CMake as a project model

One thing I actually like about Maven is its attempt to create a project model, conventions and a basic project structure. It allows easy integration IDEs, build servers and so on. For projects in C/C++ I find CMake an attractive way to specify the project model.

Despite its name CMake is not really a build system but more of a cross-platform project description with an integrated build system generator. Cross-platform means not only operating system (OS) here but development environment in general. CMake thus can generate project files for MS Visual Studio 20xx, Eclipse CDT, Code::Blocks, KDevelop and the like. QtCreator can even import a CMake-based project natively which brings you up to speed in almost no time.

CMake allows you organise your project in modules and manage your external dependencies. It does not impose as strict rules as Maven does and lacks an own artifact repository infrastructure but you can use the CMake package definitions or pkg-config information many projects provide.

Packaging and deployment with CPack allows you to deliver releases of your project the way your user would expect it: Depending on the target platform you can package your software as a Windows installer executable (using NSIS), several options for Mac OS X (like Package Maker or Bundle) and the popular DEB and RPM package formats for Linux Distributions.


CMake is more than just another build system. It is a flexible tool to define your project and integrate it with your favorite development tools. It can support the whole project lifecyle from initial creation and normal development to deployment and delivery of your software to the user.

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