Back in Conan 1.8 blog post release, we introduced a so-called “Plugin System”. Reading some of the feedback from users we soon realized that although it was a very useful feature, it wasn’t exactly a plugin mechanism. Normally such a mechanism is something more general and powerful that replaces or complements the functionality of a tool in a wider way.

Instead, the feature was designed with the philosophy of having a way of doing pre and post actions between certain Conan events in mind. This was very similar to git hooks feature, so we decided to rename them after and will consider developing a real plugin system in the future.

Status of Hooks

Hooks were released to give users a way to perform additional tasks besides the usual actions in Conan like exporting, building, uploading… and even to implement additional actions as part of the Conan behavior. This view has not changed and we strongly believe they make a lot of sense for people using Conan inside a company or organization that want a custom behavior when building all of their packages.

However, companies aren’t the only ones that can benefit from the power of custom actions in Conan but also the open source community. Hooks are very convenient when it comes to linting syntax in recipes, checking for missing attributes like licenses, ensuring proper application of settings and so on.

In recent releases we introduced some minor improvements and fixes for hooks although usability remained almost the same. Hooks can now be installed in different folders under the hooks folder in the configuration, allowing users to have multiple hooks living together and avoiding a naming collision. This structure may come handy when reusing modules in hooks or storing additional files such as licenses, readmes, requirement files…

You can find more information about how to activate from the command line and share hooks in the documentation.

Using Hooks

The Conan hooks are kind of Python scripts intended to extend the Conan functionality and let users enhance the client behavior at determined points. To use them we would need to have the source code of the hook to be executed by Conan and get them activated with some commands (see section below).

Let’s take a look at how to do this.

Cloning a Hooks repository

As stated in the documentation, hooks can be shared with conan config install, making them part of the configuration and having them activated in the conan.conf by default. This mechanism is useful for those sharing the configuration all together but, what if you are developing a hook? what if you want to have them versioned in their own repository? The mechanism proposed for this in the documentation is using git clone directly in the ~/.conan/hooks directory using a subdirectory for them:

$ cd ~/.conan/hooks
$ git clone conan-io

We strongly believe they need a separated repository to grow and get mature, so we have come with the solution on having the development controlled under git and this will help us with the versioning in the future.

You might have noticed that we cloned the repository into a conan-io folder, this is done to avoid name collision of hooks so we can distinguish them using its path.

Activating some Hooks

Now that we have hooks cloned it is just a matter of activating the desired ones. There are different possibilities for doing this:

  • Editing the conan.conf file: You can go to the [hooks] section and write the path to the hook you want to use relative to the hooks folder.


  • From the command line: Using conan config set hooks.<hook path> command (relative path as described above).

    $ conan config set hooks.conan-io/hooks/attribute_checker
    $ conan config set hooks.conan-io/hooks/binary_linter
  • Using the environment variable CONAN_HOOKS: This allows using more than one hook separated by commas and path can be either relative to hooks folder or absolute to any other location. This might be useful for CI environments.

    $ set CONAN_HOOKS=/home/user/.conan/hooks/conan-io/hooks/attribute_checker,/home/user/.conan/hooks/conan-io/hooks/binary_linter

Hooks under development

In the documentation, we proposed some ideas and small examples about hooks like attribute checks in the recipe, package signing or source code download immutability. We have already implemented the attribute checker linter as a hook.

Together with this, we created a hooks repository to start developing ourselves useful hooks for the community and we already got some pull requests and a bunch of issues with ideas on how to improve the hooks integration with Conan and discuss things like the configuration, testing, documentation…

In this post, we want to share the hooks created in this repo and how to use them.

Attribute Checker

This was the first hook created as an example and is now extracted in this repository. It is a small example to learn how to write a first hook.

$ conan export . user/channel
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): WARN: Conanfile doesn't have 'url'. It is recommended to add it as attribute
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): WARN: Conanfile doesn't have 'license'. It is recommended to add it as attribute

See hook documentation: attribute_checker

Binary Linter

The binary linter hook provides some hints about the artifacts that have been built and eventually packaged after the package() call. It is very helpful to analyze possible missing dependencies in shared libraries as well as to check that the binaries generated match the profile used.

Here you can see a brief output of the hook:

$ conan create . docopt/0.6.2@user/testing
[HOOK - cona-nio/hooks/] post_package(): conan binary linter plug-in
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): file "~/.conan/data/docopt/0.6.2/user/testing/package/970e773c5651dc2560f86200a4ea56c23f568ff9/conaninfo.txt" is not a executable, skipping...
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): checking file "~/.conan/data/docopt/0.6.2/user/testing/package/970e773c5651dc2560f86200a4ea56c23f568ff9/bin/docopt.dll"
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): "~/.conan/data/docopt/0.6.2/user/testing/package/970e773c5651dc2560f86200a4ea56c23f568ff9/bin/docopt.dll" doesn't import library "msvcr110.dll"
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): "~/.conan/data/docopt/0.6.2/user/testing/package/970e773c5651dc2560f86200a4ea56c23f568ff9/bin/docopt.dll" imports library "vcruntime140.dll"
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): "~/.conan/data/docopt/0.6.2/user/testing/package/970e773c5651dc2560f86200a4ea56c23f568ff9/bin/docopt.dll" doesn't import library "vcruntime140d.dll"

See hook documentation: binary_linter

Bintray Updater

As some of you may know when uploading packages to Bintray the metadata of the recipe is not processed at all. This results in the information of Bintray being empty. However, with this hook, you would get all the information filled.

