Build Variants

The nature of binary compatibility (and incompatibility) means that we sometimes need to build binary packages (and any package containing binaries) with several variants to support different usage environments. For example, using Numpy’s C API means that a package must be used with the same version of Numpy at runtime that was used at build time.

There has been limited support for this for a long time. Including Python in both build and run requirements resulted in a package with Python pinned to the version of Python used at build time, and a corresponding addition to the filename such as “py27”. Similar support existed for numpy with the addition of an x.x pin in the recipe after Conda-build PR 573 was merged. Before conda-build version 3.0 there were also many longstanding proposals for general support (Conda-build issue 1142).

As of conda-build 3.0, a new configuration scheme has been added, dubbed “variants.” Conceptually, this decouples pinning values from recipes, replacing them with Jinja2 template variables. It adds support for the notion of “compatible” pinnings to be integrated with ABI compatibility databases, such as ABI Laboratory. Note that the concept of “compatible” pinnings is currently still under heavy development.

Variant input is ultimately a dictionary. These dictionaries are mostly very flat. Keys are made directly available in Jinja2 templates. As a result, keys in the dictionary (and in files read into dictionaries) must be valid jinja2 variable names (no - characters allowed). This example builds python 2.7 and 3.5 packages in one build command:

conda_build_config.yaml like:

python:
    - 2.7
    - 3.5

meta.yaml contents like:

package:
    name: compiled-code
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        - python {{ python }}
    run:
        - python

The command to build recipes is unchanged relative to earlier conda-build versions. For example, with our shell in the same folder as meta.yaml and conda_build_config.yaml, we just call the conda build . command.

General pinning examples

There are a few characteristic use cases for pinning. Please consider this a map for the content below.

  1. Shared library providing a binary interface. All uses of this library use the binary interface. It is convenient to apply the same pin to all of your builds. Example: boost

    conda_build_config.yaml in your HOME folder:

    boost:
      - 1.61
      - 1.63
    pin_run_as_build:
      boost: x.x
    

    meta.yaml:

    package:
        name: compiled-code
        version: 1.0
    
    requirements:
        build:
            - boost  {{ boost }}
        run:
            - boost
    

    This example demonstrates several features:

    • user-wide configuration with a specifically named config file (conda_build_config.yaml in your home folder). More options below in Creating conda-build variant config files.
    • building against multiple versions of a single library (set versions installed at build time)
    • pinning runtime requirements to the version used at build time. More information below at Pinning at the variant level.
    • specify granularity of pinning. x.x pins major and minor version. More information at Pinning expressions.
  2. Python package with externally accessible binary component. Not all uses of this library use the binary interface (some only use pure Python). Example: numpy

    conda_build_config.yaml in your recipe folder (alongside meta.yaml):

    numpy:
      - 1.11
      - 1.12
    

    meta.yaml:

    package:
        name: numpy_using_pythonAPI_thing
        version: 1.0
    
    requirements:
        build:
            - python
            - numpy
        run:
            - python
            - numpy
    

    This example demonstrates a particular feature: reduction of builds when pins are unnecessary. Since the example recipe above only requires the Python API to numpy, we will only build the package once and the version of numpy will not be pinned at runtime to match the compile-time version. There’s more information at Avoiding unnecessary builds.

    For a different package that makes use of the numpy C API, we will need to actually pin numpy in this recipe (and only in this recipe, so that other recipes don’t unnecessarily build lots of variants). To pin numpy, you can use the variant key directly in meta.yaml:

    package:
        name: numpy_using_cAPI_thing
        version: 1.0
    
    requirements:
        build:
            - numpy  {{ numpy }}
        run:
            - numpy  {{ numpy }}
    

    For legacy compatibility, python is pinned implicitly without specifying {{ python }} in your recipe. This is generally intractable to extend to all package names, so in general, try to get in the habit of always using the jinja2 variable substitution for pinning using versions from your conda_build_config.yaml file.

    There are also more flexible ways to pin, using the Pinning expressions. See Pinning at the recipe level for examples.

