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Respire provides a Python interface to defining a build system, but doesn't execute Python on rebuilds unless it changed.
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C/C++ CI


Respire provides logic to describe and execute an arbitrary file dependency graph. It is a build system tool, like make, however unlike make it offers the full power of Python to setup build rules enabling a more high level description of a dependency graph. Respire is compatible with both Python 2 and 3.

SCons is a similar build system tool that offers the expressiveness of Python to describe a build dependency graph, however SCons is known to be slow to execute. On the other hand, Respire caches the results of executed Python scripts into easy to parse low-level file dependencies so that unless the Python logic is modified, the Python interpreter will not need to be invoked. This low-level cached file format (currently stored as JSON) serves a similar role as the input to the ninja build system, in that it's meant to be parsed quickly, and not to be analyzed by humans.

A core set of functionality is provided enabling direct specification of a per-file dependency graph. It can be tedious to define large projects in this way, so higher-level utilities are available on top of the core functionality. This enables, for example, C++ projects to be defined in terms of modules, like executables, static libraries and dynamic libraries. No magic is involved in the creation of these libraries, and so anyone is free to build their own in order to create a domain specific language for specifying build targets for custom tools or other programming languages.


Executing Respire on a project for the first time

Here is an animation showing what happens when Respire is used to build the Respire core project itself. Note the -g command line parameter which enables a visualization of the build process which will open and render in a browser as a web page.

Animation of Respire's build dependency graph while building.

Note that in the above animation there are two phases:

  1. The beginning where the Python scripts which define the build dependency graph are executed.
  2. The second phase where the actual build instructions are executed.

In the first phase, the dependency graph can be seen in the process of updating, as more Python is executed and the results are collected by the Respire core engine.

In the next animation, starting from where we ended in the first animation we see Respire being invoked to run the unit and end-to-end tests packaged with Respire itself.

Note also that multiple tasks are executed in parallel, one per thread available on the system.

The grey nodes are nodes that are defined in the build files and available for building, but were not requested to be built at that time. In this example, they are packaging and testing steps. The next animation goes on to run those build steps.

Re-running respire to build tests and packaging

Animation of Respire's build dependency graph while packaging and testing.

Note that:

  • We do not rebuild items that had already been built and whose dependencies have not changed.
  • We do not have to wait for any Python to execute this time (e.g. "phase 1" from above), because the results from the Python execution have been cached from the first run.

In this second example, we are packaging the Respire project and running the tests, both tasks which require the Respire core project to be built already, as was done in the first animation.

The two circles of nodes on the right represent the packages, where most of the nodes represent Python file copies, where we copy the Python source code representing the Respire environment into a directory that also contains the Respire core executable. Two copies are made, one for packaging and shipping, and one for testing.

The testing one is used to enable end-to-end tests where test Python build steps are run, which ultimately invoke Respire core, and the resulting file system state is tested for correctness.

Building Respire

While Respire can be built by Respire, it can also be built using CMake, in order to bootstrap the process.

Build with CMake

There is a CMakeLists.txt file in the src/ directory. Respire is confirmed to be buildable on Windows using MSVC and on Linux with g++.

Once built, you will need to install the result, e.g. by running

cmake --build . --target install

and then add the ${CMAKE_OUT}/package/python directory to your PYTHONPATH environment variable.

Typically, Respire projects provide a build entry point Python script which must be executed in order to kick off the build. See src/example/SimpleMultiSourceCPP/ for an example entry point script.

Build with Respire

Once Respire is installed on a system (e.g. see Build with CMake), then Respire can be built using itself by running:

python src/

By default, the output will appear in a newly created out/ folder. By default a debug build is generated and the Respire binary executable is not packaged with the associated Python files. In order to produce the final packaged output, call:

python src/ -t package

which will output the results into the directory out/debug/package (e.g. you could set your PYTHONPATH to this directory in order to use this new instance of Respire for future Respire builds).

In order to build a release build of respire, and package the results, call

python src/ -t package -c release

and the results will be available in out/release/package.


Small C++ Project

The directory src/example/SimpleMultiSourceCPP contains a small example of how to use Respire's high level C++ layer to define a small C++ project. For convenience, the build file for this example project is inlined here:

import as cc 
import respire.buildlib.cc_toolchains.discovery as cc_discovery
import respire.buildlib.modules as modules

def EntryPoint(registry, out_dir):
  toolchain = cc_discovery.DiscoverHostToolchain()
  configured_toolchain = cc.ToolchainWithConfiguration(
      toolchain, cc.Configuration())

  main_module = modules.ExecutableModule(
      'simple_multi_source_cpp', registry, out_dir, configured_toolchain,

  for output in main_module.GetOutputFiles():
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