cmake-generator-expressions man page

cmake-generator-expressions — CMake Generator Expressions

Introduction

Generator expressions are evaluated during build system generation to produce information specific to each build configuration.

Generator expressions are allowed in the context of many target properties, such as LINK_LIBRARIES, INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES, COMPILE_DEFINITIONS and others.  They may also be used when using commands to populate those properties, such as target_link_libraries(), target_include_directories(), target_compile_definitions() and others.

They enable conditional linking, conditional definitions used when compiling, conditional include directories, and more.  The conditions may be based on the build configuration, target properties, platform information or any other queryable information.

Generator expressions have the form $<...>.  To avoid confusion, this page deviates from most of the CMake documentation in that it omits angular brackets <...> around placeholders like condition, string, target, among others.

Generator expressions can be nested, as shown in most of the examples below.

Boolean Generator Expressions

Boolean expressions evaluate to either 0 or 1. They are typically used to construct the condition in a conditional generator expression.

Available boolean expressions are:

Logical Operators

$<BOOL:string>

Converts string to 0 or 1 according to the rules of the if() command.  Evaluates to 0 if any of the following is true:

  • string is empty,
  • string is a case-insensitive equal of 0, FALSE, OFF, N, NO, IGNORE, or NOTFOUND, or
  • string ends in the suffix -NOTFOUND (case-sensitive).

Otherwise evaluates to 1.

$<AND:conditions>

where conditions is a comma-separated list of boolean expressions. Evaluates to 1 if all conditions are 1. Otherwise evaluates to 0.

$<OR:conditions>

where conditions is a comma-separated list of boolean expressions. Evaluates to 1 if at least one of the conditions is 1. Otherwise evaluates to 0.

$<NOT:condition>

0 if condition is 1, else 1.

String Comparisons

$<STREQUAL:string1,string2>

1 if string1 and string2 are equal, else 0. The comparison is case-sensitive.  For a case-insensitive comparison, combine with a string transforming generator expression,

$<STREQUAL:$<UPPER_CASE:${foo}>,"BAR"> # "1" if ${foo} is any of "BAR", "Bar", "bar", ...
$<EQUAL:value1,value2>

1 if value1 and value2 are numerically equal, else 0.

$<IN_LIST:string,list>

1 if string is member of the comma-separated list, else 0. Uses case-sensitive comparisons.

$<VERSION_LESS:v1,v2>

1 if v1 is a version less than v2, else 0.

$<VERSION_GREATER:v1,v2>

1 if v1 is a version greater than v2, else 0.

$<VERSION_EQUAL:v1,v2>

1 if v1 is the same version as v2, else 0.

$<VERSION_LESS_EQUAL:v1,v2>

1 if v1 is a version less than or equal to v2, else 0.

$<VERSION_GREATER_EQUAL:v1,v2>

1 if v1 is a version greater than or equal to v2, else 0.

Variable Queries

$<TARGET_EXISTS:target>

1 if target exists, else 0.

$<CONFIG:cfg>

1 if config is cfg, else 0. This is a case-insensitive comparison. The mapping in MAP_IMPORTED_CONFIG_<CONFIG> is also considered by this expression when it is evaluated on a property on an IMPORTED target.

$<PLATFORM_ID:platform_id>

1 if the CMake-id of the platform matches platform_id otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME variable.

$<C_COMPILER_ID:compiler_id>

1 if the CMake-id of the C compiler matches compiler_id, otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_ID variable.

$<CXX_COMPILER_ID:compiler_id>

1 if the CMake-id of the CXX compiler matches compiler_id, otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_ID variable.

$<Fortran_COMPILER_ID:compiler_id>

1 if the CMake-id of the Fortran compiler matches compiler_id, otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_ID variable.

$<C_COMPILER_VERSION:version>

1 if the version of the C compiler matches version, otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_VERSION variable.

$<CXX_COMPILER_VERSION:version>

1 if the version of the CXX compiler matches version, otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_VERSION variable.

$<Fortran_COMPILER_VERSION:version>

1 if the version of the Fortran compiler matches version, otherwise 0. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_VERSION variable.

$<TARGET_POLICY:policy>

1 if the policy was NEW when the ‘head’ target was created, else 0.  If the policy was not set, the warning message for the policy will be emitted. This generator expression only works for a subset of policies.

$<COMPILE_FEATURES:features>

where features is a comma-spearated list. Evaluates to 1 if all of the features are available for the ‘head’ target, and 0 otherwise. If this expression is used while evaluating the link implementation of a target and if any dependency transitively increases the required C_STANDARD or CXX_STANDARD for the ‘head’ target, an error is reported.  See the cmake-compile-features(7) manual for information on compile features and a list of supported compilers.

