Real-World Packaging C++ with

Over the past year, each member of the Bincrafters team has worked extensively with the Conan platform on packaging a diverse array of C and C++ libraries. We’ve had the opportunity to dig very deep into advanced features such as custom generators, conan package tools for CI automation, and a great deal of debugging. Here are some of the things we’ve learned about advanced packaging at scale.

  • Header-Only Libraries - Cut the settings and options, use the special package_id() for header-only libs. Example

  • Third-Party CMake Libraries - Inject the template content in the CMakeLists.txt file of the target project. Example

  • CMake - Use the built-in CMake helper rather than doing…)

  • Favor Archives over Git Clone When Possible - Both have pros and cons, Obviously, sometimes git is required.

  • Need to do something clever or tricky? Wait…
    • Search the docs for keywords
    • Search
    • Look through and for recipes
    • Search for other examples by github searching “” and some keywords
    • Always check the conan docs for the helper methods on the tools class.
    • Come to ( and ask in the #conan channel
  • Just use stable/testing channels unless you have a good reason for something else. If you see others like “release” and “ci” , those are older and no longer favored.

  • For git branch names, once you grow out of master use the convention channel/version as in stable/1.64.0

repeated testing while creating first packages

Use conan create <user/channel> to try to build your recipe for the first time. However, once you are sure you’ve got the source() method working right, do conan create <user/channel> -v. This will skip the source() method so you don’t redownload the sources over and over, saves lots of time.


Only validate the bare minimum, it’s not another unit test. Just link and/or include from the library. For example, simply instantiate a class. test_package Also, make your test_package files as generic as possible. You don’t need any unique information in the test_package folder outside of the content in the .cpp file. Example


This is also a very important feature for packaging C and C++, which often have strange requirements. If a project has preconditions for the machine being built, build_requires can probably help with that. You can make a package that can setup anything on the machine, from installing CMake to Simply downloading and installing Strawberry Perl to build OpenSSL. Here you can see the use of the PATH.APPEND(). So, the OpenSSL recipe build_requires the Strawberry Perl recipe, which means it will get the “APPENDED” “PATH” variable, and therefor be able to call perl.exe successfully in it’s own build() method.

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