the Robot Construction Kit

Writing Autobuild Scripts

Defining CMake packages

A simple CMake package is defined with

cmake_package "package_name"

More complex tweaking is achieved with

cmake_package "package_name" do |pkg|
  [modify the pkg object]

In particular, CMake build options can be given with

cmake_package "package_name" do |pkg|
  pkg.define "VAR", "VALUE"

The above snippet being equivalent to calling cmake -DVAR=VALUE

The “pkg” variable in the example above is an instance of {rdoc_class: {base_url: /api/autobuild, name: “Autobuild::CMake”}}

Defining autotools packages

autotools_package "package_name"
autotools_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    pkg.configureflags << "--enable-feature" << "VAR=VALUE"
    # additional configuration

The ‘pkg’ variable in the example above is an instance of {rdoc_class: {base_url: /api/autobuild, name: “Autobuild::Autotools”}}

Since autotools (and specifically, automake) environments are unfortunately not so reusable, autoproj tries to regenerate the autotools scripts forcefully. This can be disabled by setting the some flags on the package:

  • using[:aclocal]: set to false if aclocal should not be run
  • using[:autoconf]: set to false if the configure script should not be touched
  • using[:automake]: set to false if the automake part of the configuration should not be touched
  • using[:libtool]: set to false if the libtool part of the configuration should not be touched

For instance, one would add

autotools_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    pkg.configureflags << "--enable-feature" << "VAR=VALUE"
    # Do regenerate the autoconf part, but no the automake part
    pkg.using[:automake] = false

Defining Ruby packages

ruby_package "package_name"
ruby_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    # additional configuration

This package handles pure ruby libraries that do not need to be installed at all. Autoproj assumes that the directory layout of the package follows the following convention:

  • programs are in bin/
  • the library itself is in lib/

If a Rakefile is present in the root of the source package, its default task will be called during the build, and its redocs task will be used for documentation generation. The rake_setup_task and rake_doc_task package properties can be used to override this default setting:

ruby_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    pkg.rake_setup_task = "setup"
    pkg.rake_doc_task = "doc:all"

Additionally, they can be set to nil to disable either setup or documentation generation. For instance, the following code disables documentation generation and uses the +setup+ task at build time:

ruby_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    pkg.rake_setup_task = "setup"
    pkg.rake_doc_task = nil

The ‘pkg’ variable in the example above is an instance of {rdoc_class: {base_url: /api/autobuild, name: “Autobuild::ImporterPackage”}} with additional methods coming from {rdoc_class: {base_url: /api/autoproj, name: “RubyPackage”}}

Defining oroGen packages

orogen_package "package_name"
orogen_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    # customization code

oroGen is a module generator for the Orocos component framework. See the oroGen documentation for more information.

The ‘pkg’ variable in the example above is an instance of {rdoc_class: {base_url: /api/autobuild, name: “Autobuild::Orogen”}}

OS-specific bits (not_on and only_on)

It is possible to have some parts of the autobuild file be OS-specific. Two calls are made available for that.

First, if you know that some packages should not be built on some operating systems, you should enclose their declaration in a ‘not_on’ statement. For instance:

not_on 'debian' do
  cmake_package 'excluded_package'

It is additionally possible to select specific versions

not_on 'debian', ['ubuntu', '10.04'] do
  cmake_package 'excluded_package'

If, on the other hand, you want some bits to be available only on a specific OS, use the only_on statement:

only_on ['ubuntu', '10.04'] do
  cmake_package 'only_ubuntu'

If the user tries to build a package that is excluded on his architecture, he will get the following error message:

modules/dynamixel depends on drivers/dynamixel, which is excluded from the build: drivers/dynamixel is disabled on this operating system

Custom package building

import_package "package_name" do |pkg|
    pkg.post_install do
        # add commands to build and install the package

See this page about some very important issues when writing such command blocks.

Declaring documentation targets

Both autotools and CMake packages use make as the low-level build tool. For both packages, you can declare a documentation target that will be used during the call to autoproj doc to generate documentation:

cmake_package "package_name" do |pkg|
  pkg.with_doc 'doc'
  pkg.doc_dir = "doc/html"

The doc_dir assignment above is needed if the package installs its documentation elsewhere than “doc”.

Defining dependencies

Inter-package dependencies can be defined with

pkg.depends_on "package_name"

Where package name is either the name of another autoproj-built package, or the name of a package that is to be provided by the operating system.

Both methods should be used only for dynamic dependencies, i.e. dependencies that are dependent on build options (see below). Static dependencies should be defined in the package’s manifest.xml

Finally, it is possible to give aliases to a package’s name, by using the Autobuild::Package#provides method. If one does

cmake_package "mypkg" do |pkg|
    pkg.provides "pkgconfig/libmypkg"

then a package that declares a dependency on “pkgconfig/libmypkg” will actually depend on “mypkg”.

Defining and using options

It is possible to define configuration options which are set by your user at build time. These options can then be used in the autobuild scripts to parametrize the build.

The general form of an option declaration is:

configuration_option "option_name", "option_type",
    :default => "default_value",
    :values => ["set", "of", "possible", "values"],
    :doc => "description of the option"

Once declared, it can be used in autobuild scripts with:


Options are saved in autoproj/config.yml after the build. Options that are already set won’t be asked again unless the --reconfigure option is given to autoproj build.

Do not try to have too many options, that is in general bad policy as non-advanced users won’t be able to know what to answer. Advanced users will always have the option to override your autobuild definitions to tweak the builds to their needs.