Package development flow

In the previous examples, we used conan create command to create a package of our library. Every time we run it, Conan will perform some 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, specially with big libraries, while we are developing the recipe, we cannot afford to perform every time these operations.

The following section is the local development flow description based on the Bincrafters community blog.


The local workflow encourages users to do 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 conanfile.py 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 conanfile.py. 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
source-folder
$ 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 relating to the downloading of 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
install-folder
$ conan install . --install-folder=tmp/build [--profile XXXX]

PROJECT: Installing C:\Users\conan\example_conan_flow\conanfile.py
Requirements
Packages
...

This also generates conaninfo.txt and conanbuildinfo.xyz (extension depends on 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 file conanbuildinfo.cmake we will use the folder of the install step.

Input folders Output folders

source-folder

install-folder

build-folder
$ 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

source-folder

install-folder

build-folder

package-folder
$ 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 packaged 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

source-folder

install-folder

build-folder

package-folder

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 those source and build folder, 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 do 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/testing --source-folder=tmp/source --build-folder=tmp/build

Packaging to 6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Generating the package
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Package folder C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\Hello\0.1\user\channel\package\6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Calling package()
Hello/0.1@user/channel package(): Copied 2 '.lib' files: greet.lib, hello.lib
Hello/0.1@user/channel package(): Copied 2 '.lib' files: greet.lib, hello.lib
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Package '6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7' created

conan test

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

$ conan test test_package Hello/0.1@user/channel

Hello/0.1@user/channel (test package): Installing C:\Users\conan\repos\example_conan_flow\test_package\conanfile.py
Requirements
    Hello/0.1@user/channel from local
Packages
    Hello/0.1@user/channel:6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7

Hello/0.1@user/channel: Already installed!
Hello/0.1@user/channel (test package): Generator cmake created conanbuildinfo.cmake
Hello/0.1@user/channel (test package): Generator txt created conanbuildinfo.txt
Hello/0.1@user/channel (test package): Generated conaninfo.txt
Hello/0.1@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 git@github.com:memsharded/example_conan_flow.git
$ cd example_conan_flow
$ conan source .
$ conan install .
$ conan build .
$ conan package .
...
PROJECT package(): Copied 1 '.h' files: hello.h
PROJECT package(): Copied 2 '.lib' files: greet.lib, hello.lib
PROJECT: Package 'package' created

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 you issue conan create using --keep-source:

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

Hello/0.1@user/channel: A new conanfile.py version was exported
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Folder: C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\Hello\0.1\user\channel\export
Hello/0.1@user/channel (test package): Installing C:\Users\conan\repos\example_conan_flow\test_package\conanfile.py
Requirements
    Hello/0.1@user/channel from local
Packages
    Hello/0.1@user/channel:6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7

Hello/0.1@user/channel: WARN: Forced build from source
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Building your package in C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\Hello\0.1\user\channel\build\6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Configuring sources in C:\Users\conan\.conan\data\Hello\0.1\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/0.1@user/channel: Copying sources to build folder
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Generator cmake created conanbuildinfo.cmake
Hello/0.1@user/channel: Calling build()
...

If you see that library builds correctly too, you can do the same to skip also the build() step with the --keep-build flag:

$ conan create --keep-build