Build Status Gem Version Documentation

What is Autoproj

Autoproj allows to easily install and maintain software that is under source code form (usually from a version control system). It has been designed to support a package-oriented development process, where each package can have its own version control repository (think "distributed version control"). It also provides an easy integration of the local operating system (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, MacOSX).

This tool has been developed over the years. It is now maintained in the frame of the Rock robotics project (, to install robotics-related software -- that is often bleeding edge.

One main design direction for autoproj is that packages can be built with autoproj without having been designed to be built with autoproj.

The philosophy behind autoproj is:

  • supports any type of build system (CMake, autotools, ruby packages, ...)
  • supports different VCS: git, plain archives, cvs, svn, ...
  • software packages are plain packages, meaning that they can be built and installed /outside/ an autoproj tree, and are not tied at all to the autoproj build system.
  • leverage the actual OS package management system. Right now, only Debian-like systems (like Ubuntu) are supported, simply because it is the only one I have access to.
  • handle code generation properly

Overview of an autoproj installation

The idea in an autoproj installation is that people share definitions for a set of packages that can depend on each other. Then, anyone can cherry-pick in these definitions to build its own installation (in practice, one builds a complete configuration per-project).

Each package definition includes:

  • how to get the package's source code
  • how to build the package
  • on what the package depends. This can be either another package built by autoproj, or an operating system package.

See this page for more information.

Software packages in Autoproj

In the realm of autoproj, a software package should be a self-contained build system, that could be built outside of an autoproj tree. In practice, it means that the package writer should leverage its build system (for instance, cmake) to discover if the package dependencies are installed, and what are the appropriate build options that should be given (for instance, include directories or library names).

As a guideline, we recommend that inter-package dependencies are managed by using pkg-config for C/C++ packages.

To describe the package, and more importantly to setup cross-package dependencies, an optional manifest file can be added link to documentation here.

Migrating from v1 to v2

Autoproj 2.0 has been released on the 22nd December 2016 and brought significant changes both to its internals and to its workflow. What follows describes the changes brought by v2, from the point of view of someone that already knows autoproj v1

Upgrade process

Autoproj 2.x is backward incompatible in two ways: first, it requires ruby 2.0+. Second, both the workspace layout and the way RubyGems are handled changed and therefore the upgrade process is pretty complex.

For these reasons, the latest version of autoproj 1.x (1.13.3) will not automatically upgrade to 2.x. The update to 2.x will have to be manual. This is going to be a general policy going forward (2.x will not upgrade to 3.x and so on). Moreover, it will remain possible to bootstrap an autoproj 1.x workspace using this bootstrap script:

To bootstrap a new install using autoproj 2.0, just follow the standard bootstrap process, which did not change. Note that by using the bootstrap from the 'master' branch on github you will bootstrap using autoproj 2.0.

To upgrade an existing autoproj 1.x install, run the following script from the root of the installation:

After the upgrade, one can "downgrade" by simply replacing the new autoproj-generated script by the backup the upgrade process did ( Open a new console, et voila.

New 2.x workspace

Under 2.x, all autoproj-generated files related to the workspace are saved under a new .autoproj directory (as e.g. the config files and remotes). The upgrade process does not delete these to allow for "downgrading".

In addition, autoproj now uses bundler to manage the gems. This means that, by default, the gems are shared between all autoproj installs, bundler making sure that upgrading a gem on one install does not affect another. This makes bootstrapping a lot faster (since already present gems will be reused) and in the future will allow 'autoproj versions' and related commands (tag and commit) to pin the gem versions. It also resolves the gem dependencies globally, thus detecting and/or handling problems with gems that have conflicting dependencies (an issue we currently have / had with webgen)

This also means that using the gem command to manage the gems is not allowed anymore.

To add a gem to the workspace, create or edit autoproj/Gemfile and add gem entries following the bundler documentation. Once the file is edited, run autoproj osdeps and reload the updated

To remove gems, remove the corresponding line in autoproj/Gemfile, run autoproj osdeps and reload

Alternatively to the main autoproj/Gemfile, files with the .gemfile extension in autoproj/overrides.d are also considered

Proper help for the command-line interface

'autoproj help' is useful (which was definitely NOT the case on 1.x), showing details about each subcommand as well as all existing command line options.

Parallel import

autoproj update and status can now operate in parallel. The default is to spawn 10 process, but this can be controlled through the 'parallel_import_level' option in .autoproj/config.yml.

