Conan 1.28 has been released. With a long list of new features, it definitely feels like progress! Lockfiles were basically completely overhauled, so lets start there.

Lockfile Improvements

Whether you’ve read about lockfiles in the past or not, there are enough changes that it’s probably worth re-reading all the lockfile documentation (for those who are using or planning to use lockfiles that is.)

Lockfile Documentation

First, the command itself has completely changed. What was previously:

    conan graph lock

is now:

    conan lock

Next, a new parameter is now mandatory when using lockfiles with the conan create command. If you pass a --lockfile parameter, you must also pass the --lockfile-out parameter. Users can pass the same filename for both, effectively overwriting the original lockfile, but in many cases users will want them to be different. The previous behavior was confusing in many cases.

Next, a new concept has been added which we call “Base lockfiles”. Base lockfiles only capture the topology of the dependency graph. Specifically, it locks the ref field which includes name/version@user/channel. If revisions are enabled, it will also lock the rrev field which contains the “recipe revision”. It does NOT capture the package ID, or package revision fields. This is particularly helpful in solving a common race condition experienced in continuous integration workflows which perform multiple builds. Often times, each build is performed in a separate and clean workspace, and starts building at different times. Even when done “in parallel”, they can be slightly offset. The problem is that other jobs can be uploading new versions or revisions of dependencies at any time. Thus, running conan lock multiple times in different workspaces, even just a few seconds apart, could result in different configurations locking different revisions of the same dependency. Now, CI jobs can begin by calling conan lock with the --base flag. This will produce a “general” lockfile which only locks the name and versions of dependencies. A copy of this lockfile can be passed to conan create in each of the future build stages that follow, which will add the configuration-specific fields and information to the copies.

This “base lockfile” concept leads to the next major improvement: stronger enforcement of “locked” values making each field in a lockfile “truly immutable”. This is not to say that a lockfile cannot be updated (lockfiles can and are updated). The rule is this: empty fields in a lockfile can be populated, but once a field has a value, it cannot change. Base lockfiles are a good example of cases which have unpopulated fields which are waiting for future commands to set values in. This improvement was very important, as it was recently discovered that there were several ways to produce completely invalid and unbuildable lockfiles in previous versions. That should no longer be possible moving forward.

New Attributes: provides, required_conan_version, recipe_folder, deprecated learned a few new attributes based on feature requests from users. If you haven’t looked at the list lately, perhaps it’s worth a fresh look: attribute documentation

provides is a very important new attribute which is helpful for dealing with packages that are known to produce conflicts. For a simple example, we can look to three separate libraries/packages: libjpeg, libjpeg-turbo, mozjpeg. They are all alternate implementations of the same libraries which produce the same symbols. If you try to compile and link all three at the same time, you will be in violation of the “One-Definition Rule” (ODR) of C++ and receive fatal compiler errors. By adding this attribute to Conan, we can detect the violation based on the attribute before compilation begins, saving significant time in a number of cases.

required_conan_version enables users to declare what minimum version of Conan a recipe requires. You may be aware that Conan already supported the declaration of a required_conan_version prior to this release, but previously this could only be defined globally in conan.conf. That feature will continue to exist and be supported because it can be very useful in an enterprise setting to ensure all dev’s and build machines are updated as needed. The big change here is that it can now be specified at the recipe level. If you are familiar with the CMake build system, you might recognize that this is similar to the function cmake_minimum_required(). They both make sense for the same reasons. Conan and CMake are both undergoing rapid evolution, and making use of new features in recipe files can cause confusing errors and breakages when old versions try to process them. Moving forward, incompatibilities can be properly documented and explicit using this attribute.

recipe_folder simply makes it easier for recipes to programatically refer to the directory where the is currently being built from. This is helpful a number of cases for custom generators, python requires, and other tricky scenarios. This feature has been requested a number of times over the years, so we were happy to get it done in this release.

deprecated indicates that the recipe is outdated in some way and causes a warning message to be printed. If there is a replacement recipe, it can be named in the deprecated field and that string will be printed in the warning message to the user.

Improved Clang Support on Windows

With this release, we finally were able to merge a PR that had been outstanding for nearly 1 year. The diff only shows 6 lines in a single file have changed, but this belies the magnitude of the research, consideration, and discussion that has gone into it. With this, the default settings.yml now includes some necessary changes to support more of the use cases for Clang on windows.

The reason this PR was outstanding for so long was because Clang presents multiple unique and challenging problems for modeling ABI compatibility in a formalized way (which is what Conan does.) First, users of Clang have two executables which they can choose from: clang.exe and clang-cl.exe. They CAN produce identical/compatible binaries, but clang.exe can also produce incompatible binaries. Next, on linux, Clang has always had a flag named -stdlib for the user to define the standard library to link against. On Windows, Clang links against Microsoft’s STL rendering this flag irrelevant. Conversely, on Windows, Clang (just like CL.exe) allows users to choose the MSVC runtime to link against (MT/MD/etc). This concept does not exist for Clang on Linux. So, the current PR adds the runtime subsetting for clang compiler, and makes the existing subsetting of libcxx optional by adding None as a valid choice.

It’s important to note that these new settings, while they are a big step forward, are just the first step. Providing a truly robust and first-class experience with Clang on windows will require an iterative approach over several releases, taking feedback along the way (that’s how we do most things around here.) We’re already working hard on some of the next steps, but user feedback on this first set of changes would be very helpful.

Support components in pkg-config generator

A few releases ago, we released our first draft of the concept of “package components”, where a package could separate the things that it provides into components which could be selectively consumed by downstream packages. Shortly thereafter, we added support for these components to the CMake family of generators. With this release, we add support to the pkg-config generator.

Define generator filenames (CMake Only)

All generators produce the generated files using the naming convnetion of: where xyz is the typical file extension associated with the corresonding build system or platform. This was unconfigurable. Over the past year, this convention has been revisited for a few different reasons. The change for this particular release was to enable recipe authors to set the generated build system file using cpp_info. The name can be set on a per-generator basis using the new filenames dictionary variable where the key name corresponds to the generator you want to specify the filename for.


    self.cpp_info.filenames["cmake"] = "my_conan_dependency_info.cmake"


More init() method use-cases

We’ve realized that the init() method released in 1.24 for use with python_requires is more generally useful for other dynamic attribute logic such as setting licenses/descriptions/etc from some other datafiles. We’ve documented an example here:

        # data.json
        # {"license": "MIT", "description": "My library", "author": "Me"}
        def init(self):
            data = load(os.path.join(self.recipe_folder, "data.json"))
            d = json.loads(data)
            self.license = d["license"]
            self.description = d["description"]
   = d["author"]

Additional Features and Fixes

There are a number of other items which are worth mentioning. We’ve made several new steps forward with Conan V2 CLI, improved detection of apt package manager, and expanded some generator compatibilities. This includes making venv generator capable of generating powershell on non-windows platforms and making msbuild generator capable of running on Linux.

As usual, we cannot cover everything in the release in this blog post, so visit the changelog for the complete list.

As usual, we hope you enjoy this release, and look forward to your feedback