  3. One recipe splits into multiple packages, and package dependencies need to be dynamically pinned among one another. Example: GCC/libgcc/libstdc++/gfortran/etc.

    The dynamic pinning is the tricky part. Conda-build provides new ways to refer to other subpackages within a single recipe.

    package:
        name: dynamic_supackage
        version: 1.0
    
    requirements:
        run:
            - {{ pin_subpackage('my_awesome_subpackage') }}
    
    outputs:
      - name: my_awesome_subpackage
        version: 2.0
    

    By referring to subpackages this way, you don’t need to worry about what the end version of my_awesome_subpackage will be. Update it independently and just let conda build figure it out and keep things consistent. There’s more information below in the Referencing subpackages section.

Transition guide

Let’s say we have a set of recipes that currently builds a C library, as well as python and R bindings to that C library. xgboost, a recent machine learning library, is one such example. Under conda-build 2.0 and earlier, you needed to have three recipes - one for each component. Let’s go over some simplified meta.yaml files. First, the C library:

package:
    name: libxgboost
    version: 1.0

Next, the python bindings:

package:
    name: py-xgboost
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        - libxgboost  # you probably want to pin the version here, but there's no dynamic way to do it
        - python
    run:
        - libxgboost  # you probably want to pin the version here, but there's no dynamic way to do it
        - python
package:
    name: r-xgboost
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        - libxgboost  # you probably want to pin the version here, but there's no dynamic way to do it
        - r-base
    run:
        - libxgboost  # you probably want to pin the version here, but there's no dynamic way to do it
        - r-base

To build these, you’d need several conda-build commands, or a tool like conda-build-all to build out the various python versions. With conda-build 3.0 and split packages from conda-build 2.1, we can simplify this to one coherent recipe that also includes the matrix of all desired python and R builds.

First, the meta.yaml file:

package:
    name: xgboost
    version: 1.0

outputs:
    - name: libxgboost
    - name: py-xgboost
      requirements:
          - {{ pin_subpackage('libxgboost', exact=True) }}
          - python  {{ python }}

    - name: r-xgboost
      requirements:
          - {{ pin_subpackage('libxgboost', exact=True)
          - r-base  {{ r_base }}

Next, the conda_build_config.yaml file, specifying our build matrix:

python:
    - 2.7
    - 3.5
    - 3.6
r_base:
    - 3.3.2
    - 3.4.0

With this updated method, you get a complete build matrix: 6 builds total. One libxgboost library, 3 python versions, and 2 R versions. Additionally, the python and R packages will have exact pins to the libxgboost package that was built by this recipe.

Creating conda-build variant config files

Variant input files are yaml files. Search order for these files is the following:

  1. a file named conda_build_config.yaml in the user’s HOME folder
  2. an arbitrarily named file specified as the value for the conda_build_config key in your .condarc file
  3. a file named conda_build_config.yaml in the same folder as meta.yaml with your recipe
  4. Any additional files specified on the command line with the --variant-config-files or -m command line flags, which can be passed multiple times for multiple files. The conda build and conda render commands accept these arguments.

Values in files found later in this search order will overwrite and replace the values from earlier files.

Using variants with the conda-build API

Ultimately, a variant is just a dictionary. This dictionary is provided directly to Jinja2, and you can use any declared key from your variant configuration in your Jinja2 templates. There are two ways that you can feed this information into the API:

  1. Pass the variants keyword argument to API functions. Currently, the build, render, get_output_file_path, and check functions accept this argument. variants should be a dictionary where each value is a list of versions to iterate over. These are aggregated as detailed in the Aggregation of multiple variants section below.
  2. Set the variant member of a Config object. This is just a dictionary. The values for fields should be strings or lists of strings, except “extended keys”, which are documented in the Extended keys section below.

