Equivalent to the exports attribute, but in method form. This method will be called at export time, which happens in the conan export and conan create commands, and it is intended to allow copying files from the user folder to the Conan cache folders, thus making files becoming part of the recipe. These sources will be uploaded to the servers together with the recipe, but are typically not downloaded unless the package is being built from source.

The current working directory will be self.recipe_folder, and it can use the self.export_folder as the destination folder for using copy() or your custom copy.

from conan import ConanFile
from conan.tools.files import copy

class Pkg(ConanFile):
    def export(self):
        # This LICENSE file is intended to be the license of the current conanfile.py recipe
        # and go with it. It is not intended to be the license of the final package (for that
        # purpose export_sources() would be recommended)
        copy(self, "LICENSE.md", self.recipe_folder, self.export_folder)

There are 2 files that are always exported to the cache, without being explicitly defined in the recipe: the conanfile.py recipe, and the conandata.yml file if it exists. The conandata.yml file is automatically loaded whenever the conanfile.py is loaded, becoming the self.conan_data attribute, so it is a intrinsic part of the recipe, so it is part of the “exported” recipe files, not of the “exported” source files.


Best practices

  • The recipe files must be configuration independent. Those files are common for all configurations, thus it is not possible to do conditional export() to different settings, options, or platforms. Do not try to do any kind of conditional export. If necessary export all the files necessary for all configurations at once.

  • The export() method does not receive any information from profiles, not even conf. Only the global.conf will be available, and in any case it is not possible to use that conf to define conditionals.

  • Keep the export() method simple. Its intention is to copy files from the user folder to the cache to store those files together with the recipe.

  • The exported files must be small. Exporting big files with the recipe will make the resolution of dependencies much slower the resolution.

  • Only files that are necessary for the evaluation of the conanfile.py recipe must be exported with this method. Files necessary for building from sources should be exported with the exports_sources attribute or the export_source() method.