[Development] Future of QBS

Kevin Kofler kevin.kofler at chello.at
Tue Oct 17 04:05:53 CEST 2017

Konstantin Tokarev wrote:
> I have no real experience with Meson, but at least it has following
> advantages:
> * Its language is typed(!),

CMake also has a concept of types. In particular, the cache variables (i.e.,
the variables you can set on the command line, which are also cached across
invocations) have a type.

> has native support for arrays(!)

That is what the CMake LIST command is for.

> and functions/methods have first-class return values(!)

The CMake pattern of taking a result variable name (which is written to via
indirection) does the job and also allows having more than one return value.

> * Its language has native support for properties, with syntax that really
> looks like properties in another languages

That is what the GET_*_PROPERTY and SET_*_PROPERTIES CMake commands are for.
The verbose syntax allows you to see immediately what type of object you are
getting or setting properties of.

> * It is target-oriented from the start and is not so burdened by legacy
> ways of doing things wrong, which plague old CMake projects and confuse
> newcomers

CMake is a mature tool with a long history, so of course it has to be
backwards compatible. The fact that old projects still compile is a great
feature (CMake is a lot better at backwards compatibility than, e.g.,
autotools) and should not be held against it. CMake does support newer,
better ways to do things.

What will happen to Meson in a few years? Will it break compatibility with
all the existing projects using it? Or will it be just as burdened by legacy
functionality as CMake? It is one or the other.

> * It is written in scripting language, so it's easier to add
> (and possibly distribute) new functionality without getting it through
> upstream hands first.

Meson actually makes it a point that you should not do that and that being
implemented in Python is an implementation detail:

Being written in a scripting language also means that it is slower than if
it were written in C++ as CMake is. Even in their own benchmarks:
Meson itself takes longer to run than CMake (for Ninja output, which is what
Meson also outputs). (That said, the produced Ninja output is marginally
faster, enough to compensate the longer runtime of Meson. But that is
unrelated to the implementation language.)

        Kevin Kofler

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