Conan 1.35 adds a lot of new features. Before we start discussing them, we must highlight the fact that they are virtually all experimental, and many of which won’t transition out of experimental status until Conan 2.0 is released. This will likely be the case for the next few releases as well. We’re adding new primitive experimental abstractions, refactoring existing experimental features on top of these abstractions, and then adding new experimental features on top of those. It’s a whole lot of experimentation. With that said, we definitely do not advise the use of these features in production recipes or workflows for quite some time.

New namespace for Conan 2.0

The new namespace currently contains only two documented functions:

  • patch() (improved)
  • apply_conandata_patches() (added)

However, the namespace is intended to be the new home of all of the existing utility functions which relate to file operations, including:

  • mkdir()
  • load()
  • save()
  • download()
  • ftp_download()

However, it’s important to point out that we’ve also identified the need to refactor virtually all of these file-related functions and change their function signature. We don’t want to break the existing functions, so we’re using the “namespace relocation process” as an opportunity to provide the functions with the new signatures. It may be a few releases before these other functions in this namespace are refactored and considered “stable”, so please stay tuned.

Install packages directly from Lockfile

One of the top feature requests we’ve had for those users experimenting with Conan’s “lockfile” feature is to perform a conan install using nothing but a lockfile (without also needing to pass the package reference in that lockfile). This is now possible. Lockfiles have always contained all the information necessary to perform the Conan install, the only barrier was that there changing the “conan install” command to accept a lockfile without a package reference would be a breaking change. So, instead of breaking conan install in Conan 1.x, we’ve simply added a subcommand to “conan lock”: conan lock install which has the desired support. In Conan 2.x, conan install will support a lockfile as an input directly, and conan lock install will likely be deprecated.

clean-modified command for lockfile bundles

In the last release, we added support for lockfile bundles for processing multiple lockfiles together at once. Only minimal commands were provided at that time. In this release, we add the command conan lock bundle clean-modified, which does the same thing as conan lock clean-modified, but on all lockfiles in a bundle.

Use [conf] to control build parallelization

The [conf] feature is starting to work out as intended, as a first-class mechanism to configure specific and deeply-nested behaviors within Conan operations. As of Conan 1.35.0, it can be used to control the parallelization parameters passed to various build systems, with very flexible syntax. For example:


The four lines in the profile section above demonstrate setting values for::

  • All build systems
  • Only MSBuild
  • Only Ninja, and only for a package named some_package
  • Only Ninja, and for all packages not named some_package.

This is a great example of the textbook intended use-case for [conf].

Use [conf] to control actual Visual Studio installation

Here we have another great use of [conf]. Consider the following profile:



In this case, the vcvars will locate and activate the Visual Studio 16 installation, but the 19.0 compiler version will still be used and the corresponding default toolset=v140 will be set.

Historically, there has been a bit of an awkwardness around using the Microsoft tools within Conan. The way Microsoft releases them, there are implicit associations between versions of the IDE (Visual Studio), the compiler (cl.exe), and the “toolset” (eg. toolset=v140). Both the “Visual Studio” compiler model, and the newer alternative msvc compiler model “respect” these associations by default. When using the msvc compiler model, this new usage of [conf] provides callers with a way to precisely control both the Visual Studio used in a build, but use a non-default version of the compiler and toolset.

MSBuildToolchain produces conanvcvars.bat

Again, in the same spirit as many other new and experimental features, MSBuildToolchain has been enhanced to improve reproducibility and transparency. Whereas before, the toolchain would internally use Microsoft’s vcvarsall.bat to locate and use the desired versions of Microsoft build tools and call it, it now takes an extra step and generates the results into conanvcvars.bat which makes the location reproducible outside of Conan processes. As explained in the previous section, this version of Visual Studio used is now configurable via the [conf] item, and indeed that value will be the one written to conanvcvars.bat by the MSBuildToolchain. Finally, it’s also worth noting that the MesonToolchain implementation now uses this script when avaliable under the hood to locate the Microsoft build tools.

New “Visitor” Model for traversing dependency graph

The MSBuildDeps generator implementation has been refactored to use an experimental new capability of iterating over the entire dependency tree to gather the information needed to generate it’s files. The new AutotoolsDeps also is using this capability. These are the first usages of this capability, and take place in the generate() method of Conanfile. Other potential use-cases of this capability may include advanced validation logic directly in the validate() method of recipes, but such cases have not been tested yet.

Previously, generators were passed data structures to operate on:

These data structures theoretically provide the generators with all of the information needed by consumers. These data structures are intentionally designed to be a separating layer between recipes and generators, to avoid tight-coupling with potentially changing implementation details, and encourage good boundaries.

However, these structures are limited to only include certain information which was identified by the Conan team as being necessary for consumers. With the new “Visitor” model, users can instead iterate over the actual instances of the conanfile objects in the dependency graph. As a result, all limitations for generators to read information about dependencies are effectively removed. So, for example, recipe authors can define any number of custom python attributes and methods within, and then write custom generators which read those attributes, or execute those methods. Furthermore, far more “implicit” information associated with each instance is available, such as package_id, whether a dependency is a requires or a build_requires, etc. In short, this makes generators much more powerful.

New Environment Model for Recipes and Profiles

Conan has often been hailed for providing a brilliant and elegant first-class experience for managing the complex needs around environment variables. Users can pass in variables at the CLI, and recipes in the dependency graph can produce them dynamically in package_info() method. Variables are separated into “build” and “target” contexts for cross-build scenarios, and the virtual environment generators produce shell scripts where the appropriate variables are set. The number of advanced and complex cases handled properly by Conan’s “environment management” has always been very high, but never 100%. There have always been some cases which seemed “out of reach” with the current implementation.

However, after extensive analysis of numerous unresolvable Github issues and discussion around Conan’s modeling of the environment, we’ve identified some deficiencies in the model. We’ve come up with an improved model which we believe can come closer to handling 100% of use-cases.

The major change from the previous environment management is reproducibility. All environment operations (variable add/append/remove) are now implemented explicitly in a new Environment class. Then, in all places where environment variables have to be “applied” for various Conan operations, Conan no longer applies them using Python function calls, which are impossible to reproduce outside the Conan process invocation. Instead, a new generator called VirtualEnv is used to produce shell scripts with the appropriate environment variables set for the given context. Conan then will then use those scripts in it’s own shell invocations to produce the desired results, but in a way that the user can reproduce from their own shell. Thus, the “reconciled environment” will always be visible in generated files which can be opened, analyzed, and re-used to reproduce build operations outside of Conan.

New AutotoolsDeps, AutotoolsToolchain

Continuing the previous work on the new (still experimental) generator and toolchain model, AND the new “Environments” model described above, Conan now has Deps and Toolchain generator classes for Autotools. These automatically use the shell scripts produced by VirtualEnv generator (when they are available).

Besides the items listed above, there was a long list of fairly impactful bug fixes you may wish to read about. If so, please refer to the changelog for the complete list.

We hope you enjoy this release, and look forward to your feedback.