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Build Guide

Get the Code

  • Setup Git if it isn't already (link).
    • New to git or need a refresher? Now's a good time to learn! Easy tutorials here.
    • Make sure your SSH keys are configured (linux | mac | windows).
    • Double-check your settings for name and email: git config --get-regexp user.*.
    • Recommended Git settings:
      • git config --global pull.rebase preserve - when pulling remote changes, rebase your local changes on top of the remote changes, to avoid unnecessary merge commits.
      • git config --global fetch.prune true - when fetching remote changes, remove any remote branches that no longer exist on the remote.
  • Have commit access to CesiumJS?
    • No
      • Fork cesium.
      • Use the GitHub website to delete all branches in your fork except master.
      • Clone your fork, e.g., git clone
      • Make changes in a branch, e.g., git checkout -b my-feature.
    • Yes
      • Clone the cesium repo, e.g., git clone
      • Make changes in a branch, e.g., git checkout -b my-feature.

Build the Code


  • Install Node.js on your system. Building Cesium requires Node 6.x or newer.

Cesium uses npm modules for development, so after syncing, you need to run npm install from the Cesium root directory:

npm install

Once all modules have been installed, run npm run build to actually build the code:

npm run build

Cesium ships with a simple HTTP server for testing, run npm start after building to use it:

npm start

Then browse to http://localhost:8080/. The landing page includes apps and tools commonly used during development, including:

Cesium can be used in two different ways. Cesium can be either a set of modules using Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD), or it can be built as one combined file containing all modules. The basics:

  • npm run build will build AMD Cesium. This also builds Cesium Viewer and Sandcastle.
  • npm run minifyRelease creates the built version of Cesium. This also builds Hello World.

Read the complete list of build scripts below for more details.

By default, the server only allows connections from your local machine. To allow connections from other machines, pass the --public option to npm. Note the extra -- is intentional and required by npm.

npm start -- --public

The development server has a few other options as well, which you can see by pasing the --help parameter:

npm start -- --help

While you can use the editor of your choice to develop Cesium, certain files, such as glsl and new tests, require that the build task be executed in order for the changes to take effect. You can use the build-watch script to have this happen automatically.

Build Scripts

Cesium uses gulp for build tasks, but they are all abstracted away by npm run scripts.

Specify the target(s) at the command line:

npm run [target-name]

Here's the full set of scripts and what they do.

