1. Introduction
2. Installing MacPorts
2.1. Install Xcode
2.2. Install MacPorts
2.3. Upgrade MacPorts
2.4. Uninstall MacPorts
2.5. MacPorts and the Shell
3. Using MacPorts
3.1. The port Command
3.2. Port Variants
3.3. Common Tasks
3.4. Port Binaries
4. Portfile Development
4.1. Portfile Introduction
4.2. Creating a Portfile
4.3. Example Portfiles
4.4. Port Variants
4.5. Patch Files
4.6. Local Portfile Repositories
4.7. Portfile Best Practices
4.8. MacPorts' buildbot
5. Portfile Reference
5.1. Global Keywords
5.2. Global Variables
5.3. Port Phases
5.4. Dependencies
5.5. Variants
5.6. Tcl Extensions & Useful Tcl Commands
5.7. StartupItems
5.8. Livecheck / Distcheck
5.9. PortGroups
6. MacPorts Internals
6.1. File Hierarchy
6.2. Configuration Files
6.3. Port Images
6.4. APIs and Libs
6.5. The MacPorts Registry
6.6. Tests
7. MacPorts Project
7.1. Using Trac for Tickets
7.2. Using Git and GitHub
7.3. Contributing to MacPorts
7.4. Port Update Policies
7.5. Updating Documentation
7.6. MacPorts Membership
7.7. The PortMgr Team
8. MacPorts Guide Glossary

Chapter 4. Portfile Development

A port is a distribution of software that can be compiled and installed using MacPorts. A Portfile describes all the required steps such as where to get the source code from upstream, which patches have to be applied and which other tools and commands are required to build the source code.

Each port consists of multiple files in a directory, usually within a category subdirectory of the root of a ports tree. The MacPorts Project distributes the main ports tree that is by default configured in all installations of MacPorts. This section serves as a reference for the directory structure of a single port and the layout of the files within. The only required file in a port is the Portfile.

4.1. Portfile Introduction

A MacPorts Portfile is a Tcl script that usually contains only the simple keyword/value combinations and Tcl extensions as described in the Portfile Reference chapter, though it may also contain arbitrary Tcl code. Every port has a corresponding Portfile, but Portfiles do not completely define a port's installation behavior since MacPorts base has default port installation characteristics coded within it. Therefore Portfiles need only specify required options, though some ports may require non-default options.

A common way for Portfiles to augment or override MacPorts base default installation phase characteristics is by using Portfile phase declaration(s). If you use Portfile phase declaration(s), you should know how to identify the global section of a Portfile. Any statements not contained within a phase declaration, no matter where they are located in a Portfile, are said to be in the global section of the Portfile; therefore the global section need not be contiguous. Likewise, to remove statements from the global section they must be placed within a phase declaration.

The main phases you need to be aware of when making a Portfile are these:

  • Fetch

  • Extract

  • Patch

  • Configure

  • Build

  • Destroot

The default installation phase behavior performed by the MacPorts base works fine for applications that use the standard configure, make, and make install steps, which conform to phases configure, build, and destroot respectively. For applications that do not conform to this standard behavior, any installation phase may be augmented using pre- and/or post- phases, or even overridden or eliminated. See Example Portfiles below.


For a detailed description of all port phases, see the Portfile Reference chapter.