CppCon 2023 Libraries: A First Step Toward Standard C++ Dependency Mgmt--Bret Brown & Bill Hoffman

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Plenary: Libraries - A First Step Toward Standard C++ Dependency Management

by Bret Brown & Bill Hoffman

Summary of the talk:

Prebuilt libraries have existed for decades… they even predate C++! After all these years, techniques to use prebuilt libraries are still ad hoc and difficult to maintain. A root cause of this variety of techniques is the variety of things that are C++ libraries: header-only libraries, statically-linked archives, dynamically-linked binaries, and so on. The consuming projects need to build against these libraries in consistent ways or risk unproductive workflows – and potentially, even catastrophic failure in production environments. This lack of convergence creates enormous interoperability problems across broad portions of the worldwide programming ecosystem, not just the C++ parts of it.

This talk will explore the complexities of defining what is a “C++ library.” It will then present the joint work of Kitware, Bloomberg, and others toward a preliminary design for creating initial standards for dependency management in C++ – metadata files to describe prebuilt libraries. A roadmap for maturing the design will also be shared, including proposing a standard definition for C++ libraries, building on previous proposals such as P1313: Package Specification (https://wg21.link/P1313).

This talk is intended for anyone who produces, maintains, or consumes C++ libraries. Special knowledge of C++ tooling, build systems, or package managers is not required.

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