Again, with meta.yaml contents like:

package:
    name: compiled-code
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        - python {{ python }}
    run:
        - python {{ python }}

You could supply a variant to build this recipe like so:

variants = {'python': ['2.7', '3.5']}
api.build(path_to_recipe, variants=variants)

Note that these Jinja2 variable substitutions are not limited to version numbers. You can use them anywhere, for any string value. For example, to build against different MPI implementations:

With meta.yaml contents like:

package:
    name: compiled-code
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        - {{ mpi }}
    run:
        - {{ mpi }}

You could supply a variant to build this recipe like this (conda_build_config.yaml):

mpi:
    - openmpi  # version spec here is totally valid, and will apply in the recipe
    - mpich  # version spec here is totally valid, and will apply in the recipe

Selectors are valid in conda_build_config.yaml, so you can have one conda_build_config.yaml for multiple platforms:

mpi:
    - openmpi  # [osx]
    - mpich    # [linux]
    - msmpi    # [win]

Jinja is not allowed in conda_build_config.yaml, though. It is the source of information to feed into other jinja templates, and the buck has to stop somewhere.

About reproducibility

A critical part of any build system is ensuring that you can reproduce the same output at some future point in time. This is often essential for troubleshooting bugs. For example, if a package contains only binaries, it is helpful to understand what source code created those binaries, and thus what bugs might be present.

Since conda-build 2.0, conda-build has recorded its rendered meta.yaml files into the info/recipe folder of each package it builds. Conda-build 3.0 is no different in this regard, but the meta.yaml that is recorded is a frozen set of the variables that make up the variant for that build.

Note that package builders may disable including the recipe with the build/include_recipe key in meta.yaml. If the recipe is omitted from the package, then the package is not reproducible without the source recipe.

Special variant keys

There are some special keys that behave differently and can be more nested:

  • zip_keys: a list of strings or a list of lists of strings. Strings are keys in variant. These couple groups of keys, so that particular keys are paired, rather than forming a matrix. This is useful, for example, to couple vc version to python version on Windows. More info below in the Coupling keys section.
  • pin_run_as_build: should be a dictionary. Keys are package names. Values are “pinning expressions” - explained in more detail in Customizing compatibility. This is a generalization of the numpy x.x spec, so that you can pin your packages dynamically based on the versions used at build time.
  • extend_keys: specifies keys that should be aggregated, and not replaced, by later variants. These are detailed below in the Extended keys section.
  • ignore_version: list of package names whose versions should be excluded from meta.yaml’s requirements/build when computing hash. Described further in Avoiding unnecessary builds.

Coupling keys

Sometimes particular versions need to be tied to other versions. For example, on Windows, we generally follow the upstream Python.org association of Visual Studio compiler version with Python version. Python 2.7 is always compiled with Visual Studio 2008 (also known as MSVC 9). We don’t want a conda_build_config.yaml like the following to create a matrix of python/MSVC versions:

python:
  - 2.7
  - 3.5
vc:
  - 9
  - 14

Instead, we want 2.7 to be associated with 9, and 3.5 to be associated with 14. The zip_keys key in conda_build_config.yaml is the way to achieve this:

python:
  - 2.7
  - 3.5
vc:
  - 9
  - 14
zip_keys:
  - python
  - vc

You can also have nested lists to achieve multiple groups of zip_keys:

zip_keys:
  -
    - python
    - vc
  -
    - numpy
    - blas

The rules for zip_keys are:

  1. Every list in a group must be the same length. This is because without equal length, there is no way to associate earlier elements from the shorter list with later elements in the longer list. For example, this is invalid, and will raise an error:

    python:
      - 2.7
      - 3.5
    vc:
      - 9
    zip_keys:
      - python
      - vc
    
