This time we have 1.12 out to start the 2019 year and there are some interesting features and improvements we would like to highlight. Let’s go over them!

Editable packages

It is fairly common that to test new code in packages with other dependencies while developing, you had to go through the slow conan create process to store new code in the cache.

Following the path of other package managers, we tried to imagine how an “editable” mode for Conan should work and there were some main points:

  • The user has to be able to compile without Conan (IDE/command line, not conan build).

  • Freedom to choose any project structure for header folders, source code, library folders…

  • Handle any configuration of settings without creating artificial packages for all of them.

To illustrate how editable package work, we have created a repo here that we would use it as example.

Let’s say we are developing a final “hello” application and we are relying on another library called “say” to print our message. We are developing the “say” library and would like to check the changes in the “hello” app. The normal way would be to make changes in the “say” library and run conan create to put its binaries in the local cache. After that, consume it from the “hello” app with a conan install.

With this feature, we have a command conan link to tell Conan that we want to consume the “say” library under the package namesay/0.1@user/testing directly from the current folder instead from the Conan cache.

$ cd cmake/say
$ mkdir build && cd build
$ conan link .. say/0.1@user/testing --layout=../layout

The layout indicates Conan that it has to search in the following paths relative to the directory of the used in the command. Here is the content of that file:



Now we can build in the development folder (this could also be triggered by an IDE):

$ conan install ..
$ cmake ../src -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"
$ cmake --build . --config Release

Let’s consume the “say” library from the “hello” app now:

$ cd ../../hello
$ mkdir build && cd build
$ conan install ..
... (hello/0.1@None/None): Installing package
    say/0.1@user/testing from user folder - Editable
    say/0.1@user/testing:6cc50b139b9c3d27b3e9042d5f5372d327b3a9f7 - Editable
$ cmake ../src -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"
$ cmake --build . --config Release
$ bin\app.exe
Release: Hello World Release!

Now we make some changes in the “say” library without moving it to the cache. For example, we change the Release: message to ****** Release ******: and build it:

$ cd ../../hello
$ cmake --build . --config Release

Finally, out “hello” app should be built with the modified “say”:

$ cmake --build . --config Release
$ bin\app.exe
******* Release *******: Hello World Release!

As you can see, having this new workflow is very convenient during development and the compilation is not coupled with Conan, only a conan install is necessary.

If you want to read more, here is the link to the docs section explaining this new feature and the possibility to use different layout files.

There are some pending issues like having a proper layout templating system or showing packages that are in editable mode when searching, but we hope to have them fixed for next release.

New path for workspaces

We are aware that there has been a lot of interest in the experimental workspaces feature. However, as releases came out and development continued we started to think the implementation of workspaces was lacking at some points.

Additionally, the idea of the package layouts and editable mode was something really interesting to explore. So our decision was to delay the development of issues regarding workspaces until editable packages were released.

There has been some work done already to redesign and reimplement workspaces on top of the editable mode feature and our first impressions are good. We will try to restart the development of them for the following releases.

Composable profiles

With Conan 1.12, commands with the --profile parameter are now provided with the possibility of using it multiple times to achieve a profile composition.

$ conan install . --profile windows --profile 32bit

The priority of the applied values is from right to left. In the case of the example, the “32bits” profile configuration will have priority over the “windows” profile configuration.

# windows                  # 32bit              # result
[settings]                 [settings]           [settings]
os=Windows                 os=Windows           os=Windows
os_build=Windows           os_build=Windows     os_build=Windows
arch=x86_64                arch=x86             arch=x86
arch_build=x86_64          arch_build=x86       arch_build=x86
compiler=Visual Studio                          compiler=Visual Studio
compiler.version=14                             compiler.version=14
compiler.runtime=MD                             compiler.runtime=MD
build_type=Release                              build_type=Release

It is a very useful feature when you want to add build require tools like CMake, which is something not specific to a configuration. For example, having a profile cmake with build require cmake_installer and a mingw one with the “gcc” compiler and the mingw_installer too would make it very easy to apply to a and to use it:

$ conan install . --profile mingw --profile cmake

Full reference and JSON for some commands

As you might now, some commands had some issues when referencing names of other packages. For example, the conan install --build <name> was only using the name of a requirement, which could be problematic when using dependencies with the same name but coming from different users. Now you can do this:

$ conan install . --build liba/1.0@user/channel

Together with this feature, the install command also includes now an additional reference for consumer packages that comes handy to have some information defined like the user or the channel.

$ conan install . liba/1.0@user/channel

There is more information in this section of the documentation.

To end with the new commands, the conan info has now a generalized --json parameter not only for build order but for the dependency graph information. We are sure this will come handy for those orchestrating CIs using Conan. Check the output section to see how it looks like.

New architectures supported

New architectures arrived at this release too. This time we included new ones for Apple and PowerPC.

Apple introduced a new one for watchOS called arm64_32. As we had already followed the armvX pattern and amrv8 was already in place, we decided to call this one armv8_32. Similarly, the new iOS architecture called arm64e was introduced in settings.yml as armv8.3. You can manage this conversions with tools.to_apple_arch().

Finally, there was a request to support PowerPC 32-bit architecture, so there is also a new ppc32 one too.

Those can be correctly handled with apple tools and tools.get_gnu_triplet() and will be taken into account in some generators like b2.

Check that your settings.yml is updated when you install Conan 1.12 and run a new conan install. In case your settings.yml was modified, a new will be created so you can check the diff.

Generators: Template files & variable naming convention

Some releases ago we introduced a new make generator and there were some issues with the naming of the variables that could be misleading to users (See conan-io/docs#955).

As the Conan cpp_info model includes a cppflags that is confusing, we finally decided to rename CONAN_CPPFLAGS to CONAN_CXXFLAGS in the generator and follow this path for premake too, following the convention that was already in place in the cmake generator. There is also an issue open to create a cpp_info.cxxflags attribute deprecating cpp_info.cppflags used in package_info() method of conanfile without breaking (conan-io/conan#4461).

In the other hand, some users requested the the possibility to export some kind of templating files in order to make the task of generating the conanbuildinfo files easier in some cases. now the use of exports attribute is allowed in custom generators:

class MyCustomGeneratorPackage(ConanFile):
    name = "custom"
    version = "0.1"
    exports = "mytemplate.txt"

You can see a full example in this how-to.

Other improvements

There are new tools and improvements available in this release too:

  • tools.Git() and tools.SVN() have anew method get_tag() that checks the name of the tag has been checked out. (See link).

  • MSBuild() build helper has now a definitions dictionary that can be used to set any property to the project during the build. Also the default toolset is now applied although no toolset was specified in the profile. This should not break the old behavior as this was the default value already applied in PlatformToolset flag. (See link).

  • tools.environment_append() is now able to unset variables using the None value. (See link).

  • Short paths feature now generates them in a deterministic way instead of having a random path in the short paths directory.

If you want to know more about the changes in this release, check the full list of features and fixes in the changelog (it includes links to the related Pull Request) and don’t forget to update!

Finally, if you find a bug or want to start a new discussion, please do not hesitate to open a new issue here.