How to check the version of the Conan client inside a conanfile

Sometimes it might be useful to check the Conan version that is running in that moment your recipe. Although we consider conan-center recipes only forward compatible, this kind of check makes sense to update them so they can maintain compatibility with old versions of Conan.

Let’s have a look at a basic example of this:
 from conans import ConanFile, CMake, __version__ as conan_version
 from conans.model.version import Version

 class MyLibraryConan(ConanFile):
     name = "mylibrary"
     version = "1.0"

     def build(self):
         if conan_version < Version("0.29"):
             cmake = CMake(self.settings)
             cmake = CMake(self)

Here it checks the Conan version to maintain compatibility of the CMake build helper for versions lower than Conan 0.29. It also uses the internal Version() class to perform the semver comparison in the if clause.

You can find a real example of this in the mingw_installer. Here you have the interesting part of the recipe:
 from conans import ConanFile, tools, __version__ as conan_version
 from conans.model.version import Version

 class MingwInstallerConan(ConanFile):
     name = "mingw_installer"
     version = "1.0"
     license = ""
     url = ""

     if conan_version < Version("0.99"):
         os_name = "os"
         arch_name = "arch"
         os_name = "os_build"
         arch_name = "arch_build"

     settings = {os_name: ["Windows"],
                 arch_name: ["x86", "x86_64"],
                 "compiler": {"gcc": {"version": None,
                                     "libcxx": ["libstdc++", "libstdc++11"],
                                     "threads": ["posix", "win32"],
                                     "exception": ["dwarf2", "sjlj", "seh"]}}}

You can see here the mingw_installer recipe uses new settings os_build and arch_build since Conan 1.0 as those are the right ones for installer packages. However, it also keeps the old settings so as not to break the recipe for old version, using normal os and arch.

As said before, this is useful to maintain recipe compatibility with older Conan versions but remember that since Conan 1.0 there should not be any breaking changes.