  2. zip_keys must be either a list of strings, or a list of lists of strings. You can’t mix them. For example, this is an error:

zip_keys:
  -
    - python
    - vc
  - numpy
  - blas

Rule #1 raises an interesting use case: How does one combine CLI flags like –python with zip_keys? Such a CLI flag will change the variant so that it has only a single entry, but it will not change the vc entry in the variant configuration. We’ll end up with mismatched list lengths, and an error. To overcome this, you should instead write a very simple YAML file with all involved keys. Let’s call it python27.yaml, to reflect its intent:

python:
  - 2.7
vc:
  - 9

Provide this file as a command-line argument:

conda build recipe -m python27.yaml

You can also specify variants in JSON notation from the CLI as detailed in the CONDA_* variables and command line arguments to conda-build section. For example:

conda build recipe --variants "{'python': ['2.7', '3.5'], 'vc': ['9', '14']}"

Avoiding unnecessary builds

To avoid building variants of packages where pinning does not require having different builds, you can use the ignore_version key in your variant. Then all variants are evaluated, but if any hashes are the same, then they are considered duplicates, and are deduplicated. By omitting some packages from the build dependencies, we can avoid creating unnecessarily specific hashes, and allow this deduplication.

For example, let’s consider a package that uses numpy in both run and build requirements, and a variant that includes two numpy versions:

variants = [{'numpy': ['1.10', '1.11'], 'ignore_version': ['numpy']}]

meta.yaml:

requirements:
    build:
        - numpy {{ numpy }}
    run:
        - numpy

Here, the variant says that we’ll have two builds - one for each numpy version. However, since this recipe does not pin numpy’s run requirement (because it doesn’t utilize numpy’s C API), it is unnecessary to build it against both numpy 1.10 and 1.11.

The rendered form of this recipe, with conda-build ignoring numpy’s value in the recipe, is going to be just one build, that looks like:

meta.yaml:

requirements:
    build:
        - numpy
    run:
        - numpy

ignore_version is an empty list by default. The actual build performed is probably done with the last ‘numpy’ list element in the variant, but that’s an implementation detail that you should not depend on. The order is considered unspecified behavior, because the output should be independent of the input versions. If the output is not independent of input versions, don’t use this key!

Any pinning done in the run requirements will affect the hash, and thus builds will be done for each variant in the matrix. Any package that sometimes is used for its compiled interface and sometimes used for only its python interface may benefit from careful use of ignore_version in the latter case.

Note: pin_run_as_build is kind of the opposite of ignore_version. Where they conflict, pin_run_as_build takes priority.

CONDA_* variables and command line arguments to conda-build

To ensure consistency with existing users of conda-build, environment variables such as CONDA_PY behave as they always have, and they overwrite all variants set in files or passed to the API.

The full list of respected environment variables are:

  • CONDA_PY
  • CONDA_NPY
  • CONDA_R
  • CONDA_PERL
  • CONDA_LUA

CLI flags are also still available. These are sticking around for their usefulness in one-off jobs.

  • –python
  • –numpy
  • –R
  • –perl
  • –lua

In addition to these traditional options, there’s one new flag to specify variants: --variants. This flag accepts a string of JSON-formatted text. For example:

conda build recipe --variants "{python: [2.7, 3.5], vc: [9, 14]}"

Aggregation of multiple variants

The matrix of all variants is first consolidated from several dicts of lists into a single dict of lists, and then transformed in a list of dicts (using the Cartesian product of lists), where each value is a single string from the list of potential values.

For example, general input for variants could be something like:

a = {'python': ['2.7', '3.5'], 'numpy': ['1.10', '1.11']}
# values can be strings or lists.  Strings are converted to one-element lists internally.
b = {'python': ['3.4', '3.5'], 'numpy': '1.11'}

Here, let’s say b is found after a, and thus has priority over a. Merging these two variants yields:

merged = {'python': ['3.4', '3.5'], 'numpy': ['1.11']}

b’s values for python have overwritten a’s. From here, we compute the Cartesian product of all input variables. The end result is a collection of dicts, each with a string for each value. Output would be something like:

variants = [{'python': '3.4', 'numpy': '1.11'}, {'python': '3.5', 'numpy': '1.11'}]

conda-build would loop over these variants where appropriate, such as when building, outputting package output names, and so on.

