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[RFC] Superseding aclocal? (was: Re: [PATCH 1/2] AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIRS: n

From: Stefano Lattarini
Subject: [RFC] Superseding aclocal? (was: Re: [PATCH 1/2] AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIRS: new macro, mostly for aclocal)
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:52:23 +0200

[Adding Automake list in CC:]


On 10/17/2012 10:25 AM, Gary V. Vaughan wrote:
> [SNIP]
> I remember many years ago that Tom Tromey (IIRC) stated that aclocal
> was just a stop-gap measure until autoconf could find it's own macros.
> I'd *really* like to see aclocal die as a separate program, and have
> autoconf look for (and if requested, copy into the project tree) all the .m4
> files it needs to generate a configure script.
Me too... But aclocal has existed and been used for so many years now that
I think we can't just make it disappear overnight; we'd need a carefully
crafted, documented and publicized transition plan.  A fist step might be
to move aclocal out into its own git repository, while still distributing
it bundled with Automake (this could be done for Automake 1.14).  But before
starting even to plan for that move, I'd want to be sure that the intended
"replacement" is well underway (that is, designed, agreed upon, and with at
least a semi-working prototype), and that the community is happy with this
transition and committed to help it.

> No need even for aclocal.m4
> in that case anymore...  the fewer files and tools we have to teach people
> about, the less baroque those people will feel that the Autotools are, and
> the easier the GBS is to understand and learn.
Honestly, AFAICS, few people complained about aclocal so far (which sadly
can't be said for automake and autoconf).  So aclocal might be annoying for
us to maintain, but doesn't seem a real burden for the users.

> I'd have written patches myself long ago, but sadly, Autoconf moved its
> implementation to Perl before I had time to do it :(
I honestly believe having an implementation of autom4te, aclocal or automake
in portable shell scripting would be insane.  Perl is much, much safer and
easier to use for such "moderately big" programs.  Not to mention more
efficient, especially for platforms with expensive fork() like Cygwin.

> I think simplifying Autotools to the point where you no longer need to
> write a separate bootstrap script to invoke them in just the right order
> will be necessary -- just an 'autoreconf' and off you go! :)
> Cheers,


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