6.3. Implicit Dependencies: The $CPPPATH Construction Variable

Now suppose that our "Hello, World!" program actually has an #include line to include the hello.h file in the compilation:

       #include <hello.h>
           printf("Hello, %s!\n", string);

And, for completeness, the hello.h file looks like this:

       #define string    "world"

In this case, we want SCons to recognize that, if the contents of the hello.h file change, the hello program must be recompiled. To do this, we need to modify the SConstruct file like so:

       Program('hello.c', CPPPATH = '.')

The $CPPPATH value tells SCons to look in the current directory ('.') for any files included by C source files (.c or .h files). With this assignment in the SConstruct file:

       % scons -Q hello
       cc -o hello.o -c -I. hello.c
       cc -o hello hello.o
       % scons -Q hello
       scons: `hello' is up to date.
       % edit hello.h
           [CHANGE THE CONTENTS OF hello.h]
       % scons -Q hello
       cc -o hello.o -c -I. hello.c
       cc -o hello hello.o

First, notice that SCons added the -I. argument from the $CPPPATH variable so that the compilation would find the hello.h file in the local directory.

Second, realize that SCons knows that the hello program must be rebuilt because it scans the contents of the hello.c file for the #include lines that indicate another file is being included in the compilation. SCons records these as implicit dependencies of the target file, Consequently, when the hello.h file changes, SCons realizes that the hello.c file includes it, and rebuilds the resulting hello program that depends on both the hello.c and hello.h files.

Like the $LIBPATH variable, the $CPPPATH variable may be a list of directories, or a string separated by the system-specific path separation character (':' on POSIX/Linux, ';' on Windows). Either way, SCons creates the right command-line options so that the following example:

       Program('hello.c', CPPPATH = ['include', '/home/project/inc'])

Will look like this on POSIX or Linux:

       % scons -Q hello
       cc -o hello.o -c -Iinclude -I/home/project/inc hello.c
       cc -o hello hello.o

And like this on Windows:

       C:\>scons -Q hello.exe
       cl /nologo /Iinclude /I\home\project\inc /c hello.c /Fohello.obj
       link /nologo /OUT:hello.exe hello.obj