You will have to provide your Bintray user and API token as environment variables (BINTRAY_LOGIN_USERNAME and BINTRAY_PASSWORD).

With this hook active, the information is collected from the recipe attributes, such as name, license, url, homepage and description. The maturity level is based on the branch name like master, release and stable are considered Stable maturity level. The project logo is not supported. All the information is updated after the recipe upload using the Bintray REST API.

$ conan upload docopt/0.6.2@user/testing -r bintray

Uploading docopt/0.6.2@user/testing to remote 'bintray'
Uploaded conan recipe 'docopt/0.6.2@user/testing' to 'bintray':
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_upload_recipe(): Reading package info form Bintray...
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_upload_recipe(): Inspecting recipe info ...
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_upload_recipe(): Bintray is outdated. Updating Bintray package info: licenses, issue_tracker_url, vcs_url, website_url, desc

See hook documentation: bintray_updater

Conan Center Reviewer

Following the inclusion guidelines for third party, we have created a full Conan Center checker with this hook. It is mostly intended for reviewing packages before submitting an inclusion request to Conan Center.

It is one of the tools used for curating the central repository and although the complete set of checks are only executed during a conan create, you can also use with package development commands such as conan source, conan build

$ conan create . user/channel
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): ERROR: [RECIPE METADATA] Conanfile doesn't have 'url'. It is recommended to add it as attribute
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): ERROR: [RECIPE METADATA] Conanfile doesn't have 'license'. It is recommended to add it as attribute
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): [HEADER ONLY] OK
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): [NO COPY SOURCE] OK
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): [FPIC OPTION] OK
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): [FPIC MANAGEMENT] 'fPIC' option not found
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] pre_export(): [VERSION RANGES] OK
Exporting package recipe
Installing package: TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel
    TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel from local cache - Cache
    TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel:ca33edce272a279b24f87dc0d4cf5bbdcffbc187 - Build
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Copying sources to build folder
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Generator cmake_paths created conan_paths.cmake
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Calling build()
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: WARN: This conanfile has no build step
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Package 'ca33edce272a279b24f87dc0d4cf5bbdcffbc187' built
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_build(): [MATCHING CONFIGURATION] OK
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_build(): [SHARED ARTIFACTS] OK
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Generated conaninfo.txt
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Generated conanbuildinfo.txt
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Calling package()
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: WARN: This conanfile has no package step
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel package(): WARN: No files in this package!
TestPkg/0.0.1@user/channel: Package 'ca33edce272a279b24f87dc0d4cf5bbdcffbc187' created
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): ERROR: [PACKAGE LICENSE] No package licenses found in: ~/.conan/data/TestPkg/0.0.1/user/channel/package/ca33edce272a279b24f87dc0d4cf5bbdcffbc187. Please package the library license to a 'licenses' folder
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): [DEFAULT PACKAGE LAYOUT] OK
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): [MATCHING CONFIGURATION] OK
[HOOK - conan-io/hooks/] post_package(): [SHARED ARTIFACTS] OK

As you can see, all the checks are non-blocking and generally informative. There are recipe syntax checks and also license and binary format ones.

See hook documentation: conan-center_reviewer

GitHub Updater

This hook is similar to the Bintray updater but with GitHub. It updates the repository information such as description, topics and webpage. This way all the information is in GitHub and it will help when searching for recipe sources.

You will need to set a GitHub API token as environment variable GITHUB_TOKEN and perform an export of the recipe you want to get its information updated. It will use the URL attribute in the recipe to perform the update.

See hook documentation: github-updater

Considerations for Hooks development

Keep in mind that hooks are quite versatile and can be used as far as Python extends, however, it is not recommended to use hooks for any task that could compromise the binary compatibility interfering with the package ID generation model. Package reproducibility might be also a concern at some point, but it is up to the user to track the hooks in the Conan configuration.

We have also thought about improvements for Hooks that might come in the future following its adoption by the community, such as:

  • Dedicated commands for managing hooks: Installation, activation, update, list…
  • A versioning system of hooks and compatibility with versions of Conan client.
  • Hooks configuration parameters via a configuration file, environment or custom.
  • Validation and tests during installation.
  • Automatic resolution of external pip requirements used.

Final notes

All those hooks are under development but we would like to encourage everyone, especially in the OSS community, to use them and provide feedback.

We are open to contributions improving the current hooks or proposing new ones that could be of interest of the community. If you are interested, comment in the hooks issue tracker and feel free to open a PR with your proposals.

Finally, don’t forget to check the documentation to learn more!