$<COMPILE_LANGUAGE:language>

1 when the language used for compilation unit matches language, otherwise 0.  This expression may be used to specify compile options, compile definitions, and include directories for source files of a particular language in a target. For example:

add_executable(myapp main.cpp foo.c bar.cpp zot.cu)
target_compile_options(myapp
  PRIVATE $<$<COMPILE_LANGUAGE:CXX>:-fno-exceptions>
)
target_compile_definitions(myapp
  PRIVATE $<$<COMPILE_LANGUAGE:CXX>:COMPILING_CXX>
          $<$<COMPILE_LANGUAGE:CUDA>:COMPILING_CUDA>
)
target_include_directories(myapp
  PRIVATE $<$<COMPILE_LANGUAGE:CXX>:/opt/foo/cxx_headers>
)

This specifies the use of the -fno-exceptions compile option, COMPILING_CXX compile definition, and cxx_headers include directory for C++ only (compiler id checks elided).  It also specifies a COMPILING_CUDA compile definition for CUDA.

Note that with Visual Studio Generators and Xcode there is no way to represent target-wide compile definitions or include directories separately for C and CXX languages. Also, with Visual Studio Generators there is no way to represent target-wide flags separately for C and CXX languages.  Under these generators, expressions for both C and C++ sources will be evaluated using CXX if there are any C++ sources and otherwise using C. A workaround is to create separate libraries for each source file language instead:

add_library(myapp_c foo.c)
add_library(myapp_cxx bar.cpp)
target_compile_options(myapp_cxx PUBLIC -fno-exceptions)
add_executable(myapp main.cpp)
target_link_libraries(myapp myapp_c myapp_cxx)

String-Valued Generator Expressions

These expressions expand to some string. For example,

include_directories(/usr/include/$<CXX_COMPILER_ID>/)

expands to /usr/include/GNU/ or /usr/include/Clang/ etc, depending on the compiler identifier.

String-valued expressions may also be combined with other expressions. Here an example for a string-valued expression within a boolean expressions within a conditional expression:

$<$<VERSION_LESS:$<CXX_COMPILER_VERSION>,4.2.0>:OLD_COMPILER>

expands to OLD_COMPILER if the CMAKE_CXX_COMPILER_VERSION is less than 4.2.0.

And here two nested string-valued expressions:

-I$<JOIN:$<TARGET_PROPERTY:INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES>, -I>

generates a string of the entries in the INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES target property with each entry preceded by -I.

Expanding on the previous example, if one first wants to check if the INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES property is non-empty, then it is advisable to introduce a helper variable to keep the code readable:

set(prop "$<TARGET_PROPERTY:INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES>") # helper variable
$<$<BOOL:${prop}>:-I$<JOIN:${prop}, -I>>

The following string-valued generator expressions are available:

Escaped Characters

String literals to escape the special meaning a character would otherwise have:

$<ANGLE-R>

A literal >. Used for example to compare strings that contain a >.

$<COMMA>

A literal ,. Used for example to compare strings which contain a ,.

$<SEMICOLON>

A literal ;. Used to prevent list expansion on an argument with ;.

Conditional Expressions

Conditional generator expressions depend on a boolean condition that must be 0 or 1.

$<condition:true_string>

Evaluates to true_string if condition is 1. Otherwise evaluates to the empty string.

$<IF:condition,true_string,false_string>

Evaluates to true_string if condition is 1. Otherwise evaluates to false_string.

Typically, the condition is a boolean generator expression.  For instance,

$<$<CONFIG:Debug>:DEBUG_MODE>

expands to DEBUG_MODE when the Debug configuration is used, and otherwise expands to the empty string.

String Transformations

$<JOIN:list,string>

Joins the list with the content of string.

$<LOWER_CASE:string>

Content of string converted to lower case.

$<UPPER_CASE:string>

Content of string converted to upper case.

$<GENEX_EVAL:expr>

Content of expr evaluated as a generator expression in the current context. This enables consumption of generator expressions whose evaluation results itself in generator expressions.

$<TARGET_GENEX_EVAL:tgt,expr>

Content of expr evaluated as a generator expression in the context of tgt target. This enables consumption of custom target properties that themselves contain generator expressions.

Having the capability to evaluate generator expressions is very useful when you want to manage custom properties supporting generator expressions. For example:

add_library(foo ...)

set_property(TARGET foo PROPERTY
  CUSTOM_KEYS $<$<CONFIG:DEBUG>:FOO_EXTRA_THINGS>
)

add_custom_target(printFooKeys
  COMMAND ${CMAKE_COMMAND} -E echo $<TARGET_PROPERTY:foo,CUSTOM_KEYS>
)

This naive implementation of the printFooKeys custom command is wrong because CUSTOM_KEYS target property is not evaluated and the content is passed as is (i.e. $<$<CONFIG:DEBUG>:FOO_EXTRA_THINGS>).

