Re: RFC: Improving the developer workflow

Bryan Evenson


I am using the Yocto Project tools almost purely for userspace applications. I have tried to use the ADT and SDK in the past with limited success. I try to keep my local poky/oe working copies near up to date, which would mean rebuilding the SDK/ADT for each poky point release. For me I've had better success by setting up an Eclipse project to point to the proper directories in sysroot and then copying the Eclipse project for the new application.

Any of the suggestions below to make the ADT or SDK easier to use and maintain would be appreciated.


-----Original Message-----
From: yocto-bounces@... [mailto:yocto-
bounces@...] On Behalf Of Paul Eggleton
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2014 5:11 AM
To: openembedded-core@...;
Subject: [yocto] RFC: Improving the developer workflow

Hi folks,

As most of you know within the Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded we've
been trying to figure out how to improve the OE developer workflow. This
potentially covers a lot of different areas, but one in particular I where think
we can have some impact is helping application developers - people who are
working on some application or component of the system, rather than the
OS as a whole.

Currently, what we provide is an installable SDK containing the toolchain,
libraries and headers; we also have the ADT which additionally provides some
Eclipse integration (which I'll leave aside for the moment) and has some
ability to be extended / updated using opkg only.

The pros:

* Self contained, no extra dependencies
* Relocatable, can be installed anywhere
* Runs on lots of different systems
* Mostly pre-configured for the desired target machine

The cons:

* No ability to migrate into the build environment
* No helper scripts/tools beyond the basic environment setup
* No real upgrade workflow (package feed upgrade possible in theory, but
no tools to help manage the feeds and difficult to scale with multiple releases

As the ADT/SDK stand, they do provide an easy way to run the cross-
compilation on a separate machine; but that's about it - you're somewhat on
your own as far as telling whatever build system your application / some
third-party library you need uses to use that toolchain, and completely on
your own as far as getting your changes that code into your image or getting
those changes integrated into the build system is concerned. We can do

Bridging the gap

We have a lot of power in the build system - e.g. the cross-compilation tools
and helper classes. I think it would help a lot if we could give the developer
access to some of this power, but in a manner that does not force the
developer to have to deal with the pain of actually setting up the build
system and keeping it running. I think there is a path forward where we can
integrate the build system into the SDK and wrap it in some helper scripts in
such a way that we:

* Avoid the need to configure the build system - it comes pre-configured.
The developer is not expected to need to touch the configuration files at all.

* Avoid building anything on the developer's machine that we don't need to -
lock the sstate signatures such that only components that the developer
ends up building are the ones that they've selected to work on, which are
tracked by the tools, and the rest comes from sstate - and perhaps a portion
of the sstate is already part of the downloaded SDK to avoid too much
fetching during builds, either in the form of sstate packages or already
populated into the target sysroot and other places within the internal copy of
the build system.
This should reduce the likelihood of the system breaking on the developer's
machine as well as reduce the number of host dependencies.

* Provide tools to add new software - in practical terms this means creating a
new recipe in an automated/guided manner (figuring out as much as we can
looking at the source tree) and then configuring the build to use the
developer's external source tree rather than SRC_URI, by making use of the
externalsrc class. This also gives a head start when it comes to integrating the
new software into the build - you already have a recipe, even if some
additional tweaking is required.

* Provide tools to allow modifying software for which a recipe already exists.
If the user has an external source tree we use that, otherwise we can fetch
the source, apply any patches and place the result in an external source tree,
possibly managed with git. (It's fair to say this is perhaps less of an application
developer type task, but still an important one and fairly simple to add once
we have the rest of the tooling.)

* Provide tools to get your changes onto the target in order to test them.
With access to the build system, rebuilding the image with changes to a
target component is fairly trivial; but we can go further - assuming a network
connection to the target is available we can provide tools to simply deploy
the files installed by the changed recipe onto the running device (using an
"sstate-like" mechanism - remove the old list of files and then install the new

* Provide tools to get your changes to the code or the metadata into a form
that you can submit somewhere.

For compilation, this would mean that we use the normal native / cross tools
instead of nativesdk; the only parts that remain as nativesdk are those that
we need to provide to isolate the SDK from differences in the host system
(such as Python / libc). We'll need to do some additional loader tricks on top
of what we currently do for nativesdk so that the native / cross tools can
make use of the nativesdk libc in the SDK, but this shouldn't be a serious

Example workflow

I won't give a workflow for every possible usage, but just to give a basic
example - let's assume you want to build a "new" piece of software for which
you have your own source tree on your machine. The rough set of steps
required would be something like this (rough, e.g. the command names
given shouldn't be read as final):

1. Install the SDK

2. Run a setup script to make the SDK tools available

3. Add a new recipe with "sdktool add <recipename>" - interactive process.
The tool records that <recipename> is being worked on, creates a recipe that
can be used to build the software using your external source tree, and places
the recipe where it will be used automatically by other steps.

4. Build the recipe with "sdktool build <recipename>". This probably only
goes as far as do_install or possibly do_package_qa; in any case the QA
process would be less stringent than with the standard build system
however in order to avoid putting too many barriers in the way of testing on
the target.

5. Fix any failures and repeat from the previous step as necessary.

6. Deploy changes to target with "sdktool deploy-target <ip address>"
assuming SSH is available on the target. Alternatively "sdktool build-image
<imagename>" can be used to regenerate an image with the changes in it;
"sdktool runqemu" could do that (if necessary) and then run the result within
QEMU with the appropriate options set.

Construction & Updating

At some point, you need to update the installed SDK after changes on the
build system side. Our current SDK has no capability to do this - you just
install a new one and delete the old. The ADT supports opkg, but then you
have another set of feeds to maintain and we don't really provide any tools
to help with that.

If we're already talking about replacing the SDK's target sysroot and most of
the host part by using the build system + pre-built components from sstate,
then it would perhaps make sense to construct the new SDK itself from
sstate packages and add some tools around filtering and publishing the sstate
cache at the same time. (We can even look at ways to compare the contents
of two sstate packages which have different signatures to see if the output
really has changed, and simply not publish the new sstate package and
preserve the locked signature for those have not.)

We can then have a simple update tool shipped with the SDK along with a
manifest of the components + their signatures. The update tool downloads
the new manifest from the server and removes / extracts sstate packages
until the result matches the manifest.

Where to from here?

I'd like to get some feedback on the above. Within the Yocto Project we've
committed to doing something to improve the developer experience in the
1.7 timeframe, so I'd hope that if there are no violent objections we could at
least have enough of this working for 1.7 so that the concept can be put to
the test.

[Note: we would preserve the ability to produce the existing SDK as-is - we
wouldn't be outright replacing that, at least not just yet; it will likely replace
the ADT more immediately however.]



Paul Eggleton
Intel Open Source Technology Centre
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