Common C++ classes and routines used by my applications such as argument parser, IO and conversion utilities
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Build system

\brief Documents variables to control the build system and provided CMake modules

Variables passable as CMake arguments

Useful variables provided by CMake itself

  • CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=path: specifies the final install prefix (temporary install prefix is set via make argument DESTDIR=path)
  • CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release/Debug: specifies whether to do a debug or a release build
  • BUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON/OFF: whether to build shared libraries (ON) or static libraries (OFF); it is not possible to build both at the same time within the same build process
  • CMAKE_SKIP_BUILD_RPATH=OFF: ensures the rpath is set in the build tree
  • CMAKE_INSTALL_RPATH=rpath: sets the rpath used when installing
  • CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS: sets flags to be passed to the C++ compiler
  • CMAKE_FIND_LIBRARY_SUFFIXES: sets the library suffixes the build script will consider, e.g. set to .a;.lib to prefer static Windows libraries or to .dll;.dll.a to prefer shared Windows libraries
  • CMAKE_FIND_DEBUG_MODE=ON/OFF or --debug-find flag: whether verbose debug output for finding libraries should be enabled
  • variables provided by GNUInstallDirs

Custom variables

The following variables are read by the CMake modules provided by c++utilities and qtutilities.

None of these are enabled or set by default, unless stated otherwise.

  • LIB_SUFFIX=suffix: suffix for library install directory
  • LIB_SUFFIX_32=suffix: suffix for library install directory
    • used when building for 32-bit platforms
    • overrides general LIB_SUFFIX when building for 32-bit platforms
  • LIB_SUFFIX_64=suffix: suffix for library install directory
    • used when building for 64-bit platforms
    • overrides general LIB_SUFFIX when building for 64-bit platforms
  • SHELL_COMPLETION_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables shell completion in general (enabled by default)
  • BASH_COMPLETION_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables Bash completion (enabled by default)
  • LOGGING_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables further loggin in some applications
  • FORCE_OLD_ABI=ON/OFF: forces use of old C++ ABI
    • sets _GLIBCXX_USE_CXX11_ABI=0
    • only relevant when using libstdc++
  • EXCLUDE_TESTS_FROM_ALL=ON/OFF: excludes tests from the all target (enabled by default)
  • APPEND_GIT_REVISION=ON/OFF: whether the build script should attempt to append the Git revision and the latest commit ID to the version
    • displayed via --help
    • enabled by default but has no effect when the source directory is no Git checkout or Git is not installed
  • CLANG_FORMAT_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables tidy target for code formatting via clang-format
    • can be made unavailable by setting META_NO_TIDY in the project file
    • only available if format rules are available
    • also enables tidy check executed via check target
  • CMAKE_FORMAT_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables tidy target for code formatting via cmake-format
    • can be made unavailable by setting META_NO_TIDY in the project file
    • options can be adjusted by setting META_CMAKE_FORMAT_OPTIONS in the project file
  • CLANG_TIDY_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables target static-check for static code analysis with clang-tidy
    • can be made unavailable by setting META_NO_STATIC_ANALYSIS in the project file