To have the expected result (i.e. FOO_EXTRA_THINGS if config is Debug), it is required to evaluate the output of $<TARGET_PROPERTY:foo,CUSTOM_KEYS>:

add_custom_target(printFooKeys
  COMMAND ${CMAKE_COMMAND} -E
    echo $<TARGET_GENEX_EVAL:foo,$<TARGET_PROPERTY:foo,CUSTOM_KEYS>>
)

Variable Queries

$<CONFIG>

Configuration name.

$<CONFIGURATION>

Configuration name. Deprecated since CMake 3.0. Use CONFIG instead.

$<PLATFORM_ID>

The CMake-id of the platform. See also the CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME variable.

$<C_COMPILER_ID>

The CMake-id of the C compiler used. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_ID variable.

$<CXX_COMPILER_ID>

The CMake-id of the CXX compiler used. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_ID variable.

$<Fortran_COMPILER_ID>

The CMake-id of the Fortran compiler used. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_ID variable.

$<C_COMPILER_VERSION>

The version of the C compiler used. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_VERSION variable.

$<CXX_COMPILER_VERSION>

The version of the CXX compiler used. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_VERSION variable.

$<Fortran_COMPILER_VERSION>

The version of the Fortran compiler used. See also the CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER_VERSION variable.

$<COMPILE_LANGUAGE>

The compile language of source files when evaluating compile options. See the related boolean expression $<COMPILE_LANGUAGE:language> for notes about the portability of this generator expression.

Target-Dependent Queries

$<TARGET_NAME_IF_EXISTS:tgt>

Expands to the tgt if the given target exists, an empty string otherwise.

$<TARGET_FILE:tgt>

Full path to main file (.exe, .so.1.2, .a) where tgt is the name of a target.

$<TARGET_FILE_NAME:tgt>

Name of main file (.exe, .so.1.2, .a).

$<TARGET_FILE_DIR:tgt>

Directory of main file (.exe, .so.1.2, .a).

$<TARGET_LINKER_FILE:tgt>

File used to link (.a, .lib, .so) where tgt is the name of a target.

$<TARGET_LINKER_FILE_NAME:tgt>

Name of file used to link (.a, .lib, .so).

$<TARGET_LINKER_FILE_DIR:tgt>

Directory of file used to link (.a, .lib, .so).

$<TARGET_SONAME_FILE:tgt>

File with soname (.so.3) where tgt is the name of a target.

$<TARGET_SONAME_FILE_NAME:tgt>

Name of file with soname (.so.3).

$<TARGET_SONAME_FILE_DIR:tgt>

Directory of with soname (.so.3).

$<TARGET_PDB_FILE:tgt>

Full path to the linker generated program database file (.pdb) where tgt is the name of a target.

See also the PDB_NAME and PDB_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY target properties and their configuration specific variants PDB_NAME_<CONFIG> and PDB_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY_<CONFIG>.

$<TARGET_PDB_FILE_NAME:tgt>

Name of the linker generated program database file (.pdb).

$<TARGET_PDB_FILE_DIR:tgt>

Directory of the linker generated program database file (.pdb).

$<TARGET_BUNDLE_DIR:tgt>

Full path to the bundle directory (my.app, my.framework, or my.bundle) where tgt is the name of a target.

$<TARGET_BUNDLE_CONTENT_DIR:tgt>

Full path to the bundle content directory where tgt is the name of a target. For the macOS SDK it leads to my.app/Contents, my.framework, or my.bundle/Contents. For all other SDKs (e.g. iOS) it leads to my.app, my.framework, or my.bundle due to the flat bundle structure.

$<TARGET_PROPERTY:tgt,prop>

Value of the property prop on the target tgt.

Note that tgt is not added as a dependency of the target this expression is evaluated on.

$<TARGET_PROPERTY:prop>

Value of the property prop on the target on which the generator expression is evaluated. Note that for generator expressions in Target Usage Requirements this is the value of the property on the consuming target rather than the target specifying the requirement.

$<INSTALL_PREFIX>

Content of the install prefix when the target is exported via install(EXPORT) and empty otherwise.

Debugging

Since generator expressions are evaluated during generation of the buildsystem, and not during processing of CMakeLists.txt files, it is not possible to inspect their result with the message() command.

One possible way to generate debug messages is to add a custom target,

add_custom_target(genexdebug COMMAND ${CMAKE_COMMAND} -E echo "$<...>")

The shell command make genexdebug (invoked after execution of cmake) would then print the result of $<...>.

Another way is to write debug messages to a file:

file(GENERATE OUTPUT filename CONTENT "$<...>")

Referenced By

cmake-commands(7), cmake-policies(7), cmake-properties(7), cmake-variables(7).

Jul 24, 2019 3.14.5 CMake