Doing it right, making libraries using popular build environments

Enough with the political posts!

Making libraries that are both API and libtool versioned with qmake, how do they do it?

I started a project on github that will collect what I will call “doing it right” project structures for various build environments.

With right I mean that the library will have a API version in its Library name, that the library will be libtoolized and that a pkg-config .pc file gets installed for it.

I have in mind, for example, autotools, cmake, meson, qmake and plain make. First example that I have finished is one for qmake.

Let’s get started working on a

We get the PREFIX, MAJOR_VERSION, MINOR_VERSION and PATCH_VERSION from a project-wide include


We will use the standard lib template of qmake


We need to set VERSION to a version for compile_libtool (in reality it should use what is called current, revision and age to form an API and ABI version number. In the actual example it’s explained in the comments, as this is too much for a small blog post).


According section 4.3 of Autotools’ mythbusters we should have as target-name the API version in the library’s name

TARGET = qmake-example-$${MAJOR_VERSION}"."$${MINOR_VERSION}

We will write a define in config.h for access to the version as a double quoted string


Our example happens to use QDebug, so we need QtCore here

QT = core

This is of course optional

CONFIG += c++14

We will be using libtool style libraries

CONFIG += compile_libtool
CONFIG += create_libtool

These will create a pkg-config .pc file for us

CONFIG += create_pc create_prl no_install_prl

Project sources

SOURCES = qmake-example.cpp

Project’s public and private headers

HEADERS = qmake-example.h

We will install the headers in a API specific include path

headers.path = $${PREFIX}/include/qmake-example-$${MAJOR_VERSION}"."$${MINOR_VERSION}

Here put only the publicly installed headers

headers.files = $${HEADERS}

Here we will install the library to

target.path = $${PREFIX}/lib

This is the configuration for generating the pkg-config file

QMAKE_PKGCONFIG_DESCRIPTION = An example that illustrates how to do it right with qmake
# This is our libdir
# This is where our API specific headers are
# These are dependencies that our library needs

Installation targets (the pkg-config seems to install automatically)

INSTALLS += headers target

This will be the result after make-install

├── include
│   └── qmake-example-3.2
│       └── qmake-example.h
└── lib
    ├── ->
    ├── ->
    ├── ->
    └── pkgconfig
        └── qmake-example-3.pc

ps. Dear friends working at their own customers: when I visit your customer, I no longer want to see that you produced completely stupid wrong qmake based projects for them. Libtoolize it all, get an API version in your Library’s so-name and do distribute a pkg-config .pc file. That’s the very least to pass your exam. Also read this document (and stop pretending that you don’t need to know this when at the same time you charge them real money pretending that you know something about modern UNIX software development).