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Specifying CMake options for external CMake project

asked 2019-04-30 12:49:52 -0500

wxm gravatar image

Hi! I'd like to use the following to wrap a CMake-native project in a catkin environment by exporting the build_type as cmake:

(Code preview on GitHub issue: )

While this works great to build, it defaults all options as in the CMake project. In many cases, we'd like to set a few of those - e.g., not to build tests etc. (what we would usually do by cmake .. -DBUILD_TESTS=OFF). Is there a way to do this, or a convenient work-around?

Thanks, Wolfgang

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answered 2019-04-30 13:17:25 -0500

Dirk Thomas gravatar image

If you build your workspace with colcon you can put a colcon.pkg file beside the manifest to specify custom cmake-args just for that package.

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So you can specify this in the source of the package and you can customize the defaults for that package (compared to a non-colcon build just using cmake) when built with colcon, which is great. But is there a way to change the options per-package when building / configuring a workspace? I.e. having some options in one workspace, and another set in another workspace, without changing the package source, just by different colcon commands / workspace-wide config.

demmeln gravatar image demmeln  ( 2019-04-30 13:29:48 -0500 )edit

Wait, I think I misunderstood how the .meta files work. It should be possible with those (either with name or path).

demmeln gravatar image demmeln  ( 2019-04-30 13:36:38 -0500 )edit

The difference of a colcon.pkg file is that it can be co-located with the package in source - rather than .meta / .mixin files which are usually outside the workspace and might need to be referenced explicitly.

Dirk Thomas gravatar image Dirk Thomas  ( 2019-04-30 13:57:05 -0500 )edit

answered 2019-04-30 13:06:31 -0500

demmeln gravatar image

If you building your workspace with catkin_tools, you can specify cmake args (--cmake-args I believe), but the caveat is that they are passed to all packages.

Another approach that gives you more control is to wrap your plane cmake package into a catkin package, e.g. using ExternalProject. Here is an example:

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Thank you very much for the answer - I am currently using ExternalProject but wanted to see whether I can directly pass option on a per-package level in catkin (it's likely a feature request for catkin). My use case is exactly as yours - I am packaging a package as a catkin wrapper and use ExternalProject. the --cmake-args options sets it workspace-wide, which is not what I want, given that I intend to bloom-release the package where I do not have this liberty.

wxm gravatar image wxm  ( 2019-04-30 13:14:57 -0500 )edit

Doesn't bloom allow you to include "patch files" that can tweak the defaults of options in the CMakeLists.txt as needed?

demmeln gravatar image demmeln  ( 2019-04-30 13:19:08 -0500 )edit

There are two parts to catkin: the CMake functions provided (the build system part) and the scripts catkin_make(_isolated) which invokes CMake on a set of packages (the build tool part). This kind of functionality you are looking for is in the build tool part. catkin_tools is a separate package providing a better build tool (though it is not actively maintained). Another build tool is colcon which was developed for ROS 2 (and non-ROS projects, also works for ROS 1).

Dirk Thomas gravatar image Dirk Thomas  ( 2019-04-30 13:21:46 -0500 )edit

Good call! While this is an option for bloom, that wouldn't work out of the box for someone building the package in the workspace, I presume (unless I rebase the patch for the workspace repository)?

wxm gravatar image wxm  ( 2019-04-30 13:25:35 -0500 )edit

Wait, if you use ExternalProject, you can specify any options you want in the wrapper project, no? Or are you asking how to replace it and not have a wrapper project? How would you get the package.xml (or colcon.pkg) file in the package root?

demmeln gravatar image demmeln  ( 2019-04-30 13:32:33 -0500 )edit

@demmeln: Correct, I am currently using ExternalProject but due to some shortcomings with the generation of pkg-config files in catkin (and downstream may use pkg-config rather than find_package(catkin REQUIRED COMPONENTS xyz)), I need to manually export a CFG_EXTRAS to set the equivalent variables - which is error-prone. I have the chance to get the package.xml upstream-ed into the project so it would build fine in a workspace as a cmake-buildtype-project. However, some extra CMake options need to be set by the user and do not auto-configure - that's why I asked. With ExternalProject, I directly pass them in.

wxm gravatar image wxm  ( 2019-04-30 15:58:20 -0500 )edit

Makes sense. So I guess the answer is, its possible with colcon, e.g. with a colcon.pkg file (instead of package.xml) in the upstream repo, but as of now not with catkin_tools.

demmeln gravatar image demmeln  ( 2019-05-02 17:34:27 -0500 )edit

answered 2019-07-01 11:20:28 -0500

Levi-Armstrong gravatar image

It looks like the issue is per cmake documentation that options must be before the path to the source and from what I can tell catkin passes all arguments after providing source path. I assume they would need to add a --cmake-options and insert these before the source path so things are configured properly. The only way I have been able to get things to work when using options is performing a clean build then pass the option on first build or delete the CMake cache for the package prior to rebuilding.

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Asked: 2019-04-30 12:49:52 -0500

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Last updated: Jul 01 '19