If numpy had had two values instead of one, we’d end up with four output variants: 2 variants for python, times two variants for numpy:

variants = [{'python': '3.4', 'numpy': '1.11'}, {'python': '3.5', 'numpy': '1.11'},
            {'python': '3.4', 'numpy': '1.10'}, {'python': '3.5', 'numpy': '1.10'}]

Bootstrapping pins based on an existing environment

To establish your initial variant, you may point at an existing conda environment. Conda-build will examine the contents of that environment and pin to the exact requirements that make up that environment.

conda build --bootstrap name_of_env

You may specify either environment name or filesystem path to the environment. Note that specifying environment name does mean depending on conda’s environment lookup.

Extended keys

These are not looped over to establish the build matrix. Rather, they are aggregated from all input variants, and each derived variant shares the whole set. These are used internally for tracking which requirements should be pinned, for example, with the pin_run_as_build key. You can add your own extended keys by passing in values for the extend_keys key for any variant.

For example, if you wanted to collect some aggregate trait from multiple conda_build_config.yaml files, you could do something like this:

HOME/conda_build_config.yaml:

some_trait:
  - dog
extend_keys:
  - some_trait

recipe/conda_build_config.yaml:

some_trait:
  - pony
extend_keys:
  - some_trait

Note that both of the conda_build_config.yaml files need to list the trait as an extend_keys entry. If you list it in only one of them, an error will be raised, to avoid confusion with one conda_build_config.yaml file that would add entries to the build matrix, and another which would not. For example, this should raise an error:

some_trait:
  - dog

recipe/conda_build_config.yaml:

some_trait:
  - pony
extend_keys:
  - some_trait

When our two proper yaml config files are combined, ordinarily the recipe-local variant would overwrite the user-wide variant, yielding {'some_trait': 'pony'}. However, with the extend_keys entry, we end up with what we’ve always wanted: a dog and pony show: {'some_trait': ['dog', 'pony'])}

Again, mostly an internal implementation detail - unless you find a use for it. Internally, it is used to aggregate the pin_run_as_build and ignore_version entries from any of your conda_build_config.yaml files.

Customizing compatibility

Pinning expressions

Pinning expressions are the syntax used to specify how many parts of the version to pin. They are by convention strings containing x characters separated by .. The number of version parts to pin is simply the number of things that are separated by .. For example, "x.x" pins major and minor version. "x" pins only major version.

Wherever pinning expressions are accepted, you can customize both lower and upper bounds.

# produces pins like >=1.11.2,<1.12
variants = [{'numpy': '1.11', 'pin_run_as_build': {'numpy': {'max_pin': 'x.x'}}}]

Note that the final pin may be more specific than your initial spec. Here, the spec is 1.11, but the produced pin could be 1.11.2, the exact version of numpy that was used at build time.

# produces pins like >=1.11,<2
variants = [{'numpy': '1.11', 'pin_run_as_build': {'numpy': {'min_pin': 'x.x', 'max_pin': 'x'}}}]

Pinning at the variant level

Some packages, such as boost, always need to be pinned at runtime to the version that was present at build time. For these cases where the need for pinning is consistent, pinning at the variant level is a good option. Conda-build will automatically pin run requirements to the versions present in the build environment when the following conditions are met:

  1. The dependency is listed in the requirements/build section. It can be pinned, but does not need to be.
  2. The dependency is listed by name (no pinning) in the requirements/run section.
  3. The pin_run_as_build key in the variant has a value that is a dictionary, containing a key that matches the dependency name listed in the run requirements. The value should be a dictionary with up to 4 keys: min_pin, max_pin, lower_bound, upper_bound. The first two are pinning expressions. The latter two are version numbers, overriding detection of current version.

An example variant/recipe is shown here:

conda_build_config.yaml:

boost: 1.63
pin_run_as_build:
    boost:
      max_pin: x.x

meta.yaml:

requirements:
    build:
        - boost {{ boost }}
    run:
        - boost

The result here is that the runtime boost dependency will be pinned to >=(current boost 1.63.x version),<1.64.

