SCons_experimental / doc / python10 / design.xml

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<?xml version='1.0'?>
<!DOCTYPE sconsdoc [
    <!ENTITY % scons SYSTEM "../scons.mod">
    %scons;
]>

<section id="sect-design"
         xmlns="http://www.scons.org/dbxsd/v1.0"
         xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
         xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.scons.org/dbxsd/v1.0/scons.xsd scons.xsd">
<title>Architecture</title>

<!--

  __COPYRIGHT__

  Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining
  a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the
  "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including
  without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish,
  distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to
  permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to
  the following conditions:

  The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included
  in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

  THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY
  KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE
  WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND
  NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE
  LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION
  OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION
  WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

-->

<para>

  The &SCons; architecture consists of three layers:

</para>

<mediaobject>
  <imageobject>
    <imagedata fileref="arch.svg" align="center"/>
  </imageobject>
  <imageobject>
    <imagedata fileref="arch.jpg" align="center"/>
  </imageobject>
</mediaobject>

<itemizedlist>

  <listitem>
    <para>

      The &SCons; <emphasis>Build Engine</emphasis>, a package of Python
      modules that handle dependency management and updating out-of-date
      objects.

    </para>
  </listitem>

  <listitem>
    <para>

      The &SCons; <emphasis>API</emphasis> (applications programming
      interface) between the Build Engine
      and the user interface.

    </para>
  </listitem>

  <listitem>
    <para>

      The &scons; <emphasis>script</emphasis> itself (note lower case
      <emphasis>sc</emphasis>), which is the pre-provided interface to
      the Build Engine.

    </para>
  </listitem>

</itemizedlist>

<para>

  Notice that this architecture separates the internal workings of
  &SCons; (the Build Engine) from the
  external user interface.  The benefit is that the &SCons; Build Engine
  can be imported into any other software package written in Python
  to support a variety of user interfaces&mdash;or, to look at it
  in reverse, other software interfaces can use the &SCons; Build
  Engine to manage dependencies between their objects.

</para>

<para>

  Because the
  &SCons; package itself is modular, only those parts of the package
  relevant to the embedding interface need be imported; for example,
  a utility that wants to use only file timestamps for checking
  whether a file is up-to-date
  need not import the MD5 signature module.

</para>

<section>
  <title>The &SCons; Build Engine</title>

  <para>

    The Build Engine is a package of Python modules that
    form the heart of &SCons;.

    The Build Engine can be broadly divided into five
    architectural subsystems, each responsible
    for a crucial part of &SCons; functionality:

  </para>

  <itemizedlist>

    <listitem>
      <para>

        A <emphasis>node</emphasis> subsystem, responsible for managing
        the files (or other objects) to be built, and the dependency
        relationships between them.

      </para>
    </listitem>

    <listitem>
      <para>

        A <emphasis>scanner</emphasis> subsystem, responsible for
	scanning various file types for implicit dependencies.

      </para>
    </listitem>

    <listitem>
      <para>

        A <emphasis>signature</emphasis> subsystem, responsible for
        deciding whether a given file (or other object) requires
        rebuilding.

      </para>
    </listitem>

    <listitem>
      <para>

        A <emphasis>builder</emphasis> subsystem, responsible for
        actually executing the necessary command or function to
        build a file (or other object).

      </para>
    </listitem>

    <listitem>
      <para>

        A <emphasis>job/task</emphasis> subsystem, responsible for
        handling parallelization of builds.

      </para>
    </listitem>

  </itemizedlist>

  <para>

    The rest of this section will provide a high-level overview of the
    class structure of each of these Build Engine subsystems.

  </para>

  <section>
    <title>Node Subsystem</title>

    <para>

      The node subsystem of the Build Engine is
      responsible for managing the knowledge in &SCons; of
      the relationships among the external objects
      (files) it is responsible for updating.
      The most important of these relationships is
      the dependency relationship between various &Node; objects,
      which &SCons; uses to determine the order
      in which builds should be performed.

    </para>

    <mediaobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="node.svg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="node.jpg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
    </mediaobject>

    <para>

      The &scons; script (or other
      user interface)
      tells the Build Engine
      about dependencies
      through its &consenv; API.
      The Build Engine also discovers
      dependencies automatically through the use of &Scanner; objects.

    </para>

    <para>

      Subclasses of the &Node; class maintain additional
      relationships that reflect the real-world
      existence of these objects.
      For example, the &Node_FS; subclass
      is responsible for managing a
      representation of the directory hierarchy
      of a file system.

