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From: Deniz Bahadir (deniz.bahadir_at_[hidden])
Date: 2021-06-11 21:12:03

Am 11.06.21 um 22:17 schrieb Rainer Deyke via Boost:
> On 11.06.21 16:20, Deniz Bahadir via Boost wrote:
>> Am 11.06.21 um 11:17 schrieb Rainer Deyke via Boost:
>>> If this functionality works the way I think does, then I think it
>>> should not be used.
>> And in what way do you think it works? (Honest question.)
> I think it forces the users of library B to (indirectly) link to
> library A, as opposed any other library that implements the interface
> of A.  In the worst case, it might even unnecessarily force a specific
> version of A.
>>> Actually, the standard library is a great example of what I am
>>> talking about.  A header-only library (B) should not care about the
>>> specific implementation of the standard library (A) being used by
>>> the program (P).  There is no link dependency from B to A.  There is
>>> a requirement from B to P that P must provide /a/ implementation of
>>> the C++ standard library, but B doesn't care if it is libstdc++ or
>>> libc++ or even a custom standard library implementation that is part
>>> of P and not a separate library at all.
>> That works for the standard-library, because you can be sure that one
>> is available. (Otherwise your C++ compiler would be broken.)
>> However, for other libraries A there is no way to guarantee that.
> You guarantee it by documenting it as a requirement for the users of
> B.  The human users, not CMake.
>> Of course, you need to make sure that (any) dependency A is available
>> on your build machine, otherwise building could never succeed. But
>> the extra burden, to prepare the build-files (aka CMakeLists.txt) of
>> your program P to find and explicitly configure even indirect
>> dependencies (using `find_package`, `target_link_libraries`,
>> `target_include_directories` etc.) is not to be underestimated.
>> For a complex dependency-hierarchy this can become a nightmare, in
>> particular if you need to find out in what order to process the
>> individual build-files (`add_subdirectories`, `find_package` etc.).
> In order to build P, you need to build the specific versions of all of
> the libraries that P requires, with the specific build settings that P
> requires.  The build process should never pick up random library
> versions found in system directories.  Program P must be able to say
> "use this modified version of libpng instead of the upstream version",
> "use LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL", and "don't use zlib at all, I'll
> provide my own version of the zlib functions".
You can even achieve that with CMake and its target-centric approach:

If library B is a good citizen it uses `find_package` to look for its
dependencies (more specifically, for the CMake target of its
dependencies) and provides customization points (CMake options or simple
So if Program P wants to force a specific version of the indirect
dependency A upon B it can set these customization points beforehand or
it can just call `find_package` for that indirect dependency explicitly
beforehand. The later call to `find_package` from B's CMakeLists.txt
should then just return the same target (without even bothering searching).

Of course, this requires careful crafting of B's CMakeLists.txt. (But it
really can be worth it.)

In case the indirect dependency A is header-only itself, it becomes even
simpler because you do not have to cope with a library that might have
been compiled using different/incompatible compiler-flags.

IMO, CMake is quite powerful and one can achieve some really "funky stuff".
But, as always, one should remember to not make it too complex or one
will be unable to find anyone else who is willing to maintain it later.


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