More details on the pin_run_as_build function is below in the Extra Jinja2 functions section.

Note that there are some packages that you should not use pin_run_as_build for. Packages that don’t always need to be pinned should be pinned on a per-recipe basis (described in the next section). Numpy is an interesting example here. It actually would not make a good case for pinning at the variant level. Because you only need this kind of pinning for recipes that use Numpy’s C API, it would actually be better not to pin numpy with pin_run_as_build. Pinning it is over-constraining your requirements unnecessarily when you are not using Numpy’s C API. Instead, we should customize it for each recipe that uses numpy. See also the Avoiding unnecessary builds section above.

Pinning at the recipe level

Pinning at the recipe level overrides pinning at the variant level, because run dependencies that have pinning values in meta.yaml (even as jinja variables) are ignored by the logic handling pin_run_as_build. We expect that pinning at the recipe level will be used when some recipe’s pinning is unusually stringent (or loose) relative to some standard pinning from the variant level.

By default, with the pin_compatible('package_name') function, conda-build pins to your current version and less than the next major version. For projects that don’t follow the philosophy of semantic versioning, you might want to restrict things more tightly. To do so, you can pass one of two arguments to the pin_compatible function.

variants = [{'numpy': '1.11'}]

meta.yaml:

requirements:
    build:
        - numpy {{ numpy }}
    run:
        - {{ pin_compatible('numpy', max_pin='x.x') }}

This would yield a pinning of >=1.11.2,<1.12

The syntax for the min_pin and max_pin is a string pinning expression. Each can be passed independently of the other. An example of specifying both:

variants = [{'numpy': '1.11'}]

meta.yaml:

requirements:
    build:
        - numpy {{ numpy }}
    run:
        - {{ pin_compatible('numpy', min_pin='x.x', max_pin='x.x') }}

This would yield a pinning of >=1.11,<1.12

You can also pass the minimum or maximum version directly. These arguments supersede the min_pin and max_pin arguments and are thus mutually exclusive.

variants = [{'numpy': '1.11'}]

meta.yaml:

requirements:
    build:
        - numpy {{ numpy }}
    run:
        - {{ pin_compatible('numpy', lower_bound='1.10', upper_bound='3.0') }}

This would yield a pinning of >=1.10,<3.0

Appending to recipes

As of conda-build 3.0, you can add a file named recipe_append.yaml in the same folder as your meta.yaml file. This file is considered to follow the same rules as meta.yaml, except that selectors and Jinja2 templates are not evaluated. Evaluation of selectors and Jinja2 templates will likely be added in future development.

Any contents in recipe_append.yaml will add to the contents of meta.yaml. List values will be extended, and string values will be concatenated. The proposed use case for this is to tweak/extend central recipes, such as those from conda-forge, with additional requirements while minimizing the actual changes to recipe files, so as to avoid merge conflicts and source code divergence.

Partially clobbering recipes

As of conda-build 3.0, you can add a file named recipe_clobber.yaml in the same folder as your meta.yaml file. This file is considered to follow the same rules as meta.yaml, except that selectors and Jinja2 templates are not evaluated. Evaluation of selectors and Jinja2 templates will likely be added in future development.

Any contents in recipe_clobber.yaml will replace the contents of meta.yaml. This can be useful, for example, for replacing the source URL without copying the rest of the recipe into a fork.

Differentiating packages built with different variants

With only a few things supported, we could just add things to the filename, such as py27 for python, or np111 for numpy. Variants are meant to support the general case, and in the general case this is no longer an option. Instead, part of the recipe is hashed using the sha1 algorithm, and that hash is a unique identifier. The information that went into the hash is stored with the package, in a file at info/hash_input.json. Currently, only the first 7 characters of the hash are stored. Output package names will keep the pyXY and npXYY for now, but have added the 7-character hash. Your package names will look like:

my-package-1.0-py27h3142afe_0.tar.bz2

Since conflicts only need to be prevented within one version of a package, we think this will be adequate. If you run into hash collisions with this limited subspace, please file an issue on the conda-build issue tracker.

