Log of IRC conversation with CoApp project founders 2010-04-09 21:32:45
Microsoft making a Linux-style package manager for Windows, and promising to make building of cross-platform software simpler? Crazy - but maybe, just crazy enough to work...
The crux of the build process appears to lie in automagical process instrumentation which figures out what executables, shared libraries and plugin files comprise a running program, and creates a Visual Studio project file for compiling the thing - assuming you have the source, of course. Personally, I see a big chicken-and-egg problem here: if you need to trace a running process, surely you need to have your software already built for Windows; assuming you haven't done that with Visual Studio (or else why would you be interesting in generating project files?), you've already done the hard part, i.e. setting up a MinGW/Cygwin toolchain and getting the program's dependencies built and working. If I'm sat at the MSYS prompt, trying to run "./configure", and it fails because it can't detect an installed version of GTK... will a pre-ported GTK install from CoApp be any help at all in getting that initial build going so I can run a trace?
I'm not convinced, because amongst other things anything built from Visual Studio won't have the pkg-config files the configure script wants, and I'm not sure it's a good idea to compile something with GCC and link it with libraries built by the Visual Studio compiler. It's not something I appear to be able to get a clear answer to.
Don't get me wrong: it sounds fantastic for distribution and deployment; a package manager for Windows is definitely a Good Thing. What I'm not sure about is how exactly any of this makes building cross-platform software any easier, despite Mr. Serack's repeated statements that he's focussed on the benefits for developers. At one point (round about ten past nine) I nearly got auroraeosrose to agree conceptually that something like an autotools build script scanner would be necessary, but by that point it may have just been to shut me up ;)
Anyway, for anyone who may want it, an IRC log of some interesting answers - to what I hope are some interesting questions - is available here.
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