Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autotools

Seriously, I write this blog for two simple reasons: the freebies and the groupies. Without them it wouldn't be worth it. And what great freebies: a DisplayLink USB video adapter and more RelaxZen than you can shake a stick at.

And the groupies. Well I have the photos, but I'm not posting them.

Which brings me to this week's awesome freebie: a copy of John Calcote's Autotools: A Practitioner's Guide To GNU Autoconf, Automake, AND Libtool. Yeah, that's what you get for living the GNU Make life and writing a self-published book about it.


If there was ever a tool that needed a book it's Autoconf (and related scripts). Happily, Calcote has done a great job of describing, in detail, a collection of tools that can seem opaque at first glance (also at second glance). This book is vital for anyone who needs to work with Autotools and I wish I'd had it years ago.

The final chapter (A catalog of tips and reusable solutions for creating great projects) is fantastic because it dishes up a collection of practical, real solutions to problems users of Autotools will encounter. Above all, the book shows that it was written by someone who truly understands the set of tools, and thankfully is able to write clearly.

He doesn't shy away from getting into difficult details (like the M4 macro language) and chapters 8 and 9 are an exposition of the use of Autotools for an actual, large project showing what a real-world use of the tools looks like. Those 50 pages are probably the most valuable in the entire book.

Highly recommended for anyone who needs to use Autotools.

1 comment:

Pádraig Brady said...

Thanks for the review. I think I'll buy it! I also found this an excellent turorial