New features

Python 3.5 support will be dropped in the next release

The final Python 3.5 release was 3.5.10 in September. This release series is now End-of-Life (EOL). The only LTS distribution that still only ships Python 3.5 is Ubuntu 16.04, which will be EOL in April 2021.

Python 3.6 has numerous features that we find useful such as improved support for the typing module, f-string support, and better integration with the pathlib module.

As a result, we will begin requiring Python 3.6 or newer in Meson 0.57, which is the next release. Starting with Meson 0.56, we now print a NOTICE: when a meson command is run on Python 3.5 to inform users about this. This notice has also been backported into the 0.55.2 stable release.

meson test can now filter tests by subproject

You could always specify a list of tests to run by passing the names as arguments to meson test. If there were multiple tests with that name (in the same project or different subprojects), all of them would be run. Now you can:

  1. Run all tests with the specified name from a specific subproject: meson test subprojname:testname
  2. Run all tests defined in a specific subproject: meson test subprojectname:

As before, these can all be specified multiple times and mixed:

# Run:
# * All tests called 'name1' or 'name2' and
# * All tests called 'name3' in subproject 'bar' and
# * All tests in subproject 'foo'
$ meson test name1 name2 bar:name3 foo:

Native (build machine) compilers not always required by project()

When cross-compiling, native (build machine) compilers for the languages specified in project() are not required, if no targets use them.

New extra_files key in target introspection

The target introspection (meson introspect --targets, intro-targets.json) now has the new extra_files key which lists all files specified via the extra_files kwarg of a build target (see executable(), etc.)

Preliminary AIX support

AIX is now supported when compiling with gcc. A number of features are not supported yet. For example, only gcc is supported (not xlC). Archives with both 32-bit and 64-bit dynamic libraries are not generated automatically. The rpath includes both the build and install rpath, no attempt is made to change the rpath at install time. Most advanced features (eg. link_whole) are not supported yet.

Wraps from subprojects are automatically promoted

It is not required to promote wrap files for subprojects into the main project any more. When configuring a subproject, Meson will look for any wrap file or directory in the subproject's subprojects/ directory and add them into the global list of available subprojects, to be used by any future subproject() call or dependency() fallback. If a subproject with the same name already exists, the new wrap file or directory is ignored. That means that the main project can always override any subproject's wrap files by providing their own, it also means the ordering in which subprojects are configured matters, if 2 subprojects provide foo.wrap only the one from the first subproject to be configured will be used.

This new behavior can be disabled by passing --wrap-mode=nopromote.

meson.build_root() and meson.source_root() are deprecated

Those function are common source of issue when used in a subproject because they point to the parent project root which is rarely what is expected and is a violation of subproject isolation.

meson.current_source_dir() and meson.current_build_dir() should be used instead and have been available in all Meson versions. New functions meson.project_source_root() and meson.project_build_root() have been added in Meson 0.56.0 to get the root of the current (sub)project.

Dependencies created with declare_dependency() now has new method as_link_whole(). It returns a copy of the dependency object with all link_with arguments changed to link_whole. This is useful for example for fallback dependency from a subproject built with default_library=static.

somelib = static_library('somelib', ...)
dep = declare_dependency(..., link_with: somelib)
library('someotherlib', ..., dependencies: dep.as_link_whole())

Add support for all Windows subsystem types

It is now possible to build things like Windows kernel drivers with the new win_subsystem keyword argument. This replaces the old gui_app keyword argument, which is now deprecated. You should update your project to use the new style like this:

# Old way
executable(..., gui_app: 'true')
# New way
executable(..., win_subsystem: 'windows')

The argument supports versioning as described on MSDN documentation. Thus to build a Windows kernel driver with a specific version you'd write something like this:

executable(..., win_subsystem: 'native,6.02')

Added NVidia HPC SDK compilers

Added support for nvidia_hpc NVidia HPC SDK compilers, which are currently in public beta testing.

Project and built-in options can be set in native or cross files

A new set of sections has been added to the cross and native files, [project options] and [<subproject_name>:project options], where subproject_name is the name of a subproject. Any options that are allowed in the project can be set from this section. They have the lowest precedent, and will be overwritten by command line arguments.

option('foo', type : 'string', value : 'foo')
[project options]
foo = 'other val'
meson setup builddir/ --native-file my.ini

Will result in the option foo having the value other val,

meson setup builddir/ --native-file my.ini -Dfoo='different val'

Will result in the option foo having the value different val,

Subproject options are assigned like this:

[zlib:project options]
foo = 'some val'

Additionally Meson level options can be set in the same way, using the [built-in options] section.

[built-in options]
c_std = 'c99'

These options can also be set on a per-subproject basis, although only default_library and werror can currently be set:

[zlib:built-in options]
default_library = 'static'

unstable-keyval is now stable keyval

The unstable-keyval has been renamed to keyval and now promises stability guarantees.

Meson will print a warning when you load an unstable- module that has been stabilised (so unstable-keyval is still accepted for example).