The information that goes into this hash is currently defined in conda-build’s metadata.py module, in the _get_hash_contents member function. This function captures the following information:

  • source section
  • requirements section
  • build section, except: * number * string
  • any other recipe files in the folder with meta.yaml, such as bld.bat, build.sh, etc. Every file other than meta.yaml is part of the hash.

All “falsey” values such as empty list values are removed.

There is a CLI tool that just pretty-prints this json file for easy viewing:

conda inspect hash-inputs <package path>

This produces output such as:

{'test_rm_rf_does_not_follow_links-1.0-h7330_0': {u'build': {u'script': u'python setup.py install --single-version-externally-managed --record=record.txt'},
                                               u'requirements': {u'build': [u'openssl 1.0.2k 0',
                                                                            u'pip 9.0.1 py27_1',
                                                                            u'python 2.7.13 0',
                                                                            u'readline 6.2 2',
                                                                            u'setuptools 27.2.0 py27_0',
                                                                            u'sqlite 3.13.0 1',
                                                                            u'tk 8.5.18 0',
                                                                            u'wheel 0.29.0 py27_0',
                                                                            u'zlib 1.2.8 3']},
                                               u'source': {u'path': u'/Users/msarahan/code/conda-build/tests/test-recipes/split-packages/_rm_rf_stays_within_prefix'}}}

Extra Jinja2 functions

Two especially common operations when dealing with these API and ABI incompatibilities are ways of specifying such compatibility, and of explicitly expressing the compiler to be used. Three new Jinja2 functions are available when evaluating meta.yaml templates:

  • pin_compatible('package_name', min_pin='x.x.x.x.x.x', max_pin='x', lower_bound=None, upper_bound=None): To be used as pin in run and/or test requirements. Takes package name argument. Looks up compatibility of named package installed in the build environment, and writes compatible range pin for run and/or test requirements. Defaults to a semver-based assumption: package_name >=(current version),<(next major version). Pass min_pin or max_pin a Pinning expressions . This will be enhanced as time goes on with information from ABI Laboratory.
  • pin_subpackage('package_name', min_pin='x.x.x.x.x.x', max_pin='x', exact=False): To be used as pin in run and/or test requirements. Takes package name argument. Used to refer to particular versions of subpackages built by parent recipe as dependencies elsewhere in that recipe. Can use either pinning expressions, or exact (including build string).
  • compiler('language'): To be used in build requirements most commonly. Run or test as necessary. Takes language name argument. This is shorthand to facilitate cross compiler usage. This Jinja2 function ties together two variant variables, {language}_compiler and target_platform, and outputs a single compiler package name. For example, this could be used to compile outputs targeting x86_64 and arm in one recipe, with a variant.

There are default “native” compilers that are used when no compiler is specified in any variant. These are defined in conda-build’s jinja_context.py file. Most of the time, users will not need to provide compilers in their variants - just leave them empty, and conda-build will use the defaults appropriate for your system.

Referencing subpackages

Conda-build 2.1 brought in the ability to build multiple output packages from a single recipe. This is useful in cases where you have a big build that outputs a lot of things at once, but those things really belong in their own packages. For example, building gcc outputs not only gcc, but also gfortran, g++, and runtime libraries for gcc, gfotran and g++. Each of those should be their own package to make things as clean as possible. Unfortunately, if there are separate recipes to repack the different pieces from a larger whole package, it can be hard to keep them in sync. That’s where variants come in. Variants, and more specifically the pin_subpackage(name) function, give you a way to refer to the subpackage with control over how tightly the subpackage version relationship should be in relation to other subpackages or the parent package.

meta.yaml:

package:
  name: subpackage_demo
  version: 1.0

requirements:
  run:
    - {{ pin_subpackage('subpackage_1') }}
    - {{ pin_subpackage('subpackage_2', max_pin='x.x') }}
    - {{ pin_subpackage('subpackage_3', min_pin='x.x', max_pin='x.x') }}
    - {{ pin_subpackage('subpackage_4', exact=True) }}


outputs:
  - name: subpackage_1
    version: 1.0.0
  - name: subpackage_2
    version: 2.0.0
  - name: subpackage_3
    version: 3.0.0
  - name: subpackage_4
    version: 4.0.0

