From: Hugo Duncan (hugoduncan_at_[hidden])
Date: 2007-10-06 20:06:33
I am feeling brave, and thought I would add my perspective on boost.build.
I have been using boost build in various projects for several years and I
love the concept of boost.build. It can however be very annoying to use
(but I am still using it).
Annoyance number one has to be the error messages that it generates. It
is usually the case, at least for the type of errors I seem to make, that
the error report consists of a stack trace mentioning all sorts of BB
functions, but no mention of even which jamfile caused the error, let
alone which line of that file. This is the case for such simple syntax
errors as forgetting a semicolon. This is very user (developer)
unfriendly, and is a major barrier when first writing jamfiles. The
amount of debug information available with the debug switches is
impressive, but overwhelming for the uninitiated.
Annoyance number two is that it seems very fragile. Eaxmples: the
reliabilty of cross (sub-)project dependencies seems very sensitive to the
exact way they are specified, and I have had to delete precompiled header
files several times because they were not be correctly regenerated.
Apart from that I have tried several times to extend boost.build, for
example to run wix, or to build fortran, or to generate lib files from
dll's. My experience is that it is difficult to extend BB without being
intimately familiar with its implementation. Every time I have failed to
imlement all the functionality that I was after, so I have given up on
doing this, and resort to makefiles for anything that isn't directly
supported by BB.
Boost Build does many things right. The implementation is not perfect.
The "interface" for extending BB is not perfect. I think many involved
recognise this and would like to address these issues. Maybe some
discussion on what the BB "extenders interface" should look like would
help in choosing implementation technologies.
A rewrite at any time is very prone to failure (eg. Tim Bray just pointed
to http://chadfowler.com/2006/12/27/the-big-rewrite) and I would hate to
see further development of BB jeopardised by a split among its
developers. I have become accustomed to the power of BB, and am very
thankful to all who have contributed to it so far.
Just my thoughts.
Boost-Build list run by bdawes at acm.org, david.abrahams at rcn.com, gregod at cs.rpi.edu, cpdaniel at pacbell.net, john at johnmaddock.co.uk