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Conan vs NuGet: What are the differences?

Key Differences between Conan and NuGet

  1. Package Management Approach:

    • Conan: Conan is a decentralized package manager, which uses a "source code to binary" approach. It allows developers to manage dependencies by resolving and fetching source code, and then building and packaging it locally.
    • NuGet: NuGet is a centralized package manager that primarily focuses on managing binary packages. It allows developers to search, download, and install pre-compiled and packaged libraries and components into their projects.
  2. Compatibility and Language Support:

    • Conan: Conan supports multiple programming languages including C/C++, Python, and more. It is particularly well-suited for managing C/C++ dependencies where there is a need for more flexible package management options.
    • NuGet: NuGet primarily focuses on .NET ecosystem and is widely used for managing dependencies in projects developed using .NET framework and related languages such as C# and F#. It provides extensive support for .NET packages and libraries.
  3. Package Repository Management:

    • Conan: Conan allows for flexible package repository management. It enables developers to create their own private package repositories or use public package repositories like ConanCenter for sharing and distributing packages.
    • NuGet: NuGet utilizes the centralized NuGet.org repository as the default package source. Developers can publish their packages to NuGet.org for public availability and also create private package feeds using tools like Azure Artifacts.
  4. Versioning and Dependency Resolution:

    • Conan: Conan provides powerful versioning and dependency resolution capabilities. It supports different versioning strategies, including semantic versioning, and allows developers to handle complex dependency relationships, such as different versions of the same library for different projects.
    • NuGet: NuGet also supports versioning and dependency resolution, but the dependency graph is usually more straightforward. NuGet uses a range of versioning, where developers specify a minimum and maximum compatible version for a package, resulting in simpler dependencies.
  5. Build System Integration:

    • Conan: Conan integrates well with different build systems like CMake, Make, and others. It allows developers to seamlessly incorporate the package management workflow into their build scripts and automate the process of fetching and building dependencies.
    • NuGet: NuGet is tightly integrated with MSBuild, the build system used by .NET projects. It simplifies the addition of package references to the project files and automatically downloads and resolves dependencies during the build process.
  6. Community Contribution and Ecosystem:

    • Conan: Conan has a strong and growing community with active contributions from various users and organizations. It has a well-established ecosystem of Conan packages and plugins, offering a wide range of pre-built libraries and components for various programming languages and platforms.
    • NuGet: NuGet has a large community and is deeply integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem. It benefits from the vast number of packages available on NuGet.org, which covers a wide range of .NET libraries and frameworks.

In summary, Conan and NuGet differ in their package management approach, language support, repository management options, versioning and dependency resolution strategies, build system integration, and the size and focus of their respective communities and ecosystems.

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Pros of Conan
Pros of NuGet
  • 3
    Crossplatform builds
  • 3
    Easy to maintain used dependencies
  • 2
    Build recipes can be very flexble
  • 1
    Integrations with cmake, qmake and other build systems
  • 0
    Best package (and maybe only 1) management for .NET

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Cons of Conan
Cons of NuGet
  • 1
    3rd party recipes can be flawed
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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is Conan?

    Install or build your own packages for any platform. Conan also allows you to run your own server easily from the command line.

    What is NuGet?

    A free and open-source package manager designed for the Microsoft development platform. It is also distributed as a Visual Studio extension.

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    What companies use Conan?
    What companies use NuGet?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Conan or NuGet.
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    What tools integrate with Conan?
    What tools integrate with NuGet?

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    What are some alternatives to Conan and NuGet?
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