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by rwols ST3

Configure, build and test a CMake project right from within Sublime Text 3.



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Configure, build and test a CMake project right from within Sublime Text 3.


Run the command

Package Control: Install Package

and look for CMakeBuilder.


  1. Open a .sublime-project.

  2. Add this to the project file in your "settings":

       "build_folder": "${project_path}/build"
  3. Save your project. This will trigger CMakeBuilder to configure your project. If nothing happens, you can also run the command “CMakeBuilder: Configure” from the command palette.

  4. Check out your new build system in your .sublime-project. If no new build system was created, you can also run the command “CMakeBuilder: Write Build Targets to Sublime Project File” from the command palette.

  5. Press CTRL + B or + B.

  6. Hit F4 to jump to errors and/or warnings. Now you're programming with CMakeBuilder 🕺.


The CMake Dictionary

By “CMake dictionary” we mean the JSON dictionary that you define in your "settings" of your sublime project file with key "cmake". The CMake dictionary accepts the following keys:

  • build_folder [required]

A string pointing to the directory where you want to build the project. A good first choice is ${project_path}/build.

  • command_line_overrides [optional]

A dictionary where each value is either a string or a boolean. The key-value pairs are passed to the CMake invocation when you run cmake_configure as -D options. For example, if you have the key-value pair "MY_VAR": "BLOB" in the dictionary, the CMake invocation will contain -DMY_VAR=BLOB. Boolean values are converted to ON or OFF. For instance, if you have the key-value pair "BUILD_SHARED_LIBS": truein the dictionary, the CMake invocation will contain -DBUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON.

  • filter_targets [optional]

A JSON list consisting of strings. Each build target is tested against all of the items in this list. If any of the strings in this list is in the string representation of the target, the target will be added to the sublime build system.

  • generator [optional]

A JSON string specifying the CMake generator.

  • Available generators for osx: “Ninja” and “Unix Makefiles”.

    If no generator is specified on osx, “Unix Makefiles” is the default generator. For “Ninja”, you must have ninja installed. Install it with brew.

  • Available generators for linux: “Ninja” and “Unix Makefiles”.

    If no generator is specified on osx, “Unix Makefiles” is the default generator. For “Ninja”, you must have ninja installed. Install it with apt.

  • Available generators for windows: “Ninja”, “NMake Makefiles” and “Visual Studio”.

    If no generator is specified on windows, “Visual Studio” is the default generator. For both “Visual Studio” and “NMake Makefiles”, you need Microsoft Visual Studio C++. The latest version of Visual Studio is searched for.

    Note: If you find that the output of the NMake generator is garbled with color escape codes, you can try to use "CMAKE_COLOR_MAKEFILE": false in your command_line_overrides dictionary.

    • root_folder [optional]

The directory where the root CMakeLists.txt file resides. If this key is not present, the directory where the sublime project file is located is assumed to have the root CMakeLists.txt file.

  • env [optional]

This is a dict of key-value pairs of strings. Place your environment variables at configure time in here. For example, to select clang as your compiler if you have gcc set as default, you can use

"env": { "CC": "clang", "CXX": "clang++" }
  • configurations [optional] [ONLY FOR WINDOWS]

This key is only relevant for the Visual Studio generator (see generator). This shall be a JSON list of strings defining the desired configurations. For instance, "Debug" and "Release". If omitted, the default target is built, which would be Debug.

  • target_architecture [optional] [ONLY FOR WINDOWS]

This must be a string with any one of these three values: "x86", "amd64" or "arm". What this does is it will call the vcvarsall.bat file in the correct places. What this means in practise is that if you want to build 64 bit binaries, you have to set this value to "amd64". For 32 bit binaries, you can omit this key altogether. Note for advanced users: CMakeBuilder will automatically translate the given argument to the correct argument for vcvarsall.bat. Note: If you're using the “NMake Makefiles” generator, you're out of luck. This generator refuses to build for anything other than x86 it seems. Consider switching to Ninja if you want a fast bare-bones build system.

