CppCon 2019 Behind the Scenes of a C++ Build System--Jussi Pakkanen

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Registration is now open for CppCon 2021, which starts on October 24 and will be held both in person and online. To whet your appetite for this year’s conference, we’re posting videos of some of the top-rated talks from our most recent in-person conference in 2019 and our online conference in 2020. Here’s another CppCon talk video we hope you will enjoy – and why not register today for CppCon 2021 to attend in person, online, or both!

Behind the Scenes of a C++ Build System

by Jussi Pakkanen

Summary of the talk:

Everyone has an opinion on what build systems should do but there are surprisingly few who have an understanding of how they do it. In this talk we shall look behind the curtain and examine what does it actually take to create a modern build system and how they go about their business of turning source code into either compiler errors or executables.

On this journey we shall learn about the wonders of supporting 10+ different platforms and toolchains, dependency management, the awesomeness (both ironically and not) of shared libraries, compiler bugs and the interesting requirements on tools used at the lowest layers of a modern operating system. Using the increasingly popular Meson build system we shall examine real world design choices and tradeoffs and how they affect the final end user development experience. Performance optimization is also examined by looking at how you can efficiently scale program compilation both up to a compilation cluster and down to something like a Raspberry Pi.

Armed with all this knowledge we should finally be able to answer the question of why almost all build systems have suffered from poor usability and maybe, just maybe, find a proper solution for the build and dependency problem.

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