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Using a Common C++ Library with C++Builder and TwineCompile

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One of the many big advantages to using C++ for applications and projects is the access one has to the vast library of C++  libraries and frameworks available. Basically, there is a C++ library for anything, and if there isn’t, there is definitely a C  library for it. 

Back in the day, it was generally a challenge to integrate different libraries into C++ projects due to the variances in  compatibility between different C++ compilers. A project built with GCC would have trouble compiling on VC++, and a  project built with VC++ would have trouble compiling on BCC, etc. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since those days  and C++ compiler now have a substantial level of compatibility with each other. 

C++Builder’s use of CLANG is no exception to this. While the classic compiler often has issues with modern C++ syntax,  the CLANG compiler is one of the most standards compliant C++ compilers available, and as such, opens up the vast  universe of C++ libraries to your C++Builder projects.  

This doesn’t mean to say that it’s trivial. There are always some tricks and tweaks one must do to use any library in your  projects, but in comparison to what was necessary before, it’s dead easy. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore what it takes to get a fairly common C++ library, SQLiteCpp, working in a C++Builder  project. 

What is SQLiteCpp 

SQLiteCpp is a C++ RAII wrapper around the sqlite database C library, providing an excellent C++ interface to this almost  universal portable relational database library. 

Sqlite is used in many different applications ranging from embedded projects to mainstream applications as an easy-to use integrated database for storing, querying and retrieving data of many different types. 

We’ll use SQLiteCpp to create a simple application that stores and retrieves some data inside a simple console  application in C++Builder. 

Getting the Library 

SQLiteCpp is hosted on Github and the repository includes all the files necessary to compile into your application.

1. Go to https://github.com/SRombauts/SQLiteCpp 

2. Download the latest release and extract it into a folder 

Setting up the Projects 

SQLiteCpp supports the CMake build system, so we could use that to build our libraries with C++Builder, but it’s often  more interesting and direct to just create the projects yourself. This has the added advantage that you can customize  the build to suit your use. 

3. Create a directory inside the extract folder called cbuilder. This will contain our C++Builder-specific project files. The  resulting directory structure should look like this:

cbuilder folder in SQLiteCpp

4. We want to build this library as a static library that we can link into our C++Builder application, so go to RAD Studio  and create a new static library project. Save this project as sqlitecpp.cbproj inside the cbuilder directory. 

5. Go into the Project Options and enable the CLANG compiler for all configurations: 

CLANG compiler selection

6. Go to the Librarian settings and set the Page Size to 64 (this is based on experience – if you don’t know the page size  to use, the TLIB linker will tell you whether the page size needs to be adjusted when you build the project)

tlib page size

Selecting the Source Files 

Now that we have our project set up, we need to add the necessary source files into the project to be compiled. The way  to determine which files to include differs for each project, and it sometimes requires some digging to determine the  right files. CMakeLists.txt can definitely help with this. The following guidelines should help: 

  • Look for a src directory, files with a .c, .cpp or .cxx extension will be the source files
  • Ignore files that contain a main() method. These are generally test, demo or example files that are intended to  be standalone applications. 

For SQLiteCpp, these are the source files: 

  • sqlite3/sqlite3.c 
  • src/Transaction.cpp 
  • src/Backup.cpp 
  • src/Column.cpp 
  • src/Database.cpp 
  • src/Exception.cpp 
  • src/Statement.cpp 

7. Add these files to the library project. 

Building the Library 

If you were to try to build this library right now, you’d get some errors similar to the following:

Compiler errors

We need to update some project options and set some include paths. 

8. Set the include path. You may have noticed that the project has an include directory that’s at the same level as the src  files. Add this folder to the project include path so that the headers can be found:

SQLiteCpp include paths

 

9. Build the project. It should complete successfully. Congratulations, you now have your SQLiteCpp library.

SQLiteCpp build completed

Using the Library 

Now that we have our library, we can create a simple application to test it out. 

10. Create a new C++ console application in the same project group. Choose the Visual Component Library as the  framework for the console application so we can see this library working with the VCL. 

11. Save this project as test_sqlite.cbproj in the cbuilder folder. 

12. Go into the Project Options for this project and add ..include as an include path for this project and enable the  CLANG compiler, just like we did for the SQLiteCpp library.  

13. Add in the include paths into the top of the C++ file in our test project: 

Note that we used the #pragma link directory to tell the compiler that we need to link the sqlitecpp.lib library from the  library project. You can alternatively just add the .lib file to the test project, but using #pragma link can make this  simpler. 

14. Now add some code to create a database, insert some data and read it back out again: 

15. Finally, run the project to compile it and see the library in operation: 

SQLiteCpp application running

Final Thoughts 

As this simple exercise has demonstrated, C++Builder with the CLANG compiler opens up a world of possibilities for the  different libraries and frameworks that can be integrated into your projects. We didn’t have to make a single code  change to get this open-source C++ library to compile and work in our C++Builder applications. 

There are thousands of other C++ projects out there and I can strongly encourage you to experiment with using them in  your C++ projects!


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