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Subject: Re: [Boost-build] The future of B2?
From: Paul A. Bristow (pbristow_at_[hidden])
Date: 2016-09-27 06:33:13



From: Rene Rivera [mailto:grafikrobot_at_[hidden]]
Sent: 27 September 2016 01:33
To: Boost.Build developer's and user's list
Subject: [Boost-build] The future of B2?


Recently I've been doing some cmake, yes I said cmake, for work. And this recent experience, and a quick survey of other current build systems, has convinced me that there's still nothing like b2. And by that I mean nothing that solves the same set of problems with a good set of abstractions. Although there are one or two that are moving in our direction. But alas, b2 is not widely used. And I can name many reasons as to why that might be. But I'd rather discuss where I want b2 to be in the future. And hopefully get us moving in a direction that will make b2 widely used.


Let me start with something rather simple sounding.. What I want to be able to do with b2 in my day to day work & play-work (note that this is a royal "I" as I'm projecting what others have expressed over the years):


* I want to be able to launch my IDE of choice and be able to build, debug, analyze, deploy, etc with b2 as my build system.. And to do that without the need to look at a command line.


* I want to be able to use my choice of library package manager and be able to consume packages directly in b2.


* I want to be able to use b2 to produce, i.e. specify, build, and deploy packages for my choice of package manager entirely in b2.


* I want to be able to use my IDE of choice to configure all aspects of my b2 based project with zero or minimal reading of documentation.. And especially zero reading of b2 code!


* I want to be able to use current language features as soon as they are available, or shortly thereafter, without having to did into toolset command flags.


* I want to be able to easily consume and produce b2 extensions.. It should be possible for me to browse on-line a collection of extensions and directly use them in my project. It should be possible to write my own extension and publish it for others to use.


* I want to be able to consult the documentation and quickly find an answer for what I need to do with steps to follow. Preferably needing to only read *one* screen full of information.


* I want to be able to manage my poly-language projects uniformly with b2.


And I'm putting this one last intentionally..


* I want all that to perform as expediently as possible when I hit the build (or whatever button) in my IDE.


By no means is that the end of my possible wish list, but I'll stop there for the moment. But now for the really important part.. Do you agree that the above are features we should strive, and plan for? Do you have features that you think we should strive for in addition to, or instead of the above?


And the really hard question.. What of the current b2 implementation, design, ecosystem, is getting in the way of reaching the above wishes? And if you dare.. What should we change to move forward?


I’m a reluctant fan of b2/bjam. It certainly does things that CMake doesn’t.


Support within Boost is good, but struggling with it is no fun.


Documentation is good in parts, but terrible when you need it most.


Error messages are excruciating.


But getting any development … that would be lovely,


Oh – and I’d like a puppy for Christmas too ;-)





Paul A. Bristow
Prizet Farmhouse
Kendal UK LA8 8AB
+44 (0) 1539 561830

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