    </para>

    <para>

      A &Walker; class is used by other subsystems
      to walk the dependency tree maintained by the &Node; class.
      The &Walker; class maintains a stack of &Node; objects
      visited during its depth-first traversal of the
      dependency tree,
      and uses an intermediate node &Wrapper; class
      to maintain state information about a
      &Node; object's dependencies.

    </para>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>Scanner Subsystem</title>

    <para>

      The scanner subsystem is responsible for maintaining
      objects that can scan the contents of a &Node;'s
      for implicit dependencies.

    </para>

    <mediaobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="scanner.svg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="scanner.jpg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
    </mediaobject>

    <para>

      In practice, a given &Scanner; subclass object
      functions as a prototype,
      returning clones of itself
      depending on the &consenv;
      values governing how the &Node;
      should be scanned.

    </para>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>Signature Subsystem</title>

    <para>

      The signature subsystem is responsible for computing
      signature information for &Node; objects.
      The signature subsystem in &SCons;
      supports multiple ways to
      determine whether a &Node; is up-to-date
      by using an abstract &Sig; class
      as a strategy wrapper:

    </para>

    <mediaobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="sig.svg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="sig.jpg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
    </mediaobject>

    <para>

      By default, &SCons; tracks dependencies by computing and
      maintaining MD5 signatures for the contents of each source file
      (or other object). The signature of a <emphasis>derived</emphasis>
      file consists of the aggregate of the signatures of all the source
      files <emphasis>plus</emphasis> the command-line string used to
      build the file. These signatures are stored in a &sconsign; file
      in each directory.

    </para>

    <para>

      If the contents of any of the source files changes, the change to its
      MD5 signature is propogated to the signature of the derived file(s). The
      simple fact that the new signature does not match the stored signature
      indicates that the derived file is not up to date and must be rebuilt.

    </para>

    <para>

      A separate &TimeStamp; subclass of the &Sig; class supports
      the use of traditional file timestamps for
      deciding whether files are up-to-date.

    </para>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>Builder Subsystem</title>

    <para>

      The &SCons; Build Engine records how out-of-date files
      (or other objects) should be rebuilt in &Builder; objects,
      maintained by the builder subsystem:

    </para>

    <mediaobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="builder.svg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="builder.jpg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
    </mediaobject>

    <para>
      
      The actual underlying class name is &BuilderBase;,
      and there are subclasses that can encapsulate
      multiple &Builder; objects for special purposes.
      One subclass
      (&CompositeBuilder;)
      selects an appropriate encapsulated &Builder;
      based on the file suffix of the target object.
      The other
      (&MultiStepBuilder;).
      can chain together multiple
      &Builder; objects,
      for example,
      to build an executable program from a source file
      through an implicit intermediate object file.

    </para>

    <para>

      A &BuilderBase; object has an associated
      &ActionBase; object
      responsible for actually executing
      the appropriate steps
      to update the target file.
      There are three subclasses,
      one for externally executable commands
      (&CommandAction;),
      one for Python functions
      (&FunctionAction;),
      and one for lists of
      multiple &Action; objects
      (&ListAction;).

    </para>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>Job/Task Subsystem</title>

    <para>

      &SCons; supports parallel builds with a thread-based tasking
      model, managed by the job/task subsystem.

    </para>

    <mediaobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="job-task.svg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
      <imageobject>
        <imagedata fileref="job-task.jpg" align="center"/>
      </imageobject>
    </mediaobject>

    <para>
      
      Instead of performing an outer-loop recursive descent
      of the dependency tree and then forking a task when it finds a
      file that needs updating, &SCons; starts as many threads as are
      requested, each thread managed by the &Jobs; class.
      As a performance optimization,
      the &Jobs; class maintains an internal
      distinction between
      &Serial; and &Parallel;
      build jobs,
      so that serial builds
      don't pay any performance penalty
      by using a multi-threaded implementation
      written for &Parallel; builds.

    </para>

    <para>
      
      Each &Jobs; object, running in its own thread,
      then requests a &Task; from a central &Taskmaster;,
      which is responsible
      for handing out available &Task; objects for (re-)building
      out-of-date nodes. A condition variable
      makes sure that the &Jobs; objects
      query the &Taskmaster; one at a time.

    </para>

    <para>

      The &Taskmaster; uses the node subsystem's
      &Walker; class to walk the dependency tree,
      and the &Sig; class to use the
      appropriate method
      of deciding if a &Node; is up-to-date.

    </para>

    <para>

      This scheme has many advantages over the standard &Make;
      implementation of <option>-j</option>.
      Effective use of <option>-j</option> is difficult
      with the usual recursive use of Make,
      because the number of jobs started by <option>-j</option> multiply
      at each level of the source tree.
      This makes the actual number of jobs
      executed at any moment very dependent on the size and layout of
      the tree. &SCons;, in contrast, starts only as many jobs as are
      requested, and keeps them constantly busy (excepting jobs that
      block waiting for their dependency files to finish building).