Note that for this feature to work well, one has to specify if a repository needs user interaction (e.g. github private repositories requiring a password) or not. The generic interactive: option can be given for any importer, and the private: option can be used for this purpose in the github handler. The latter also allows to use a different pull method than for public repositories (and defaults to the push handler, e.g. http,ssh leads to private repositories using ssh to pull by default)

Improved workflow for overrides

To increase convenience, the git importer sets up a remote for each package set, with the version control information that this package set expects. So, if you have a rock.core package that is overriden by myproject, the rock.core remote will point to the URL defined in rock.core and the myproject remote will point to the overriden URL. The 'autobuild' remote always points to the final one.

The status and show subcommands learned the --mainline option. With --mainline, the status is displayed against the VCS without any overrides applied. With --mainline=rock.core, only the overrides up to and including rock.core will be applied:

autoproj status --mainline # compare the local state against the "upstream" state autoproj status --mainline=my.set # compare the local state against someone that would have overrides only until 'my.set'

The option is also available to "autoproj show"

Environment handling

The environment is not global anymore, but per-package. This means that builds that were missing dependencies could be previously passing and will fail. It also means that the environment of packages that have been used but are not anymore will not pollute

Separate build directories

Autoproj.builddir can be set to a full path, in which case every package's build directory will be placed into a subdirectory of this path (instead of within the package checkout). This is great to avoid backing up build files (separating the build/install and source folders), or to share source files for different build setups. autoproj locate and acd learned -b or --build to resp. locate or cd into a package's build directory. This should also improve the usage of Eclipse in an autoproj environment.

Improved workflow with heavy branching

Principally when using pull requests, we have a tendency to push a lot of code on branches. 'autoproj status' becomes a lot more difficult to interpret as we always have to ask ourselves "is this code on a PR already ?"

2.0 improves this workflow in two ways:

  • "autoproj versions" now looks by default remotely to determine the "best" remote branch. It can be turned off with the --local option
  • autoproj status also checks by default if there is a remote branch, and displays that information. Additionally, the --snapshot option tells status to display the status against this "best" branch.

Plugin support

The autoproj CLI can now be extended with plugins. Two such plugins are already available: autoproj-stats: compute statistics about authorship and copyright/license information autoproj-git: git-aware subcommand (for now, only knows "clean")

A plugin is a gem, but must be installed using the autoproj plugin subcommand to make it available. For instance, autoproj plugin install autoproj-stats will add the 'stats' subcommand to the autoproj command, whose documentation is available with autoproj help stats

Other changes

update and build have a working --no-deps option (this was broken pre-2.0)

All subcommands for which it makes sense now accept a package selection on the command line.

bootstrap learned --seed-config=PATH to provide a base configuration for the build, useful for automated build environments.

Autoproj pre-2.0 had widely inconsistent behaviour between source and osdep packages. Hopefully all of them have been fixed. For all intent and purposes, osdeps and source packages look the same. For instance, osdep can be excluded or ignored now.

autoproj update learned --force-reset to reset to the expected commit, bypassing any check. Great for CI environments.

Developing Autoproj

The best way to work on Autoproj's own codebase is to check it out from git, setup a Bundler environment for it and develop as you would for a normal Ruby gem: code, test, rince, repeat.

Once you're happy with your functionality and its unit tests, you can work with it on an existing workspace.

Installing Autoproj dependencies and working on the tests


bundle install --path=vendor

Note that Autoproj's own test suite assumes that Bundler is setup with --path=vendor. Keep it that way

To run the test suite,

bundle exec rake test

Or, for a single file

bundle exec ruby PATH_TO_FILE

Minitest's -n option allows you to select tests based on a match to their names:

bundle exec rake test TESTOPTS="-n=/build/"
bundle exec ruby PATH_TO_FILE -n=/build/

Note that the TESTOPTS method splits arguments on spaces. Use dots (.) instead of spaces.

Using Autoproj git in workspaces

The best way to use autoproj 2.x from git is to checkout autoproj and autobuild manually, and write a Gemfile.autoproj-2.0 containing

source ""
gem "autoproj", path: '/home/doudou/dev/gems/autoproj'
gem "autobuild", path: '/home/doudou/dev/gems/autobuild'

Then, pass this gemfile to the --gemfile argument to autoproj_install or autoproj_bootstrap. Note that one can re-run autoproj_install in an already bootstrapped autoproj workspace, e.g.

ruby autoproj_install --gemfile=../Gemfile.autoproj-2.0

If you work lib/autoproj/ops/install.rb, you must re-generate and test the autoproj_install and autoproj_bootstrap scripts which integrate the code from install.rb.