TCBuild 1.0

TCBuild is a new build tool for Fortran.
TCBuild is a new build tool for Fortran.

Fortran 90 can include reasonably complex dependencies, which must be taken into account when building a multiple-file program. Unfortunately, most build tools either don’t support Fortran, or don’t help the developer much. A standard make file, for example, requires you to enter dependencies manually, or develop a script to do it for you.

TCBuild is a Python script first developed to determine the dependencies in a multi-file, multi-directory Fortran program. Over time, this has developed into a reasonably complete build system that is now used by the developr for its daily Fortran development, from small utility programs with tens of files, to a million line monster.

NOTE: TCBuild is released under a BSD license.

Main features:

  • Not be general purpose: It should do Fortran well, and only handle enough C to get by. Java — forget it!
  • Scale to millions of lines, but also be easy to use with small programs.
  • Be very simple to install, preferably just one file: Don’t want to have to have a build tool to build your build tool!
  • Favor convention over configuration, ala Ruby on Rails and friends: I was willing to sacrifice generality. TCBuild chooses a reasonable convention for how projects should be laid out, and will work in any project that is structured in that way.
  • Support multiple, interdependent targets: Large projects typically have many libraries and executables. TCBuild needs to handle dependencies between these targets.
  • Support multiple build configurations (eg, debug, release, parallel, serial).
  • Work on all Unix/Linux platforms: Sorry Windows users. I’ve never tested TCBuild on Windows, but I assume it doesn’t work. May not take much to get it to work though.
  • Scale on multi-core systems.
  • Understand Fortran dependencies, and determine them automatically.
  • Not mix build configuration files (eg make files) with source files: All configuration should be in one file in the project root. I don’t like the way make, and even scons, favor recursive builds with a configuration file in every source directory. I don’t like it for build tools, and I don’t like it for source control tools (eg. CVS and Subversion). In my view, tools should not mix directly with the source tree.
  • Have the ability to set different compile options for different groups of files, or individual files: Fortran compilers have bugs. It is rare that one set of compile flags work for all files in a large program. And often you will want to set higher optimization for certain performance critical files.
  • Consider the compile options used to compile a file when determining if it needs recompiling: This idea is stolen from SCons — I find it very useful. Often you make a change to some compiler flags for a particular subset of source files, and then need to figure out which files need ‘touching’ so that they get recompiled. TCBuild stores the compile flags used for each file, and knows when they have changed and the file thus needs rebuilding.
  • Separate build products from source code, in a standalone directory: Some build systems mix object files and other intermediate products through the source tree. Not good. TCBuild puts all build products in a standalone build directory in the project root.
  • Consider a file modified if its content is modified, as well as its modification date: Another idea taken from SCons. This can be useful if, say, you move a file aside and temporarily replace it with some other file. When you put it back again, most build systems will not rebuild the file, because the modification date of the source file is not newer than that of the object file. TCBuild will do a checksum, and see that the file is changed.
  • Archives in place of object files: Build systems like make compare the modification date of object files to the corresponding source file to determine if a recompile is needed. This is not very robust, and results in object files being spread all over your project. TCBuild archives object files in static libraries, and stores time stamps in a separate database.

last updated on:
March 4th, 2008, 2:48 GMT
license type:
BSD License 
developed by:
Drew McCormack
ROOT \ Programming \ Compilers
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