    • the variable CMAKE__CLANG_TIDY provided by CMake itself provides a similar functionality
  • CLANG_SOURCE_BASED_COVERAGE_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables coverage target to determine source-based test coverage using Clang/llvm
    • only available when building with Clang under UNIX
    • coverage report is stored in build directory
  • ENABLE_INSTALL_TARGETS=ON/OFF: enables creation of install targets (enabled by default)
  • ENABLE_ESCAPE_CODES_BY_DEAULT=ON/OFF: enables use of escape codes for formatted output by default
    • enabled by default
    • see ApplicationUtilities::NoColorArgument and EscapeCodes::enabled
    • has to be set when building c++utilities; projects using that build of c++utilities will then use this default
  • USE_NATIVE_FILE_BUFFER=ON/OFF: use native functions to open file streams
    • Allows opening files which have non-ASCII in the path under Windows.
    • Allows to use native file descriptors which is required to open files from URLs provided by Android's Storage Access Framework.
    • Changing this option alters the ABI of c++utilities and other libraries exposing that ABI (eg. tagparser and passwordfile).
    • This feature is implemented in c++utilities, so the option must be specified when building c++utilities. Specifying it only when building eg. tagparser has no effect.
  • USE_STANDARD_FILESYSTEM=ON/OFF: enables use of std::filesystem (default)
    • Disabing this is required when building for MacOS and Android at the time of writing this documentation.
    • Bash completion will not be able to suggest files and directory when disabled.
  • USER_DEFINED_ADDITIONAL_LIBRARIES: specifies additional libraries to link against (added after any other libraries to the linker line)
    • Use case: Some platforms/standard libraries/compilers require linking against additional libraries for certain features. Adding additional libraries for std::filesystem is covered by use_standard_filesystem(). However, it makes no sense to add such a function for every specific platform/feature. For instance it seems to be required to add "-latomic" to the linker line for armv7-none-linux-androideabi/libc++/clang (not for aarch64-none-linux-androidabi) but it is better to cover such details on packaging-level and only allow to pass such flags here.
    • Using CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS or CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS is often not helpful because the additional flags need to be added at the end of the linker line most of the time.
  • CONFIGURATION_NAME: specifies a name to be incorporated into install paths
    • Builds with different configuration names can be installed alongside within the same install prefix.
    • Use cases
      • Installing static and shared libraries within the same prefix.
      • Installing different versions of the library within the same prefix.
      • Installing the version linked against Qt 5 and the version linked against Qt 6 within the same prefix (when Qt 6 is released).
    • Does not affect library names, because their file names might differ anyways between different configurations (e.g. static vs. shared libraries).
    • Set CONFIGURATION_TARGET_SUFFIX in accordance so library names are affected as well.
  • ENABLE_WARNINGS: enables GCC/Clang warnings I consider useful
  • TREAT_WARNINGS_AS_ERRORS: treat CCC/Clang warnings as errors
  • ENABLE_DEVEL_DEFAULTS: enables defaults I find useful for development (warnings, treat warnings as errors, build tests as part of all/default target, enable tidy targets, build by default shared libs when targeting GNU/Linux, …)

