SCons / doc / design / bground.xml

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 <para>

  Most of the ideas in &SCons; originate with &Cons;, a Perl-based
  software construction utility that has been in use by a small but
  growing community since its development by Bob Sidebotham at FORE
  Systems in 1996.  The &Cons; copyright was transferred in 2000 from
  Marconi (who purchased FORE Systems) to the Free Software Foundation.
  I've been a principal implementer and maintainer of &Cons; for several
  years.

 </para>

 <para>

  &Cons; was originally designed to handle complicated software build
  problems (multiple directories, variant builds) while keeping the
  input files simple and maintainable. The general philosophy is that
  the build tool should ``do the right thing'' with minimal input
  from an unsophisticated user, while still providing a rich set of
  underlying functionality for more complicated software construction
  tasks needed by experts.

 </para>

 <para>

  In 2000, the Software Carpentry sought entries in a contest for a
  new, Python-based build tool that would provide an improvement
  over Make for physical scientists and other non-programmers
  struggling to use their computers more effectively.  Prior to that,
  the idea of combining the superior build architecture of &Cons;
  with the easier syntax of Python had come up several times on
  the <literal>cons-discuss</literal> mailing list.  The Software
  Carpentry contest provided the right motivation to spend some
  actual time working on a design document.

 </para>

 <para>

  After two rounds of competition, the submitted design, named
  <application>ScCons</application>, won the competition.  Software
  Carpentry, however, did not immediately fund implementation of the
  build tool, instead contracting for additional, more detailed draft(s)
  of the design document.  This proved to be not as strong motivation as
  actual coding, and after several months of inactivity, I essentially
  resigned from the Software Carpentry effort in early 2001 to start
  working on the tool independently.

 </para>

 <para>

  After half a year of prototyping some of the important infrastructure,
  I accumulated enough code to take the project public at SourceForge,
  renaming it &SCons; to distinguish it slightly from the version of the
  design that won the Software Carpentry contest while still honoring
  its roots there and in the original &Cons; utility.  And also because
  it would be a teensy bit easier to type.

 </para>
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