    </para>

  </section>

</section>

<section>
  <title>The &SCons; API</title>

  <para>

    This section provides an overview of the &SCons; interface. The
    complete interface specification is both more detailed and flexible
    than this overview.

  </para>

  <section>
    <title>&ConsVars;</title>

    <para>

      In &SCons;, a &consenv; is an object through which an external
      interface (such as the &scons; script) communicates dependency
      information to the &SCons; Build Engine.

    </para>

    <para>

      A construction environment is implemented as a dictionary
      containing:

    </para>

    <itemizedlist>

      <listitem>
        <para>

          construction variables, string values that are substituted
          into command lines or used by builder functions;

        </para>
      </listitem>

      <listitem>
        <para>

          one or more &Builder; objects that can be invoked to update a
          file or other object;

        </para>
      </listitem>

      <listitem>
        <para>

          one or more &Scanner; objects that can be used to
          scan a file automatically for dependencies (such as
          files specified on <literal>#include</literal> lines).

        </para>
      </listitem>

    </itemizedlist>

    <para>

      &Consenvs; are instantiated as follows:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      env = Environment()
      env_debug = Environment(CCFLAGS = '-g')
    </programlisting>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>&Builder; Objects</title>

    <para>

      An &SCons; &Builder; object encapsulates information about how to
      build a specific type of file: an executable program, an object
      file, a library, etc. A &Builder; object is associated with a
      file through an associated &consenv; method and later invoked to
      actually build the file. The &Builder; object will typically use
      construction variables (such as <literal>CCFLAGS</literal>, <literal>LIBPATH</literal>) to influence
      the specific build execution.

    </para>

    <para>

      &Builder; objects are instantiated as follows:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      bld = Builder(name = 'Program', action = "$CC -o $TARGET $SOURCES")
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      In the above example, the <literal>action</literal> is a
      command-line string in which the Build Engine will
      interpolate the values of construction
      variables before execution. The actual
      <literal>action</literal> specified, though,
      may be a function:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      def update(dest):
          # [code to update the object]
          return 0

      bld = Builder(name = 'Program', function = update)
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      Or a callable Python object (or class):

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      class class_a:
          def __call__(self, kw):
              # build the desired object
          return 0

      builder = SCons.Builder.Builder(action = class_a())
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      A &Builder; object may have the <literal>prefix</literal> and
      <literal>suffix</literal> of its target file type specified
      as keyword arguments at instantiation.  Additionally, the
      suffix of the <emphasis>source files</emphasis> used by this
      &Builder; to build its target files may be specified using the
      <literal>src_suffix</literal> keyword argument:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      bld_lib = Builder(name = 'Library', action = "$AR r $TARGET $SOURCES",
                        prefix = 'lib', suffix = '.a', src_suffix = '.o')
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      The specified <literal>prefix</literal> and
      <literal>suffix</literal> will be appended to the name of any
      target file built by this &Builder; object, if they are not
      already part of the file name.  The <literal>src_suffix</literal>
      is used by the &SCons; Build Engine to chain together
      multiple &Builder; objects to create,
      for example, a library from the original source
      files without having to specify the
      intermediate <literal>.o</literal> files.

    </para>

    <para>

      &Builder; objects are associated with a &consenv; through a
      &consvar; named <literal>BUILDERS</literal>, a list of the &Builder; objects that
      will be available for execution through the &consenv;:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      env = Environment(BUILDERS = [ Object, Library, WebPage, Program ])
    </programlisting>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>&Scanner; Objects</title>

    <para>

      &Scanner; objects perform automatic checking for dependencies
      by scanning the contents of files. The canonical
      example is scanning a C source file or header file for
      files specified on <literal>#include</literal> lines.

    </para>

    <para>

      A &Scanner; object is instantiated as follows:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      def c_scan(contents):
           # scan contents of file
           return # list of files found

      c_scanner = Scanner(name = 'CScan', function = c_scan,
                          argument = None,
                          skeys = ['.c', '.C', '.h', '.H')
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      The <literal>skeys</literal> argument specifies a list of file
      suffixes for file types that this &Scanner; knows how to scan.

