Maven and SCons as Buildsystem

Right now the whole concept is in an evaluation phase.

Idea and Background

Single Buildsystem, used by C/C++/Fortran and Java Projects. Exchange Build-Artifacts between projects. Less dependencies on environment variables. Possibility to build outside of central cluster. Possibility to compile from scratch.


From the final product to the source code:

Final results are stored in an hierachical versioned artifact repository at

The result of a maven build is (one or more) artifact. Basicly an artifact is an archive. For Java this is a jar, for native code we use a zip. Additionally an artifact has some metadata that describes it.

Every artifact can be referenced by its coordinates. Coordinates consist of a groupname (e.g. de.gsi.bel.something), artifactname (e.g. foobar), version (1.0.0), and packaging type. TODO: the groupname will be in the future.

Artifacts can depend on each other. This is noted in the metadata.

Maven can manage these dependencies and interact with the artifact repository. For Java that is all that is needed, you can stop now.

As maven has no clue how to compile native code, there is the need for a plugin. For gsi there is a custom plugin that glues maven together with scons.

Using the maven-scons-plugin, maven is used to handle dependencies and repository interaction. Once maven prepared the environment for scons the compile process is handled by scons. The results are again packaged using maven.


The default GSI project layout (with maven-scons-plugin) looks like
+-- src
|   +-- SConscript
|   +-- *.cc
+- pom.xml

The file pom.xml describes the project to maven. The SConscript contains the actual build instructions for scons.

After a complete run the structure looks similar to this
+-- src
|   +-- SConscript
|   +-- *.cc
+-- target
|   +-- build
|   +-- install
|   +-- tests
|   +--
+- pom.xml

Nothing is changed in the src folder. Compile steps and intermediate object files are all placed inside of target/build. Inside of target/install the final results (programs, libraries, headers) are collected. If any test programs are compiled they are placed in target/tests. The final artifact is packaged as zip-file in the target folder.


A preconfigured version of maven is installed in the cluster. It can be called using mvn. The preconfigured version of maven automatically uses the GSI artifact repository.

mvn clean will delete the target folder.

mvn generate-sources will fetch the dependencies and prepare everything for scons

mvn compile will execute the actual compile run (leaving out the test programs)

mvn test-compile will compile all test programs

mvn test will run the test programs

mvn package creates the archive

mvn install will install the resulting archive in your personal repository. Ready to use for all projects you compile

mvn deploy will deploy your artifact to Ready to use by everyone. Once an artifact is deployed you can't overwrite it. You need to deploy a new version.

Except the clean phase, all phases are dependent. So running mvn install will run through generate-sources, compile, test-compile, test, package and install.


scons is installed system-wide for the cluster. If you want to compile somewhere else you need a scons 2.x version.

There is no need to call scons manually, however after running a mvn generate-soures everything is prepared for it. Change to the target directory and there you can run

scons compile default

scons test-compile compile the test programs

SConscript files are python code. So watch out for line indentation and whitespace. The sample file below should help you get started.

Sample for pom.xml


  get default settings like repository, plugin versions, 
  scm, bugtracker, etc

  <groupId>de.gsi.bel. ...</groupId>

  known build architectures are amd64, i386, ppc

  sample dependency on google test framework
  shows the usage of a variable, and the usage 
  of a version range.
  This will automatically add include paths and libraries
  to the scons build. 

  activate the scons plugin
  the plugin version and configuration is in the parent


Sample for SConscript

Import('env')  # get the preconfigured environment
hello = env.Program('helloworld', [''])
## other builders beside Program
# env.StaticLibrary, env.SharedLibrary
## other installers beside bin
# env.InstallHeader, env.InstallLib
## link with an additional library
# env.AppendUnique(LIBS="pthread")

test1 = env.Program('gtest_foo', ['tests/', ''])

-- ChristophHandel - 29 Nov 2011
Topic revision: r6 - 11 Feb 2013, SolveighMatthies
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