Here, the parent package will have the following different runtime dependencies:

  • subpackage_1 >=1.0.0,<2 (default uses min_pin='x.x.x.x.x.x, max_pin='x', pins to major version with default >= current version lower bound)
  • subpackage_2 >=2.0.0,<2.1 (more stringent upper bound)
  • subpackage_3 >=3.0,<3.1 (less stringent lower bound, more stringent upper bound)
  • subpackage_4 4.0.0 h81241af (exact pinning - version plus build string)

Compiler packages

On Mac and Linux, we can and do ship gcc packages. These will become even more powerful with variants, since you can specify versions of your compiler much more explicitly, and build against different versions, or with different flags set in the compiler package’s activate.d scripts. On Windows, rather than providing the actual compilers in packages, we still use the compilers that are installed on the system. The analogous compiler packages on Windows run any compiler activation scripts and set compiler flags instead of actually installing anything.

Over time, conda-build will require that all packages explicitly list their compiler requirements this way. This is to both simplify conda-build and improve the tracking of metadata associated with compilers - localize it to compiler packages, even if those packages are doing nothing more than activating an already-installed compiler, such as Visual Studio.

Note also the run_exports key in meta.yaml. This is useful for compiler recipes to impose runtime constraints based on the versions of subpackages created by the compiler recipe. For more information, see the Pin downstream section of the meta.yaml docs. Compiler packages provided by Continuum use the run_exports key extensively. For example, recipes that include the gcc_linux-cos5-x86_64 package as a build time dependency (either directly, or through a {{ compilers('c') }} jinja2 function) will automatically have a compatible libgcc runtime dependency added.

Cross-compiling

The compiler jinja2 function is written to support cross-compilers. This depends on setting at least two variant keys: (language)_compiler and target_platform. The target platform is appended to the value of (language)_compiler with the _ character. This leads to package names like g++_linux-aarch64. We recommend a convention for naming your compiler packages as: <compiler name>_<target_platform>

Using a cross-compiler in a recipe would look like the following:

variants = {'cxx_compiler': ['g++'], 'target_platform': ['linux-cos5-x86_64', 'linux-aarch64']}

and a meta.yaml file:

package:
    name: compiled-code
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        - {{ compiler('cxx') }}

This assumes that you have created two compiler packages named g++_linux-cos5-x86_64 and g++_linux-aarch64 - all conda-build is providing you with is a way to loop over appropriately named cross-compiler toolchains.

Self-consistent package ecosystems

The compiler function is also how you could support a non-standard Visual Studio version, such as using VS 2015 to compile Python 2.7 and packages for Python 2.7. To accomplish this, you need to add the {{ compiler('<language>') }} to each recipe that will make up the system. Environment consistency is maintained through dependencies - thus it is useful to have the runtime be a versioned package, with only one version being able to be installed at a time. For example, the vc package, originally created by Conda-Forge, is a versioned package (only one version can be installed at a time), and it installs the correct runtime package. When the compiler package imposes such a runtime dependency, then the resultant ecosystem is self-consistent.

Given these guidelines, consider a system of recipes using a variant like this:

variants = {'cxx_compiler': ['vs2015']}

The recipes include a compiler meta.yaml like this:

package:
    name: vs2015
    version: 14.0
build:
    run_exports:
        - vc 14

They also include some compiler-using meta.yaml contents like this:

package:
    name: compiled-code
    version: 1.0

requirements:
    build:
        # these are the same (and thus redundant) on windows, but different elsewhere
        - {{ compiler('c') }}
        - {{ compiler('cxx') }}

These recipes will create a system of packages that are all built with the VS 2015 compiler, and which have the vc package matched at version 14, rather than whatever default is associated with the python version.