Book Image

CMake Best Practices

By : Dominik Berner, Mustafa Kemal Gilor
5 (2)
Book Image

CMake Best Practices

5 (2)
By: Dominik Berner, Mustafa Kemal Gilor

Overview of this book

CMake is a powerful tool used to perform a wide variety of tasks, so finding a good starting point for learning CMake is difficult. This book cuts to the core and covers the most common tasks that can be accomplished with CMake without taking an academic approach. While the CMake documentation is comprehensive, it is often hard to find good examples of how things fit together, especially since there are lots of dirty hacks and obsolete solutions available on the internet. This book focuses on helping you to tie things together and create clean and maintainable projects with CMake. You'll not only get to grips with the basics but also work through real-world examples of structuring large and complex maintainable projects and creating builds that run in any programming environment. You'll understand the steps to integrate and automate various tools for improving the overall software quality, such as testing frameworks, fuzzers, and automatic generation of documentation. And since writing code is only half of the work, the book also guides you in creating installers and packaging and distributing your software. All this is tailored to modern development workflows that make heavy use of CI/CD infrastructure. By the end of this CMake book, you'll be able to set up and maintain complex software projects using CMake in the best way possible.
Table of Contents (22 chapters)
Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Practical CMake – Getting Your Hands Dirty with CMake
Part 3: Mastering the Details

Getting the dependencies as source code

There are several ways to get dependencies as sources into your project. A relatively straightforward but dangerous way is to manually download or clone them into a subfolder inside your project and then add this folder with add_subdirectory. While this works and is pretty fast, it quickly becomes tedious and hard to maintain. So, this should be automated as soon as possible.


The practice of downloading and integrating a copy of a third-party software directly into a product is called vendoring. While it has the advantage that it often makes building software easy, it creates issues with packaging libraries. Vendoring is avoided by either using either a package manager or by installing the third-party software in a location on your system.

Downloading dependencies as the source using pure CMake

At the base of getting external content is the CMake ExternalProject module and the more sophisticated FetchContent module, which is...