Patch to add support for Erlang/OTP in GNU Autoconf

I have just submitted a patch to Autoconf, on the Autoconf patches mailing-list, which allows to easily:

  • auto-configure paths to Erlang/OTP tools (erl and erlc for now);
  • determine the paths of the installed Erlang/OTP environment and of installed libraries;
  • determine paths for installing built Erlang modules;
  • use Erlang as an Autoconf test language (and it is actually used in my patch to determine the Erlang root path and libraries paths).

That patch is a set of M4 macros that can be used in Autoconf files, to automatically configure any Erlang project. My macros are very configurable: many options can be set through environment variables and options to the generatedconfigure scripts, configuration caching is fully supported, etc. I have used those macros personally in my projects for a few month now, and they work fine.

If you want to use that macro file, you must copy my erlang.m4 file (from my patch) directly into the directory of standard Autoconf’s macro files (/usr/share/autoconf/autoconf on Debian), then list it into Autoconf’s main macro file (autoconf.m4) and update Autoconf’s macro cache file with the following commands (asroot):

> cd /usr/share/autoconf/autoconf/
> echo 'm4_include([autoconf/erlang.m4])' >> autoconf.m4
> autom4te --language=autoconf --freeze --output=autoconf.m4f

To have an idea of how to use those macros in your own, take a look at the dummy and files that I sent along with my patch.

It must be noted that my erlang.m4 cannot be correctly parsed by Automake’s aclocalprogram. The reason is that it incorrectly parses macro definitions which names contain round brackets, such as AC_LANG_COMPILER(Erlang) in that definition taken from myerlang.m4 file:


aclocal considers that such a definition is incorrect, although it is actually correct and even mandatory as of Autoconf’s test language support framework (one must use round brackets in those macro names, there is no other way!). As a consequence, one cannot include those macros in a project’s acinclude.m4 file, or in a m4/ subdirectory of a project along with a ACLOCAL_AMFLAGS = -I m4 line in the main file, or even as a share erlang.m4 file in /usr/share/aclocal or /usr/share/aclocal-1.9: in all those cases, the macros are parsed (incorrectly!) by aclocal. The only solution is therefore to directly include my erlang.m4 file directly into the Autoconf project, which was my motivation to submit that patch.

Hopefully, aclocal is meant to disappear in the future, which is a Good Thing.

Perspectives to this work would be to add support of Erlang in Automake, but that is a lot more difficult and is less interesting to me…