Package development flow

In the previous examples, we used the conan create command to create a package of our library. Every time it is run, Conan performs the following costly operations:

  1. Copy the sources to a new and clean build folder.
  2. Build the entire library from scratch.
  3. Package the library once it is built.
  4. Build the test_package example and test if it works.

But sometimes, especially with big libraries, while we are developing the recipe, we cannot afford to perform these operations every time.

The following section describes the local development flow, based on the Bincrafters community blog.

The local workflow encourages users to perform trial-and-error in a local sub-directory relative to their recipe, much like how developers typically test building their projects with other build tools. The strategy is to test the methods individually during this phase.

We will use this conan flow example to follow the steps in the order below.

conan source

You will generally want to start off with the conan source command. The strategy here is that you’re testing your source method in isolation, and downloading the files to a temporary sub-folder relative to the This just makes it easier to get to the sources and validate them.

This method outputs the source files into the source-folder.

Input folders Output folders
$ cd example_conan_flow
$ conan source . --source-folder=tmp/source

PROJECT: Configuring sources in C:\Users\conan\example_conan_flow\tmp\source
Cloning into 'hello'...

Once you’ve got your source method right and it contains the files you expect, you can move on to testing the various attributes and methods related to downloading dependencies.

conan install

Conan has multiple methods and attributes which relate to dependencies (all the ones with the word “require” in the name). The command conan install activates all them.

Input folders Output folders
$ conan install . --install-folder=tmp/build [--profile XXXX]

PROJECT: Installing C:\Users\conan\example_conan_flow\

This also generates the conaninfo.txt and files (extensions depends on the generator you’ve used) in the temp folder (install-folder), which will be needed for the next step. Once you’ve got this command working with no errors, you can move on to testing the build() method.

conan build

The build method takes a path to a folder that has sources and also to the install folder to get the information of the settings and dependencies. It uses a path to a folder where it will perform the build. In this case, as we are including the conanbuildinfo.cmake file, we will use the folder from the install step.

Input folders Output folders



$ conan build . --source-folder=tmp/source --build-folder=tmp/build

Project: Running build()
Build succeeded.
    0 Warning(s)
    0 Error(s)

Time Elapsed 00:00:03.34

Here we can avoid the repetition of --install-folder=tmp/build and it will be defaulted to the --build-folder value.

This is pretty straightforward, but it does add a very helpful new shortcut for people who are packaging their own library. Now, developers can make changes in their normal source directory and just pass that path as the --source-folder.

conan package

Just as it sounds, this command now simply runs the package() method of a recipe. It needs all the information of the other folders in order to collect the needed information for the package: header files from source folder, settings and dependency information from the install folder and built artifacts from the build folder.

Input folders Output folders




$ conan package . --source-folder=tmp/source --build-folder=tmp/build --package-folder=tmp/package

PROJECT: Generating the package
PROJECT: Package folder C:\Users\conan\example_conan_flow\tmp\package
PROJECT: Calling package()
PROJECT package(): Copied 1 '.h' files: hello.h
PROJECT package(): Copied 2 '.lib' files: greet.lib, hello.lib
PROJECT: Package 'package' created

conan export-pkg

When you have checked that the package is done correctly, you can generate the package in the local cache. Note that the package is generated again to make sure this step is always reproducible.

This parameters takes the same parameters as package().

Input folders Output folders





There are 2 modes of operation:

  • Using source-folder and build-folder will use the package() method to extract the artifacts from those folders and create the package, directly in the Conan local cache. Strictly speaking, it doesn’t require executing a conan package before, as it packages directly from these source and build folders, though conan package is still recommended in the dev-flow to debug the package() method.
  • Using the package-folder argument (incompatible with the above 2), will not use the package() method, it will create an exact copy of the provided folder. It assumes the package has already been created by a previous conan package command or with a conan build command with a build() method running a cmake.install().
$ conan export-pkg . user/channel --source-folder=tmp/source --build-folder=tmp/build --profile=myprofile

Packaging to 6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7
hello/1.1@user/channel: Generating the package
hello/1.1@user/channel: Package folder C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\hello\1.1\user\channel\package\6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7
hello/1.1@user/channel: Calling package()
hello/1.1@user/channel package(): Copied 2 '.lib' files: greet.lib, hello.lib
hello/1.1@user/channel package(): Copied 2 '.lib' files: greet.lib, hello.lib
hello/1.1@user/channel: Package '6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7' created

conan test

The final step to test the package for consumers is the test command. This step is quite straight-forward:

$ conan test test_package hello/1.1@user/channel

hello/1.1@user/channel (test package): Installing C:\Users\conan\repos\example_conan_flow\test_package\
    hello/1.1@user/channel from local

hello/1.1@user/channel: Already installed!
hello/1.1@user/channel (test package): Generator cmake created conanbuildinfo.cmake
hello/1.1@user/channel (test package): Generator txt created conanbuildinfo.txt
hello/1.1@user/channel (test package): Generated conaninfo.txt
hello/1.1@user/channel (test package): Running build()

There is often a need to repeatedly re-run the test to check the package is well generated for consumers.

As a summary, you could use the default folders and the flow would be as simple as:

$ git clone
$ cd features/package_development_flow
$ conan source .
$ conan install . -pr=default
$ conan build .
$ conan package .
# So far, this is local. Now put the local binaries in cache
$ conan export-pkg . hello/1.1@user/testing -pr=default
# And test it, to check it is working in the local cache
$ conan test test_package hello/1.1@user/testing
hello/1.1@user/testing (test package): Running test()
Hello World Release!

conan create

Now we know we have all the steps of a recipe working. Thus, now is an appropriate time to try to run the recipe all the way through, and put it completely in the local cache.

The usual command for this is conan create and it basically performs the previous commands with conan test for the test_package folder:

$ conan create . user/channel

Even with this command, the package creator can iterate over the local cache if something does not work. This could be done with --keep-source and --keep-build flags.

If you see in the traces that the source() method has been properly executed but the package creation finally failed, you can skip the source() method the next time issue conan create using --keep-source:

$ conan create . user/channel --keep-source

hello/1.1@user/channel: A new version was exported
hello/1.1@user/channel: Folder: C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\hello\1.1\user\channel\export
hello/1.1@user/channel (test package): Installing C:\Users\conan\repos\features\package_development_flow\test_package\
    hello/1.1@user/channel from local

hello/1.1@user/channel: WARN: Forced build from source
hello/1.1@user/channel: Building your package in C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\hello\1.1\user\channel\build\6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7
hello/1.1@user/channel: Configuring sources in C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\hello\1.1\user\channel\source
Cloning into 'hello'...
remote: Counting objects: 17, done.
remote: Total 17 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 17
Unpacking objects: 100% (17/17), done.
Switched to a new branch 'static_shared'
Branch 'static_shared' set up to track remote branch 'static_shared' from 'origin'.
hello/1.1@user/channel: Copying sources to build folder
hello/1.1@user/channel: Generator cmake created conanbuildinfo.cmake
hello/1.1@user/channel: Calling build()

If you see that the library is also built correctly, you can also skip the build() step with the --keep-build flag:

$ conan create . user/channel --keep-build