Variables for specifying location of 3rd party dependencies

The build script tries to find the required dependencies at standard loctions using the CMake functions find_library and find_package. The behaviour of those functions can be controlled by setting some variables, eg. using a toolchain file. Checkout the CMake documentation for this.

If the detection does not work as expected or a library from a non-standard location should be used one can also just pass the library path directly by specifying the relevant CMake cache variable on the CMake invocation.

Windows specific

  • FORCE_UTF8_CODEPAGE=ON/OFF: forces use of UTF-8 codepage in terminal
  • WINDOWS_RESOURCES_ENABLED=ON/OFF: enables creating resources for application meta data and icon (enabled by default)

MacOS specific

  • BUNDLE_INSTALL_DESTINATION=/some/path: specifies the install destination for application bundles; if not specified, the default bin directory is used

Qt specific

  • WIDGETS_GUI=ON/OFF: enables Qt Widgets GUI for projects where it is available and optional
  • QUICK_GUI=ON/OFF: enables Qt Quick GUI for projects where it is available and optional
  • QT_PACKAGE_PREFIX=Qt5: sets the prefix for Qt packages, by default Qt5
    • use QT_PACKAGE_PREFIX=Qt6 to build against Qt 6
  • KF_PACKAGE_PREFIX=KF5: sets the prefix for KDE Frameworks packages, by default KF5
  • ENABLE_QT_TRANSLATIONS=ON/OFF: enables translations for Qt applications, enabled by default
  • BUILTIN_TRANSLATIONS=ON/OFF: enables built-in translations instead of installing translations as separate files
  • BUILTIN_TRANSLATIONS_OF_QT=ON/OFF: enables built-in translations also for Qt's own translation files when building an application
    • enabled by default when BUILTIN_TRANSLATIONS is enabled
    • useful when deploying Qt itself anyways, e.g. Windows builds
    • better turned off when using system Qt and the system provides a translations package for Qt, e.g. GNU/Linux builds
    • when building a library Qt's translations are never built-in
    • has no effect when BUILTIN_TRANSLATIONS is disabled
  • BUILTIN_ICON_THEMES=breeze;breeze-dark;...: specifies icon themes to built-in
  • BUILTIN_ICON_THEMES_IN_LIBRARIES=breeze;breeze-dark;...: same as above but also affects libraries
  • SVG_SUPPORT=ON/OFF: enables linking against the static SVG image format plugin
    • enabled by default
    • requires the Qt Svg module
    • only relevant when using static Qt
  • SVG_ICON_SUPPORT=ON/OFF: enables linking against the static SVG icon engine plugin provided by the Qt Svg module
    • enabled by default
    • requires the Qt Svg module
    • only relevant when using static Qt
    • required to use Breeze icon theme (or any other SVG icon theme)
  • IMAGE_FORMAT_SUPPORT: enables linking against the specified static image format plugins
    • comma-separated list
    • by default set to "Gif;ICO;Jpeg", so support for Gif, ICO and Jpeg is enabled by default
    • note that PNG support is not provided via a plugin, so it should be always available and not be affected by this option
    • further image formats require building the plugins contained by the additional qtimageformats repository
    • only relevant when using static Qt
  • QT_PLUGIN_DIR: specified the directory to install Qt plugins to
    • When installing plugins to a non-standard directory (e.g. during development) set the QT_PLUGIN_PATH environment variable accordingly so the plugin can be found.
    • The install directory defaults to qmake -query QT_INSTALL_PLUGINS unless that directory would be outside the specified CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX.
  • WEBVIEW_PROVIDER=auto/webkit/webengine/none: specifies the Qt module to use for the web view
  • JS_PROVIDER=qml/script/none: specifies the Qt module to use for the JavaScript engine
  • WEBVIEW_PROVIDER=webengine/webkit/none: specifies the Qt module to use for the built-in web view

Variables to be set in project file

The following variables are read by the CMake modules provided by c++utilities and qtutilities.

Meta-data and overall project configuration

  • META_PROJECT_NAME=name: specifies the project name which is used as the application/library name, mustn't contain spaces
  • META_APP_NAME=The Name: specifies a more readable version of the project name used for instance in about dialog and desktop file
  • META_APP_AUTHOR: specifies the author shown in for instance in about dialog
  • META_APP_DESCRIPTION: specifies a description shown for instance in about dialog and desktop file
  • META_GENERIC_NAME: specifies a generic name for the desktop file
  • META_VERSION_MAJOR/MINOR/PATCH=number: specifies the application/library version, default is 0
  • META_PROJECT_TYPE=application/library/plugin/qtplugin: specifies whether to build an application, a library or a plugin
  • META_CXX_STANDARD=11/14/..: specifies the C++ version, default is 14
  • META_NO_TIDY: disables availability of enabling formatting via CLANG_FORMAT_ENABLED for this project
  • META_NO_INSTALL_TARGETS: the project is not meant to be installed, eg. private test helper; prevents creation of install targets
  • META_ADD_DEFAULT_CPP_UNIT_TEST_APPLICATION: implicitly add a source file with a main()-entry point to test target for running CppUnit test cases


