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About Autocmake

Building libraries and executables from sources can be a complex task. Several solutions exist to this problem: GNU Makefiles is the traditional approach. Today, CMake is one of the trendier alternatives which can generate Makefiles starting from a file called CMakeLists.txt.

Autocmake composes CMake building blocks into a CMake project and generates CMakeLists.txt as well as a setup script, which serves as a front-end to CMakeLists.txt. All this is done based on a lightweight autocmake.yml file:

python update.py --self
     |                                   |
     | fetches Autocmake                 |
     | infrastructure                    |
     | and updates the update.py script  |
     |                                   |
     v                           Developer maintaining
autocmake.yml                        Autocmake
     |                                   |
     | python update.py ..               |
     |                                   |
     v                                   v
CMakeLists.txt (and setup front-end)
     |                                   |
     | python setup or ./setup           |
     | which invokes CMake               |
     v                             User of the code
Makefile (or something else)             |
     |                                   |
     | make                              |
     |                                   |
     v                                   v
Build/install/test targets

Our main motivation to create Autocmake as a CMake framework library and CMake module composer is to simplify CMake code transfer between programs. We got tired of manually diffing and copy-pasting boiler-plate CMake code and watching it diverge while maintaining the CMake infrastructure in a growing number of scientific projects which typically have very similar requirements:

  • Fortran and/or C and/or C++ support
  • Tuning of compiler flags
  • Front-end script with good defaults
  • Support for parallelization: MPI, OMP, CUDA
  • Math libraries: BLAS, LAPACK

Our other motivation for Autocmake was to make it easier for developers who do not know CMake to provide a higher-level entry point to CMake.

Autocmake is a chance to provide a well documented and tested set of CMake plug-ins. With this we wish to give also users of codes the opportunity to introduce the occasional tweak without the need to dive deep into CMake documentation.

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