I’ve began working on a new build environment for Glib, Glib::Builder.

Glib should use it, and provide it for Gtk2, Gnome2 and the other Perl bindings; well, hopefully, and when it’s finished, that is. It should also supercede not only ExtUtils::Depend but also Glib::MakeHelper and a bunch of the code we are currently using inside our Makefile.PL files. Also, it should be easier for us to port a single module to Module::Build, if we ever decide to ditch ExtUtils::MakeMaker.

How does it work?

Simply by using the right tool for the job – that is Perl and pkg-config. Each Glib-based extension will provide a pkg-config file, and inside it will export some variables useful to retrieve all the stuff that currently is exported by ExtUtils::Depend; using pkg-config we can make all these data available to every project out there that can’t rely on ExtUtils::Depend – like the programs exporting an embedded Perl interpreter (gedit, gaim, xchat, etc).

How should it look like?

This is how the Makefile.PL for a Perl module named Foo::Bar, and binding libfoo-bar would look like using Glib::Builder:

  use Glib::Builder;

  # optional code generation using Glib::CodeGen goes here

  my $build = Glib::Builder->new(
      MODULE_NAME => 'Foo::Bar',
      VERSION_FROM =>,
      PKG_REQUIRES => {
        'bar-2.0' => '2.0.0',       # C library we depend on
        'glib-perl-2.0' => '1.100', # Perl bindings for Glib
        'gtk-perl-2.0' => '1.100',  # Perl bindings for GTK
        'foo-perl-1.0' => '0.800',  # Perl bindings for Foo
      XS_FILES => @xs_files,
      PM_FILES => %pm_files,
      TYPEMAPS => qw(foo-bar.typemap),
      PKG_CONFIG_FILES => qw(,
      DOCTYPES => 'foo-bar.doctypes',
      COPYRIGHT_FROM => 'foo-bar-copyright.pod',
      ENABLE_API_DOC => 1,

  $build->create_build_files if $build;

As you can see, every dependency check is done using pkg-config, which resolves for us all the stuff needed for creating the dependency chain. Glib::Build checks if the pkg-config file exports a specific variable, named perlincludedir, which should be exported by Perl wrappers for Glib-based libraries; the location inside this variable should hold all the typemaps, doctypes and header files needed for inheritance. Another variable, named perllibdir will include the location of the shared objects needed for compiling. The Foo::Bar module would also allow other modules to access its exported data by providing a pkg-config template file, which will create a pkg-config file with all the locations automagically resolved.

This will allow the creation of modules embedded into other Glib-based projects, just by using pkg-config and some auto-foo magic; Glib::Builder could even supply some m4 macros for it, or some Perl script to be used inside or files.

All neat and stuff, but where’s the code?

Still living in my source tree. I plan to hack on it this month, but I’ve also got this semester’s finals, and some other stuff going, so I can’t really promise a release date. I really want this to be done, though. Also, since Glib, Gtk2 and the other gtk2-perl modules require special code, I’ll have to add functions for it, in order to keep their Makefile.PL as similar as possible to the template Makefile.PL: those are not (so) special cases of Perl wrappers, so I don’t want them to be treated as such.