    </para>

    <para>

      &Scanner; objects are associated with a &consenv; through a
      &consvar; named <literal>SCANNERS</literal>, a list of the &Scanner; objects that
      will be available through the &consenv;:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      env = Environment(SCANNERS = [ CScan, M4Scan ])
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      For utilities that will build files with a variety of file
      suffixes, or which require unusual scanning rules, a &Scanner;
      object may be associated explicitly with a &Builder; object as
      follows:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      def tool_scan(contents):
          # scan contents of file
          return # list of files found

      tool_scanner = Scanner(name = 'TScan', function = tool_scan)

      bld = Builder(name = 'Tool', scanner = tool_scanner)
    </programlisting>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>&BuildDir;</title>

    <para>

      &SCons; supports a flexible mechanism for building target
      files in a separate build directory from the source files.
      The &BuildDir; syntax is straightforward:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      BuildDir(source = 'src', build = 'bld')
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      By
      default, source files are linked or copied into the build
      directory, because exactly replicating the source directory
      is sometimes necessary for certain combinations of use of
      <literal>#include "..."</literal> and <option>-I</option> search
      paths.

      An option exists to specify that only output files should be placed in
      the build directory:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      BuildDir(source = 'src', build = 'bld', no_sources = 1)
    </programlisting>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>&Repository;</title>

    <para>

      &SCons; supports the ability to search a list of code repositories
      for source files and derived files. This works much like
      &Make;'s <varname>VPATH</varname> feature, as implemented in
      recent versions of GNU &Make;.
      (The POSIX standard for &Make; specifies slightly
      different behavior for <varname>VPATH</varname>.)
      The syntax is:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      Repository('/home/source/1.1', '/home/source/1.0')
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      A command-line <option>-Y</option> option exists to allow
      repositories to be specified on the command line, or in the
      &SCONSFLAGS; environment variable (not construction variable!).
      This avoids a chicken-and-egg situation and allows the top-level
      &SConstruct; file to be found in a repository as well.

    </para>

  </section>

  <section>
    <title>&Cache;</title>

    <para>

      &SCons; supports a way for developers to share derived files. Again, the
      syntax is straightforward:

    </para>

    <programlisting>
      Cache('/var/build.cache/i386')
    </programlisting>

    <para>

      Copies of any derived files built will be placed in the specified
      directory with their MD5 signature. If another build results in an
      out-of-date derived file with the same signature, the derived file
      will be copied from the cache instead of being rebuilt.

    </para>

  </section>

</section>

<section>
  <title>The &scons; Script</title>

  <para>

    The &scons; script provides an interface
    that looks roughly equivalent to the
    classic &Make; utility&mdash;that is, execution from the command
    line, and dependency information read from configuration files.

  </para>

  <para>

    The most noticeable difference between &scons; and &Make;, or most
    other build tools, is that the configuration files are actually
    Python scripts, generically called "SConscripts" (although the
    top-level "Makefile" is named &SConstruct;). Users do not have to
    learn a new language syntax, but instead configure dependency
    information by making direct calls to the Python API of the
    &SCons; Build Engine. Here is an example &SConstruct; file which
    builds a program in side-by-side normal and debug versions:

  </para>

  <programlisting>
    env = Environment()
    debug = env.Copy(CCFLAGS = '-g')

    source_files = ['f1.c', 'f2.c', 'f3.c']

    env.Program(target = 'foo', sources = source_files)
    debug.Program(target = 'foo-debug', sources = source_files)
  </programlisting>

  <para>

    Notice the fact that this file is a Python script, which allows us
    to define and re-use an array that lists the source files.

  </para>

  <para>

    Because quoting individul strings in long
    lists of files can get tedious and error-prone, the &SCons;
    methods support a short-cut of listing multiple files in a single
    string, separated by white space.
    This would change
    the assignment in the above example to a more easily-readable:

  </para>

  <programlisting>
    source_files = 'f1.c f2.c f3.c'
  </programlisting>

  <para>

    The mechanism to establish hierarchical builds is to "include" any
    subsidiary configuration files in the build by listing them explicitly
    in a call to the &SConscript; function:

  </para>

  <programlisting>
    SConscript('src/SConscript', 'lib/SConscript')
  </programlisting>

  <para>

    By convention, configuration files in subdirectories are named
    &SConscript;.

  </para>

  <para>

    The &scons; script has intentionally been made to look, from
    the outside, as much like &Make; as is practical. To this
    end, the &scons; script supports all of the same command-line
    options supported by GNU &Make;: <option>-f</option> FILE,
    <option>-j</option>, <option>-k</option>, <option>-s</option>,
    etc. For compatibility, &scons; ignores those GNU &Make; options
    that don't make sense for the &SCons; architecture, such as
    <option>-b</option>, <option>-m</option>, <option>-S</option>,
    and <option>-t</option>.  The
    intention is that, given an equivalent &SConstruct; file for a
    &Makefile;, a user could use &SCons; as a drop-in replacement for
    &Make;. Additional command-line options are, where possible, taken
    from the Perl &Cons; utility on which the &SCons; design is based.

  </para>

</section>

</section>
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