Modernizing libbucket

If you’re here to learn about my experience in software development, you’ve probably poked around my GitHub page. One the older projects on there is libbucket, a very fast dynamic string buffer library. I originally wrote it while working for Musician’s Friend, and was given permission to release it as an open sourced library in 2005.

Recently I decided to update the build system in the library, which was using an old version of autoconf and automake. I haven’t worked with those tools in a number of years. They are solid and flexible, but they’re also a confusing tangle of m4 macros and crazy shell scripts. Also, they change a lot.

A few important things had changed. For instance, aclocal wanted to read from configure.ac instead of configure.in. In addition, the AM_INIT_AUTOMAKE macro was completely different, but the tool was nice enough to point me to the relevant part of the automake manual.

Building a library is also a little different now than it was in 2002. GNU Libtool is a great program for building dynamic and shared libraries correctly for Unix systems, but its usage is different now. Luckily, it spit out all of the information I needed to update things.

One thing I didn’t quite figure out is how to get automake to recognize the README.org file as satisfying its README requirement. I ended up with an initialization block in configure.ac that looked like this:

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AC_INIT([libbucket], [1.0.4])
AC_CONFIG_SRCDIR([src/bucket.c])
AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR([m4])
AM_INIT_AUTOMAKE([foreign])
AM_CONFIG_HEADER(config.h)
AM_MAINTAINER_MODE

You can see the unpleasant “cheat” on line 4. Sorry about that, world.

After all of that mess, there were just a couple of small fixes to the documentation, which is written in GNU Texinfo, and the library compiled just fine.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any tests. When I first developed libbucket, we had a proprietary test interface for C and C++ libraries at Musician’s Friend. That never got open sourced, so I had to remove it all before making the libbucket code public. Maybe tests are next.

If you’d like to take a look at the changes I made, here’s the Git commit.

Metaphorically similar to this kind of bucket.

Metaphorically similar to this kind of bucket.

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