This is the story of my life so far: 69 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
For my first years working for AdaCore, I was responsible for "gnatmake", a tool that we call the "builder".
To build or to rebuild an application, you need to compile all the source files into "object files" and to "link" the object files into an executable.
In many cases, this process is done using a common tool called "make" that get the different steps to perform from text files called "Makefiles". Provisions are made to avoid recompiling sources if their object files are already up to date.
"gnatmake" was doing this building job for applications that are only written in Ada. And to describe the application to gnatmake, in 2000 we had invented what we called "GNAT Project Files", with the suffix ".gpr" in their file names.
In project files were described where to find the sources of the application, with what options they should be compiled, where should the executable be stored, etc... And gnatmake after reading the project files for an application would do all the necessary steps to build the application.
In 2002 or 2003, AdaCore that had only supported the Ada programming language wanted to be able their customers to build multi language applications; to be able to use several languages in the same application, for example Ada and C and/or C++.
To do that, the project files were enhanced to indicate the different languages of the sources and how the different object files results of their compilations should be combined to build an executable.
But AdaCore thought that it would be too big a job to modify gnatmake to immediately support multi language applications. So they created a new tool, called "gpr2make", that was building a Makefile from information it read from the project files, and invoke "make" to build the application.
If the application was written partly in Ada, "make" would invoke gnatmake for the Ada part.
In addition to invoking gnatmake, "make" was some times needing to get more information from the project files, so we created an auxiliary tool that was invoked by "make" and was itself reading the project files and returning the information needed.
Thinking about all this at the beginning of 2004, I thought that it was madness: for a multi language application using the Ada and C programming languages, the project files were read several times: first by gpr2make, then by gnatmake and possibly one or several times by the auxiliary tool (the name of which I have forgotten).
I thought it would be better to create a new "builder" that would read the project files once and do everything to build the application, invoking the compilers and the linker directly.
On February 14th 2004, I had gone to see Gaëlle running in Seattle. On my way back to Richmond, I decided to send a message to AdaCore to tell them that it was my belief that gpr2make was not the way to go, and that we should create a new multi language builder.
As soon as I arrived home at night, I wrote the message with the title, probably too provocative:
- Should we get rid of gpr2make?
I suggested that this new building tool should be called "gprmake".
My message was not well received initially.
Continue to Part 126
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