/2018 10:40 PM, Tom Kent via Boost wrote:
> > On Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 9:53 AM Robert Ramey via Boost <
> > boost_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> >> The fact is that users of boost use compilers with differing levels of
> >> C++ standard conformance. This creates a number of problems including
> >> (but probably not limited to)
> >> a) Using libraries built with different levels of C++ conformance may
> >> create ABI issues.
> >> b) it creates a discussion about "dropping C++03 support". Actually it
> >> creates a discussion about that the above actually means.
> >> c) It's motivated a suggestion that all libraries move to header only.
> >> This is not great idea - but I won't address that here.
> >> I believe all these issues - and more - would disappear if we just
> >> stopped distributing binaries. Each user would be building his own
> >> boost version with (presumably) the same compiler. Since C++03
> >> compatible libraries are C++?? compatible, each library author can
> >> maintain the level of backward compatibility that he wishes.
> >> But if we're not going to distribute binaries, then users might as well
> >> just clone the latest "certified - good - tagged" version in the master
> >> branch from the github repo. That is, let's just stop or truncate the
> >> whole release circus. Replace with an occasional
> >> "certification/versioning procedure" which would make available a
> >> "squashed" master suitable for efficient cloning.
> >> This would make everyone's life easier.
> >> Robert Ramey
> > I've never heard of any binaries for linux/unix/mac distributed by us,
> so I
> > guess this is reference to the Windows/Visual Studio binaries? As the
> > person who builds them, I suppose I should weigh in on this.
> > TL;DR - We need to provide an easier way to get windows/visual studio
> > up and running with boost than building with b2. I love boost and want to
> > make it as easy as possible for others to use.
> > History of the binaries
> > -----------------------------
> > When I first got started with the boost project about a decade ago, I
> was a
> > decent C++ developer at a large company (Boeing). We use C++ to develop
> > simulators for our aircraft.
> > I had worked extensively with Visual Studio and our large code base. Our
> > primary product (our simulation) is hundreds of thousands of lines of
> > and uses dozes of external dependencies. Most of the "external"
> > dependencies were internally (other groups within the company) produced
> > products. We would get dumps of .h and .lib files from other groups and
> > the directories to our visual studio solution include/lib paths. We would
> > occasionally encounter ABI errors, but were very good at managing the
> > configuration of libraries coming in to keep these from affecting us. We
> > basically had a system similar to Conan...but fifteen years ago.
> > I got the task of adding Boost to one of our projects in our solution, so
> > we could use a couple very nice libraies: asio, date time, interprocess,
> > program options, thread, and test. Several of these are not header only,
> > I knew I needed static libs for them. I fought for weeks trying to get
> > binaries. I wasn't familiar with bjam (and didn't know it was included
> > the source!) so I tried to load the source into visual studio and compile
> > it....that didn't go well. Eventually I found the horrible "Getting
> > with windows" page . It tries to lead a user to the command `b2
> > --toolset=msvc-14.0 --build-type=complete stage`, but fails miserably to
> > identify the arguments that are actually needed and most users would
> > figure out from the page that that is the command they need.
> > After many *dozen* hours fighting with b2, digging through terrible b2
> > documentation, and googling for people who had successfully built boost
> > windows, I finally got my static libs out! It was a nightmare that still
> > motivates the work that I do to make binaries available.
> > After getting them built, I packaged them up for use by my team. After
> > doing this for a few releases, and seeing lots of other people with the
> > same horror stories on Stack Overflow ("build boost on windows" has 877
> > results ), I decided to make the binaries that I was now good at
> > building public. For years I had them on my website...but they were
> > big and my hosting provider was getting more annoying so I requested, and
> > the mailing list agreed, that I could release the binaries along side the
> > source release through the boost channels. Which is basically the state
> > this day.
> > Current Usage
> > -------------------
> > The windows binaries are currently downloaded ~14,000 times per month
> > BinTray and ~2000 times per week from sourceforge.
> > They are generally built with the default compiler options, which is ABI
> > compatible for most users with the correct version of visual studio. In
> > recent months, I have started seeing some issues from users who are
> > changing the /std flag (new to VS2015). Which I acknowledge was one of
> > main issues mentioned above. There may also be more issues now that
> > is rolling new point releases very frequently. However, to remove the
> > binaries for this reason is throwing out the baby with the bath water.
> > Going Forward
> > --------------------
> > 1) I plan to continue building the binaries and making them available the
> > day of release. If the community would prefer that I get a separate
> > account and have them available there, I would be amenable to that, but I
> > don't see that as being a net gain for anyone. I'd like to keep them as
> > easily-discoverable as possible for new users.
> > 2) If we can make a full cmake transition, where visual studio solutions
> > can easily be created to make the needed libraries, that would be a good
> > time to revisit this. I think there are still a lot of hurdles that need
> > be cleared on the road to this though.
> > 3) I'd like to (when I can find the time) start pushing the binaries for
> > each release into some of the new package management systems (conan,
> > etc). While keeping the existing ones available as well, as the windows
> > package management systems are only used by a tiny minority.
> > 4) If boost widely drops C++03 support, I would likewise trim the
> > that we build binaries for. (Currently supported are VS2005/msvc-8.0
> > through VS2017/msvc-14.1)
> > 5) Something needs to be done to seriously overhaul the getting started
> > windows page. If I can find time I'll take a crack at that.
> > I have great respect for where this request comes from. I wish every
> > developer (especially the ten years ago me) could easily understand how
> > build their own copy of boost. However, I think we as a community need to
> > spend a lot more time thinking about the end-users who want to use boost
> > but aren't already familiar with it.
> You have reflected my thinking exactly. This whole business of
> "developers are so smart they will have no problem building Boost for
> whatever toolchains and for whatever libraries and for whatever C++
> standard build levels they desire using b2" is such nonsense that I do
> not even know where to begin. I am not putting down Boost Build in any
> way but if Boost developers themselves have a hard time figuring out how
> to build individual libraries with particular toolchains at particular
> C++ standard levels and having the resultant output go where they want
> it to go, just imagine what this is like for the particular end-user who
> might want to build Boost as a whole for different toolchains at
> different levels while including/excluding some shared/static library
> I am for Robert Ramey's suggestion that if we decide not to distribute
> Boost binaries in any way anymore we need to write a much better
> explanation of how to build Boost as a whole for a particular toolchain
> and a particular standard level and for the various combinations of
> shared/static libraries and for the various choices of what
> shared/static libraries can or cannot be built than what we currently
> have. In fact we need that now in the "Getting Started" page, no matter
> what direction we go, but I know if I press for that I will be accused
> of making more work those people knowledgeable about Boost Build who
> could write a much better explanation than what currently exists, so I
> will not do so. But thank you Tom, if only you have brought to attention
> that it is the end-users of Boost we should be serving and not just
> > Tom
> > 
> >  https://stackoverflow.com/search?q=build+boost+on+windows
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