Advice on distributing a project

Langer, Stephen A. (Fed) stephen.langer at
Wed Jun 13 19:37:29 UTC 2018

Hi --

I develop a program that has until now been distributed just as source code, along with instructions on how to use MacPorts and other package managers to install its dependencies on macOS and various flavors of Linux.   Our build script compiles the program and installs C++ libraries and python scripts, and users then run it from the command line.

Our build process has just gotten more complicated, for two reasons:
  (1) We rely on a version of vtk that's not yet in MacPorts.
  (2) On macOS the program works best if all ports are installed with +quartz instead of +x11, and most users probably have a +x11 MacPorts installation.
On my development machines I have two MacPorts installations and switch between them as necessary, but I can't expect our users to do that.

So I'd like to make it possible for users to download an installer that will make the installation process as simple as possible.  Some options are
 (1) Write a portfile for our program and also for the latest version of vtk, adding a +quartz variant to it, and maybe even distribute the project through MacPorts.  This doesn't solve the problem that most users are probably already using +x11 and we're not.
 (2) Package all of the compiled libraries and dependencies into a Mac-like app and distribute binaries, but not a portfile.  Will "port pkg"  do this if I write a portfile for the project?  Can I tell it to include the vtk libraries that have been built outside of MacPorts?

Thanks for any advice.

 -- Steve

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