  • Build scripts -- build and package the source code and documentation
    • build - A fast, developer-oriented build that prepares the source tree for use as standard Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD) modules, suitable for running tests and most examples (some Sandcastle examples require running combine). Run this when a GLSL shader is changed since the .glsl file is converted to a .js file with a string for the GLSL source. This runs automatically when saving files in Eclipse.
    • build-watch - A never-ending task that watches your file system for changes to Cesium and runs build on the source code as needed.
    • combine - Runs build, plus the the RequireJS optimizer to combine Cesium and the Almond AMD loader to produce all-in-one files in the Build/Cesium directory that exposes the entire Cesium API attached to a single global Cesium object. This version is useful if you don't want to use the modules directly with a standard AMD loader.
    • minify - Runs combine, plus minifies Cesium.js using UglifyJS2 for a smaller deployable file.
    • combineRelease - Runs combine, plus uses the optimizer to remove debugging code that validates function input and throws DeveloperErrors. The removed sections are marked with //>>includeStart('debug', pragmas.debug); blocks in the code.
    • minifyRelease - Runs minify, and removes debugging code.
    • requirejs - Used internally by the build system and can not be called directly.
    • buildApps - Builds the example applications (such as Cesium Viewer) to produce self-contained, minified, deployable versions in the Build directory.
    • generateDocumentation - Generates HTML documentation in Build/Documentation using JSDoc 3. More details here.
    • release - A full release build that creates a shippable product, including building apps and generating documentation.
    • makeZipFile - Builds a zip file containing all release files. This includes the source tree (suitable for use from an AMD-aware application), plus the combined and minified Cesium.js files, the generated documentation, the test suite, and the example applications (in both built and source form).
  • Utility scripts -- code coverage, static code analysis, and other utilities
    • coverage - Runs coverage and opens the default browser with the results.
    • eslint - Runs ESLint, a static code analysis tool, on the entire source tree.
    • eslint-watch - A never-ending task that watches your file system for changes to Cesium and runs ESLint on any changed source files.
    • clean - Removes all generated build artifacts.
    • cloc - Runs CLOC to count the lines of code on the Source and Specs directories. This requires Perl to execute.
    • sortRequires - Alphabetically sorts the list of required modules in every js file. It also makes sure that the top of every source file uses the same formatting.
  • Testing scripts -- build and run the unit tests
    • test - Runs all tests with Karma using the default browser specified in the Karma config file.
    • test-all - Runs all tests with Karma using all browsers installed on the current system.
    • test-non-webgl - Runs only non-WebGL tests.
    • test-webgl - Runs only WebGL tests.
    • test-webgl-stub - Runs all tests using the WebGL stub, which WebGL calls a noop and ignores related test expectations.
    • test-webgl-validation - Runs all tests with Karma and enables low-level WebGL validation.
    • test-release - Runs all tests on the minified release version of built Cesium.
  • Deployment scripts
    • deploy-s3 - Deploys the built CesiumJS files, the npm package, and the zip file to Amazon S3. This requires having credentials set up for the S3 bucket to which you are deploying.
    • deploy-status - Set the deployment statuses in GitHub, for use with Travis.
    • deploy-set-version - Sets the version of package.json, for use with Travis.

Travis and Continuous Integration

Cesium uses Travis for continuous integration. The Travis configuration and all the steps of the build process are defined in travis.yml. The blog post Cesium Continuous Integration contains an in-depth explaination of the travis build process.

Travis triggers a build whenever someone opens a pull request or pushes code to the Cesium repository. After the build has completed, at the bottom on the pull request, the status of the build is shown and you can access the build by clicking the "Details" link.


You can also access the build of any branch of CesiumJS by going to the Cesium Branches page, and clicking the icon next to the branch name.


Additional set up is required for deployment if you do not have commit access to Cesium.

Configure a Different S3 Bucket

It is possible to configure your travis.yml and gulpfile.js to deploy to a different S3 Bucket (an Amazon Webservices storage unit). If you are using the cesium-dev bucket and have valid credentials, skip to Configure S3 Credentials

  • In travis.yml, edit the following line:
- npm run deploy-s3 -- -b cesium-dev -d cesium/$TRAVIS_BRANCH --confirm -c 'no-cache'
  • Edit cesium-dev to be the name of the S3 bucket you would like to deploy to
  • In gulpfile.js, edit the following line:
var travisDeployUrl = "";
  • Edit the URL to match the URL of the S3 bucket specified in travis.yml

Configure S3 Credentials

To configure Travis for deployment for a fork of Cesium, you must have valid credentials to the S3 bucket.

  • Go to and select your fork of Cesium
  • Go to "More Options">"Settings"
  • Under the "Environment Variables" section, add two environment variables, AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY, with your access key and secret key

Environment Variables

Configure Statuses

To configure the additional commit statuses on GitHub for your fork of Cesium, you need to generate a personal access token for Travis to use.

  • In GitHub, go to "Settings" and "Personal access tokens"
  • Click "Generate new token" and confirm your password when prompted
  • Give a breif description of the token such as "Travis Statuses" and select "repo:status" and click "Generate token"
    • repo:status gives the token access to only commit statuses

Token Access

  • Copy the token to your clipboard
  • Go to and select your fork of Cesium
  • Go to "More Options">"Settings"
  • Under the "Environment Variables" section, add the environment variable TOKEN and paste your token for the value
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