  • visual_studio_versions [optional] [ONLY FOR WINDOWS]

This must be a list of numbers specifying the preferred versions of Visual Studio to look for. For instance, setting this to [ 15, 14 ], CMakeBuilder will first look for Visual Studio 15 2017, and if that can't be found, it will look for Visual Studio 14 2015. Obviously, this is only applicable when your generator is equal to "Visual Studio".

Any key may be overridden by a platform-specific override. The platform keys are one of "linux", "osx" or "windows". For an example on how this works, see below.

Example Project File

Here is an example Sublime project to get you started.

            "path": "."
            "build_folder": "${project_path}/build",
                "BUILD_SHARED_LIBS": true,
                "CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE": "Debug",
                "CMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS": true
            "generator": "Unix Makefiles",
                "generator": "Visual Studio",

Available Scripting Commands

  • cmake_clear_cache, arguments: { with_confirmation : bool }.
  • cmake_configure, arguments: None.
  • cmake_diagnose, arguments: None.
  • cmake_open_build_folder, arguments: None.
  • cmake_run_ctest, arguments: { test_framework : str }
  • cmake_write_build_targets, arguments: None.
  • cmake_new_project, arguments: None.

Available Commands in the Command Palette

  • CMakeBuilder: Browse Build Folder...
  • CMakeBuilder: Clear Cache
  • CMakeBuilder: Configure
  • CMakeBuilder: Diagnose (What Should I Do?)
  • CMakeBuilder: Run CTest
  • CMakeBuilder: Write Build Targets To Sublime Project File
  • CMakeBuilder: New Project

All commands are accessible via both the command palette as well as the tools menu at the top of the window.

Available Settings

  • configure_on_save : JSON bool

If true, will run the cmake_configure command whenever you save a CMakeLists.txt file or CMakeCache.txt file.

  • write_build_targets_after_successful_configure : JSON bool

If true, will run the command cmake_write_build_targets after the command cmake_configure finishes with exit status 0.

  • silence_developer_warnings : JSON bool

If true, will add the option -Wno-dev to the CMake invocation of the cmake_configure command.

  • always_clear_cache_before_configure : JSON bool

If true, always clears the CMake cache before the cmake_configure command is run.

  • ctest_command_line_args : JSON string

Command line arguments passed to the CTest invocation when you run cmake_run_ctest.

  • generated_name_for_build_system : JSON string

The name for the generated build system when you run cmake_write_build_targets. Can have arbitrary snippet-like variables.

How Do I Manage Cross-Platform Project Files?

By default, the name of the generated build system is the name of your project, followed by the platform in parentheses. Thus, multiple build systems may coexist in a single project file.


There are no default keybindings. You can create them yourself. The relevant commands are

  • cmake_configure,
  • cmake_write_build_targets and
  • cmake_run_ctest.

Extra Goodies

Project Template

You can run the command

CMakeBuilder: New Project

from the tools menu or from the command palette to create a new template project.

Clearing the cache

To force CMake files re-generation run

CMakeBuilder: Clear Cache

and then run

CMakeBuilder: Configure

or you can do both in one go with

CMakeBuilder: Clear Cache and Configure

but be aware that this does not ask for confirmation for the deletion of the cache files.


If you get stuck and don't know what to do, try running

CMakeBuilder: Diagnose (What Should I Do?)

Tools Menu

All commands are also visible in the Tools menu under “CMakeBuilder”.


Running unit tests with CTest

If you have unit tests configured with the add_test function of CMake, then you can run those with the command

CMakeBuilder: Run CTest

By default, this command will not output what your unit test outputs, unless the test fails. This gives you a clean overview of what runs correctly and what is failing and why.

Syntax highlighting for CMakeCache.txt and the output panel

There is syntax highlighting for the CMakeCache.txt file, for the configure step, and for the CTest output. You can press F4 to go to the error message in the configuration step and the CTest output. Goto error in the CTest output only works if you're using something that outputs error messages in the form of the boost unit test framework.


List of Valid Variable Substitutions

This is a reference list for the valid variable substitutions for your .sublime-project file.

  • packages
  • platform
  • file
  • file_path
  • file_name
  • file_base_name
  • file_extension
  • folder
  • project
  • project_path
  • project_name
  • project_base_name
  • project_extension