Customizing the binary compatibility

The default binary compatibility requires an almost exact match of settings and options, and a versioned match of dependencies versions, as explained in the previous section about dependencies.

In summary, the required binaries package_id when installing dependencies should match by default:

  • All the settings in the package_id except compiler.cppstd should match exactly the ones provided in the input profiles, including the compiler version. So compiler.version=9 is different than compiler.version=9.1.

  • The default behavior will assume binary compatibility among different compiler.cppstd values for C++ packages, being able to fall back to other values rather than the one specified in the input profiles, if the cppstd required by the input profile does not exist. This is controlled by the plugin, that can be customized by users.

  • All the options in the package_id should match exactly the ones provided in the input profiles.

  • The versions of the dependencies should match:

    • In case of “embedding dependencies”, should match the exact version, including the recipe-revision and the dependency package_id. The package_revision is never included as it is assumed to be ill-formed to have more than one package_revision for the same package_id.

    • In case of “non-embedding dependencies”, the versions of the dependencies should match down to the minor version, being the patch, recipe_revision and further information not taken into account.

    • In case of “tool dependencies”, the versions of the dependencies do not affect at all by default to the consumer package_id.

These rules can be customized and changed using different approaches, depending on the needs, as explained in following sections

Customizing binary compatibility of settings and options

Information erasure in package_id() method

Recipes can erase information from their package_id using their package_id() method. For example, a package containing only an executable can decide to remove the information from settings.compiler and settings.build_type from their package_id, assuming that an executable built with any compiler will be valid, and that it is not necessary to store different binaries built with different compilers:

def package_id(self):

It is also possible to assign a value for a given setting, for example if we want to have one single binary for all gcc versions included in the [>=5 <7>] range, we could do:

def package_id(self):
    if == "gcc":
        version = Version(
        if version >= "5.0" and version < "7.0":
   = "gcc5-6"


Best practice

Note that information erasure in package_id() means that 1 single package_id will represent a whole range of different settings, but the information of what exact setting was used to create the binary will be lost, and only 1 binary can be created for that range. Re-creating the package with different settings in the range, will create a new binary that overwrites the previous one (with a new package-revision).

If we want to be able to create, store and manage different binaries for different input settings, information erasure can’t be used, and using the below compatibility approaches is recommended.

The compatibility() method

Recipes can define their binary compatibility rules, using their compatibility() method. For example, if we want that binaries built with gcc versions 4.8, 4.7 and 4.6 to be considered compatible with the ones compiled with 4.9 we could declare a compatibility() method like this:

def compatibility(self):
    if self.settings.compiler == "gcc" and self.settings.compiler.version == "4.9":
        return [{"settings": [("compiler.version", v)]}
                for v in ("4.8", "4.7", "4.6")]

Read more about the compatibility() method in the compatibility() method reference

The plugin

Compatibility can be defined globally via the plugin, in the same way that the compatibility() method does for one recipe, but for all packages globally.

Check the binary compatibility extension.

Customizing binary compatibility of dependencies versions

Global default package_id modes

The core.package_id:default_xxx configurations defined in global.conf can be used to globally change the defaults of how dependencies affect their consumers

core.package_id:default_build_mode: By default, 'None'
core.package_id:default_embed_mode: By default, 'full_mode'
core.package_id:default_non_embed_mode: By default, 'minor_mode'
core.package_id:default_python_mode: By default, 'minor_mode'
core.package_id:default_unknown_mode: By default, 'semver_mode'


Best practices

It is strongly recommended that the core.package_id:default_xxx should be global, consistent and immutable accross organizations. It can be confusing to change these defaults for different projects or teams, because it will result in missing binaries.

It should also be consistent and shared with the consumers of generated packages if those packages are shared outside the organization, in that case sharing the global.conf file via conan config install could be recommended.

Consider using the Conan defaults, they should be a good balance between efficiency and safety, ensuring exact re-building for embed cases, and good control via versions for non-embed cases.

Custom package_id modes for recipe consumers

Recipes can define their default effect to their consumers, via some package_id_xxxx_mode attributes.

The package_id_embed_mode, package_id_non_embed_mode, package_id_unknown_mode are class attributes that can be defined in recipes to define the effect they have on their consumers package_id. Can be declared as:

from conan import ConanFile

class Pkg(ConanFile):
    package_id_embed_mode = "full_mode"
    package_id_non_embed_mode = "patch_mode"
    package_id_unknown_mode = "minor_mode"

Read more in package_id_{embed,non_embed,python,unknown}_mode

Custom package_id from recipe dependencies

Recipes can define how their dependencies affect their package_id, using the package_id_mode trait:

from conan import ConanFile

class Pkg(ConanFile):
    def requirements(self):
        self.requires("mydep/1.0", package_id_mode="patch_mode")

Using package_id_mode trait does not differentiate between the “embed” and “non-embed” cases, it is up to the user to define the correct value. It is likely that this approach should only be used for very special cases that do not have variability of shared/static libraries controlled via options.

Note that the requirements() method is evaluated while the graph is being expanded, the dependencies do not exist yet (haven’t been computed), so it is not possible to know the dependencies options. In this case it might be preferred to use the package_id() method.

The package_id() method can define how the dependencies affect the current package with:

from conan import ConanFile

class Pkg(ConanFile):
    def package_id(self):["mydep"].major_mode()

The different modes that can be used are defined in package_id_{embed,non_embed,python,unknown}_mode