  • HEADER_FILES/SRC_FILES: specifies C++ header/source files
  • TEST_HEADER_FILES/TEST_SRC_FILES: specifies C++ header/source files of the tests
  • TS_FILES: specifies Qt translations
  • RES_FILES: specifies Qt resource files
  • DBUS_FILES: specifies files for Qt DBus
  • WIDGETS_HEADER_FILES/WIDGETS_SRC_FILES: specifies C++ header/source files only required for Qt Widgets GUI
  • QML_HEADER_FILES/QML_SRC_FILES/QML_RES_FILES: specifies C++ header/source files and Qt resource files only required for Qt Quick GUI
  • EXCLUDED_FILES: specifies C++ files which are part of the project (and therefore should be formatted by the tidy target, added to the documentation and considered for translations) but are excluded from the actual build; when adding files conditionally to the other _FILES variables, be sure to add them at least to EXCLUDED_FILES
  • DOC_FILES: additional markdown files to be included in the documentation created via Doxygen; the first file is used as the main page
  • REQUIRED_ICONS: names of the icons required by the application and the used libraries (can be generated with findicons)
  • CMAKE_MODULE_FILES/CMAKE_TEMPLATE_FILES: specifies CMake modules/templates provides by the project; those files are installed so they can be used by other projects

Additional build variables

  • META_PRIVATE_COMPILE_DEFINITIONS/META_PUBLIC_COMPILE_DEFINITIONS: specifies private/public compile definitions
  • META_PRIVATE_COMPILE_OPTIONS/META_PUBLIC_COMPILE_OPTIONS: specifies private/public compile options
  • META_SOVERSION: specifies the soversion for libraries (defaults to META_VERSION_MAJOR)
  • PUBLIC_LIBRARIES/PRIVATE_LIBRARIES: specifies the public/private libraries to link against
  • PUBLIC_INCLUDE_DIRS/PRIVATE_INCLUDE_DIRS: specifies the public/private include directories
  • ADDITIONAL_QT_MODULES: specifies additional Qt modules to link against
  • ADDITIONAL_KF_MODULES: specifies additional KDE frameworks modules to link against
  • META_QT_VERSION: specifies the minimum Qt version to require

Provided modules

c++utilities and qtutilities provide CMake modules to reduce boilerplate code in the CMake files of my projects. Those modules implement the functionality controlled by the variables documented above. Most important modules are:

  • BaseConfig: does basic configuration, reads most of the META-variables
  • QtConfig: does basic Qt-related configuration, reads most of the Qt-specific variables documented above
  • QtGuiConfig: does Qt-related configuration for building a Qt Widgets or Qt Quick based GUI application/library
    • must be included before QtConfig
  • WebViewProviderConfig: configures the webview provider
    • used by Tag Editor and Syncthing Tray to select between Qt WebEngine, Qt WebKit or disabling the built-in webview
  • LibraryTarget: does further configuration for building dynamic and static libraries and plugins; META_PROJECT_TYPE can be left empty or set explicitly to library
  • AppTarget: does further configuration for building an application; META_PROJECT_TYPE must be set to application
  • ShellCompletion: enables shell completion
    • only works when using the argument parser provided by the ApplicationUtilities::ArgumentParser class of course
  • TestTarget: adds the test target check
    • check target is not required by target all
    • test target is comprised of files specified in TEST_HEADER_FILES/TEST_SRC_FILES variables
    • test target will automatically link against cppunit which is the test framework used by most my projects; set META_NO_CPP_UNIT=OFF in the project file to prevent this
  • TestUtilities: provides the configure_test_target macro for creating test targets manually
    • see CMakeLists.txt of qtutilities for an example
  • AndroidApk: adds a target to create an APK package for Android using androiddeployqt, ignored on other platforms
  • Doxygen: adds a target to generate documentation using Doxygen
  • WindowsResources: handles creation of Windows resources to set application meta data and icon, ignored on other platforms
  • ConfigHeader: generates resources/config.h, must be included as the last module (when all configuration is done)

Since those modules make use of the variables explained above, the modules must be included after setting those variables. The inclusion order of the modules matters as well.

For an example, checkout the project file of c++utilities itself. The project files of Syncthing Tray should cover everything (library, plugin, application, tests, desktop file, Qt resources and translations, ...).