CMake subproject cross compilation support

Meson now supports cross compilation for CMake subprojects. Meson will try to automatically guess most of the required CMake toolchain variables from existing entries in the cross and native files. These variables will be stored in an automatically generate CMake toolchain file in the build directory. The remaining variables that can't be guessed can be added by the user in the new [cmake] cross/native file section.

Machine file keys are stored case sensitive

Previous the keys were always lowered, which worked fine for the values that were allowed in the machine files. With the addition of per-project options we need to make these sensitive to case, as the options in meson_options.txt are sensitive to case already.

Consistency between declare_dependency() and pkgconfig.generate() variables

The variables keyword argument in declare_dependency() used to only support dictionary and pkgconfig.generate() only list of strings. They now both support dictionary and list of strings in the format 'name=value'. This makes easier to share a common set of variables for both:

vars = {'foo': 'bar'}
dep = declare_dependency(..., variables: vars)
pkg.generate(..., variables: vars)

Qt5 compile_translations now supports qresource preprocessing

When using qtmod.preprocess() in combination with qtmod.compile_translations() to embed translations using rcc, it is no longer required to do this:

ts_files = ['list', 'of', 'files']
# lang.qrc also contains the duplicated list of files
lang_cpp = qtmod.preprocess(qresources: 'lang.qrc')

Instead, use:

lang_cpp = qtmod.compile_translations(qresource: 'lang.qrc')

which will automatically detect and generate the needed compile_translations targets.

Controlling subproject dependencies with dependency(allow_fallback: ...)

As an alternative to the fallback keyword argument to dependency, you may use allow_fallback, which accepts a boolean value. If true and the dependency is not found on the system, Meson will fallback to a subproject that provides this dependency, even if the dependency is optional. If false, Meson will not fallback even if a subproject provides this dependency.

Custom standard library

  • It is not limited to cross builds any more, <lang>_stdlib property can be set in native files.
  • The variable name parameter is no longer required as long as the subproject calls meson.override_dependency('c_stdlib', mylibc_dep).

Improvements for the builtin curses dependency

This method has been extended to use config-tools, and a fallback to find_library for lookup as well as pkg-config.

HDF5 dependency improvements

HDF5 has been improved so that the internal representations have been split. This allows selecting pkg-config and config-tool dependencies separately. Both work as proper dependencies of their type, so get_variable and similar now work correctly.

It has also been fixed to use the selected compiler for the build instead of the default compiler.

External projects

A new experimental module unstable-external_project has been added to build code using other build systems than Meson. Currently only supporting projects with a configure script that generates Makefiles.

project('My Autotools Project', 'c',
  meson_version : '>=0.56.0',

mod = import('unstable-external_project')

p = mod.add_project('configure',
  configure_options : ['--prefix=@PREFIX@',

mylib_dep = p.dependency('mylib')

Per subproject warning_level option

warning_level can now be defined per subproject, in the same way as default_library and werror.

meson subprojects command

A new --types argument has been added to all subcommands to run the command only on wraps with the specified types. For example this command will only print Hello for each git subproject: meson subprojects foreach --types git echo "Hello". Multiple types can be set as comma separated list e.g. --types git,file.

Subprojects with no wrap file are now taken into account as well. This happens for example for subprojects configured as git submodule, or downloaded manually by the user and placed into the subprojects/ directory.

The checkout subcommand now always stash any pending changes before switching branch. Note that update subcommand was already stashing changes before updating the branch.

If the command fails on any subproject the execution continues with other subprojects, but at the end an error code is now returned.

The update subcommand has been reworked:

  • In the case the URL of origin is different as the url set in wrap file, the subproject will not be updated unless --reset is specified (see below).
  • In the case a subproject directory exists and is not a git repository but has a [wrap-git], Meson used to run git commands that would wrongly apply to the main project. It now skip the subproject unless --reset is specified (see below).
  • The --rebase behaviour is now the default for consistency: it was already rebasing when current branch and revision are the same, it is less confusing to rebase when they are different too.
  • Add --reset mode that checkout the new branch and hard reset that branch to remote commit. This new mode guarantees that every subproject are exactly at the wrap's revision. In addition the URL of origin is updated in case it changed in the wrap file. If the subproject directory is not a git repository but has a [wrap-git] the directory is deleted and the new repository is cloned.
  • Local changes are always stashed first to avoid any data loss. In the worst case scenario the user can always check reflog and stash list to rollback.

Added CompCert C compiler

Added experimental support for the CompCert formally-verified C compiler. The current state of the implementation is good enough to build the picolibc project with CompCert, but might still need additional adjustments for other projects.

Dependencies listed in test and benchmark introspection

The introspection data for tests and benchmarks now includes the target ids for executables and built files that are needed by the test. IDEs can use this feature to update the build more quickly before running a test.

include_type support for the CMake subproject object dependency method

The dependency() method of the CMake subproject object now also supports the include_type kwarg which is similar to the sane kwarg in the dependency() function.

Deprecate Dependency.get_pkgconfig_variable and Dependency.get_configtool_variable

These have been replaced with the more versatile get_variable() method already, and shouldn't be used anymore.

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