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Subject: [Boost-users] A plea for simpler tools
From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2012-02-13 15:20:42

Let me start by saying I love Boost and C++ as much or more than anyone

But I'm really frustrated with the boost tools and believe they are a
serious impediment to the progress of boost. Here is what I want to be able
to do:

a) create a directory structure outside of the boost tree which looks like:


b) a set of simple tools which
  1) can build the library in the src directory
  2) can translate quick/boost/doc book to html and place it in that
  3) run each test in the test directory and add a record to the
test/results/... log file which I will either just lookat or post process
locally to my personal taste.

c) what I don't need
  1) tracking dependencies - I want to do this for on library I might be
experimenting with. I can do this by hand.
  2) I don't need to have my boost tree updated - in fact I want to know
that I haven't changed it by just running a simple tool

d) current tools:
  1) presume that a library is part of the boost directory structure. So
the documents show up somewhere in the boost tree. Note when I build the
documents on my local boost release image I get pointers to the boost
sandbox or on or whatever. So for boostbook->html would
like to be able to say boostbook2html -in <boostbookdir> -out
<htmldirectory> or something simple like this.
  2) the only way I've found to use the current tools is to create
directories in my local boost release tree with my "experimental" library
and run bjam. There are two problems with this
    i) I have to make a jamfile which might be more complicated that first
meets the eye
    ii) I mucks up my boost release tree.
   iii) it I get something wrong, it fails deep within some bjam script
which is extremely difficult to figure out.
    iv) For an example to iii) above, I had tweaked userconfig.v2 to include
the name of my xsltproc program which was found through the path. Later I
elimnated the directory of the xsltproc from my path. Later I found I
couldn't build my library or run any tests. Turned out that bjam stopped
when it failed to find the xsltproc program - even though it wasn't being
used. I'm not critisizing bjam. I think it's impossible to make a program
as ambituous as this totally perfect. But I question the need for such an
elaborate tool for doing what seems to me should be something simple.

Of course, I can do this myself - and likely will end up doing so. But:

a) I've got other stuff to do
b) I can't believe I'm the only one who needs this
c) I think that boost tools are "too automatic" for my purposes. I
understand the motivation for building all of boost. But for what I want to
do it adds a huge layer of "conceptual overhead" that I have to wade

Before I invest effort in this perhaps there's a way of using existing tools
that I'm not aware that get's me closer to what I want and need.

Comments welcome.

Robert Ramey

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