Boost C++ Libraries

...one of the most highly regarded and expertly designed C++ library projects in the world. Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu, C++ Coding Standards

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Building Hello World

From Start To Finish

Now the first thing you'd want to do is to build the Hello World module and try it for yourself in Python. In this section, we shall outline the steps necessary to achieve that. We shall use the build tool that comes bundled with every boost distribution: bjam.

Building without bjam

Besides bjam, there are of course other ways to get your module built. What's written here should not be taken as "the one and only way". There are of course other build tools apart from bjam. Take note however that the preferred build tool for Boost.Python is bjam. There are so many ways to set up the build incorrectly. Experience shows that 90% of the "I can't build Boost.Python" problems come from people who had to use a different tool.

We shall skip over the details. Our objective will be to simply create the hello world module and run it in Python. For a complete reference to building Boost.Python, check out: building.html. After this brief bjam tutorial, we should have built two DLLs:

if you are on Windows, and

if you are on Unix.

The tutorial example can be found in the directory: libs/python/example/tutorial. There, you can find:

The hello.cpp file is our C++ hello world example. The Jamfile is a minimalist bjam script that builds the DLLs for us.

Before anything else, you should have the bjam executable in your boost directory or somewhere in your path such that bjam can be executed in the command line. Pre-built Boost.Jam executables are available for most platforms. For example, a pre-built Microsoft Windows bjam executable can be downloaded here. The complete list of bjam pre-built executables can be found here.

Lets Jam!

Here is our minimalist Jamfile:

    subproject libs/python/example/tutorial ;

    SEARCH on python.jam = $(BOOST_BUILD_PATH) ;
    include python.jam ;

    extension hello                     # Declare a Python extension called hello
    :   hello.cpp                       # source
        <dll>../../build/boost_python   # dependencies
        ;

First, we need to specify our location in the boost project hierarchy. It so happens that the tutorial example is located in /libs/python/example/tutorial. Thus:

    subproject libs/python/example/tutorial ;

Then we will include the definitions needed by Python modules:

    SEARCH on python.jam = $(BOOST_BUILD_PATH) ;
    include python.jam ;

Finally we declare our hello extension:

    extension hello                     # Declare a Python extension called hello
    :   hello.cpp                       # source
        <dll>../../build/boost_python   # dependencies
        ;

Running bjam

bjam is run using your operating system's command line interpreter.

Start it up.

Make sure that the environment is set so that we can invoke the C++ compiler. With MSVC, that would mean running the Vcvars32.bat batch file. For instance:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98\bin\Vcvars32.bat

Some environment variables will have to be setup for proper building of our Python modules. Example:

    set PYTHON_ROOT=c:/dev/tools/python
    set PYTHON_VERSION=2.2

The above assumes that the Python installation is in c:/dev/tools/python and that we are using Python version 2.2. You'll have to tweak this path appropriately. Be sure not to include a third number, e.g. not "2.2.1", even if that's the version you have.

Now we are ready... Be sure to cd to libs/python/example/tutorial where the tutorial "hello.cpp" and the "Jamfile" is situated.

Finally:

    bjam -sTOOLS=msvc

We are again assuming that we are using Microsoft Visual C++ version 6. If not, then you will have to specify the appropriate tool. See Building Boost Libraries for further details.

It should be building now:

    cd C:\dev\boost\libs\python\example\tutorial
    bjam -sTOOLS=msvc
    ...patience...
    ...found 1703 targets...
    ...updating 40 targets...

And so on... Finally:

    vc-C++ ..\..\..\..\libs\python\example\tutorial\bin\hello.pyd\msvc\debug\
    runtime-link-dynamic\hello.obj
    hello.cpp
    vc-Link ..\..\..\..\libs\python\example\tutorial\bin\hello.pyd\msvc\debug\
    runtime-link-dynamic\hello.pyd ..\..\..\..\libs\python\example\tutorial\bin\
    hello.pyd\msvc\debug\runtime-link-dynamic\hello.lib
       Creating library ..\..\..\..\libs\python\example\tutorial\bin\hello.pyd\
       msvc\debug\runtime-link-dynamic\hello.lib and object ..\..\..\..\libs\python\
       example\tutorial\bin\hello.pyd\msvc\debug\runtime-link-dynamic\hello.exp
    ...updated 40 targets...

If all is well, you should now have:

if you are on Windows, and

if you are on Unix.

boost_python.dll can be found somewhere in libs\python\build\bin while hello.pyd can be found somewhere in libs\python\example\tutorial\bin. After a successful build, you can just link in these DLLs with the Python interpreter. In Windows for example, you can simply put these libraries inside the directory where the Python executable is.

You may now fire up Python and run our hello module:

    >>> import hello
    >>> print hello.greet()
    hello, world

There you go... Have fun!