One good tutorial about CMake is here. You can also take the official document as a reference.

What is CMake?

CMake is a meta build system that uses scripts called CMakeLists to generate build files for a specific environment (for example, makefiles on Unix machines). When you create a new CMake project in CLion, a CMakeLists.txt file is automatically generated under the project root.

So when you want to get CMake running you are required to handle some basic CMakeList syntax, which I’ll show below.

An example CMakeList.txt provided by JetBrains

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.13)  # CMake version check
project(simple_example)               # Create project "simple_example"
set(CMAKE_CXX_STANDARD 14)            # Enable c++14 standard

# Add main.cpp file of project root directory as source file
set(SOURCE_FILES main.cpp)

# Add executable target with source files listed in SOURCE_FILES variable
add_executable(simple_example ${SOURCE_FILES})

Getting Started

We should know how to write a CMakeList before we can use CMake.

Some CMakeList Syntax

Command Description
cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.13) Set the minimum version of CMake.
project(cmake_testcpp) Your project name, depending on the name you set at the very beginning.
set(CMAKE_CXX_STANDARD 14) Set the C standard to 14
add_executable(cmake_testapp main.cpp test.cpp note.cpp …..) Add your testcases executable target which will be built from main.cpp
aux_source_directory(. DIR_SRCS) If you have too many source files, you can use this command to store all your files in one variable ‘DIR_SRCS’, and you can use it in add_executable command like this: add_executable(cmake_testapp ${DIR_SRCS}).


  • Run cmake .in your project directory, and get your Makefile.
  • Run make, and CMake will compile automatically.
  • In Linux Terminal you can run command ./yourfile to run your project.