SCons: A software construction tool

What is SCons?

SCons is an Open Source software construction tool—that is, a next-generation build tool. Think of SCons as an improved, cross-platform substitute for the classic Make utility with integrated functionality similar to autoconf/automake and compiler caches such as ccache. In short, SCons is an easier, more reliable and faster way to build software.

What makes SCons better?

  • Configuration files are Python scripts--use the power of a real programming language to solve build problems.
  • Reliable, automatic dependency analysis built-in for C, C++ and Fortran--no more "make depend" or "make clean" to get all of the dependencies. Dependency analysis is easily extensible through user-defined dependency Scanners for other languages or file types.
  • Built-in support for C, C++, D, Java, Fortran, Yacc, Lex, Qt and SWIG, and building TeX and LaTeX documents. Easily extensible through user-defined Builders for other languages or file types.
  • Building from central repositories of source code and/or pre-built targets.
  • Built-in support for fetching source files from SCCS, RCS, CVS, BitKeeper and Perforce.
  • Built-in support for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and past Visual Studio versions, including generation of .dsp, .dsw, .sln and .vcproj files.
  • Reliable detection of build changes using MD5 signatures; optional, configurable support for traditional timestamps.
  • Improved support for parallel builds--like make -j but keeps N jobs running simultaneously regardless of directory hierarchy.
  • Integrated Autoconf-like support for finding #include files, libraries, functions and typedefs.
  • Global view of all dependencies--no more multiple build passes or reordering targets to build everything.
  • Ability to share built files in a cache to speed up multiple builds--like ccache but for any type of target file, not just C/C++ compilation.
  • Designed from the ground up for cross-platform builds, and known to work on Linux, other POSIX systems (including AIX, BSD systems, HP/UX, IRIX and Solaris), Windows NT, Mac OS X, and OS/2.

Where did SCons come from?

SCons began life as the ScCons build tool design which won the Software Carpentry SC Build competition in August 2000. That design was in turn based on the Cons software construction utility. This project has been renamed SCons to reflect that it is no longer directly connected with Software Carpentry (well, that, and to make it slightly easier to type...).