A few days back, I evaluated some libraries to be used in a C++ based application. At first glance, one of these looked particularly good. Lots of well written and detailed documentation, a nice to use API and quite some success stories. I decided to give it a try, which was exactly when I encountered a first minor inconvenience. While the library was available as pre-built release for a vast amount of operating systems, 32 bit as well as 64 bit, there was no official, pre-built release for the required 64 bit Windows. Thus, I had to compile it myself. No problem so far.
For this case, the documentation even had a section listing the dependencies required for building the library. Due to this list being not very long, I was rather enthusiastic to finally be able to try the library.
To cut it short, that list was all but complete.
I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to get the build done. All in vain. When I resolved one dependency, another until then unknown dependency arose, then the next, and so on. When I reached the point where a dependency required Fortran to be built (no joke!) I eventually decided to abandon the nice looking library in favor of another one, which isn’t nearly as all-embracing and nice, but at least won’t take me even deeper into dependency hell.
This rather frustrating experience made me wonder, whether the authors of the library even once tried to build it on another than the development machine? And if so, why didn’t they bother to include a complete list of the dependencies into the documentation?